Gaza - en seier for Brorskapet

Hans Rustad

Ingen fryk­ter et Hamas-styrt Gaza mer enn Egypt og Jor­dan. For første gang har Bror­ska­pet kon­troll over et ter­ri­to­rium. Hvil­ken rolle vil det spille poli­tisk i Midtøsten?

Der Spie­gel har en inter­es­sant artik­kel. Den kon­sta­te­rer at Gaza er banebrytende.

It’s the irre­futable evi­dence that the Isla­mist inter­na­tio­nal network of the Mus­lim Brot­her­hood has, for the first time, become the sover­eign power over a piece of ter­ri­tory. One of the world’s most densely popu­lated and troubled specks of land has sud­denly become a labo­ra­tory for poli­ti­cal Islam in the Middle East.

We’ve freed the people from a cor­rupt regime,” says Kha­lil Abu Leila. The 55-year-old with the speck­led gray beard sits in the cour­tyard of an apart­ment buil­ding wea­ring a plain gray suit and leather san­dals. On the table in front of him is a copy of the Koran.

Like many Hamas lea­ders, Abu Leila stu­died in Egypt. And like many Isla­mists, he chose to become a phar­macist because he wis­hed to heal mankind’s ills. While in Cairo he first came into con­tact with the Mus­lim Brot­her­hood. After retur­ning to the Gaza Strip he ope­ned a phar­macy in the Khan Yunis refugee camp and met Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi, a doc­tor. Toget­her they created their own Gaza branch of the Brot­her­hood in the late 1970s. Accor­ding to Abu Leila, they foun­ded Hamas in 1987 as the mili­tary wing of the Brot­her­hood. It was the begin­ning of the First Intifada.

Abu Leila does his best to play down the vio­lent repu­ta­tion of the Mus­lim Brot­her­hood. “We want to bring peace and jus­tice to the entire world,” he says. Western society is sick, its fami­lies are fal­ling apart and its child­ren threate­ned by drugs. And most Arab countries are being destroyed by cor­rup­tion. “We have the pro­per medi­cine against it all,” he says poin­ting to the Koran. “Islam. We want to spread this medi­cine throug­hout the whole world.”

For many Mus­lims, Hamas is the tip of the Brotherhood’s spear, the polis­hed diamond of poli­ti­cal Islam. The neigh­bo­ring secu­lar Arab regi­mes see it as a threat to their very exist­ence -- or in Syria’s case -- as a means to an end in the ongo­ing con­flict in the Middle East.

Both Egypt’s Pre­si­dent Hosni Muba­rak and Jordan’s King Abdul­lah moved quickly to sup­port mode­rate Pale­sti­nian Pre­si­dent Mah­moud Abbas last week. Muba­rak said Hamas had under­ta­ken a “putsch” in Gaza. He sent his diplo­mats sta­tio­ned there to Ramal­lah in the West Bank, where Abbas’ Fatah party remains in con­trol, and he clo­sed the bor­der crossing into Egypt at Rafah.

But Muba­rak and Abdul­lah alre­ady seemed to be pla­gued by doubts at a sum­mit Sharm el-Sheik. The num­ber two lea­der of the Isla­mist ter­ro­rist network al-Qaida, the Egyp­tian Ayman al Zawa­hiri, had cal­led on all Mus­lims to sup­port Hamas only a few hours ear­lier. Muba­rak that evening quietly urged Fatah to nego­tiate with the new rulers in Gaza.

No other regime in the region is as con­cerned about the impli­ca­tions of the take­over by Hamas as Egypt is. The most popu­lous Arab nation has good rea­sons to be so. The news­pa­per Al Ahram, which acts as an Egyp­tian govern­ment mout­h­piece, com­men­ted that “the pro­blem of Hamas isn’t limi­ted to Gaza. Here in Egypt the Mus­lim Brot­her­hood does not rec­og­nize the legi­ti­macy of the govern­ment, the con­sti­tu­tion and the law. Who­e­ver igno­res that takes us to the gates of Hell, which Gaza has opened.”

The Egyp­tian aut­hori­ties have arrested over 600 mem­bers of the group since Decem­ber. They are stu­dents, busi­ness­men, doc­tors and engi­neers. They also con­fis­cated large amounts of assets. The state-controlled press com­pa­res the Brot­her­hood to a “tumor in the popu­lace” and a con­sti­tu­tio­nal amend­ment in March was inten­ded to finish off the orga­niza­tion politically.

Bror­ska­pet har to ansik­ter: det sosiale og det poli­tiske. Det sosiale gjør mye bra for fat­tige, som det er nok av i Midt­østen. Det er slik Bror­ska­pet har byg­get sin base: ved å hjelpe folk. Men poli­tisk er de mer tvil­somme: hold­nin­gen er autoritær.

* In Morocco the Party for Jus­tice and Devel­op­ment is on its way to becoming the lar­gest oppo­sition party in elections this Sep­tem­ber. And in Alge­ria the Move­ment for a Peace­ful Society sup­ports Pre­si­dent Abde­laziz Bouteflika’s ruling coalition.
* The Mus­lim Brot­her­hood in Egypt increased its num­ber of inde­pen­dent par­lia­men­ta­ri­ans from 15 to 88 in the 2005 election. The group even mana­ged to quad­ruple its num­ber of seats despite having can­di­da­tes in only 160 from 444 dist­ricts in order to avoid an early con­fron­ta­tion with the ruling regime.
* The Isla­mic Action Front in Jor­dan is the poli­ti­cal wing of the Brot­her­hood, accoun­ting for 17 out of 110 par­lia­men­ta­ri­ans. The group has become part of Jordan’s poli­ti­cal estab­lish­ment.
* In Yemen, Bah­rain and Kuwait the Mus­lim Brot­her­hood ope­ra­tes as part of the par­lia­men­tary oppo­sition. They have learned to cope with poli­ti­cal def­eats -- such as women’s suf­frage in Kuwait -- but their vic­to­ries are growing.

Bror­ska­pet er bevisst ullen om sitt poli­tiske pro­gram. Enkelte fors­kere er blitt mer skep­tiske med tiden.

Is the Mus­lim Brot­her­hood in the Arab world truly deter­mined to follow the example of the Tur­kish Isla­mists and become a part of the democra­tic process? Or is what the Cairo weekly Rosa al Yousef wrote last week true? “For the Brot­her­hood democracy is not­hing but a dance with the devil,” the paper wrote. “It is the means to come to power. After­wards they will whip democracy and behead it with the sword.“

Char­ting the Rise of the Mus­lim Brotherhood

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