In recent years, international relations literature introduced new approaches beside classical realism in defining new actors in the international system. One of these approaches is neo liberalism giving more weight and attention to non-state actors like terrorist groups and political movements in shaping and defining international interactions and security arrangements. The following article http://www.wilsoncenter.org/islamists/article/islamist-gap-isis-v-the-brothers?utm_content=buffer008ad&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer, introduces a comparison between ISIS and MB, despite the article comparison may reveal fundamental differences between both, yet their practical actions and careful historical observations may prove otherwise and show some similarities and common grounds but not based on Islam as quoted by the article as follows: “Despite their common Islamist labels, however, the two movements have vastly different origins, political platforms and social agendas. The Islamic State is militant in ideology, agenda and tactics, while the Muslim Brotherhood has run in democratic elections”. Guess another form of comparison from another angel that will be stated shortly will shed more light on such paradox and point of view.
First of all, its of great importance to recall the 30 year war and its results and consequence represented by “Westphalia Peace Accord”. Apart from well-known details, it was a religious war in its essence and one of its learning lessons was full and complete separation between politics and religion. I highly believe that this war and accord formed and launched the true renaissance of Europe by that time and paved the way for Europe progress and flourishing path. I think mixture between politics and Islam is of great problem and caused harm to Islam reputation as a concept and ethics more than it benefited. Some argue that Islam during its early years and decades applied such mixture especially by honorable Prophet Mohammed “Prayers and Peace be upon him”. For those arguments we may think, it was true by the prophet’s time where politics was performed in superb ethics and manners which were consistent with the Islam merciful values by that time but not nowadays where most politics is contaminated with human acts and nature of all unethical forms and misconducts of lies and exploitation. My point, religions in general are holy messages and ranked highly by its spiritual and ethical guidance. Such rank should not be tainted by current political games and maneuvers, where such lesson was grasped by European leaders while signing Westphalia Peace.
Secondly, we have to compare apples to apples, guess the A/M quote contradicts with another quotation stating about MB “During the 1950s and 1960s it went through a militant phase. Brotherhood members plotted assassinations on government officials including an attempt on Egyptian President Gamal Abdul-Nasser in 1954”. Implying explicitly that MB in its early years “which its duration accounts now for almost 80 years” is similar to ISIS current starting years and used violence as a strategy, tactic and an agenda. Meaning for comparison to be accurate, compare ISIS now with MB era in 1950 and 1960 or postpone such comparison till ISIS reaches its 80th anniversary, god forbid of course. In addition, the article mentioned explicitly that MB was the “Big tent” from which all violent groups emerged and flourished. Guess time and events proved that MB established alliances with such extremists groups evidenced by the events and meetings seen and conducted during the one year MB ruling and post June 30 revolution statements.
Despite the two groups name mentions Islam explicitly and uses Islam as main fundamental reference for their ideology and definitions, nevertheless, both implemented actions that has nothing to do with true Islam or its core essence of merciful moderate ethics and morals. As true Islam isn’t based on violence or manipulation / misuse of religion to score political points or achieve pure political gains. Both groups misused / exploited Islam religion to merely and ultimately gain political power and control and to have a fancy title of Islam prince or Muslims king known in Arabic by “Al Amir / Al Calipha”. ISIS explicitly mentioned so by its “Cilaphate” project which aims at gaining political power and eliminating borders between countries, thus establishing an empire and exploiting the regions natural resources using the sword edge.
MB in same manner misused Islamic values and ethics to govern Egypt taking advantage of being the most organized group by that time post Jan 25th revolution and for that purpose conducted alliances pre and post 2012 presidential elections with some of the most dangerous extremist’s fanatics and jihadists to reach power and proving truly that it deserved to be a big tent. Once they reached power, those allies were rewarded lucratively by pardoning many of those jihadists whom were accused in Egypt for terroristic crimes while allowing others to return back to Egypt safely and settle in Sinai Peninsula and continue their terrorist actions, thus threating Egypt National Security and preventing Honorable Egyptian Army and Police officers from combating terrorism in Sinai and if it wasn’t for June 30 revolution that allowed and gave proxy to hon. Egyptian Army and Police officers to launch war on terrorism, Sinai would have been a hot spot for ISIS and other terrorist fanatics. Such events are authenticated by footage and presidential meeting statements and minutes announced during the MB one year ruling and the months that followed their departure.
Another similarity between ISIS and MB is elimination of borders, and swearing loyalty to the brotherhood not the country’s flag or people or constitution. Such ideology or thinking might be debatable from one person to another depending on his position and rank inside the country’s institution but definitely it is not acceptable when talking about the Country’s President the highest rank and official in the country. Such thinking associated with such position means approving to adjust the country’s borders or giving away part of the land or even thinking of spreading the country’s jurisdictions by occupying other neighboring countries. That what is ISIS doing by violence and what MB were intending to do by planning to give apart some of Egypt’s land especially in Sinai and South once they reached into power as MB fundamental ideology is borders elimination and setting the brotherhood interests ahead of the country’s Sovereignty and National Security.
Worth mentioning that some western voices introduced the concept of political Islam as an alternative to contain and surround terrorism and giving whom thought to be moderate an option of reaching power in exchange of relinquishing violence . Good example of such approach and experiment was MB ruling year in Egypt. Nevertheless, such approach proved its failure by MB actions throughout the year that completely contradicted their statements. One was quoted from the article as follows: “The [Freedom and Justice Party] will cooperate with all parties and political movements, not just the Islamists, as long as this is in the country’s best interest”. In reality they were sincere about cooperating with others but if it was in the brotherhood interests not the country’s, such statement was for media propaganda not more and alliances were conducted with Islamist only whom are having same political agenda and asking no questions about it.
That being said, an interesting quote attracted my attention as follows: “Dabiq’s second issue featured the Islamic State’s account of Noah, entitled “It’s Either the Islamic State or The Flood,” an explicit threat to other Muslims to join the Caliphate or perish”, which resembles a similarity to Mohamed Morsi Speech on July 2nd acting in his capacity as Egyptian president by that date , threatening Egyptians to shed their blood and entering Egypt into a civil war in protection for his democratic legitimacy, meaning explicitly “ it is either my legitimacy or blood flood” forgetting that democracy has many forms and it’s not only elections and contradicting as well with the A/M statement of preserving the country’s interest and constitution he sworn to.
Another statement by the article that proved to be false and contradicting with MB actions pre and post June 30th revolution quoted: “The civil state sought by Islam and the MB would ensure equal rights for Copts”. MB and their allies hostile statements against hon. Egyptian Copts were launched pre June 30 to the extent of causing some of them to immigrate abroad and others to be thinking seriously about it pre June 30 revolution but that it is not the case now as mentioned by Hon. POE Sisi couple of days ago.
Post June 30 revolution immediately and as coincided by hon. US state dept. report, violent attacks by MB’s and their allies were conducted on Egyptian Churches for their constructive position in June 30 Revolution and if it wasn’t for hon. Pope Twadrous and hon. Egyptian Copts wisdom and patriosm, god knows what ill fate Egypt might have suffered. Thus MB and their allies implemented literally one of ISIS quotes mentioned in Mosul Announcement:” We offer [non-Muslims] three choices: [conversion to] Islam; the dhimma contract [a pact of allegiance from non-Muslims to Muslim governors]– involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.” –Mosul Announcement” .
Finally and based on all of the above, ISIS and MB’s are truly not the same group but MB is definitely the big tent as they share common grounds and violent militia thinking and approach as past couple years proved with no doubts that MB and their allies did not relinquish violence, they just pretended doing so to reach their 80 years goal of ruling Egypt. Thus the only difference in my opinion is that ISIS explicitly mentioned its violent strategy and goals while MB just concealed them.
To recap, Terrorism and violence anywhere should not be taken lightly or with double standards. Terrorism definition is one and unique and should remain so across the whole world.