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03 February 2011


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FB Ali


Quite apart from the lunatic lot that you quote from, there appears to be considerable worry among administration policy-makers (and assorted 'think tanks') about the MB being part of the succeeding power structure. Much of this is paranoia sponsored by Israel and its US lobby as well as the Egyptian regime (and other Arab oligarchs). Of the same kind that succeeded in having Hizbullah and Hamas labelled as terrorist organizations.

I haven't studied the MB in any great depth, but my impression is that they are basically political Islamists (like Hizbullah and Hamas), and hence likely to pursue pragmatic policies.

There is no doubt that they would be bad for Israel as compared to Mubarak, but that would be the case with any of the other groups likely to be part of the successor regime.


Grame Wood on the current mood in Cairo among regime believers: The men ultimately delivered me to a government building on the Nile, where a man in a police uniform spoke English and confirmed that I was either a native English speaker with an accent appropriate to his nationality, or an Iranian with an unusually effective ESL teacher. He guessed the former and let me go, but not before telling me by way of apology that there are "foreign people in the crowds who want to create danger and kill Egyptians." He said roadblocks and crowds along the corniche were advised to hunt down "Iranians, Hizbullah, Qataris, Hamas, and" -- because why not? -- "Israelis."

I suppose this list of suspects has some logic to it. Iran hates Egypt enough to have named a main Tehran thoroughfare after Khaled El Islambouli, the Egyptian artillery officer who gunned down Mubarak's predecessor Anwar Sadat (and injured Mubarak in the process). Qatar's Al Jazeera is indeed pro-demonstration. And Egypt is no friend of Hamas.

In any case, the net is wide, and purposefully so. Foreigners are under attack, not just journalists. A stroll down the corniche has never been so frightening.

Why I Was Dragged Through the Street by an Egyptian Mob


This blog of Paul Amar is offered for its rejection of simplistic dualisms and for its list of players, NOT, repeat NOT for its analysis.

Many international media commentators – and some academic and political analysts – are having a hard time understanding the complexity of forces driving and responding to these momentous events. This confusion is driven by the binary “good guys versus bad guys” lenses most use to view this uprising. Such perspectives obscure more than they illuminate. There are three prominent binary models out there and each one carries its own baggage: (1) People versus Dictatorship: This perspective leads to liberal naïveté and confusion about the active role of military and elites in this uprising. (2) Seculars versus Islamists: This model leads to a 1980s-style call for “stability” and Islamophobic fears about the containment of the supposedly extremist “Arab street.” Or, (3) Old Guard versus Frustrated Youth: This lens imposes a 1960s-style romance on the protests but cannot begin to explain the structural and institutional dynamics driving the uprising, nor account for the key roles played by many 70-year-old Nasser-era figures. To map out a more comprehensive view, it may be helpful to identify the moving parts within the military and police institutions of the security state and how clashes within and between these coercive institutions relate to shifting class hierarchies and capital formations. I will also weigh these factors in relation to the breadth of new non-religious social movements and the internationalist or humanitarian identity of certain figures emerging at the center of the new opposition coalition.


Good piece, Adam, I think your best. I guess I don't read enough of the extreme rightwing tripe to know what they think. Hayes's description of Glenn Beck applies to Gaffney and his ilk--"a tour de force of paranoid ignorance."


As I read the title, I was tempted to just forget it and move on, which would have been wrong. Dr. Silverman took the time to write out a point of view. I believe we have a responsibility or duty to respond.

It is interesting in times like this, because people want things to be either absolutely black or absolutely white. The problem is we live in the ever-growing world of gray. But in this world of gray, we tend to have great fear. Fear is not a bed thing, it is what we do with that fear. The U.S. Constitution guarantees a freedom of religion, but within that, there is the non-establishment clause. This fact is often overlooked by everybody. “Greatly Exaggerated”, wouldn't it be better if we were “knowledgeably aware”?

We now have a place to start. The terms we use are extremely important.

William R. Cumming

Although most of the world's security services rely on an individual's past to help predict their future--ain't always so. I don't believe in the "collective" for guilt or innocence so would be interested to know if any open sources discuss the actual leaders of the MB? We do know that many were killed including Syub Qud (sic) by Egyptian authorities in the past. There is a reason the Byzantines killed all the offspring of those the state was killing. Perhaps the Leninists did also.


For comparison purposes: i suscribe to professor juan cole's informed comment facebook page. Better put perhaps, his blog is a facebook "friend." In practical effect, a link to a new article appears in my Facebook news stream. I never read the facebook comments and he probably does sparingly. I see where he tweets, also.

"You can follow the blog via Twitter @jricole.

The Facebook Informed Comment fan page is here

One of my Facebook pages is here.

Subscribe to postings by email here"

All in all, it wouldn't change much. The difference b/n this blog & the others is that you engage. You employ the back & forth socratic method. That must be why you were Professor of the Year. I think you should go for the social media & get w/ it b/ adapt it to your needs. You may consider a separate facebook page for your consulting business.

s nadh

Recent article here on the MB which may be of interest:



WILL, it is likely Juan Cole has a claque of graduate students to do the administrative heavy lifting.

wrong thread.


Muslim Brotherhood makes up only a small fraction of the population. The exact figures are unknowable but I doubt it passes 20% maximum. One reason is Ikhwan's willingness to put it's beliefs where it's mouth is - see Hama, for example.

If I thought for one instant in time that MB was necessarily inimical to anything American I would not say what I am going to say, but since I don't feel that way I will take the liberty.

The right to decide who can or can't make violence is essentially a colonial idea. In fact, if I am not mistaken, the only crime which resulted in automatic capital punishment for a slave pre-Emancipation America was to raise his hand against the master. I only mention this because at times it is necessary to examine one's assumptions behind ideas of 'the right to use violence'. A Muslim is neither Christian, nor slave (politically at least). Personally, I support the rights of the people involved in the Egyptian Intifada.

Because that's what it is. And if MB fight to protect themselves or anyone else who supports their same ideals at this moment then under Islamic jurisprudence they have the absolute right to resort to violence.

I disagree with what I infer to be Dr. Silverman's 'defense' of MB. They do not have to meet Western criteria for essential quietism or feel good Gandhian passivity in order to become palatable to our notions of just cause or political legitamacy.

They are Muslims in a Muslim land. As many know, the most notable landmark in Tahrir is not the Egyptian Museum: It's the Mugamma. And many a member of MB was tortured in its cellars while Western critics celebrated the merits of non-violent, and impotent, political resistance.


Dr. Silverman,

I sit here unconvinced that the MB has been de-radicalized in totality. The MB while assuming some stature of its brother organizations such as, Hizbullah and Hamas. Which both have there troublesome hardcore and militaristic wings that love the term "monkey wrench" and use it when necessary. MB has the same issues they have really not effectively dealt with yet.

I am also not convinced that this so-called popular uprising of less than 10% of the Egyptian population is not being propelled by "special interests" that are supportive of the United States. Might be using the United States, but supportive is still the question? While talk is talk, I see no walking the walk that indicates anything other than a very calculated, politically and media savory, smart revolution that has the threat of smoke a mirrors for some entities personal gain.

As you note, "repudiating their support for the use of violence to achieve the movement’s goals". Nice words for a group not in power. But still just words. I find myself looking under the carpet to see if that lump is just dust or something else.

Call me naive, but I am still looking for the man behind the revolutionary curtain.

Though I do agree with your last as an understatement.

"we have enough real problems to deal with as a country that we do not need to go out and invent more."


Gilles Kepel was on France Culture radio this morning. He pointed out that the MB were not the only component of Egyptian Islamism.

He mentioned a djihadist component which he said had been essentially crushed by Egyptian security. However, he also mentioned a Saudi-inspired, Salafist movement, prone to violence against Christians, but not to political violence or revolt against the regime. He concluded that, in contrast with Iranian islamists in 1979, Sunni islamists in Egypt were not really a united front.

jr786: "The right to decide who can or can't make violence is essentially a colonial idea"

Remember to tell that to the police next time you get mugged.



I don't need to be reminded of anything, dolt. I live every day in a world that reads the hypocrisy and bullshit of nominally 'well meaning' distinterested people for what it is every day of their lives.

I have my neck and cheeks shaved every Friday by Pakistani barbers who give half of what I give them to Islamic charities - I'll defer to Col. Lang to explain the inference. I don't need lectures from anyone about anything regarding this part of the world.

These people have been mugged, robbed and disrespected beyond belief. Don't begrudge them the right to act like men.

Sam Will

From Anonymous Insider...
Had to send you this quick message. Feel free to publish all of it if you wish. First, I am so disappointed in the response by Obama White House to the crisis in Egypt. White House was caught completely off guard on this one despite indications they were informed of just such a scenario a number of times over the past year or so. They ignored the warnings. When the protests started did you notice the confused messaging from the administration? Hillary says one thing. Biden says another thing. Obama says basically nothing. These are the situations where an American president can either rise to the occasion and show strength and wisdom or where they appear weak and uncertain. I don’t need to explain to you what our current president did. If this goes badly, and it appears it very well could, American interests in the region will be placed in very grave danger. The parallels to Carter are stunning. Oh how I miss the days when the party was led by the likes of Scoop. I fear the mishandling of the Egypt situation is going to result in a total chaos in that country soon.
Read more in World Politics
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Obama is clueless. Totally clueless. I am not talking a little out of step here. I am talking the man has no idea what is going on around him. This is not coming from me. I am relaying it from some still around him on a regular basis. These people are getting increasingly concerned over just how “out of it”, that is the phrase repeated to me, Obama has become. His primary focus is now getting elected in ‘12. Everything else has been given over to Jarrett and her group. Everything. The president has no interest in policy. None. No interest in working legislation. None. No interest in forging a specific agenda. None. He is being told what he needs to say and that is it. That is the extent of his interest. “Just make it look good.” Exact words right there. President Obama is obsessed 24/7 with just “looking good”. If something goes well, he gets happy and outgoing. If something makes him look badly, he lashes out and pouts. The man is bouncing off both of those extremes even more now than he used to and it appears to be getting worse and worse. The word “manic” is being used more and more regarding his moods these days...

Sam Will

More from Anonymous.

FYI there was a closed door meeting recently under the guise of discussions on Egypt. That meeting did not involve Egypt much if at all. This information is relayed second hand but I believe it to be completely reliable. Source told that meeting was run by Jarrett from start to end. Obama said very little. Asked no questions. The primary focus was how to protect Obamacare so it was not a “liability” in 2012 campaign. White House already spending significant time/resources preparing legal argument for the Supreme Court case that is coming. Second focus was apparently “birther” related. Jarrett expressed concern over possible newly passed eligibility requirements in states. If only one or two states clarify eligibility in order to run for office, White House will simply use those states as examples of “anti-Obama racism”. They would likely not win the electorals in those states regardless, but could use the scenario to gain sympathy and support over the challenge from other moderate states. This is the tactic Jarrett and crew have prepared. She is worried though that if more than one or two states challenge the president’s eligibility, the issue would turn against them. Measures are being taken to make certain that does not happen. What those measures are, I don’t know at this point. Oh, and while discussion over eligibility was underway, Obama sat motionless. He said nothing. That strikes me as pretty damn odd don’t you think? People are discussing whether or not you are actually eligible to run for re-election in 2012 and you don’t say a word on the subject? “He just sat there with a weird little smile and didn’t say anything.” Go ahead and print that quote word for word. Others are now willing to let their observations be more known. Concern for the country is now winning over concern for their own political interests. Finally.

As stated before, Geithner is leaving. That was repeated to me again this past week.

Charles I

Super K on Charlie Rose last night, that's all he was on about, warning that if we give them the democratic space, they will metastasize it completely and attack Israel immediately and then nationalize the canal. . . next they'll refuse to buy our wheat. . . .

Ergo, no democracy for the rest of you until the Soup Nazi says. . . I mean look what happened when we allowed the Palestinians to vote, and all the nasty things we're then forced to do. .


Sam Wills comments are consistent with my characterisation of Obama as suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder.

Lack of empathy and focussed totally on himself.

Ken Hoop

Can agree with remarks about Obama, but a man who would prefer a Zionist Lobby fave, Scoop Jackson?
You gotta be kidding.

Charles I

I forgot, Dr. K explicitly stated that the MB - God I wrote "strain" here, like a virus good work Henry - the MB type of Islam was Al Qadist, Jihadist through and through, a global foreign policy threat on top of a democratic one.

A friend just emailed me a link to an alarum about how there has been some interest in establishing some, er, strain, of sharia banking in some locales to service the few people in our sizeable Muslim communities who can no longer bear the blasphemy of paying interest and prefer the hypocrisy of a renamed restructured commercial instrument to borrow or lend with. Something about interest in fact as capital, sorta like a segregated fund approach, put the dodge on someone for a bit, but I digress. They are generally as conservative as our current government.

I had to point out that he currently lives in jurisdiction with a completely separate tax funded Catholic school system, doesn't employ heathens, teaches outta the Book of murder mayem and morality, no condoms for you, vaccines may cause promiscuity, harm reduction is secondary to good religious hygiene, suffer and pray for their gay children I guess, they're not allowed a club in school is in the news, call me when the sharia bankers start flooding your mailbox with, er, credit card offers. . .

Clifford Kiracofe

Charles I,
Is this Henry Kissinger you are noting? Many consider him an Israel firster from beginning to end. I think he was working in recent years with Dennis Ross on the Jewish Agency projects per Israel and the Diaspora. So, arguably, a good example of a US policymaker seeing through Israeli eyes. 73 War?, ruling out discussion with the PLO? and whatever else...


Charles, there is a lot to be said for Islamic banking practices. It could even be argued that the Global Financial Crisis may not have happened under an Islamic banking system.

The circumlocution regarding interest is achieved by the device that allows a lender to share in the profits of an enterprise they financed.

Furthermore, the lender is required to make a moral judgement about the use of the funds he advances.

There are mechanisms for syndication of loans and managing risk whose name I forget.

Their systems are very sophisticated and very old.

My partner even borrowed to buy her new car from an Islamic banking institution in Melbourne. She found the due diligence unusual until I explained this too her.

She was not asked about her credit rating. She was asked what she did for work (a teacher), what sort of car she was going to buy (a sober European station wagon) and what she would use the car for (transport to and from school plus moving her art materials and students). They approved of this on the spot.


Dr. Silverman,

The fact the goons weren’t able to disperse the Protestors means the revolution has won and Mubarak is gone. The only question is when. The Egyptian oligarchy and military can’t tolerate waiting till September. The USA media sounds today like the White House has finally grasped this fact. “Sooner is the better.” The more bloodshed the more radical the fighters become to avenge their comrades.

The real question is how does America deal with Islamic political movements from now on. The USA has to stop invading and bombing here and there in the Middle East. Killing radical Mullahs inflames the region and also breaks the federal budget. Movements that do not threaten transportation or the world’s oil supply have to be ignored. If there are any dangerous transnational groups left, they need to be identified, contained and converted. The more of this that can be done by the locals the better. The smaller the American footprint the more effective locals will be at pumping and selling oil until it is all gone.

If a people are unwilling to die for your cause after ten years, they are never going to. This is the fatal flaw of all colonial wars. If the people are with you, the Generals wouldn’t be planning for another Spring Offensive. The Long War is both futile and unwinnable.

The only question is why are we still at it. The two answers are the Israeli Lobby and War Profiteers.

Charles I

Yes Clifford, the one and only, probably find it on youtube.

Charles I

Walrus, I'm all for it til it costs me money, increases junk mail or really oppresses some hapless bride I catch wind of, never happened to date.

I'm still enjoying the news that the Shia and Sunni community in the Toronto area recently managed to agree and acquire land for a Muslim cemetery, sorely lacking round here. The local Jewish cemetery agency sold them some of their excess.

Dunno, don't care how its financed, if there's profit, its a beautiful thing to this pagan.

Adam L Silverman

Brigadier Ali and, I think, Jake: I'm not trying to discount concerns over the MB in Egypt, though I'm definitely trying to discount the paranoia and conspiracy theories about them influencing the DNI or the Homeland Security Advisor or the Secretary of Homeland Security. That said I tend to be in agreement with Brigadier Ali on the nature of the MB being like Hizbullah's or Hamas's. All of these movements, the Sadrists too and my guess Lashkar I Taybi, all have four commonalities or similarities: 1) a national aspiration tethered to an understanding of political or politicized Islam that is also, often, fundamentalist, 2) armed wings or militias that have been very violent both offensively and defensively, 3) an, in some cases and places the only, ability to provide social and public goods like health care, food support, shelter, education, and media services, and 4) a tremendous desire to be viewed as legitimate political players, to be accorded respect, and allowed a real seat at the table. And it is here, I think, Jake, that both your evaluation of the MB's potential for violence meets what I think the political dynamic will be: if they come into a post-Mubarak government they will hold their own personnel accountable for any unauthorized violence. The threat to their newfound legitimacy and ability to participate will be too great to ignore. Moreover, they know that everyone will be watching them. If one tourist gets hurt, one heritage site is damaged, anything they're going to get blamed. So while I agree that caution is called for and they can say what ever they want, until they actually do it its just an assertion.

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