The White House appears to be baffled by the Muslim Brotherhood. On one hand, the Brotherhood proved embarrassingly weak and slow in Syria, where its failure to join the uprising in time allowed Assad to survive. The Obama administration was ambivalent toward Assad: calling on him for step down but also working to preserve him as the American link to Iran. Nevertheless, the Brotherhood’s failure to play out the revolutionary scenario showed Obama that he cannot count on that ‘moderate force.’
In Sudan, too, the Muslim Brotherhood failed to frustrate the government’s plan for an onslaught on the oil-rich region. The Brotherhood also exercises much less influence on Hamas than the White House would like to see.
In Cairo, Obama recognized finally that the Brotherhood is not content with the role he assigned to it—that of a major opposition party. Instead, the Islamic force wants it all: from the presidency down to municipal elections. Marshal Tantawi, the Egyptian ruler made in the US, proved loyal to his army rather than his state, and accepts the Muslim Brotherhood’s bid for power as the surest way to extricate the army from running the state. He is short-sighted: the Brotherhood will replace the top brass after coming to power. Washington therefore lobbies against the elections in Egypt so the junta can continue ruling it. This policy is unworkable, too, as Egyptians won’t accept military rule for long, and the Muslim Brotherhood can terrorize the weak government politically.
In any sort of a democratic development in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood will come to power and dash American hopes for rapprochement with it. Worse, Obama may choose to gloss over his failure by going along with the Brotherhood’s policies, particularly its pro-Iran and anti-Israel orientation.