The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has made great strides since Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power last year. It surged in popularity, handsomely won legislative elections and now its presidential candidate, Muhammad Mursi, has won the presidential contest.
With Mubarak now reportedly clinically dead, the military regime that has been controlling Egypt since his ouster is showing a reluctance to yield power. Still, it has said that it will transfer power to the new president and not seek to impede him or deprive him of presidential powers. We are now looking at an extremist Islamist Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Egypt.
Because this result was readily predictable, the Zionist Organization of America opposed U.S. efforts last year to push the regime off the stage and replace it with whatever emerged in new elections. Not because we're opposed to democracy. But in a society like Egypt that has known only autocracy and Islamism, we fully expected that early elections would see anti-democratic, Islamist forces with no respect for basic human rights gain power — as now appears to be the case.
Now the United States must decide how it deals with the new situation. The Obama administration has given the impression that one can do business with the Muslim Brotherhood, but the group's history and aims are no secret.
Before and during World War II, it collaborated with Nazi Germany. Its leading intellectual figure, Sayyid Qutb, is the inspiration for Al Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist movements. The group's Palestinian branch, Hamas, is a blood-soaked terrorist organization that calls in its charter for the destruction of Israel and the worldwide murder of Jews.
The Muslim Brotherhood platform calls for jihad and states that "Islam is the official state religion and Islamic sharia is the main source for legislation." It stipulates that the president and legislative branch will be advised by clerics, who must approve decisions, and that non-Muslims will be barred from the presidency, which is also held to be unsuitable for women.
As Jayshree Bajoria of the Council on Foreign Relations has written: "Establishing an Islamic state based on sharia is at the center of the Muslim Brotherhood's ideology, both in Egypt and among the group's many offshoots abroad." Shadi Hamid, a Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution's Doha Center, has described it as "the mother of all Islamist movements."
All of which increases the likelihood that the new Egyptian government will abrogate the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli treaty. The Brotherhood's deputy leader, Rashad al-Bayoumi, has said, regarding the peace treaty: "To me, it isn't binding at all." On no condition, he has stated, "will we recognize Israel. It is an enemy entity."
The United States has given some $60 billion to Egypt over 30 years. It now looks like it has an antagonist rather than any sort of ally in Cairo. The security situation in Sinai, which was never good, has deteriorated still further. There was a terrorist attack on Israel from Sinai in recent weeks. What should the United States do?
It must make clear that it will sever all financial and military aid to Cairo unless the new government commits publicly and in writing to repudiating those parts of its platform that imperil peace, human rights and the alliance with America. The new government must enable further elections, commit to safeguard the rights of women and non-Muslims and uphold the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.
Obviously, words are cheap, even when put in writing. But it is still vital that Washington demand these things. Failure by Egypt to abide by these commitments once given should lead to immediate termination of U.S. financial and military support.
Morton A. Klein, who lives in Lower Merion, is national president of the Zionist Organization of America.