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

Les også