McCain v. Clinton on the Muslim BrotherhoodWhen it comes to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Obama administration is consistent. President Obama said last week that he hoped that the Brotherhood would join a new government to be formed in Egypt. And that shouldn't be surprising, because last April, President Obama hired an adviser on Muslim Affairs, who sympathizes with the Brotherhood and with its 'Palestinian' offshoot, Hamas. So it also should not be surprising that Secretary of State Clinton has told AFP that she backs Muslim Brotherhood involvement in talks over Egypt.
On the other hand, former Republican Presidential candidate John McCain told Der Spiegel over the weekend that he would exclude the Muslim Brotherhood from any transition government in Egypt.
SPIEGEL: You have called for open elections in Egypt. Should that happen quickly or could elections lead to chaos if organized prematurely?McCain is correct. What could go wrong?
McCain: The process that I would like to see and I think a lot of other people would like to see is Hosni Mubarak stepping down and the army taking charge along with other democratic organizations within Egypt -- not the Muslim Brotherhood. A transition government should then launch a campaign for fair, open and democratic elections that take place in September.
SPIEGEL: How optimistic are you that the Arab world is capable of establishing democratic institutions?
McCain: I think they are very capable, especially Egypt, the center culturally and politically of the Middle East. But I would add that the longer that these demonstrators are repressed, the more likely the scenario that the issue is hijacked by radical Islamic elements.
SPIEGEL: In 2006, the US pushed for elections in Gaza -- a move which ultimately brought Hamas into power.
McCain: In Gaza, people basically had only two choices: Fatah, which was a failed and corrupt organization, or Hamas, which as we know was supported by the Muslim Brotherhood. Instead what they should have had was a multi-party campaign with lots of candidates and lots of choices for the people of Gaza.
SPIEGEL: Many people are drawing comparisons between the situation in Cairo and the Iranian revolution of 1979 which led to the country's takeover by religious leaders. If you look at elements like the Muslim Brotherhood, how likely is a similar outcome in Egypt?
McCain: I am deeply, deeply concerned that this whole movement could be hijacked by radical Islamic extremists.
SPIEGEL: What is your assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood?
McCain: I think they are a radical group that first of all supports Sharia law; that in itself is anti-democratic -- at least as far as women are concerned. They have been involved with other terrorist organizations and I believe that they should be specifically excluded from any transition government.
SPIEGEL: Are you afraid that someone like Mohamed ElBaradei is instrumentalized by the Muslim Brotherhood?
McCain: Oh yeah, I think it's very clear that the scenario is very likely he could be their front man. He has no following nor political influence in Egypt. After all, he has lived outside of Egypt for most of his life.
SPIEGEL: A certain role of the Muslim Brotherhood in the transition process in Egypt seems acceptable to the Obama White House. Does that concern you?
McCain: It concerns me so much that I am unalterably opposed to it. I think it would be a mistake of historic proportions.