Millions of American taxpayer dollars will be spent promoting the Muslim Brotherhood brand of Islamism to counter the Al-Qaeda brand of Islamism. The U.S. is teaming up with the Islamism-promoting governments of Turkey and Qatar to try to influence Muslim youth in a more positive direction.
The U.S. and the Islamist government of Turkey have announced a $200 million fund for programs that will supposedly promote non-violence among Muslims in terrorist hotspots like Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.
The total is to be raised over 10 years, with the U.S. provided $2-3 million (at first), along with Turkey, Canada, various European countries and “private sources.” The only other Muslim country mentioned as a partner besides Turkey is Qatar.
As the sole Muslim participants in the fund, Turkey and Qatar will be the ones crafting the Islamic message against Al-Qaeda.
The fund, called the Global Fund for Community Engagement and Resilience, will bolster local programs like vocational training, social networks and new school curriculums.
The thinking behind this fund is the same flawed thinking that upholds the Muslim Brotherhood as the moderate, democratic, non-violent alternative to Al-Qaeda. This logic was articulated by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in testimony on January 31, 2012—testimony that came after his previous embarrassingly inaccurate explanation of the Brotherhood:
“Al-Qaeda probably will find it difficult to compete for local support with groups like the Muslim Brotherhood that participate in the political process, provide social services and advocate religious values. Non-violent, pro-democracy demonstrations challenge Al-Qaeda’s violent jihadist ideology and might yield increased political power for secular or moderate Islamist parties.”
The tiny Gulf nation of Qatar is subsidizing the Muslim Brotherhood and acts like a bank for the Islamist cause. Al-Jazeera is based there, as is the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan was dubbed the "King of the Islamists" in a Clarion Project analysis in March. His government sided with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and he says Hamas isn’t a terrorist group. Erdogan has been implementing Sharia law in Turkey incrementally using the Islamist doctrine of "gradualism."
Turkey’s neo-Ottoman ideology is promoted even in the U.S. through the Fethullah Gulen charter school network, the Turkish government’s embrace of Native American tribes, and Turkey’s direct involvement in the construction of Ottoman-themed mosques, like the $100 million mega-mosque being built in Maryland.
Instead of making alliances with Turkey and Qatar, the U.S. should instead look to Muslim leaders like Jordanian King Abdullah II, an adversary of the Muslim Brotherhood. He has marginalized the Brotherhood opposition that threatened his reign by embracing liberal critics.
We should listen to what King Abdullah had to say about Turkey under Erdogan. He pointed out that Erdogan “once said that democracy for him is a bus ride. 'Once I get to my stop, I'm getting off'."
Abdullah was referring to a statement Erdogan made in the 1990s before he took power. He said democracy is “a train that takes you to your destination, and then you get off.”
Jordan’s King has also said that style and patience is the only difference between Erdogan and former Egyptian President Morsi, who was overthrown in an anti-Muslim Brotherhood revolution. He said, "Instead of the Turkish model — taking six or seven years being an Erdogan — Morsi wanted to do it overnight.”
Unfortunately, America’s strategy will either create more Al-Qaeda recruits by expanding the overall Islamist following, or — if it works as intended — will hurt Al-Qaeda but strengthen the other Islamist movements.
No wonder Muslim Brotherhood’s supporters are happy about it.
Ryan Mauro is the ClarionProject.org’s National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on top-tier TV stations as an expert on counterterrorism and Islamic extremism.