Turkish elections are latest defeat for the Muslim Brotherhood
Following setbacks in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, the Muslim Brotherhood suffered another defeat in Turkey’s June 7th elections.
For the past four years, Arab societies have ridden a political roller coaster, but a pattern has started to emerge: Soon after the Muslim Brotherhood took power in Egypt, it was the Tunisian Brotherhood’s turn. And even in those countries, such as Morocco and Jordan, which were spared a revolution, more power was handed to local Brotherhoods. It appeared that the Muslim Brotherhood and political Islam would be the face of the Arab world’s future.
One year later, the scales tipped again. In Egypt, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi engineered a widely popular end to Muhammad Morsi’s inept presidency. In Tunisia’s elections, 1 million women took to the streets to say “Enough!” to the Brotherhood. Later, Libyans renounced their Brothers, plunging the country into the chaos that consumes it today.
And now, in Turkey, the Brotherhood suffered an electoral defeat in what was considered a successful experiment in political Islam, a model to be emulated by Arab countries, that “moderate” version of political Islam craved by the West. In fact, Turkey’s Brothers had simply cloaked antagonistic terminology in modern linguistic attire. They equated the process of Shura with democracy, while Shura in reality empowers an oligarchic elite. They equated gender parity with “justice”, while justice in Islamic jurisprudence indicates submission to God’s will in his creation.
Throughout the 20th century, the Muslim Brotherhood engaged in a tug of war with reigning regimes, searching for access to power. Former members of the Brotherhood who have renounced the movement have offered insights into their struggle for power.
Tarwet el-Kherbawy, in his book The Secret of the Temple: The Hidden Secrets of the Muslim Brotherhood, states: “The Muslim Brotherhood sought ways, not to reach freedom but to reach the power to rule the country… This tight iron organisation, which dissimulates in its folds secrets unknown to the general public, would have reached power, not empowered by the masses, but rather by America.”
Kherbawy explains how the Brotherhood obtained a fatwa, — religious justification — for their plan, a fatwa that remains in circulation.
In his speeches and his book Fiqh al Jihad, Yusuf al-Qaradawi says it is permissible to seek the help of an infidel in order to reach the truth. The infidel in the current context is the United States and Europe.
After 2001, the Brotherhood took a different path with the West, which was now fearful of terrorism, by becoming emissaries of peace. Kherbawy describes the official Brotherhood delegation that initiated the dialogue with the United States. It was composed of Khairat el-Shater, whom the Americans enjoyed calling “the Big”, and Esaam el-Erian.
In the agreement reached with the Americans in 2005, Kherbawy claims, the United States vowed to support democratic transition in the Arab world in exchange for the Brotherhood’s acceptance to live in peace with Israel.
Two years later, Erian wrote in the London-based newspaper Al Hayat, “If the Brotherhood takes power, they will recognise the state of Israel and they will abide by all the international peace treaties.” By making such a public declaration, Erian was fulfilling the Brotherhood’s half of the deal with the United States.
This deal with the United States explains the Brotherhood’s grab for power following the Arab revolutions. It also explains their failure to stay in power. Simply put, their approach to political power was a gamble, a make-or-break deal. They ignored the Arab people’s will and aspirations and instead sought power and legitimacy from the West.
The Brotherhood failed because it followed the wrong path to power and isolated itself from the rest of society. Its members mistakenly assumed that affairs of Arab states could be conducted simply by referring to the Islamic concept of obedience to the ruler. They did not understand how the Arab revolutions had changed mentalities. They continued to believe that they were the chosen few, destined to rule.
Popular reaction was loud and clear. That the Brotherhood is angry about losing power is but a sign that their feet have not yet reached the ground. It is time for the West to re-evaluate its approach to Arab and Muslim nations and to engage in a real societal dialogue.