The CIA can’t kick its old Middle East habits

Unless it was an ‘intended’ consequence of CIA machinations for Muslim Brotherhood ideologues to have access to experienced Jihadists militias whenever and wherever they were required, US foreign policy calculus may have gone awry.

Since Obama’s proposal for “a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, based upon mutual interest and mutual respect” at the University of Cairo in Egypt on June 4, 2010, which incidentally was not attended (‘boycotted’) by President Mubarak, it was obvious that the region’s ancien régime had ran out of time and regime change en masse was already in the works.

The Muslim Brotherhood became central to Obama’s Arab Spring machinations in the Middle East and Central Asia, where it enjoyed U.S. ‘material and legitimation’ support, and the political and financial backing of its ‘handlers’; Turkey and Qatar. These alliances are not only due to the fact that the U.S. with the U.K. and others maintain strategic troops presence in Turkey (Incirlik Air Base since the 1950s) and in Qatar (Al-Udeid Air Base since the 1990s), but also due to the long history of courting the Muslim Brotherhood as a ‘positive’ force and potential ally — first against communism and later against Islamist terrorism.

The fight against Soviet Communism

The Eisenhower Administration courted influential Muslims (including the Muslim Brotherhood, given their enmity of Soviet Communism), with “the moral and spiritual strength of America”. The Administration’s reasoning at the time was that “these individuals could exert a profound and far-reaching impact upon Muslim thinking, and their long-term influence may well outweigh that of the political leaders of their countries”.

The Administration’s effort was part of an anti-Soviet Communism initiative similar to the Nazis enlistment of the Soviet Muslims from the Caucasus, Arabs and Bosnians in forming Waffen SS units (with ‘spiritual guidance’ from the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin Al Husseini), and national liberation desks engaged in propaganda broadcasts (a model for post WWII CIA-funded efforts at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia).

Ian Johnson notes in his book “A Mosque in Munich: Nazis, the CIA and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the West” that Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, was hopeful that the “this psychological approach might make some important contributions to both short and long term US political objectives in the Moslem area.”

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President Eisenhower with the Princeton Islam Seminar Delegation at the White House, July 1953. Said Ramadan is the second on the right, and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin Al Husseini is also on the right with the white turban. [source: How the CIA Helped The Muslim Brotherhood Infiltrate the West]

Hassan al Banna’s son-in-law; Said Ramadan shared vehement anti-Soviet Communism with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin Al Husseini, but he was not ‘tainted’ by any WWII Nazi baggage like the Mufti. As a result, the CIA provided funding for Said Ramadan, who co-founded the World Muslim League with Haj Amin Al Husseini to spread the political Islamic doctrine of the Muslim Brotherhood. The core of their doctrine was the restoration of the Caliphate where the Caliph would enforce strict Islamic Law in the Al-Umma Al-Islamiya (Islamic Nation).

However, the CIA was sceptical of Ramadan, as their assessment of his interlocutions at the 1953 Princeton conference concluded that “he seems to be a fascist, interested in . . . power. He did not display many ideas except for those of the Muslim Brotherhood.” Despite the CIA accurate assessment of Ramadan (which is also true of many Brotherhood leadership ever since, notwithstanding the Brotherhood change in rhetoric and framing of their ideology), they had little choice but to bankroll Said Ramadan to advance the Brotherhood cause via the World Muslim League.

The fight against Terrorism

Since the mid 2000s, the Muslim Brotherhood was considered by the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama “a moderate Islamist group with impressive internal dynamism, organisation, media savvy and thus able to channel grievances away from violence toward the United States (even if Brotherhood ideologues did not renounce violence against Christians, Israel or U.S. soldiers)”.

Qatar, in the Bush-Obama calculus, was quite instrumental in destabilising other Arab countries with its propaganda mouthpieces; Al Jazeera and the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual ideologue; Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Sheikh Al‑Qaradawi has been reframing the role of the Muslim Brotherhood by promoting the idea of an Islamic Movement that would be responsible for establishing “a new world order” based on Islam.

Qatar has also harboured the fleeing remnants of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leadership who fled the country after their abject failure to offer Egyptians anything more than an absolute consolidation of power with incompetent disciples at senior levels of government, whose ‘new ideas’ were merely the archaic and fascist ones of the Brotherhood.

The prevailing calculus of the Bush-Obama Administrations may have been ‘disrupted’ by the fact that Muslim Brotherhood ideologues like Sayyid Qutb have inspired terror organizations like Al-Qaeda and Daesh, unless it was an ‘intended’ consequence of CIA machinations to have access to experienced Jihadists militias whenever and wherever they were required.

This may explain why the CIA has provided direct and indirect material support (with the aid of the intelligence services of its proxies; Turkey and Qatar) to Al-Qaeda and ISIS in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Libya. It is yet to be seen if Jihadists sent from Syria and Libya by Turkey to the Azerbaijan-Armenian conflict is yet another ‘long-term’ move by the CIA to encircle and disrupt the Iranian regime, which is already feeling the pressure of being surrounded on all sides except for Turkmenistan.

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George Mickhail is an LSE trained academic and a geopolitical risk analyst with 30 years’ experience in major global accounting firms and business schools. His research focuses on MetaCapitalism and mapping the geopolitical threats of global financial networks. He comments regularly on political economic affairs and his research is cited in the media.

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