Kevin Rudd has said the international community “must engage” with the Muslim Brotherhood as Egypt prepares for democratic elections. Speaking in Cairo at the weekend, the Foreign Minister said it was important the Islamic group banned by ousted president Hosni Mubarak did not believe it had been shunned from the beginning of the democratic process.
The Australian — (H/T Skipping Girl) – He also raised the possibility that Egypt’s elections be delayed beyond the six-month timetable set by the interim military government, which took control after Mr Mubarak’s resignation on February 11, because the country may not be prepared after 30 years of his autocratic rule.
In an interview with The Australian, Mr Rudd said his view of the Muslim Brotherhood was “evolving” and nobody knew the current shape of the organisation. (The shape is the same as it’s always been – see below)
“But I think it is in our collective interest to engage, to fully understand, but also it’s in our collective interest to not cause the Muslim Brotherhood and others who will be a political force in the future shape of democratic politics in Egypt for them to conclude that from day one they’ve been shunned from the West,” he said.
Mr Rudd said the Muslim Brotherhood’s history was long, complex and “some parts of it are profoundly disturbing”. (Oh you mean those little parts like Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda?) “The challenge we all have today is to understand its modern face and whether it is Islamist in every sense of the word or whether it is genuinely capable of pluralism.”
Mr Rudd said there was wisdom in Western leaders engaging the full spectrum of opinion in Egypt, both from the secularist and the religious traditions. Australia did the same with Indonesia, he said.(Yes, and now they are slaughtering more Christians than ever before)
“We engage with secularist and religious parties across the full spectrum there because that’s just the nature of Indonesian politics and it’s likely to be the nature of Egyptian politics.”
Asked to what extent they have been a concern and to what extent Mr Mubarak used them as a bogy to scare the West, he said: “I think both propositions are probably true. Historically, the Muslim Brotherhood has a tradition of Islamism, and from time to time militant Islamism, given its role, for example, in relation to other militant organisations across the wider Middle East. (Not from time to time, always and still)
“Secondly, to the extent to which they were used by others as a simple political bogyman to constantly suppress democratic aspirations, that is equally true. “What we don’t know and what we should be cautious about is what the modern face of the Muslim Brotherhood would be.” (Islamic fundamentalism is the modern face)
Asked if he had full confidence in the military to manage the transition, he said: “What’s been impressive about the military so far, including from day one of the student uprising, is that by and large they have sided with the people, they have sided with the students. “We have seen what the reverse of that means in the unfolding of events in the streets of Tripoli.”
He said Australia was seeking to co-ordinate with several foreign ministers assisting in food security and agriculture technology and working with the World Bank to support unemployed youth. “If it all goes pear-shaped, the implications for Australia’s national interests are horrific,” he said. (That’s right, throw taxpayer money at the terrorists)
“That is, if the Middle East led by Egypt does not succeed in this democratic transformation, think of the possible impact on Israel and the peace process, think of the impact on large-scale people movements out of Arab countries, think of the impact on the operating footprint for terrorist organisations, think of the impact in terms of the geo-strategic footprint of Iran and think also of the implications in terms of the price of oil. (That is the same footprint of the Muslim Brotherhood ) “This is not just a theoretical exercise; it’s very practical.”