Bad Omen? Brotherhood to Form Political Party

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The Muslim Brotherhood announced plans on Tuesday to form a political party in Egypt, underscoring its intentions to play a key role in the country's future.

Senior Brotherhood member Essam el-Erian said the group did not plan to field one of its members for president in the upcoming elections because it would be too controversial.

CBN News Terrorism Analyst Erick Stakelbeck discussed what senior Israeli officials have said about what's happening in Egypt and the chances of the Muslim Brotherhood becoming a partner in a governing coalition. Click play for his comments following Mideast Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell's report.

The ruling Armed Forces Supreme Council invited Brotherhood representative Sobhi Saleh to sit on the eight-member panel amending the constitution to pave the way for democratic elections in six months. The panel has 10 days to present its recommendations for the referendum.

Chairing the panel is Tareq el-Bishri, an advocate of incorporating "moderate" Islamists in the political process.

The Brotherhood, founded in the 1920s, envisions Egypt as an Islamic state ruled by sharia law. During the decades in which it was outlawed, it has become Egypt's most organized "opposition" movement and has more than 100 branches worldwide.

President Barack Obama, who last week played down the Brotherhood's influence, calling it only "one faction in Egypt," praised the military's efforts to prepare for democratic elections in six months.

"Egypt's going to require help in building democratic institutions, for strengthening an economy that's taken a hit. So far, at least, we're seeing the right signals coming out of Egypt," Obama said.

The Brotherhood said it would form its party once freer laws are in place.

"The Muslim Brotherhood group believes in the freedom of the formation of political parties. They are eager to have a political party," spokesman Mohammed Mursi said in a statement on the Brotherhood's website.

The Brotherhood spawned Hamas, the Gaza-based Palestinian faction controlling the Gaza Strip. Both groups are openly anti-Israel, though the Brotherhood says it is not seeking to rescind the 1979 peace agreement with Israel at this time.

Meanwhile, in remarks at the LBJ Library in Dallas on Tuesday, former President Jimmy Carter said people should not be worried about the Muslim Brotherhood.

"I've known members of the Muslim Brotherhood. They are not anything to be afraid of," Carter said. He praised the way the Obama administration has been handling the situation in Egypt, saying it was "probably like I would have handled it."

Carter said he hoped the "shake up in Egypt" would lead to renewal of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

But some like Dore Gold, former  Israeli ambassador to the U.N., are skeptical of the Brotherhood’s motives. 
 
"I think they are trying to position themselves to seize this revolution down the road, to take it over,” he said. “And I think that is something the West will have to carefully monitor and avert."   

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