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.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora