After it emerged that the Trump Administration is considering labeling the terrorist-linked Muslim Brotherhood as terrorists, several strange defenses of the group appeared in The New York Times. The Muslim Brotherhood has already been banned by the Egyptian government in 2013. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in 2014.
Tuesday’s Times tried to poison its portrayal of Trump Administration foreign policy by again linking it to international autocrats, a common theme in the paper (“Pushed by Autocrats, Trump Pursues Hard Line on Muslim Brotherhood” -- how subtle) Eric Schmitt, Helene Cooper, Edward Wong, and Charlie Savage reported (click “expand”):
President Trump was only days into office in January 2017 when he first began considering a move with the potential to ignite a firestorm in the Middle East: designating the Muslim Brotherhood, a sprawling group that reaches from Morocco to Malaysia, a terrorist organization.
The Trump administration has resurrected the proposal to brand the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, prompting a fierce debate between the government’s political appointees and its career experts.
The designation would impose wide-ranging American economic and travel sanctions on companies and individuals who interact with the loose-knit Islamist movement that was founded in Egypt and is recognized as a legitimate political entity in many Muslim-majority governments.
It is the president’s latest major foreign policy decision that appears to have been heavily influenced by autocratic leaders without first being fully vetted by career American government officials.
Opposing the terrorist designation are United States counterterrorism, intelligence and defense officials, who worry it would divert resources from demonstrated terrorist threats, including the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, and roil American relations in the Middle East.
After issuing soothing defenses claiming that Muslim Brotherhood members “call for a society in accordance with Islamic law and generally do not advocate for violence,” (nice use of “generally” there) the story finally conceded:
But some former Muslim Brotherhood members and offshoots -- most notably Hamas, the Palestinian group whose stated goal is the destruction of Israel -- have carried out attacks. The United States designated Hamas a terrorist organization in 1997.
Another likely reason The Times hates the idea? Republicans like it:
A group of Republican politicians in Washington has for years demanded that the United States government designate the Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization.
The paper had also soft-pedaled the Muslim Brotherhood when the idea emerged the previous week in “Turmoil Over Trump’s Plan to Label Muslim Brotherhood as Terrorist Group.” The reporting team of Savage, Eric Schmitt, and Maggie Haberman fretted:
The White House is pushing to issue an order that would designate the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization, bringing the weight of American sanctions against a storied and influential Islamist political movement with millions of members across the Middle East, according to officials familiar with the matter....The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 in Egypt, and in the 1940s formed a secret, armed wing to fight against British colonial rule. It renounced violence in the 1960s and later embraced electoral democracy instead, although some offshoots and former members have engaged in terrorism.
The push for sanctions on the Brotherhood is the latest of several significant foreign policy decisions by Mr. Trump that appear to have been heavily influenced by talking to autocratic foreign leaders without first being fully vetted by career government professionals -- such as his abrupt choice, since partly reversed, to swiftly pull American troops out of Syria.
The Federalist’s David Harsanyi mocked the paper’s whitewash of the Muslim Brotherhood, likening its coverage to Al Jazeera.
Sounds like a global social club! Just some folks batting around ideas....a large faction of the Muslim Brotherhood leads a Sunni movement that aims to implement sharia law under a global caliphate. Its deep network of “charitable” institutions and political parties form an infrastructure for extremist causes. One could, if not a New York Times writer, describe its philosophy as dogmatic, illiberal, theocratic, and violent; and its “storied” history a long-term threat to secularism, Muslim reformers, liberalism, Christians, and Jews in the Middle East. These days, members of the Muslim Brotherhood advocate for child suicide bombings, political assassinations, mass murder of minorities, violent mobs -- basically the entire deadly menu of jihadist activities....it’s getting increasingly difficult to tell the difference between the newspaper of record and Qatari-state-run al Jazeera.
The paper’s former Cairo bureau chief David Kirkpatrick posted a sympathetic question and answer session with himself, “Is the Muslim Brotherhood a Terrorist Group?” His answer: Absolutely not:
The Muslim Brotherhood has frequently denounced terrorism and violence....Even experts critical of the Brotherhood agree that the organization does not meet the criteria for a terrorist group.
Kirkpatrick had previously defended the Muslim Brotherhood on talk radio as a “moderate, regular old political force.”