On the Ropes, But No Obit for Muslim Brotherhood

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WASHINGTON -- In Egypt, the so called Arab Spring has given way to a violent winter.

Dozens of Christian churches have been burned to the ground. Deadly attacks against Egyptian troops and police continue, as do calls for jihad against the so-called "enemies of Allah."

After Egypt officially banned the Muslim Brotherhood earlier this year, many people started dismissing the group as if it were no longer a powerful arm of radical Islam.

Followers of the Brotherhood hold influential positions in the Obama administration, what does this mean for the United States? Erik Stakelbeck, CBN News Terrorism Analyst, answers this and more on CBN Newswatch, Dec. 16.

But Islamist groups don't give up so easily. The Muslim Brotherhood and its allies have been busy since the Egyptian military forced President Mohammed Morsi from office.

As it fights for survival, the Brotherhood is clearly on the ropes in Egypt. It has once again been outlawed, and most of its leaders now sit in prison awaiting trial.

Polls show that a large majority of Egyptians are pleased with the change. Millions of Egyptians consistently took part in massive protests last June calling for Morsi's ouster.

Raymond Ibrahim, Middle East expert and CBN News contributor, says Egyptian outrage is rooted in Morsi's and the Brotherhood's decision to put the advancement of radical Islamist ideology over the good of the Egyptian people.

"A lot of the people in Egypt on the ground are sick of them," Ibrahim told CBN News. "They're being accused of being disloyal, of working with foreign entities -- and just to get themselves in power and do their bidding."
 
The Brotherhood also faced backlash in Tunisia, where it rose to power in 2011. Its Palestinian branch, Hamas, has been weakened as well.

And a recent leadership change in the tiny, oil-rich nation of Qatar -- one of the global Brotherhood's biggest financiers -- may affect the group's efforts around the world.

But don't begin writing an obituary for the Muslim Brotherhood because it remains active in some 70 countries -- and it's resilient.

Middle East analyst Avi Melamed is a former Israeli intelligence official. He says as the Brotherhood struggles to regain its footing, even more radical forces, like al Qaeda, are seeking to take advantage in places like Syria.

"We have to remember that the Muslim Brotherhood is a very substantial factor in the Arab world. This is the biggest mass movement in the Arab Muslim Sunni world," Melamed told CBN News.

"Syria has also become a stage for the struggle between practical, political Syrian elements, like the Free Syrian Army on the one hand and radical Islam-affiliated groups, who basically see Syria as a great opportunity to establish an al Qaeda-style base in the heart of the Arab world," Melamed explained.

The growing strength of al Qaeda and its allies became clear most recently in Kenya, where the terror group al-Shabaab killed at least 67 people at a Nairobi shopping mall.

At the same time, Shiite Iran continues its march toward a nuclear bomb, and its Lebanese-based proxy, Hezbollah, has stockpiled tens of thousands of rockets and missiles.
 
Another ally, Turkey, continues to be a power player in the Middle East and beyond.
 
As for the Brotherhood, CBN News has reported how its followers hold influential advisory positions in the Obama administration even as these Muslim Brothers continue to lead violent protests against the interim Egyptian government.

"If anything, usually before a death blow, things get very chaotic, and hectic and violent. So, if anything, you can expect to see more of an outlash from the Brotherhood," Ibrahim said.

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Erick Stakelbeck

Erick Stakelbeck

CBN News Correspondent

Erick Stakelbeck is a sought after authority on terrorism and national security issues with extensive experience in television, radio, and print media. Stakelbeck is a correspondent and terrorism analyst for CBN News.  Follow Erick on Twitter @Staks33.