News

    White House Defends Meetings with Muslim Brotherhood

    Kent Klein

    The Obama administration is defending its Thursday meetings with members of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist political party. Officials say the United States is engaging with a variety of Egypt’s emerging political actors.

    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood met with mid-level officials from the U.S. National Security Council.

    On Wednesday, he described the officials in the meeting as "low-level."

    Carney told reporters on Thursday that it is important for the administration to meet with many Egyptian political groups, as the country’s political situation evolves after last year’s overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak.

    "In the aftermath of Egypt's revolution, we have broadened our engagement to include new and emerging political parties and actors.  Because it is a fact that Egypt's political landscape has changed and the actors have become more diverse, and our engagement reflects that," Carney said.

    Carney said he did not have information on the substance of the meetings.  He also had no word on whether further meetings would be scheduled, but said he expected the dialogue to continue.

    The president's spokesman gave assurances that great emphasis was placed on democracy and human rights.

    "The Muslim Brotherhood will be a major player, and we are engaging because that is the appropriate and right thing to do.  And we will judge all of the political actors in Egypt by their actions, by their commitment to democracy and democratic processes and protection of civil rights," Carney said.

    The Muslim Brotherhood is one of five Middle Eastern Islamist political parties taking part in meetings with U.S. officials in Washington as well as a conference organized by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

    Marina Ottaway, a Middle East expert at the Endowment, who helped to organize the conference, says U.S. officials are trying to learn more about the Brotherhood.

    "Until the overthrow of Mubarak, the United States had an expressed policy of not talking to the Muslim Brotherhood because the Egyptian government was opposed to talking to the Muslim Brotherhood.  So it is only in the last few months, essentially, that the United States has started talking to the Muslim Brothers," she said.

    Shibley Telhami is the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland.  He says the Muslim Brotherhood is trying to reassure officials in Washington that it shares their commitment to democracy, civil rights and stability.

    "There is a recognition across the board in the U.S., and this really is across the Republican-Democrat [U.S. political] divide, and that is that Egypt is very important for the U.S.  It has been an anchor of American foreign policy in the Middle East.  The stability of the Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement is so important," Telhami said.

    Telhami says that another reason U.S. officials have decided to talk to the Muslim Brotherhood is the rise of Egypt’s more conservative Islamist groups.

    "To everyone’s surprise, the threat to the Muslim Brotherhood ended up being less from the liberals and more from the more conservative Salafis, including their presidential candidate, who is doing far better than anyone would have expected a few weeks ago.  And so, in that sense, the Muslim Brotherhood looks a little bit more moderate, I think," Telhami said.

    Meanwhile, Egypt’s presidential election commission has disqualified one Islamist candidate because his mother was an American citizen.  Hazem Abu Ismail, a lawyer and preacher, was disqualified under a law that says candidates, their spouses and parents must hold only Egyptian citizenship.  

    Ismail used anti-U.S. rhetoric in his campaign speeches, and his departure from the race is expected to benefit the Muslim Brotherhood.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 3
        Next 
    by: Mohammad Goldstein
    April 14, 2012 4:13 PM
    So why not Reach Out To Cuba? The actions behind politicians are easily exposed. President Obama has a copy of my book and so does every Senator and Congressman in Washington. I think the American people are waking up to a new way to take America back. "The Plot to Overthrow" is becoming a reality!

    by: Tracy
    April 08, 2012 12:05 PM
    So...who are the others..the administration has reached out to?

    by: Jasmine Opperman
    April 06, 2012 5:22 PM
    Is it so difficult for the USA to realise that groups like the Muslim Brotherhood are eroding Al-Queda support bases in the Middle East, whereby majority support for change is not by means of terrorism. Demands are to be ruled by governments that is legitimate, based on political, economic and religious contextual realities. Sounds like democracy, doesn't it - but try to explain that to the West!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    by: nasser el abed rahman
    April 06, 2012 4:06 PM
    the White house is doing mistake after mistake in middle East. as the result,the situation get worst .if the white house does not know the mentality of these fanatic,why is interfering and met with them .is the white house believe that by meeting with them the fanatic and support of terrorism will vanish. this is absurd Little knowlege is very dangerious

    by: Patricia Spell
    April 06, 2012 3:39 PM
    I think the only thing keeping God from judging this nation, is our support of Israel. I see the Lord turning His back on us as a nation. He will never abandon Believer's, It is not the meek Jesus, that is coming back, but the Warrior King, as for me, I am ready to meet Him!

    by: Reggie
    April 06, 2012 3:26 PM
    Don't groups like these suppress women's basic rights (and we're not talking about buying birth control)? Yet this administration has no problem dealing with them. Why doesn't Obama tell them how they should properly treat women and tell the world how they are anti-women? He has no problem telling the Catholic Church what they should be doing. Oh that's right, that won't buy him any votes here.

    by: Gab to President Obama
    April 06, 2012 12:03 PM
    The West , to include the United States, has always done business with dictators and autocrats in the Middle East, otherwise you could not do any business. But we will not do business with a hostile Islamic regime. Not any more. So President Obama should meet with them and make it clear. We are already Egypt's biggest trading partner. If they want that to continue, they will have to agree to a few things.

    by: AJP
    April 06, 2012 10:29 AM
    We know Obama promised Russia that he would abandon our missile defense after his "re-election". What do you think he promised to do for the Muslim Brotherhood after 78% of the Jewish population help, again, to re-elect him??? Israel are you listening????

    by: Lesha page
    April 06, 2012 8:09 AM
    I call for you to resign this minute! How dare you condone these radical people's action by even meeting with. They are VERY anti-Isreal. Despite what you say WE ARE STILL A CHRISTIAN NATION. I am ashamed of you Mr. Obama! Of course I don't know why I am surprised it goes right along with the rest of your embarrassing presidency!

    by: Dee Smith
    April 05, 2012 9:28 PM
    Obama is trash. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
    Comments page of 3
        Next 

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020i
    X
    Ramon Taylor
    May 05, 2016 10:05 PM
    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020

    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Child Labor in Afghanistan Remains a Problem

    With war still raging in Afghanistan, the country also faces the problem of child labor as families put their school-age children to work to help make ends meet. But, thanks to VOA's Afghan Service, two families whose children had been working in a brick-making factory - to earn their livings and pay off family debts - now have a new lease on life. Zabihullah Ghazi reports.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora