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‘Muslim Brotherhood working to change Middle East’

17 Jun

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is trying to take control of Egypt and change the country’s character completely, the head of the Defense Ministry Diplomatic-Security Bureau Amos Gilad said Sunday • In April, Gilad said as Islamists, the Muslim Brotherhood ultimately sees Israel as an Islamic “waqf,” a “holy trust” that must be returned one way or another to Muslim control.

The Associated Press and Israel Hayom Staff

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood is trying to take control of Egypt and change the country’s character completely, Defense Ministry Diplomatic-Security Bureau head Amos Gilad said Sunday.

Gilad made the comments as Egyptians vote to choose between a conservative Islamist and Hosni Mubarak’s ex-prime minister in a presidential runoff once billed as the country’s long-awaited shift to democracy but now clouded by pessimism over the future.

Speaking to Army Radio on Sunday, Gilad, who, during his career has maintained close relationships with top Egyptian military and intelligence officials, said Israel’s policy regarding Egypt was to refrain from interfering or making any comments that could be construed to be in favor of either party contesting Egypt’s presidential elections.

“The Muslim Brotherhood is trying to take control of Egypt and change the country’s character completely. They’re doing this as part of their vision to change the entire Middle East. They have said this for a long time now: that the day will come when they will entirely change the political map of the Middle East,” Gilad said.

Last week, a prominent Egyptian cleric with ties to the brotherhood vowed that should the brotherhood’s candidate Mohammed Morsi win, he would make Jerusalem the capital of the Muslim caliphate. “The United States of the Arabs will be restored on the hands of that man [Morsi] and his supporters. The capital of the [Muslim] caliphate will be Jerusalem with Allah’s will,” said Safwat Hagazy in a speech broadcast on Egypt’s Annas TV. “Yes, we will either pray in Jerusalem or we will be martyred there.” Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood officials were in attendance at the rally.

In April of this year, Gilad told a conference that “The leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood keep declaring, ‘We are committed to this peace.’ I am not so sure.” Gilad told the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs that the Muslim Brotherhood is still engaged in an international charm offensive, but that after coming to power, the group’s true Islamist agenda will take over.

Gilad noted that as Islamists, the Muslim Brotherhood ultimately sees Israel as an Islamic “waqf,” a “holy trust” that must be returned one way or another to Muslim control.

On Sunday, Gilad continued with that theme, saying that, “The Muslim Brotherhood is busy with an historic change in the Middle East. It’s not carrying out attacks, and it even states that it will abide by the peace accords with Israel as part of attaining this strategic goal. This organization was founded in 1928 and it has far-reaching goals, which cover the entire Middle East.”

The race between Ahmed Shafiq, a career air force officer like Mubarak, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, a U.S.-trained engineer, has deeply divided the country after the stunning uprising that ousted Mubarak after 29 years in office, and left many disillusioned about the elections’ legitimacy. Morsi has said that if elected, he would bring the continuation of Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel to a public referendum.

“Keeping the peace is a strategic interest of both Egypt and Israel. The peace accord is tied to stability across the Middle East. Egypt is a huge country. According to official statistics its population stands at 85 million people, but unofficially this number has probably swelled to around 88 million. Egypt is the leader of the Arab world. Israel’s supreme interest is to maintain a stable relationship with Egypt within the parameters of the peace accords. This has consequences for the political makeup of the whole region,” Gilad said.

Some Egyptians interviewed by The Associated Press on Saturday said they were voting against a candidate as much as for a favorite. Anti-Shafiq voters said they wanted to stop a figure they fear will perpetuate Mubarak’s regime; anti-Morsi voters feared he would hand the country over to Muslim Brotherhood domination to turn it into an Islamic state.

With the fear of new authoritarianism in the future, some said they were choosing whoever they believed would be easiest to eventually force out with new protests.

“We are afraid Egypt will turn into a religious state. Even though Shafiq is not the best one, we want him to maintain the civil state,” said Marsa Maher, a Christian housewife.

“Nobody in Israel is interfering in the Egyptian elections, and shouldn’t interfere, whether overtly or covertly. We should keep total silence here and respect the process that is taking place in Egypt. It is Israeli policy that under no condition do we interfere or express our opinion, and not to express our admiration or support for this person or that person. Any support we give to one side could lead to irreparable damage, and any disapproval of anyone can similarly lead to irreparable damage. That’s why it is Israel’s policy not to interfere,” Gilad added.

 

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