Declaring the ideology of radical Islam an obvious and “grave threat to all civilized people,” U.S. National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster singled out the Muslim Brotherhood and its brand of political Islam as a specific threat.
McMaster made the remarks in a speech at Policy Exchange in Washington, D.C. where he spoke alongside his British counterpart Mark Sedwill.
While acknowledging not all Muslim Brotherhood groups are alike, McMaster mentioned two particularly dangerous branches of the Brotherhood – those in Turkey and Egypt where the Brotherhood controls powerful political parties.
In Egypt, McMaster noted how the Brotherhood took advantage of the power vacuum created by the
overthrow of long-standing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during the 2011 Arab Spring and was able to elect its candidate, Islamist Mohammed Morsi. Morsi quickly began to grab power from other branches of the government and impose draconian restrictions on the population.
To avoid another “Morsi model,” McMaster urged building opposition groups that respect individual freedoms and can stand up to the Brotherhood.
In Turkey, the Brotherhood is identified with Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, McMaster noted.
“By operating through civil society, they [the Brotherhood] consolidate power through one party. Sadly it is a problem contributing to Turkey’s drift from the West,” McMaster said. That “drift,” he said is Turkey’s (along with Qatar’s) funding of radical Islamist ideology.
Although McMaster labeled Turkey’s and Qatar’s sponsorship of radical Islamist ideology as a “new role,” both countries’ promotion of extremist ideology as well as its violent manifestations is not something new.
In 2012, Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ prime minister in Gaza, received a standing ovation from members of Erdogan’ AK Party when he visited the Turkish parliament. Hamas, which is internationally recognized as a terrorist group, is the Brotherhood’s affiliate in Gaza. Similarly, Khaled Mashaal, who for many years headed Hamas, received a warm welcome then he attended the AK party’s annual general meeting in 2014.
An Israeli intelligence report concluded that Turkey has been the top financial sponsor of Hamas since 2012, with Erdogan arranging for the transfer of between $250-300 million to the terrorist group annually.
The same report said Turkey coordinates funding Hamas with Qatar. As early as 2013, members of Congress asked Qatar to stop financing Hamas. In 2014, the U.S. blocked a $400-million aid package to Qatar after learning it would be used to to pay 44,000 employees of the Hamas government in Gaza.
Tensions between Saudi Arabia over Qatar’s funding of the Brotherhood go back until at least 2014 when Saudi Arabia reportedly threatened to close its border with Qatar if it did not stop supporting the Brotherhood.
This summer, Saudi Arabia as well as Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and other Arab states broke diplomatic ties with Qatar over its continued terror funding of the Brotherhood and other terrorist entities.