US embassy cable - 89CAIRO16206

MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD: DEFANGED BUT REHABILITATED

Identifier: 89CAIRO16206
Wikileaks: View 89CAIRO16206 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Cairo
Created: 1989-07-20 17:43:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: KISL PGOV PINS KPRP EG
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 201743Z JUL 89
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 2802
INFO AMCONSUL ALEXANDRIA
AMEMBASSY AMMAN
AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
AMEMBASSY RIYADH
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
AMEMBASSY TUNIS
AMEMBASSY LONDON
AMEMBASSY PARIS
DIA WASHDC
USCINCCENT MACDILL AFB FL
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 06 CAIRO 16206 
 
LONDON FOR MILLIKEN, PARIS FOR WINN, CENTCOM FOR POLAD 
 
E.O. 12356: DEC:OADR 
TAGS: KISL, PGOV, PINS, KPRP, EG 
SUBJECT: MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD:  DEFANGED BUT REHABILITATED 
 
REF:  FBIS JN2505152689 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  SUMMARY:  TWO YEARS AGO, MUBARAK BET THAT BY 
ADMITTING THE OUTLAWED MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD (MB) TO THE 
PEOPLE'S ASSEMBLY, THE GROUP WOULD BE COOPTED AND THUS 
UNDERMINED AS THE CATALYST OF AN ISLAMIC OPPOSITION 
MOVEMENT.  NOW, THE BET IS PAYING OFF: THE MB HAS 
GAINED IN STATUS IN THE RAREFIED ESTABLISHMENT 
POLITICAL ARENA, BUT HAS BEEN DEFANGED AS A THREAT TO 
THE REGIME.  EXTERNAL AND DOMESTIC FACTORS ALSO HAVE 
HELPED DIMINISH ANXIETY OVER THE MB IN PARTICULAR AND 
REVOLUTIONARY ISLAM IN GENERAL:  THE FAILURE OF ISLAMIC 
GOVERNMENT IN IRAN; THE COLLAPSE OF THE "ISLAMIC" 
INVESTMENT COMPANIES; DISSENSION BETWEEN THE MB AND ITS 
OPPOSITION PARTNERS AND MORE EXTREME ISLAMIC RIVALS; 
AND A STRING OF MB PROGRAM FAILURES UNDER A GERIATRIC 
LEADERSHIP.  YET, THE MB ALSO HAS BENEFITED FROM 
PLAYING THE REGIME'S GAME:  IN PART, THE REHABILITATION 
OF THE MB IS A STRATEGIC SUCCESS OF THEIR OWN ATTEMPT 
TO APPEAR RESPONSIBLE AND ESTABLISHMENTARIAN.  THAT 
THEY AIM CLEARLY AT THE POLITICAL CENTER IS CLEAR FROM 
THEIR MOST RECENT, REMARKABLY MODERATE-SOUNDING 
PLATFORM.  THUS, THEY MAY BE SUCCEEDING IN TRANSFORMING 
FROM A PERCEIVED POPULAR REVOLUTIONARY FORCE INTO A 
MORE SUBTLE BUT STILL SUBSTANTIAL THREAT TO THE 
REGIME:  A POTENTIALLY PLAUSIBLE, "MODERATE" CIVILIAN 
ALTERNATIVE.  THOUGH THEY ARE STILL FAR FROM ACHIEVING 
SUCH A DEGREE OF CREDIBILITY, WITH THEIR EXPERIENCE, 
DISCIPLINE, MONEY, LINGERING POPULARITY, AND YOUNGER 
TALENT WAITING RESPECTFULLY IN THE WINGS, THE MB SEEM 
THE OPPOSITION ELEMENT MOST LIKELY TO ENDURE IN 
EGYPTIAN POLITICS.  MOREOVER, IT IS NOT YET CLEAR 
WHETHER THE MB HAVE DETERMINED TO STAY WITHIN THE 
SYSTEM.  MEANWHILE, THE GOVERNMENT REMAINS A FAR MORE 
INFLUENTIAL FORCE THAN THE MB OR ANY OTHER POLITICAL 
GROUP IN THE BROADER, CULTURAL RELIGIOUS REAWAKENING. 
END SUMMARY. 
 
 
---------------------------------- 
REHABILITATION FOR REGIME PURPOSES 
---------------------------------- 
 
3.  LEGAL LIMBO:  OVER ITS 60 YEARS OF EXISTENCE, THE 
MB HAS USUALLY SPRAWLED MORE (BUT NOT ENTIRELY) TO ONE 
SIDE OR THE OTHER OF THE AMBIGUOUS DIVISION BETWEEN 
UNDERGROUND AND ESTABLISHMENT POLITICS.  TODAY, IT IS 
ALL BUT COMPLETELY INTO THE MAINSTREAM POLITICAL ARENA, 
FORSWEARING UNDERGROUND ACTIVITY AND POSSESSING ALL THE 
EARMARKS AND ACTIVITIES OF A LEGITIMATE POLITICAL PARTY 
EXCEPT THE OFFICIAL LICENSE TO CALL ITSELF ONE.  THE MB 
MAINTAINS THAT THE 1954 DECREE DISSOLVING IT WAS LATER 
RESCINDED.  THE GROUP CONTINUES TO SLOG ALONG WITH AN 
ARRAY OF LEGAL CASES AIMED AT GAINING FORMAL PARTY 
STATUS AND RECOVERING VARIOUS SUSPENDED PUBLISHING 
LICENSES.  AT THE SAME TIME, INTERIOR MINISTER ZAKI 
BADR LOSES NO OPPORTUNITY TO PROCLAIM THE MB IS 
ILLEGAL, CRIMINAL, SUBVERSIVE -- AND DOES NOT EVEN 
EXIST; IF IT DID EXIST, ITS MEMBERS SHOULD BE IN JAIL, 
NOT STANDING FOR PUBLIC OFFICE. 
 
 
4.  POLITICAL PAWNS:  SADAT BEGAN THE MB'S 
REHABILITATION WHEN, IN THE MID-1970S, HE RELEASED 
THOSE OLDTIME MB PERSONALITIES WHO HAD SURVIVED 
NASSER'S PRISONS.  HIS OBJECTIVE WAS TO HELP ESTABLISH 
HIS CREDENTIALS AS THE "BELIEVER PRESIDENT", AIMING TO 
USE ISLAM TO CRUSH THE REMNANTS OF LEFTIST INFLUENCE. 
MUBARAK FURTHER EXPANDED THE MB'S ACCESS TO 
ESTABLISHMENT POLITICS BY ALLOWING ABOUT SIX OF THEM TO 
BE ELECTED TO THE PEOPLE'S ASSEMBLY UNDER THE 
OPPOSITION WAFD PARTY IN 1984.  ZAKI BADR'S VIEWS 
NOTWITHSTANDING, IN 1987, MUBARAK ALLOWED ABOUT 35 MB 
DEPUTIES TO BE OPENLY IDENTIFIED AND ELECTED AS SUCH 
(WITH ONLY THE THINNEST OF LEGAL COVERS AS TECHNICAL 
MEMBERS OF THE SOCIALIST LABOR PARTY).  MUBARAK'S 
MOTIVES WERE QUITE DIFFERENT FROM SADAT'S: UNDER HIS 
CONCEPT OF "DEMOCRACY" (ESSENTIALLY MEANING FREEDOM OF 
SPEECH) AS A "SAFETY VALVE", HE EVIDENTLY CALCULATED 
THAT THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY THREAT PERCEIVED IN 
THOSE TIMES WOULD PROVE MORE MANAGEABLE ABOVE GROUND, 
WITH THE MB AS THE PRINCIPAL VOICE OF POLITICAL ISLAM. 
OVER TWO YEARS AFTER MUBARAK WAS ACCUSED OF A DANGEROUS 
GAMBLE, IT APPEARS THAT THE CALCULATIONS BEHIND HIS BET 
WERE CORRECT. 
 
 
5.  DE FACTO PARTY: TODAY, THE MB RECEIVE FOREIGN 
DIPLOMATS AND JOURNALISTS -- WITHOUT THE ADVANCE 
APPROVAL OF THE INTERIOR MINISTRY UPON WHICH THEY USED 
TO INSIST AS RECENTLY AS 1986 -- AND CONDUCT OTHER 
ORDINARY POLITICAL PARTY BUSINESS AT A WELL-KNOWN HQ IN 
DOWNTOWN CAIRO.  THEY PUBLISH A MONTHLY MAGAZINE (LIWA' 
AL-ISLAM, THE BANNER OF ISLAM) AND HAVE DIRECT ACCESS 
TO SEVERAL OTHER INDEPENDENT MONTHLIES AND WEEKLIES 
(AL-'ETISAM, AL-MOKHTAR AL-ISLAMI, AL-NUR, AL-SHAAB). 
MB MEMBERS ALSO ARE IDENTIFIED AS SUCH ON THE BOARDS OF 
THE PHYSICIANS AND JOURNALISTS' SYNDICATES AND, UNTIL 
RECENTLY, THE LAWYERS' SYNDICATE.  THE MOST SUBSTANTIAL 
RECOGNITION OF THE MB AS A POLITICAL PARTY REMAINS 
THEIR IDENTITY AS AN INDEPENDENT GROUP IN THE PEOPLE'S 
ASSEMBLY UNDER THEIR OWN DELEGATION LEADER, FORMER 
SENIOR JUDGE MA'MUN AL-HODEIBY (SON OF AN EARLY SUPREME 
GUIDE).  THE MB NOW ARE THE LARGEST (THERE ARE ABOUT 
33) AND CERTAINLY THE MOST COHESIVE BLOC OF OPPOSITION 
DEPUTIES IN THE ASSEMBLY.  MOREOVER, THE MB AND THE 
CENTER-RIGHT, RELATIVELY SECULAR NATIONALIST WAFD, ARE 
THE ONLY TWO LEGAL OPPOSITION GROUPINGS WITH ANY PROVEN 
HISTORIC STAYING POWER AND SIGNIFICANT POPULAR 
FOLLOWING FROM ASWAN TO ALEXANDRIA. 
 
 
------------------------------- 
GETTING MIRED IN THE MAINSTREAM 
------------------------------- 
 
6.   JOINING THE OPPOSITION DOLDRUMS:  THIS STATUS, 
HOWEVER, REMAINS FAR FROM SATISFACTORY TO THE MB.  AS 
IS TRUE FOR ALL EGYPTIAN OPPOSITION GROUPINGS, THE MB'S 
FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ACCESS TO THE MEDIA AND ASSEMBLY 
DO NOT CONSTITUTE GENUINE POLITICAL ENFRANCHISEMENT. 
LACKING THE RULING NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY'S (NDP) 
ACCESS TO THE STATE BUREAUCRACY AND ITS ABILITY TO 
DISTRIBUTE JOBS, EDUCATION, HOUSING, AND OTHER GOODS 
AND SERVICES, THE MB (OR ANY OTHER OPPOSITION GROUPING) 
IS UNLIKELY EVER TO BE VOTED INTO POWER, EVEN IF THE 
INTERIOR MINISTRY WERE TO PERMIT GENUINE ELECTIONS. 
THE MB AND OTHER OPPOSITION PARTIES CAN OFFER ONLY 
SLOGANS; THE RULING PARTY -- ANY RULING PARTY -- OFFERS 
TANGIBLE BENEFITS TO INDIVIDUALS AND COMMUNITIES. 
 
7.  DEFANGING:  THUS, AS THE REGIME MUST HAVE HOPED, 
THE MB'S PARTICIPATION IN THE FORMAL POLITICAL "SYSTEM" 
OF THE PAST FEW YEARS HAS DEFANGED THE GROUP AS THE 
PRETENDERS TO LEADERSHIP OF A NEW ISLAMIC ERA:  IN THE 
ASSEMBLY AND IN THEIR PRESS, THEY HAVE LOOKED AND 
SOUNDED MUCH LIKE THE OTHER OPPOSITION POLITICAL 
PARTIES; THEY HAVE ACCOMPLISHED NO MORE THAN THE 
OTHERS, AND HAVE PROVED NO MORE OF A THREAT TO THE 
AUTHORITY OF THE STATE.  IN SUM, EVEN EGYPTIAN 
SECULARISTS AND CHRISTIANS NO LONGER LIVE IN IMMEDIATE 
DREAD OF THE MB.  AT THE SAME TIME, THE ISLAMICISTS 
HAVE SHOWN GREATER INDEPENDENCE OF THE MB: NOW IN THE 
LEGITIMATE POLITICAL THEATRE THERE ARE A GAGGLE OF MORE 
PROMINENT ISLAMIC "INDEPENDENTS", AND A NEW (MORE OR 
LESS FRIENDLY) RIVAL PARTY IN THE ISLAMIC WING OF THE 
BELEAGUERED SOCIALIST LABOR PARTY. 
 
 
------------------------------ 
EBBING OF REVOLUTIONARY ISLAM? 
------------------------------ 
 
8.  EXTERNAL FACTORS -- IRAN:  THE DEFLATION OF THE 
PERCEIVED THREAT FROM THE MB TAKES PLACE IN THE BROADER 
CONTEXT OF A RELAXATION OF PERCEPTIONS OF A THREAT FROM 
REVOLUTIONARY ISLAM IN GENERAL.  THE MB, LIKE EGYPT'S 
OTHER ISLAMIC POLITICIANS, EVIDENTLY FAILED IN THEIR 
ATTEMPTS TO PICK AND CHOOSE ONLY THOSE ASPECTS OF 
KHOMEINISM WITH WHICH THEY WISHED TO BE ASSOCIATED. 
EVEN THOSE EGYPTIANS WHO PERCEIVE AND RESENT WESTERN 
CULTURAL OR POLITICAL DOMINATION SEEM MORE REVOLTED BY 
THE ISLAMIC "ALTERNATIVE" MODELED BY "HANGING JUDGE" 
KHAMENEI, THE NEAR-HERESY AND VIOLENCE ASSOCIATED WITH 
SHI'ISM, AND, PERHAPS MOST OF ALL, IRAN'S PERCEIVED 
"LOSS" OF THE WAR WITH IRAQ.  "NEITHER EAST NOR WEST" 
-- A KHOMEINI SLOGAN BORROWED BY THE MB FOR ITS 1987 
ELECTION CAMPAIGN -- HAS A SUPERFICIAL APPEAL TO BOTH 
LEFTIST AND ISLAMICIST INTELLECTUALS, BUT EVEN THEY 
JOIN THE MASSES IN SETTING THE WEST AND EAST ON VERY 
DIFFERENT LEVELS OF FRIENDSHIP AND ATTRACTION: FOR THE 
VAST MAJORITY OF EGYPTIANS, THE WEST IS NO SATAN AND 
THE EAST IS NO FRIEND.  THUS, EXCEPT AMONG THE 
COMMITTED MINORITY, THE APPEAL OF POLITICAL ISLAM IN 
EGYPT HAS FALLEN WITH ITS FORTUNES IN IRAN. 
 
9.  DOMESTIC SETBACKS:  OTHER UNCONTROLLABLE EVENTS 
HAVE ADDED TO THE MB'S MISFORTUNES.  MOST 
SIGNIFICANTLY, THE CRASH OF THE ISLAMIC PONZI SCHEMES 
IN 1988 DEALT A SHATTERING BLOW TO THE ATTRACTION OF 
POLITICAL ISLAM TO THE LITTLE MAN, WHILE THE GOVERNMENT 
SOMEHOW HAS MANAGED TO ESCAPE THE ANTICIPATED BACKLASH 
FROM THE THOUSANDS OF RUINED SMALL INVESTORS.  AS 
RECOGNIZED CAPITALISTS, THE MB PERHAPS UNFAIRLY WAS 
IDENTIFIED WITH THESE COMPANIES; IT HAD KNOWN CLOSE 
TIES ONLY TO "SHERIF", THE MOST LEGITIMATE OF THE 
"ISLAMIC" COMPANIES AND THE ONLY ONE THAT SEEMS TO HAVE 
SURVIVED.  MOREOVER, THE ONGOING, BITTER FACTIONALISM 
THAT SHATTERED THE SOCIALIST LABOR PARTY THIS SPRING 
WAS WIDELY BLAMED ON THE INFECTION OF POLITICAL ISLAM 
IN GENERAL, AND ON THE SLP'S DALLIANCE WITH THE MB IN 
PARTICULAR.  MEANWHILE, OVER THE PAST YEAR AND ONE 
HALF, THE MB HAS FACED SHARP, SOMETIMES EVEN VIOLENT 
ATTACK FROM ITS MORE EXTREME RIVALS FOR LEADERSHIP OF 
POLITICAL ISLAM. 
 
10.  FAILURES:  FINALLY, THE MB HAS HAD A STRING OF 
PROGRAM FAILURES, PROBABLY AT LEAST PARTLY DUE TO THE 
AGING LEADERSHIP'S INABILITY TO CUT DEALS WITH STRONGER 
ADVERSARIES.  THE MB LOST ITS TWO SEATS ON THE BOARD OF 
THE LAWYERS' SYNDICATE.  THEY FAILED TO NEGOTIATE WITH 
THE GOVERNMENT EVEN A TOKEN SEAT IN THE SHURA COUNCIL 
ELECTIONS AND APPOINTMENTS.  MOREOVER, AS THE 
SECULARISTS ARE CROWING, THE MB HAVE LITTLE IN THE WAY 
OF TANGIBLE ISLAMIC ACHIEVEMENT TO SHOW FOR THEIR TWO 
YEARS IN PARLIAMENT:  THE MOST ONE MB DEPUTY COULD 
CLAIM WAS SUCCESS IN "PRESENTING ISLAMIC IDEAS WITH 
CLARITY."  IN PRIVATE, THE MB LEADERS ARE FAR MORE 
DISGRUNTLED.  WE EXPECT THAT MANY IN THE MB WILL BE 
REASSESSING THEIR STRATEGY OF PLAYING WITHIN THE 
SYSTEM -- ESPECIALLY FOLLOWING THE INSULT AND INJURY 
THEY SUFFERED AT THE HANDS OF THE REGIME DURING THE 
SHURA COUNCIL ELECTIONS. 
 
 
------------------------ 
WHOSE STRATEGIC SUCCESS? 
------------------------ 
 
11.  DE-RADICALIZATION:  ON THE OTHER HAND, THE MB'S 
PRESENT UNTHREATENING PUBLIC IMAGE MAY REPRESENT AS 
IMPORTANT A STRATEGIC SUCCESS FOR THEM AS FOR THE 
SECULAR STATE.  IF MUBARAK HAS WON HIS OBJECTIVE OF 
DEFLATING THE REVOLUTIONARY THREAT FROM THE MB AND 
EXTREMIST POLITICAL ISLAM, THE MB ALSO HAS COME FAR 
TOWARD ITS GOAL OF LOOKING MODERATE, RESPONSIBLE, AND 
ESTABLISHMENTARIAN.  SINCERE OR NOT, THE MB LEADERS' 
PUBLIC STATEMENTS REITERATE THE GROUP'S REJECTION OF 
ASSOCIATION WITH KHOMEINISM, EGYPTIAN RADICAL GROUPS, 
VIOLENCE, OR EVEN URGENCY IN THE ISLAMIC REFORMS FOR 
WHICH THEY CALL.  THUS, WHILE EGYPTIAN OPPOSITION 
PARTIES MARCH LEMMING-LIKE FOR THE EDGES OF PUBLIC 
OPINION, THE MB CALMLY AND METHODICALLY AIMS FOR DEAD 
CENTER.  IN FACT, BY EGYPTIAN STANDARDS, THE MB'S 
PROGRAM PUBLISHED DURING THE SHURA COUNCIL ELECTION 
"CAMPAIGN" LAST MAY IS A MODEL OF BOTH RHETORICAL AND 
SUBSTANTIVE MODERATION.  MANY OF ITS POINTS ARE NEAR OR 
IDENTICAL TO NDP POSITIONS.  THUS THE MB DIRECTLY 
CHALLENGE THE CLAIM OF THE REGIME AND ITS PARTY TO THE 
LOYALTY OF THE MASS CENTER  -- PERHAPS ONE REASON THE 
MB WERE EXCLUDED FROM THE SHURA COUNCIL IN 1989. 
ALTHOUGH SUCH AN IDEOLOGICAL CHALLENGE HAS LITTLE 
PROMISE OF SHAKING THE BEDROCK OF MASS PERSONAL AND 
COMMUNAL INTERESTS THAT ADD UP TO SUPPORT FOR THE 
REGIME, IT MERITS EXAMINATION AS A REFLECTION OF THE 
MB'S READING OF THE MINDSET OF THE BROADER CONSTITUENCY 
THEY MUST HOPE ONE DAY TO WREST FROM THE REGIME. 
 
 
---------------------- 
THE MB'S PROGRAM TODAY 
---------------------- 
 
12.  THE MOST RECENT, DETAILED AND COMPREHENSIVE 
STATEMENT OF THE MB'S PROGRAM WAS THEIR MAY 1989 SHURA 
COUNCIL ELECTION PLATFORM (REF FBIS).  IT IS NOTABLY 
SHORT ON ISLAMIC CANT AND LONG ON THE EVERYDAY, 
LIBERAL, CENTRIST BROMIDES THAT ARE THE STUFF OF BOTH 
THE WAFD AND THE NDP'S PITCHES TO POPULAR POLITICAL 
DEMANDS.  THE MB CANDIDATES PLEDGE TO FIGHT, "IN 
SOLIDARITY WITH ALL HONORABLE ELEMENTS WITHIN THE 
NATIONALIST FORCES," FOR ACHIEVEMENTS IN: 
CONSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL REFORM; GRADUAL IMPLEMENTATION 
OF ISLAMIC LAW; ELIMINATING CORRUPTION; EDUCATION, 
MEDICAL CARE, HOUSING AND OTHER SOCIAL SERVICES; 
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT; AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS: 
 
-- CONSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL REFORM:  THE MB CALLS FOR 
DIRECT ELECTION OF A PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT FROM 
AMONG SEVERAL CANDIDATES, AS WELL AS ELECTION OF MAYORS 
AND GOVERNORS.  THEY WANT ABOLISHMENT OF THE EMERGENCY 
LAW AND ALL OTHER "ANTI-DEMOCRATIC" LAWS AND PRACTICES; 
COMPLETE FREEDOM FOR FORMATION OF POLITICAL PARTIES (IN 
OTHER PUBLIC STATEMENTS, HOWEVER, THEY STATE THEIR 
CONTINUING OPPOSITION TO THE NASSERITES, NO DOUBT DUE 
TO THE PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL SCARS INFLICTED ON THEM 
BY NASSER); SEPARATION OF THE RULING PARTY FROM STATE 
ORGANS; GUARANTEES OF THE FAIRNESS OF ELECTIONS; AND 
REPRESENTATION OF WORKERS AND PEASANTS  (IRONICALLY, 
THE WESTERNIZED LIBERALS SUCH AS THE WAFDISTS SEE THE 
PARTICIPATION OF THE UNEDUCATED AS ONE OF THE CRITICAL 
WEAKNESSES OF EGYPTIAN "DEMOCRACY;" HERE, THE 
PROPERTIED MB ARE CASTING A BONE TO THE LEFT.)  THEY 
CALL FOR STRENGTHENING THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE 
JUDICIARY, AND PUTTING IT IN CHARGE OF PRISONS IN ORDER 
TO END TORTURE AND INDEFINITE PREVENTATIVE DETENTION. 
 
 
-- ISLAMIC LAW:  THE MB CALL FOR "IMMEDIATE 
IMPLEMENTATION" OF THE ARTICLE OF THE CONSTITUTION 
WHICH STATES THAT ISLAM IS THE RELIGION OF THE STATE 
AND "THE PRINCIPLES OF ISLAM ARE THE MAIN SOURCE OF 
LEGISLATION."  (MORE RADICAL ISLAMICISTS WANT THE 
CONSTITUTION TO STATE THAT ISLAM IS THE ONLY/ONLY 
SOURCE OF LEGISLATION.)  THEY DEFLATE THE URGENCY OF 
THEIR APPEAL, HOWEVER, BY CALLING ONLY TO "BEGIN THE 
REPEAL OF LAWS THAT CLEARLY VIOLATE ISLAMIC LAW."  TO 
FURTHER ASSUAGE THE MODERATE CENTER, THEY EMPHASIZE 
THAT "ISLAM IS A STATE AND CIVILIZATION OWNED BY ALL 
WHO CONTRIBUTED TO IT.  THUS THE BROTHER COPTS IN 
PARTICULAR AND THE PEOPLE OF THE BOOK IN GENERAL HAVE 
THE SAME RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS AS MUSLIMS." 
 
-- CORRUPTION:  THE MB IDEALISTICALLY EXHORT PEOPLE, 
ESPECIALLY GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, TO BE GOOD, AND URGE 
OFFICIAL ENCOURAGEMENT, EDUCATION, PROHIBITIONS AND 
SANCTIONS TO THIS END.  SIGNIFICANTLY, THE MB DO 
NOT/NOT CALL FOR THE "HUDUD" - CHOPPING OFF HANDS OF 
THIEVES, STONING OF ADULTERERS, ETC, THAT THE RADICALS 
PUT AT THE HEART OF ISLAMIC LAW.  THE MB WOULD CLOSE 
ALL GOVERNMENT-OWNED ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE FACTORIES (NO 
REFERENCE TO PRIVATELY OWNED PRODUCERS), STOP GAMBLING, 
AND ISSUE NO MORE LICENSES FOR "BUFFOONERY AND 
ENTERTAINMENT ON THE PRETEXT OF ENCOURAGING TOURISM." 
PRESUMABLY, CURRENT LICENSES FOR BUFFOONERY WOULD BE 
UNAFFECTED. 
 
-- EDUCATION AND CULTURE:  THE MB CALL FOR RADICAL 
EDUCATIONAL IMPROVEMENT TO PERMIT EGYPT TO "FOLLOW THE 
REQUIREMENTS OF THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION."  ANY CALL 
FOR INTENSIFYING ISLAMIC INDOCTRINATION OR CENSORSHIP 
IS NOTABLY OBSCURE, IF NOT ABSENT;  THE MB LIMIT 
THEMSELVES TO URGING STATE PROPAGANDA EFFORTS AIMED AT 
SPREADING RELIGIOUS VALUES AND OVERCOMING ALIENATION. 
THEY ALSO CALL FOR FREEING THE MEDIA FROM GOVERNMENT 
OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL. 
 
 
-- SOCIAL SERVICES AND ECONOMIC REFORM:  THE MB URGE 
"SERIOUS ... SOLUTIONS THAT DO NOT DEPEND ON THE 
GUIDANCE OF THE IMF OR USAID."  THE STATE SHOULD 
"BEWARE OF INTERFERENCE BY FOREIGNERS" IN ECONOMIC 
POLICY AND "GUARD AGAINST THEIR CONTROL OF ECONOMIC AND 
PRODUCTIVE GUIDANCE CENTERS."  DEVELOPMENT SHOULD BE 
BASED ON "SELF-RELIANCE" AND "ISLAMIC PRIORITIES." 
THEY WOULD STOP PRINTING NEW BANKNOTES TO COVER THE 
DEFICIT; REDUCE PUBLIC EXPENDITURE ON LUXURIES; 
"LIQUIDATE MONEY-LOSING ECONOMIC ESTABLISHMENTS"; 
REFORM THE TAX SYSTEM TO SOAK THE RICH AND REDUCE THE 
BURDEN ON THE POOR; RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE; MAINTAIN 
SUBSIDIES OF BASIC COMMODITIES; AND ENCOURAGE THE 
PRIVATE SECTOR TO JOIN THE PUBLIC SECTOR IN BUILDING 
LOW- AND MEDIUM- INCOME HOUSING.  THE MB MAKE THE FIRST 
CAMPAIGN REFERENCE WE HAVE SEEN IN EGYPT TO THE 
ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE, CALLING FOR REDUCING POLLUTION AS 
A PREVENTATIVE MEDICAL STEP.  THEY WOULD ENCOURAGE 
EGYPTIAN INVESTMENT IN EGYPT, AND COOOPERATE WITH ARAB 
ECONOMIES, BUT THEY MAKE NO REFERENCE TO ENCOURAGING 
"FOREIGN" (I.E. NON-ARAB) INVESTMENT.  ORGANS OF THE 
STATE SHOULD "URGE" CITIZENS TO CONSUME LESS AND 
PREVENT WASTE.  THE STATE SHOULD INTERVENE IN ECONOMIC 
AFFAIRS, WITH LONG- AND SHORT- TERM PLANS.  THE PUBLIC 
SECTOR IS THE "NERVE CENTER" OF THE ECONOMY, BUT IT 
MUST GET OUT OF FIELDS THAT THE PRIVATE SECTOR CAN 
HANDLE. 
 
-- FOREIGN RELATIONS:  THE MB SUPPORT THE EGYPTIAN 
ARMED FORCES.  THEY URGE COMMITMENT TO THE NAM POLICY 
OF "BALANCED RELATIONS WITH BOTH EAST AND WEST" (IN 
CONTRAST TO THE ISOLATIONIST "NEITHER EAST NOR WEST" 
LINE OF RADICAL ISLAM).  THEY MERELY URGE "CARE" IN 
RELATIONS WITH THE U.S., IN LIGHT OF ITS "FLAGRANT" 
PRO-ISRAELI STANDS; "FREEZING", NOT ABROGATION, OF THE 
CAMP DAVID ACCORDS; A "COMPREHENSIVE BOYCOTT OF THE 
ISRAELI PRESENCE IN EGYPT,"  BUT WITHOUT CALLING FOR A 
BREAK IN BILATERAL RELATIONS; AND CALL ONLY FOR SUPPORT 
OF THE "POLITICAL JIHAD", NOT THE VIOLENT STRUGGLE, 
"BEING WAGED BY OUR PALESTINIAN BROTHERS,"  AND OF 
"THEIR RIGHT TO ESTABLISH THEIR INDEPENDENT STATE ON 
THEIR SOIL."  THEY OPPOSE FRAGMENTATION AND 
SECTARIANISM IN LEBANON AND SECESSIONISM IN SUDAN. 
 
 
---------------------------------------- 
MUTUAL BENEFIT OF THE MB-GOVERNMENT DEAL 
---------------------------------------- 
 
13.  CONCLUSION:  BOTH THE GOVERNMENT AND MB EVIDENTLY 
HAVE GOT MUCH OF WHAT THEY WANTED FROM THEIR 1987 
DEAL:  THE MB GAINED SOMETHING CLOSE TO LEGITIMACY, 
ACCESS TO THE NATIONAL MEDIA (INCLUDING TELEVISED 
PEOPLE'S ASSEMBLY DEBATES), AND A VALUABLE IMMUNITY 
FROM OUTRIGHT REPRESSION, REGARDLESS OF THE INTERIOR 
MINISTER'S OUTSPOKEN VIEWS.  THEIR POSITION AS THE ONLY 
PLAUSIBLE ISLAMIC POLITICAL MOVEMENT, HOWEVER WEAK, IS 
STRENGTHENED:  WITH THEIR PRIVATE WEALTH, LINGERING 
MASS APPEAL, DISCIPLINE, AND AT LEAST A FEW DEDICATED 
YOUTHFUL LEADERS WAITING IN THE WINGS, THE MB ARE MORE 
LIKELY THAN ANY OF THE ESTABLISHED PARTIES TO ENDURE AS 
A FORCE IN EGYPTIAN POLITICS.  FOR THE REGIME'S PART, 
IN RETURN FOR ENDURING MORE VOCAL PUBLIC CRITICISM FROM 
ISLAMIC POLITICAL QUARTERS, IT HAS SPLIT THE ISLAMIC 
OPPOSITION INTO A COMFORTABLY-MANAGED MAINSTREAM 
ELEMENT (THE MB) AND A "CRIMINAL" ELEMENT ("THE ISLAMIC 
GROUP" AND THE LIKE) THAT IT IS STERNLY REPRESSING WITH 
LITTLE SIGN OF BROAD PUBLIC REACTION.  MEANWHILE, AS 
ALL THIS OCCURS AT THE RAREFIED POLITICAL LEVELS, A 
CULTURAL RELIGIOUS REVIVAL CONTINUES IN FITS AND STARTS 
IN THE BROADER EGYPTIAN SOCIETY.  THE GOVERNMENT SEEMS 
TO HAVE MUCH MORE INFLUENCE ON THAT LARGER CULTURAL 
PROCESS THAN HAVE THE MB, OR ANY OTHER POLITICAL OR 
RELIGIOUS GROUPS. 
 
 
WISNER 

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