Several members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) recently reported on their social media accounts that a delegation of MB members had visited the U.S. State Department on January 27, 2015 and met with officials from the State Department and White House, as well as with members of Congress and representatives from American research institutes. According to the MB reports, the purpose of the meeting was to recruit support for their opposition to the 'Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi regime in Egypt."
On its part, the American administration was embarrassed by the publication of the visit, but openly acknowledged it a few days later. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said that the MB members were part of a larger delegation that included former Egyptian MPs, among others, and that they are not currently active in the movement. She added that State Department meetings with various political elements were routine. The Egyptian regime, outraged by the visit, accused the U.S. administration of not respecting the Egyptian law that defines the MB as a terrorist organization, and of discounting the will of the Egyptian people. It also claimed that this conduct flies in the face of U.S. policy, which champions the struggle against global terrorism. Criticism of the U.S. was also voiced in the official Egyptian press and in the Saudi press.The fact that the reports on the visit coincided with the January 31 large-scale terrorist attack in Al-'Arish, in which 31 people were killed and which the Egyptian regime and media attributed to the MB, only increased the rage towards the U.S. Some articles even accused it of being behind the attack itself.
This report will review the reports on the MB members' visit to the U.S. and the subsequent outrage in Egypt.
MB Members Report Visit To U.S. State Department On Their Facebook Pages
The delegation, which officially represented the Egyptian Revolutionary Council - a body comprising MB activists and supporters - included Waleed Sharaby, a pro-MB Egyptian judge; Dr. Gamal Heshmat, who was an MP during the Mursi era and was recently chosen to head the MB's parliament in exile, based in Turkey; Dr. 'Abd Al-Mawgood Dardery, a member of the MB's Freedom and Justice Party, who was also an MP during the Mursi era; Tharwat Nafea', former Mursi-era MP and one of the heads of the MB's parliament in exile; and Maha 'Azzam, former researcher of political Islam at the British Chatham House research institute, and head of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council.
According to Sharaby, the Egyptian Revolutionary Council delegation recently visited more than 27 countries. In the run-up to the fourth anniversary of the revolution that ousted Mubarak on January 25, the council also sent letters to 19 foreign ministers and the heads of three international organizations in an attempt to convince them to end support for "the military coup regime in Egypt."
As stated above, the delegation members took to their Facebook accounts to report on the meetings they had held, and even posted photos of themselves in the State Department building. Some of the pictures feature members holding up four fingers in the "Rabaa" sign, which has become associated with the MB and its supporters.
From Waleed Sharaby's Facebook page: "Currently in the American Congress" (from left to right: Maha 'Azzam, 'Abd Al-Mawgood Dardery, Tharwat Nafea', Gamal Heshmat, Waleed Sharaby; Facebook.com/waleed.sharaby, January 28, 2015)
Another Facebook post by Sharaby: "Currently in the American State Department" (Facebook.com/waleed.sharaby, January 26, 2015)
Facebook post by delegation member Gamal Heshmat: "Meetings with American State Department, White House representative, members of Congress, and with research institutes that influence American policy were positive..." (Facebook.com/Dr.GamalHeshmat1, January 29, 2015)
U.S. Administration: Hosting The Delegation - Part Of Routine Meetings With Politicians
The delegation's visit to the State Department was made public only when the images were posted to Facebook - embarrassing the U.S. administration. It appears that this embarrassment was also the reason for the delay in the administration's response to reporters' questions on the matter. When first asked about the affair in a daily briefing on January 27, 2015, State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that she had no details on the visit. Only two days later, when asked again, Psaki confirmed the visit, but stressed that it was not an MB delegation, but rather a delegation including former Egyptian MPs, some of whom were from the MB's Freedom and Justice Party. Psaki said: "The State Department officials met with a group of visiting Egyptian former parliamentarians whose visit to the United States was organized and funded by Georgetown University. These meetings are fairly routine. The group included some former members of the Freedom and Justice Party, among others..." Psaki mentioned that the delegation had met with the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, among others, and that the topic of president Mursi's ouster had not been discussed.
When asked whether the delegation members had breached protocol by posting pictures of their visit to the State Department on social media, Psaki said that many visitors took pictures and that she wasn't convinced this constituted any violation or that it was an issue. When a reporter pointed out that the pictures were used to show that the State Department supports the MB, Psaki repeated that the meeting had been with a mixed delegation that included former members of the Freedom and Justice Party. When asked about a recent post on the MB website that calls for "a long, uncompromising jihad" and for drawing inspiration from the MB's old military wing, Psaki said she was unaware of this and that she would look into it.
On January 30, 2015, the same day the administration admitted that the meeting had taken place, the Egyptian Revolutionary Council also issued a statement on the delegation's visit to the U.S. According to the statement, the delegation met with representatives from the White House and State Department, as well as with congressmen and some American research institutes, with the purpose of conveying several messages: that the events in Egypt on June 30, 2013 were a military coup against the legitimate, democratically elected Mursi regime, and that the American administration should stop supporting the "unstable and unsustainable" Al-Sisi regime; that the Egyptian judiciary is persecuting the political opponents of the military regime; and that the Egyptian military should return to its barracks and keep out of Egyptian politics. According to the council's statement, various bodies that were recently established, and various actions that were carried out, were a response to the crimes of the military regime: to the terrorism, arrests and torture conducted by security forces against peaceful protestors, and to the justice system's lack of neutrality. Finally, the statement says that the meetings were positive and ended in recommendations for additional meetings in the future.
Al-Sisi: The MB Is The World's Most Dangerous Secret Terrorist Organization; Egyptian Foreign Minister: The U.S. Must Respect Egyptian Law, Which Defines The MB As A Terrorist Organization
On January 31, 2015, the day after the U.S. administration confirmed the delegation's visit, in a statement to the press at the close of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, the Egyptian President refrained from addressing the delegation's visit to the State Department, but said that the MB was "the world's most dangerous secret terrorist organization" and that it "has clandestine wings and secret ideas and tools... which is why Egyptians rose up against it..."
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry expressed outrage at the U.S. State Department's hosting of the MB delegation. At the end of the African Union summit, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry addressed the State Department's explanation, saying: "I do not understand [the State Department's] claims. We do not understand the existence of such ties with elements that are involved in terrorist activists meant to terrify Egyptians." He added: "The MB movement is not a political party. Egyptian law - which should be respected, just as we respect the laws of others - defines it as a terrorist organization, based on evidence and testimony we have that indicates their involvement in terrorist actions meant to harm the lives of Egyptians, terrorize them, and threaten their security." Shoukry said further: "If we wanted to bury our heads in the sand so as not to face reality, that would be another matter. But we see very well." According to him, "terrorism is not just ISIS or Boko Haram, but rather all terrorist groups, regardless of what name they use, since they [all] champion the same ideology and the same ideas leading to death and destruction..."
An Egyptian Foreign Ministry communique from February 1, 2015 states that the Egyptian Revolutionary Council and the MB's parliament in exile consistently incite violence and terrorism, spread lies abroad regarding the situation in Egypt, and do not represent the will of the Egyptian people. Moreover, some of their members are wanted by the Egyptian authorities, and therefore holding ties with these "illegitimate organizations disrespects the will of Egyptians and grants legitimacy to entities that attack it." The communiqu├® states further: "The contacts held by some countries with these terrorist entities enable them to spread their ideas, which incite violence and terrorism. They also contradict [these countries'] presumed commitment to the struggle against terrorism and extremism..."
Egyptian Columnists Attack U.S. Hypocrisy In War On Terror
The Egyptian press was also furious with the U.S. administration for hosting the MB members. Several articles accused the U.S. of hypocrisy and double standards regarding terrorism, stating that the U.S., which calls to combat global terrorism, actually supports the mother organization of global terrorism - the MB. Some articles also tied the Al-'Arish attack to the MB members' visit to the U.S., and accused the U.S. of fostering terrorism in Egypt.
'Al-Ahram' Editor: Egypt Should Boycott Washington Counter-Terrorism Summit In February 2015
In a February 6, 2015 column, Al-Ahram editor Muhammad 'Abd Al-Hadi 'Allam accused the American administration of being two-faced regarding terrorism and called on Egypt to boycott the Washington Counter-Terrorism Summit in mid-February (a call which the Egyptian foreign minister did not heed). 'Allam wrote: "After the Charlie Hebdo events in Paris... The White House issued a stern statement calling to convene an international summit in Washington on February 18, 2015, to deal with the danger of extremist organizations... [But] the Americans' current path raises questions and does not provide answers regarding their vague policy, which only increases confusion regarding events in the Arab region. How can a superpower that speaks of combating terrorist groups argue at the same time that their mother organization - the MB - does not threaten the interests of countries that are its friends and allies, despite [the MB's] methods of violence and sabotage?... Last week, new details were exposed in Washington regarding ties held by U.S. authorities with the MB, after the State Department was forced to admit that it had held a special meeting with a delegation of leaders of the global MB organization, fugitives from justice who arrived in the American capital...
"Some may claim that it is in Egypt's interest to attend the Washington summit and that presenting the positions of the Egyptian political leadership [at this summit] could change the positions of some U.S. elements regarding the extremist groups who all draw [their ideas] from the same source... [However,] not attending [will send a message] to the world that there is a certain flaw in the [American] policy that condemns terrorism on the one hand and is forgiving of it on the one hand, and that this policy lacks a proper compass and lacks the wisdom that should be at the base of the superpowers' positions at this crucial stage of Middle East history... [Egypt] not attending [the summit] will convey its message to the free world, namely that there is a clearly laid-out plan to crumble the Middle East into weak statelets, where Western forces will negotiate with extremist groups that realize the interest of certain countries to take over regional resources...
"It seems that the American administration wants a meaningless 'public relations summit' that does not [really] strive for clear resolutions on dealing with extremist organizations, chiefly the MB, which the Egyptian nation ejected from its midst, and which sister Arab governments have [also] outlawed, alongside other entities that are no less dangerous. The question for those in charge of the American summit is: Have you not considered that, for the summit to succeed, you must publicly declare that you wash your hands of the forces of global terrorism? Did you not consider the fact that you cannot organize a summit attended by the same very elements that are part of the problem... such as Qatar... and the Turkish government...?
"[Our] vital relations with the U.S. should not prevent us from pointing to the weaknesses and sources of danger in the current American policy, which proceeds blindfolded. This, while senior American writers and analysts recognize that current American policy requires a new compass, after it was proven that the policy implemented in recent decades merely leads to more confusion and frustration... We want American officials to understand that we are better versed in the matters of this region than others, and that [their] illusion that supporting the streams of political Islam [will enable them to] play a role in dividing control [of the region] will only lead the region to crumble further and will increase discontentment there. Then the U.S. will find itself dealing with the heritage of hatred for its policy on a much larger scale than today.
"Future generations will see the U.S. as the only country that stood by extremism and terrorism to the end, instead of changing its choices and recognizing that the peoples are entitled to life and to modern states that ensure everyone's rights without discrimination and which remove the dust of ignorance, hatred and sectarianism..."
The article was accompanied by the following cartoon:
U.S. calls to "stop ISIS terrorism" while ignoring and sheltering "MB terrorism in Egypt"
U.S. Raises Banner Of War On Terror, While Supporting Terror
Muhammad Abu Al-Fadel, a columnist for the government Egyptian daily Al-Ahram, wrote in a similar vein: "The international handling [of terrorism] should be uniform and balanced, and free of hypocrisy or political manipulation. Following the recent events in Egypt [i.e. the January 31 terror attack in Al-'Arish], several countries in the world - the same world that was outraged by the [terrorist] events in France - expressed mere condemnation and sympathetic words, shamefully contradicting [them with their actions]. The U.S., which following the France events called for an international conference on terrorism in Washington, was one of the countries [whose words] most contradicted [its actions]; mere days after calling [for the conference], it hosted some MB leaders, receiving them with warm friendship. This was despite the fact that they and their ilk are at the movement's forefront, and are some of the main inciters of the terrorism and violence that struck Al-'Arish and various provinces in Egypt in the recent days.
"The Washington officials could not justify the warm welcome they had given to the [MB] figures, whom the world has seen openly encouraging violence and cheering, together with others like them, whenever an Egyptian soldier or policeman is killed. Using groundless pretexts, [Washington] merely said that it had received [these leaders] as part of its openness to [various] political forces. What forces is the U.S. talking about, when it [itself] bears the motto of combating terrorism in the world while at the same time carrying a sign supporting it?...
"Those who see the joy on the faces of [the MB members hosed by the State Department]... so apparent in the photos that they uploaded to their websites, get the sense that they have won another round. For the thousandth time, Washington proves that it has no good intentions towards Egypt, and that it remains determined to not change its faulty perceptions giving supporters of violence an elixir of life every time they face imminent political and security defeat.
"The problem is that the U.S., which presumes to lead a global war on terror, completely ignores the fact that its despicable policy has [actually] played a crucial role in fueling it... Egypt was not the only one to warn that terrorism is a single entity, from Iraq through Syria and Libya to Yemen. Some in the West heeded [this], and quickly coordinated and cooperated with us; some stopped up their ears so as not to hear such counsel which troubles them. [But] this was not enough [for these latter who did not want to hear]; they went on to deliberately attract terrorists to them by defending their methods of operation, which often come in the guise of humanitarianism and human rights...
"Recently, several observers in the U.S. did well to refuse to receive MB leaders, but these [elements] need to also prescribe a treatment for the American administration that sponsors and will lead the February 18, 2015 Washington Counter-Terrorism Summit. Maybe then [this administration] will understand the failures in the path it is taking, and will acknowledge the real situation in Egypt and change its perspective..."
MB member says to ISIS member on the steps of the White House: "They welcomed me, which means that they welcomed you, so the house is your house." (Al-Yawm Al-Sabi', Egypt, February 6, 2015)
The U.S. Is Extending The MB's Life Of Terrorism
Makram Mohamed Ahmed, another columnist for Al-Ahram, also attacked the U.S., writing: "The support that the [MB] movement received from Washington, as manifested by the White House meetings, is an important factor that spurs them to continue their plans and pushes them towards more idiotic adventures that set them on the path of perdition, after their rapid failure at all their previous attempts. However extensive the foreign support they muster, they [still] cannot defeat the people, the military, the police, and all the institutions of Egyptian civil society, especially because everyone knows that if the MB return [to power] over the objections of the Egyptian people, it will mean, God forbid, inevitable civil war...
"The problem lies with the American position, which we know full well is the only thing extending the MB's life of terrorism. Although the power balance on the ground in Egypt clearly and decisively confirms that the movement cannot possibly be victorious, the Obama administration continues its dirty game, supports terrorism, threatens Egypt's stability, and revives in the minds of the peoples of the region the image of the ugly American that seeks to impose on Egypt a backwards tyrannical regime that has no base of legitimacy and is detested by a clear majority of the Egyptian people."
The U.S. Is Responsible For Al-'Arish Terror Attack And Is Working To Topple Egyptian Regime
In another column in Al-Ahram, the daily's former editor Morsi 'Atallah wrote: "Apparently, the U.S. has learned nothing from its series of failed experiments in the region and its repeated gambling on agents and mercenaries in the service of American interests. It is now deluding itself regarding the possibility to repeat what it did in Iraq to prepare the ground for toppling Saddam Hussein's regime, without realizing that the Al-Sisi regime, which enjoys popular and Arab support, is nothing like Saddam's...
"It is now obvious that the U.S. is continuing to cast its lot with the policy of 'destructive chaos' formulated by [former U.S. secretary of state] Condoleezza Rice... Therefore, it can in no way be considered an exaggeration to accuse the U.S. of sponsoring terrorist organizations, and to hold it responsible for the Al-'Arish crime and the crimes that preceded it. The U.S. is to blame, and is involved in the events on the ground in Egypt; this is not unusual for a country that welcomes ties with those who have neither identity nor affiliation, and who are not against turning the homeland into rental property or into an investment firm and satellite of the American master..."
U.S. Policy Regarding Political Islam Is Plagued By Ignorance And Double Standards
In his column in the Egyptian daily Al-Masri Al-Yawm, which is close to the regime, Muhammad Salmawi wrote: "The [MB officials' State Department] meeting has grave implications, as it proves that Washington has not deviated one bit from its policy of double standards: It fights the terrorism of political Islam as it provides it with aid and support. This policy stems from a highly dangerous notion that there is a 'moderate' political Islam, and that if Washington can maintain close relations with it, it could control the extremist elements within it. This idea, if it shows anything, shows the U.S.'s absolute ignorance regarding the nature of this political Islam, and regarding its history since the founding of the MB in 1928...
"The MB movement is the mother organization that birthed all the world's political Islam movements, without exception... If these movements use violence to achieve their goals, it is because the MB itself grew through violence... This deceptive policy of both Washington and the MB will have disastrous consequences that will prevent any future attempt at [Egypt's] reconciliation with both the MB and American foreign policy."
Saudi Daily: U.S. Administration Does Not Grasp The Scope Of Opposition To The MB In The Middle East
The February 3, 2015 editorial of the Saudi Al-Watan daily. Titles "America and the MB - The Mistake Is Repeating Itself," also addressed the MB officials' State Department visit: "The hosting of a delegation of the terrorist MB movement by the U.S. State Department sparked widespread criticism by some American analysts, because the State Department, and the Obama administration in general, have yet to grasp the scope of the extensive popular opposition to the MB movement across the Middle East - particularly in the wake of the June 30, 2013 mass protests, the likes of which had never before been seen in Egypt...
"History proves that peoples always emerge victorious in their campaigns against the forces of darkness and destruction. Furthermore, all political Islam movements must realize that every crime they commit or to which they are an accessory increases the popular opposition to them. They must understand that the world's confidence in Egypt's trends and policy will not be harmed, and that their desperate attempts to disrupt the [mid-March 2015] economic summit [in Sharm Al-Sheikh that Al-Sisi is organizing] will not succeed..."
"War on Terror" (Al-Watan, Saudi Arabia, February 6, 2015)
 Ikhwanweb.com, January 31, 2015. The delegation attended a panel hosted by Washington's Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID), which is sponsored by Georgetown University. Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), February 2, 2015.
 Facebook.com/ercegypt1, January 24, 2015.
 Fj-p.com, January 27, 2015.
 Facebook.com/ercegypt1, January 24, 2015.
 Ikhwanonline.com, January 27, 2015.
 State.gov, January 30, 2015.
 Ikhwanweb.com, January 31, 2015.
 Al-Ahram (Egypt), January 31, 2015; Youtube.com/watch?v=CT5nejGeE7A.
 Al-Shurouq (Egypt), January 31, 2015.
 Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), February 1, 2015.
 Al-Ahram (Egypt), February 6, 2015.
 Al-Ahram (Egypt), February 1, 2015.
 Al-Ahram (Egypt), February 3, 2015.
 Arab writers' pun on the term "creative chaos" attributed to Condoleezza Rice.
 Al-Ahram (Egypt), February 1, 2015.
 Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), February 1, 2015.
 Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), February 3, 2015.