“We have contacted the Muslim Brotherhood and invited them, but they are still hesitant about the dialogue. I think that their interest is to attend the dialogue.” Three things about this pithy statement must be noted. One, this is the first time that the word ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ has been uttered publicly by a top Egyptian official. The MB is proscribed and is traditionally referred to in innuendos or coded language! Two, the official who said these words is none other than intelligence chief and VP, Omar Suleiman. Three, Suleiman already passes judgment that MB is interested in talks.
Quite obviously, MB has moved to the centre stage.
The Jewish circles in the US have sought assurances from the Barack Obama administration. However, the Israeli fundamentalist view need not necessarily be the last word. Haaretz carried some interesting columns by Israeli commentators roundly questioning Tel Aviv’s opposition to reform in Egypt. A curious fault line is also that the pro-Israeli US officials and the neo-conservatives in the US (such as Robert Kagan) also do not agree with Israel’s obdurate stance that the ‘regime change’ in the Middle East threatens regional stability. Former US ambassador to israel and a staunch supporter of Israel, Martin Indyk has said that US’ options for dealing with MB are limited and given its strong presence on the Egyptian political scene, its participation in any new government in some capacity has become inevitable. “It’s a very risky proposition, but that’s the world that we live in, in which the MB is a powerful organisation, and it will be extremely difficult to exclude it from the political process.”