US Official: We are ‘going to stir up demons!’

Via FLC

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gestures as she testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Evaluating Goals and Progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan on Capitol Hill, June 23, 2011. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas“… “The political landscape in Egypt has changed, and is changing,” said the senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It is in our interests to engage with all of the parties that are competing for parliament or the presidency.”

The official sought to portray the shift as a subtle evolution rather than a dramatic change in Washington’s stance toward the Brotherhood, a group founded in 1928 that seeks to promote its conservative vision of Islam in society…

There is no U.S. legal prohibition against dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood itself, which long ago renounced violence as a means to achieve political change in Egypt and which is not regarded by Washington as a foreign terrorist organization. But other sympathetic groups, such as Hamas, which identifies the Brotherhood as its spiritual guide, have not disavowed violence against the state of Israel…

Former U.S. diplomats said the United States had to engage with the Brotherhood given its influence in Egypt.”We cannot have a free and fair election and democracy unless we are going to be willing to talk to all the people that are a part of that democracy,” said Edward Walker, a former U.S. ambassador to Egypt and Israel who now teaches at Hamilton College. “It’s going to stir up demons,” he added. “You have got an awful lot of people who are not very happy with what the roots of the Brotherhood have spawned … There will be people who will not accept that the Brotherhood is of a new or different character today.”…

U.S. dealings with the Brotherhood have evolved over time and officials have found ways to keep lines open under the cover of one diplomatic fig leaf or another.”We have not had contacts with the Muslim Brotherhood,” then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in response to a question at the American University in Cairo in June 2005. “We have not engaged the Muslim Brotherhood and … we won’t.”

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