News / Africa

US to Have 'Limited' Contacts With Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers her speech, during the inauguration of the Tom Lantos Institute, at the Hungarian Parliament building,  in Budapest, Hungary, June 30, 2011
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers her speech, during the inauguration of the Tom Lantos Institute, at the Hungarian Parliament building, in Budapest, Hungary, June 30, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
  • VOA's David Gollust discusses US Secretary of State's remarks

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States will pursue a policy of "limited contacts" with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood movement, considered that country's strongest political party.  Clinton, speaking in Budapest, said U.S. diplomats will press the Islamic movement on non-violence and respect for minority and women's rights.  

The United States has had political contacts in the past with Muslim Brotherhood members of the Egyptian parliament, who were elected as nominal independents.

VOA's David Gollust discusses US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's announcement:

Now, with the old parliament dissolved and critical elections looming in September, U.S. officials will be able to deal directly with leaders of the influential Egyptian party.

Clinton confirmed the policy shift at a news conference Thursday with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Budapest.  She said that given the "changing political landscape" in Egypt, it is in the interests of the United States to engage with all parties that are committed to non-violence and intend to compete for the Egyptian parliament and presidency.

Clinton said U.S. officials welcome dialogue with Muslim Brotherhood members who wish to engage, and that they will hear a message of inclusion.

"In any of those contacts, prior or future, we will continue to emphasize the importance of and support for democratic principles," Clinton noted.  "And especially a commitment to non-violence, respect for minority rights, and the full inclusion of women in any democracy.  You cannot leave out half the population and claim that you are committed to democracy."

A spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood said the group would welcome any formal contacts with the United States as a way to clarify its program, but that it would not accept interference in Egyptian affairs.

Though officially a banned organization during the years of rule of ousted former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Brotherhood members ran for parliament as independents and become the largest opposition bloc in the former parliament, dissolved in February by the country's interim military leadership.

The revised U.S. policy will allow a direct dialogue to continue with the party, which is fielding candidates for the new parliament, but not the presidency.

Though the Muslim Brotherhood has renounced violence as a means for change, the Palestinian Hamas movement - inspired by the Egyptian party - has not and is listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization.

The U.S. contacts with the Islamic party could be unsettling to Israel and Arab states seen as threatened by Islamic militancy.

But Arab politics expert David Schenker of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy says having the dialogue will allow the United States to make clear, first hand, the concerns it has about the party's political vision.  He said the dialogue need not be a concern for Egypt's neighbors.

"I think we should be making clear to anybody who will listen that our discussions with the brotherhood in no way suggest our endorsement," Schenker said.  "We have a stake in how things develop in Egypt, about who wins.  And I think we can make it clear that even as we are discussing, having talks with the group and getting insight into this group that we would prefer that liberals are voted into office."

Schenker said the tight election schedule, with voting set in less than three months, gives the better organized Muslim Brotherhood an advantage over newly-formed liberal and moderate political parties, especially outside the major Egyptian cites of Cairo and Alexandria.

Liberal and secular groups have pressed for an election delay until after a new Egyptian constitution has been drafted.  Tunisia, facing similar circumstances, recently pushed back its planned elections from July 24th to October 23rd.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurdish Leader: Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid