CPAC 2011: Nobody Expects the Muslim Brotherhood

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 12 2011 2:12 PM

CPAC 2011: Nobody Expects the Muslim Brotherhood

In my ongoing quest for opinions about Egypt at CPAC, I sat in on a session on the threat of Sharia law, featuring Ayaan Hirsi Ali and former CIA Director James Woolsey. Egypt came up in the form of this question: How great is the risk of a Muslim brotherhood takeover?

"The answer to that question depends on three things," said Hirsi Ali. "One, it depends the Muslim brotherhood's influence within the Egyptian military. A second factor is how gullible the U.S. administration is."

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics


That got a worried laugh.

"Take the national intelligence director's remarks yesterday," said Hirsi Ali, "describing them as a secular, eschewing violence, and so on. If that is the policy, that is how the American government perceives the Muslim Brotherhood to be, that's a great asset for the Muslim brotherhood, a third factor is the level of organization or disorganization within the secular forces in Egypt. All three forces, at the moment, seem to be directed toward a Muslim Brotherhood between now and 2-5 years. And the military is the only institution within Egypt that has been preventing such a government, but there are reports that the Muslim Brotherhood has got a great deal of influence within the law, and the mid-ranking officials. And they're going to bide their time and they're very, very clever about it."

Woolsey more or less agreed.

"The key point about Egypt is that there's a long tradition," he said, "unfortunately, of revolutions against autocrats, shortly after they take place and during the time that they're overthrowing the Bastille, say, by moderates and librarians. It happened in the French revolution. It happened in the Russian revolution, with Kerensky. It happened in Iran, with the reformers who took down the Shah. And then the simple phrase is 'the revolution devours its children.' What tends to come around later, after a period of a couple of months or so, is that the hard-liners kill the liberals and take over, and if you're very disciplined and very organized you can pull off what the Bolsheviks pulled off in 1917."

The early, happy headlines might not last.

"Even if things look good here for a few weeks or even a few months, don't take your eyes off the situation, because as Ayaan says, the Muslim Brotherhood will be working very hard to get contral. And you could get the hand of Iran in there. Iran is an equal opportunity terrorism sponsor. They're happy to work with Sunni as well as Shi'ite."

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics



The Right to Run

If you can vote, you should be able to run for public office—any office.

Move Aside, Oxford Comma, the New Battle Is Over Single or Double Quotes

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Ben Bradlee’s Fascinating Relationship With JFK


The Simpsons World App Is Finally Here

I feel like a kid in some kind of store.


Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 11:06 AM The Right to Run If you can vote, you should be able to run for public office—any office.
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
The Vault
Oct. 22 2014 11:36 AM Casting the Role of Scarlett O'Hara Was Really, Really Frustrating
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 10:00 AM On the Internet, Men Are Called Names. Women Are Stalked and Sexually Harassed.
  Slate Plus
Oct. 22 2014 6:00 AM Why It’s OK to Ask People What They Do David Plotz talks to two junior staffers about the lessons of Working.
Oct. 22 2014 11:04 AM Do All U.S. Presidents Look the Same? What About Japan’s Prime Ministers?
Oct. 22 2014 10:29 AM Apple TV Could Still Work Here’s how Apple can fix its living-room product.
  Health & Science
Oct. 22 2014 11:30 AM Where Does Ebola Hide? My nerve-wracking research with shrieking bats.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.