A Sustainable Relationship
|Friday, February 17,2012 09:25|
|By Mohamed El-Sayed|
Egypt continues to struggle with violence in the wake of political uncertainty and transition. Yet despite the domestic turmoil, there has been a positive development — the relationship between the United States and the Muslim Brotherhood has improved after decades of mutual distrust.
In January, high-level US and Muslim Brotherhood officials met and posed for pictures at the headquarters of the Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in Cairo. This meeting constitutes the first step towards greater understanding between the two sides and an acceptance of new political realities in the region.
For decades, the Muslim Brotherhood criticised the US for supporting dictatorships in the Arab world. On the other hand, the US never believed political Islamic movements to be capable of adopting and abiding by the rules of democracy and maintaining US interests in the region.
This gradual thawing in US-Muslim Brotherhood relations wouldn’t have taken place without recent political changes, primarily the results of Egypt’s parliamentary elections, in which the FJP garnered roughly 45 per cent of the powerful lower house seats. Pragmatism on both sides calls for each party to try to understand the other better. Simply put, the Muslim Brotherhood and the United States both have a vested interest in maintaining a relationship with each other.
On the other hand, for the Muslim Brotherhood and the United States to enter into a partnership, they will need to start a real and open political and economic dialogue. A less interventionist approach in Arab and Muslim countries coupled with more economic assistance would be high on the list of potential Brotherhood gains from this partnership. By honestly brokering a just and lasting solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and treating the rising democracies in the Arab world as equals, the UScan help the Brotherhood get rid of its stereotype of an ‘imperialist America’. And by reconciling their ideology with their new responsibilities, and understanding American interests in the region, the Brotherhood can help Washington to move past the image of the group as ‘radical Islamists’.