As the Middle East rages out of control, great emphasis is placed on the Islamic Republic of Iran as it scrambles furiously to produce a nuclear warhead. A lesser known evil boiling beneath the surface, however, is that Egypt, now led by the Muslim Brotherhood via its newly elected President Mohamed Morsi, may indeed have nuclear weapons-ambitions of its own. During an exclusive panel discussion with Professor Raymond Stock, former visiting assistant professor of Arabic and Middle East Studies at Drew University, delved deeper into Egypt’s relationship with Iran and its plans to develop nuclear weapons.
Stock, a Guggenheim Fellow, lived in Cairo for 20 years until he was ultimately deported by the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak, citing a 2009 article by Stock criticizing then-Culture Minister Farouk Hosni’s bid to head UNESCO. The panel was hosted by the Center for Security Policy and the Middle East Endowment for Truth and was moderated by Congressman Fred Grandy.
Dr. Stock explained that the ousting of Hosni Mubarak “made us realize” that while not wholly democratic, Egypt was indeed “liberal” under his regime. Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood’s goal is “to restore the caliphate.”
Continue reading at The Blaze.
– both the Center for Security Policy and EMET, the Endowment for Middle East Truth are very important organizations, conduct – waging an extremely important fight for the truth about what’s happening in the Middle East. And the effect of Middle East issues on our own society and in our own government. So I’m very glad and very honored to be here. Now, where to begin? What’s happening in Gaza right now and the fact that the president of the United States has to appeal to the Egyptian president to calm the situation, something that he wouldn’t have had to do in the same way with Hosni Mubarak, is basically what – really the nub of what I’m about to talk about. And that is how we got here and what has changed since the Arab Spring in Egypt. And what has changed since the coming to power of the Muslim Brotherhood. Now the Muslim Brotherhood was established in Ismayalia [PH] in Egypt by Hassan al-Banna in 1928. And its strategy for taking power – by the way, it was a Salafi organization at the time. And considers itself now to be a Salafi organization, so these terms, as you may have heard in the debates about Egypt, Salafists versus the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafis are the bad guys and the Muslim Brotherhood, some people think, are the good guys. At least in comparison. Are a bit misleading. And we’ll talk about that. But as an Islamist organization established in 1928, from that point on, its goal was to achieve state power in order to build an Islamic state and to restore the caliphate. Which had been abolished by Ataturk in 1924. So it announced a strategy of what’s called a dawa, which is to build the new Islamic state through infiltration of its existing institutions, providing services the government does not provide to people, to Muslims basically, and to use the machinery – the existing machinery of state power to promote its agenda. And to finally take over state power. So that includes of course in the end, elections.
The Muslim Brotherhood is often referred to as a non-violent organization. But in fact, it’s history is full of violence. And it was driven to sort of openly declare its renunciation of violence in Egypt. That’s very important. A very important distinction. In Egypt. In order to survive under the military dictatorship that was established in 1952. So they – there was a considerable conflict between Abdul Nasser and his people who took over in ’52 from King Farouk. And the Brotherhood, which were its allies, you know, the free officers allies, actually, before they took power, they were not – the free officers were not willing to share power with them and they wound up being in a hostile relationship with each other. And some violence continued even then. There was an attempt to kill Abdul Nasser that may have been staged, may not have been staged, by the security services to give them an excuse to crack down. But in the 70s, there was a reversal of this policy under Anwar Sadat. Whereas Sadat, who was trying – who was a successor to Nasser when he died in 1970, was trying to combat Nasser’s leftist opponents by turning to the Islamist right. Which had been – basically, they were in prison, they were in the torture chambers in prison at that time. And he took them out and he gave them license to take over the student unions, the, you know, the professional syndicates and, you know, carry on activities that would combat the influence of the leftists that opposed Sadat himself. And this of course came to fruition unfortunately with the assassination of Sadat in 1981 by groups that were basically offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood, by a group that was an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. And it was led by Sheik Omar Rahman. Who is now in North Carolina serving a life sentence for plotting to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993.
So there is a long history of trying, you know, to work with the Muslim Brotherhood and finding that you can’t work with them. That’s one lesson to take from that. Another is that we turned against Mubarak because there was no legitimate opposition to him. We thought that he – there was no democratic base in Egypt. There was no democratic space allowed, we thought, in Egypt. So when there was an uprising against him, our government – which was already predisposed to support Islamist movements, I believe – believing that the Muslim Brotherhood was a bulwark against more radical ones, which it’s actually allied with, they actually helped push Mubarak out. And they gave no one any time to establish an alternative or to work through a transition that might have led to a different result. He was immediately ousted and that was that. So we have a situation – and when he was ousted, we didn’t even appreciate how much more democratic it was – I mean, not so much democratic, but liberal, really liberal, compared to what was going to follow. So the sort of values that we would prefer to have in Egyptian society were really at risk in this transition. Even if democracy was not coming from Mubarak. That’s one of the values we wanted to encourage in Egypt, of course. And President Bush tried to do that. But to go back to that revolution, the revolution was allegedly started, as we’ve all heard, as a result of this Facebook movement in January – on January 25th, 19 – I’m sorry, 2011. You know, January 25th, 2011, there was going to be demonstrations launched via Facebook by a group that was basically coming out of another group that had led a national strike in 2008/2009 called the April 6th Movement.
The April 6th Movement was actually a coalition of so-called secular liberal groups that had been working closely with the Muslim Brotherhood. And they were a big part of the general strike in fact. It was of course, unsuccessful. It was under Mubarak and he cracked down on it and it didn’t work. But it provided a coalition that was used for the next opportunity. And that was given to them with the beating death of an Alexandrian activist named Khaled Said in an internet cafe in Alexandria by the police. So on National Police Day, which was January 25th, they decided to launch these demonstrations in protest of the abuse that led to his death and the entire system itself. And of course, one of the binding elements of this coalition was the hatred of Israel. And a hatred of the Camp David treaty, which was signed by Sadat. With Menachem Begin and supported by the United States. And it’s the basis of our military and other assistance to Egypt to this day. This picture unfortunately isn’t accurate of how it was actually started. Because, as I said, this coalition was actually working with the Muslim Brotherhood beforehand. The website on Facebook or the Facebook page, actually, that launched – that played a key role in launching the revolution of January 25th [ARABIC] Khaled Said. We are all Khaled Said. And the two people that ran it had an association with the Muslim Brotherhood. One of them was a former member, that was this famous Google executive, Wael Ghonim. Who everyone thought was a secular liberal in the media, but in fact, he is something else perhaps. And he certainly was at one point something else. And he has no doubt many connections still to the Islamist world. And Abdel Rahman Mansour who is apparently politically loyal, according to the Muslim Brotherhood itself to the Muslim Brotherhood. So from that point on, you already have a false portrait being given to the public of what – a false picture is being given to the public of who these people really are. But the media simply wasn’t aware of these facts and did not really dig for them. There was a narrative being constructed that was a very positive, you know, people’s movement that was not about Israel and not – and not to do with promoting Islamism. And the Islamists would never get elected and, you know, don’t worry about those people. They’re a secular liberal group anyway, according to James Clapper. Or at least he had to correct that statement, but he did make it at one point.
So the key thing to remember about what happened in those demonstrations was that the first actual protests on January 25th were limited. But they still were bigger than anything seen under Mubarak previously which showed some signs of weakening of the regime. The Muslim Brotherhood committed itself to the movement without actually committing its activists to supporting it. On the first day of demonstrations, they sent just the youth wing. Which many people thought was the most important element of the Muslim Brotherhood, turned out it was not at all. I never bought that line, but that’s what many who wanted to believe it’s a liberal organization will look at the youth wing and say that represents the Muslim Brotherhood. And of course they are a marginal movement in the Muslim Brotherhood. And on the 28th, which was the next actual day of protest, because they had seen this unusual success for the first day, the Muslim Brotherhood threw everything they got and they issued an order saying it’s wagib [PH] it is obligatory for its activists to promote this wave of protests and to go to the mosques and mobilize people and get them to come to Tahrir Square or wherever else they were in the country where the protests were happening. And that’s what really launched the revolution and the crowds you saw in the square were not really necessarily Muslim Brotherhood members. They were in fact people that responded to the Muslim Brotherhood’s call. And it took the Muslim Brotherhood’s organization to generate this kind of turnout. It was their mobilization ability that led to the success of these demonstrations. So many people got lost in the idea of, well, they’re not all wearing beards. You know, they can’t all be Islamists. Doesn’t matter. It just shows the organizational strength of the Brotherhood. And, by the way, most Islamists don’t wear beards. So – or an extremely great many of them.
So here we have, you know, this kind of false media impression which was seized upon and amplified by academics. And by government experts. And by the US administration. But you see, this – but even here the story is not adequately revealed. You have to go back a little bit further. And that is to June 4th, 2009, when president Obama went to Cairo, jointly sponsored by Cairo University and al-Azhar University, the most important Islamic center, you know, in the Sunni world. And gave a speech in which he invited the Muslim Brotherhood’s representatives who were illegal at that time – they were, it was an illegal organization, or a semi-tolerated illegal organization, to sit – or to come and not just to come, but to sit in the front row. Well, this of course excluded his hosts in Egypt, his true hosts, I mean, from the point of view of protocol, President Mubarak and his government. So it was basically a direct communication between the president of the United States to an illegal organization operating in a foreign country with a foreign country involved, who was sort of an ally of the United States, our closest regional ally besides Israel, and where these – basically, these criminal elements were elevated to being the status of heads of state. De facto. He was saying to the Muslim Brotherhood, you are the future. By doing this. And it turned out to be true. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. I really believe the January 25th revolution as such began on June 4th, 2009. None of this was caught by anybody at the time. In the media. But not only did president Obama directly address those people, but clearly he was focusing on them, but he also made this – I mean, the point of the speech was to address the Muslim world which is not a diplomatic entity. We’ve never had a relationship with anything called the Muslim world before. There is no such thing in diplomatic terms. He was asking people –as Barry Rubin has written very well about this – he’s asked people to redefine themselves, people in the Arab and Muslim worlds, he’s asked them to redefine themselves not as national – nationalists or patriots to a certain nation state or a group of nations, who have common, maybe ethnic bonds or something of this nature, like the Arab League. Rather, he’s asking them to define themselves by their religion. And to this regard, state boundaries and other forms of identity, in privileging this one, it’s, in essence, an Islamic supremacist idea. So this is the real tragedy of what we’re doing.
And I think the case of Egypt is really the most revelatory, the most revealing of all the examples we can find. But there are many others. Now in terms of the main topic of our – our discussion, actually, this is all just background, but the, well, the main point is really quite simple. Egypt has had a nuclear program for fifty-eight years. It began in 1954 under President Nasser and – and the response to Dwight Eisenhower’s December, 1953, I think it was, speech to the United Nations about the peaceful atom and they, you know, had a very small reactor built, a research reactor built, by the Russians in 2000 – I’m sorry, 1954. And then another one came along in 1998 that was built by Argentina, primarily, and was supplied with fuel by Russia and Argentina. Slightly larger, but still just a research reactor. But they also developed a hot cell laboratory. Which allows them to extract plutonium from the fuel rods used in the light water reactor, the second one that was finished in 1998. So they can actually produce about six kilograms or slightly more than six kilograms per year of plutonium. Which is – six kilograms is the amount needed to make one bomb. So annually, for the last twenty-five years or twenty-four years, they have actually been creating enough material to make twenty-four nuclear bombs. If they just use it for that purpose. Now they’re also doing medical research and things like this working with isotopes, etceteras, so they may be using this plutonium for other purposes, I’m not sure.
Another issue that’s raised by this is whether or not they have an ongoing fuel supply for this – the second, the ETRR-2 reactor that was completed in ’98. If they have an ongoing fuel supply for it,because every year and a half or two years most reactors have to be replenished with fuel. And this is the key thing about this kind of fuel is that both these research reactors, the first one, a very small one, uses ten percent enriched uranium. And the second one, the ’98, 1998 one, uses 19.75 percent enriched uranium. Once you get to twenty percent, that’s only, you know, .25 of a percent from having twenty percent – and that is, twenty percent is the division between medium enriched – I’m sorry, low enriched to medium enriched. Medium enriched gets you up to – if you get up to like ninety percent, you’re in highly enriched. It’s a very small leap technologically to go from twenty to ninety. It’s much harder to get from five, say, to twenty. Once you have gotten to twenty, you have essentially mastered the enrichment process. So Egypt, by the way, in its inception, its program’s inception, very shortly after it – its inception – was openly in pursuit of nuclear weapons. And that was under Nasser. But by 1968, after the ’67 defeat, the 1967 war, they began to – they basically began to switch just to peaceful research and hopefully working towards peaceful nuclear power so they said because they didn’t have the money to pursue nuclear weapons. And they were negotiating with the United States under Sadat in the 70s and 80s to get – to start a program. Sadat had in fact decided to go for an enlarged civilian nuclear power program to build at least four, maybe up to ten, plants in Egypt. That didn’t go anywhere. But if they had had the money they’d have gone for a bomb a long time ago. And in the period following Nasser – oh, by the way, they – in 1960 or so, they deliberately emphasized their nuclear program, the nuclear weapons objective when Israel announced it was developing its own peaceful nuclear power plant in Dimona. When Ben Gurion announced it. So that was their official, you know, there was this song by Tom Lehrer, Egypt’s going to get one too just to use on you know who. [LAUGHTER] So – so it was a well known issue at the time in 1960, that Egypt was pursuing a nuclear weapon. Because Israel was going to get nukes possibly. So that has been the position of Egypt in terms of whether they would go for nuclear weapons. If our enemies have nuclear weapons then we will go for them.
Now when Sadat signed the peace treaty with Israel that basically – allegedly, you know, took that entire issue off the table. And nothing really much happened to expand its nuclear program under Mubarak. In fact, Mubarak tried to have a nuclear weapons free – free zone, rather in the Middle East beginning in 1990, 1992. He even got the – they signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. They approved it under Sadat. It was originally initialed under Nasser. They approved it under Sadat, but they didn’t sign the additional protocol which requires the initiative itself to allow spot inspections. So they basically only have to voluntarily report to the IAEA, the International Agency for Atomic Energy themselves on the voluntary basis. So the situation now is that – after they went to this nuclear free zone, it now has become a weapons – nuclear weapons of mass destruction – WMD free zone. They actually managed to avoid having to sign the NPT additional protocol by getting – to get the other powers to sign on to this initiative to remove all these weapons from the Middle East, meaning Israel’s weapons. They got the British, the Americans, and the Russians to back their initiative. And that allowed them not to proceed with signing the initial protocol and also got those other countries behind their drive to eliminate these nuclear weapons which were presumed only to be in the hands of Egypt – of Israel. So Israel was the real objective here. It was not that they wanted to remove any chance that they would have nuclear weapons ever. But rather that they wanted to disarm the Israelis. And of course, if you’d ask them this, they would, of course, we want no one to have nuclear weapons. Or any weapons of mass destruction. But they haven’t even signed the agreements to deal with chemical and biological weapons either. So they themselves have left an ambiguous position – left themselves in an ambiguous position. So these issues were already blurry under Mubarak, even. But Mubarak himself said that he would not go for nuclear weapons unless Iran developed nuclear weapons. And that was the position of the other Arab countries as well. Officially. But in 2004, the IAEA discovered that there had been illegal activities or certainly questionable activities in Egypt in its nuclear program. They discovered traces of enriched uranium. Highly enriched uranium apparently. And other signs of – they were doing experiments that were not reported or authorized by the IAEA. So they issued a very mild report at that time, the agency was under the Egyptian – I’m sorry, the IAEA was under Mohammed el-Baradei who was an Egyptian himself, a lawyer based in Vienna who had – who’s also been accused of having coddled the Iranian nuclear program. And quite credibly accused, I believe.
And he was actually encouraging in Egypt – he was encouraging Egypt to go for a civilian nuclear power program. So he didn’t, you know, really enforce the regulations too strictly with the Egyptians as it should have – should have happened the time they discovered these violations which were rediscovered, they had been repeated in 2007/2008. And still nothing was done. The file may still be open under Egypt – for Egypt under the IAEA. But so far, nothing further has been reported from the IAEA itself about Egypt’s activities. Now this is where things were, near the end of the Mubarak era, and just before he was overthrown he decided to go ahead with the program. They had to build four nuclear reactors. And – about 2007/2008, he was going for this. But that was put on hold by the revolution. Then it was brought back under the revolution. And then it was frozen again because of the revolution itself. And there was actually a riot on the site. Edabba is the site on the Mediterranean, about a hundred and twenty kilometers west of Alexandria. Where they planned to build this first plant. And they’d already begun some construction there. And the local people rebelled against it and they tore the place down, apparently. They also got a hold of some nuclear materials that were stored there. Some radioactive materials. We don’t even know what they are. And they’re floating around loose somewhere. So not only do you have to worry about their intentions, but even their unintentions – unintended acts can be a problem for us. Now, fast forward to the revolution. In August of 2012, Mohammad Morsi, the newly elected president of Egypt, was invited to Iran as – because Egypt at that time was the head of the Non Aligned Movement. And was turning over its chairmanship to Ahmadinejad in Iran. And so Egypt and Iran have not had relations since 1979. Because of the revolution and because of – Sadat had taken the Shah in – as a friend who needed a place of refuge. And also treatment for cancer. He died there and is buried there.
So this was a major step for him to go to Iran. And he did go. And just before he went, the Iranians offered to assist Egypt’s nuclear program. And when he went to Iran, he spoke at this conference with Ahmadinejad in tandem, calling for the, you know, this idea that weapons of mass destruction free zone in the Middle East. Which there’s going to be a big conference for in Helsinki in December of this year. Next month. The Iranians and the Israelis, neither one of them will attend this conference. But the Egyptians have said under Morsi that they may drop their membership in the NPT. If the conference is not successful. And no one thinks it could be – possibly be successful. So it’s just – it’s really a joke. But no one is paying any attention to this issue. Now it wouldn’t take a great deal for Egypt to perhaps get assistance from Iran and get up to speed, you know, with nuclear enrichment. Or they might get an enriched product from somewhere else. They may already have the missile technology to launch medium range nuclear warheads. They were certainly trying to get it from us in the 1990s. There was a big scandal of a contractor or somebody working with the – it was actually somebody in the Egyptian embassy in Washington who was trying to get missile technology secrets to use in the Egyptian military. Discovered by the CIA, I think. So they have a history of some clandestine activity. Even under Mubarak. What can we expect from them under the Muslim Brotherhood which believes in taqiyya, which believes in lies? Which believes that whatever is necessary, I mean, it must be done to achieve their ends. You certainly cannot take any of their statements on this issue at face value. Unless they say they’re going to go for nuclear weapons. Then you can believe them. [LAUGHTER]
But for example, President Morsi has not really confirmed that they’re going to go ahead with the civilian element of this program. But two things to remember, one is that he was in New York for the United Nations general assembly in September. And when he was there, he told Charlie Rose in this extraordinarily, you know, hagiographic interview, that he would do everything in his power to make sure that Egypt has, the Egyptian people, get the benefit of civilian nuclear power. So that was more or less a declaration he intends to go forward with his program. The program plans were presented to him, you know, for approval. On July 8th. Which is the same – or a day before – actually, that he – I think it was the day before – the day he issued the ultimatum to bring back the parliament which caused the crisis with the military. That everyone remembers, I hope. From last summer. Which the Muslim Brotherhood ultimately won and they won it, by the way, because there was no real conflict. It was really sort of a negotiations process. The military was and they’re legally within their right to dissolve the old parliament cause it had broken the election laws. It was established, you know, using – using an illegal procedure regarding running independent candidates versus party candidates. And it was dissolved. So – what really to cause them all to get along so well at the end, why the top leadership of the army resigned as Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the supreme commander of the the supreme council of the armed forces staff and his number two, Sami Anan, to resign in August was that first of all, their staffs themselves are full of Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers. And the officer corps in the ranks are riddled with Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers. And even Salafi sympathizers. And their real difficulty was not about who would run the country, but what would happen to those who used to run the country. Cause Tantawi intended to resign anyway. He was given – he and Anan were both given advisers to the president positions. That basically assured their safety, one assumes, for the time being. You can’t really assume too much. They possibly were going to go to jail because they were associated with Mubarak. That was the whole issue between them. So clearly, some sort of modus evendi was worked out and they decided to give these people an honorable way out, as it were. Maybe to be dealt with later. And everything about this process should be considered provisional. Because everything that the Muslim Brotherhood has tried to do up until this date has been with its eye on the future, it’s been like this – like in Egypt, we have this saying that the camel is a creature with, you know, much greater future vision, it looks ahead. It looks forward at the horizon as it walks. Whereas the donkey, Mubarak was often confused compared to the donkey. The donkey when he walks looks down hesitantly at his feet. He doesn’t look up and forward. So he’s really had the insight of the camel. Where he wants to go.
The Muslim Brotherhood itself has been like this camel. Trodding through the desert towards this distant destination very patiently with great endurance. And they’re now very close to having everything they need. But they don’t want to jeopardize their relationship with their key allies yet. Which is why they haven’t yet openly gone to war with us. Or our allies. But so long as the Muslim Brotherhood remains in power, you can assume that they’re working towards these goals. They have been working towards them for so long that nothing they say for public consumption should be taken literally. A very quick point about what happened in 2000 – I’m sorry, September 11th, 2012, two months ago. Mohammed Morsi himself was probably involved in the embassy assault in the sense that he was tweeting comments like, the prophet Muhammad, god’s peace and salvation be upon him, or blessing and salvation be upon him, is a red line and anyone who, you know, transgresses against him we will view – we will treat as an enemy. So he was actually encouraging the protests and he is aligned with a group that is trying to free Omar Abdul Rahman from prison – you remember, he actually called for the release of Omar Abdul Rahman. That group was the one that originally called the protests. And he reduced embassy security. He withdrew the sort of security that would normally surround the embassy. That would prevent anyone from getting over walls. So we have to assume that he was complicit in the whole thing. And he was slow to announce it. And then during his conversation with Charlie Rose he said, the Egyptian people – people didn’t notice this, it was amazing, amazing it got no coverage – he said, the Egyptian people hate America and it’s legitimate for them to focus that hatred in protests against the US embassy. No one was noticing this remark. Nobody paid attention to it. But he was saying – he also said, we’re not – elect president Obama had said at one point, he retracted it, we’re not friends – or we are not allies. And he said, well, we’re friends. What are friends? There’s no diplomatic term for it. You know, either you’re an ally or you’re not. You know? So I think it’s quite extraordinary that we still hope that he will tow the line with us. We still hope that he will cooperate with us and the Israelis. But what’s happening in Sinai is an extension of his own laxity towards the militant groups in Sinai and his cooperation with some of them and I think that perhaps we’re going to see more and more of these raids. And perhaps leading up to an incident that could be used to justify, when they feel strong enough, justify breaking the peace treaty with Israel. And from that point on, I hope I can take questions. [APPLAUSE] Thank you, thank you very much.
FRED GRANDY: Thank you, Raymond. Before we begin with questions, I just want to tell our friends from the media who are here that we have a request of you. Everything that Raymond has said, all of the questions that will be asked in this Q and A session are on the record, but anything that is said after that which might involve other topics or business, we’d like you to refrain from printing. Because that is normally the kind of confidential material that we share at our regular Stanton lunch. So if you will honor that, I’d very much appreciate it. All right, let’s begin with the questions. We’ve got microphones on either side. Let’s start back here. Dan, can you [BACKGROUND VOICES] wait for the microphone if you would so we can make sure we get it on the record.
QUESTION: Okay. You touched on the fact that there was a lack of process in transition that then encouraged a Muslim Brotherhood takeover as opposed to being able to build democratic or secular forces that would be pro-American. What can you say, you know, in terms of lessons learned from that we could apply to the rest of the Arab Spring ? Because obviously the whole region is in turmoil and one of our challenges is, how do we identify – how do we develop, how do we support people that are going to be pro-America on this? In other words, what were the specific mistakes and what can we do differently going forward as camels? [LAUGHTER]
RAYMOND STOCK: Okay. Great. Rather than donkeys, yes. Well, there are several issues in that. One of them is – one thing to remember is that look before you leap. And they didn’t look – or maybe they looked too well, from their own perspective, and they wound up where they wanted to be. Cause I really did believe the Muslim Brotherhood was the future in Egypt, I believe. And that’s actually, I think, the crux of it. They weren’t – these lessons will be lost upon the, because they actually fulfilled their objective by my analysis. Our government was actually supporting them. The Muslim Brotherhood. In my opinion. Even though it might have entertained other options, they viewed them as the future and therefore decided to work with them. Yeah. They didn’t necessarily agree with everything the Muslim Brotherhood believes in, but they wanted to work with them. They thought they could win them over to their side. [BACKGROUND VOICES]
FRED GRANDY: Wait for the microphone, will you please?
QUESTION: I’m former foreign service Middle East/Europe.
RAYMOND STOCK: Yeah, yeah, great.
QUESTION: When you say the American government –
RAYMOND STOCK: I’m saying the executive branch.
QUESTION: [OVERLAP] – when you talk about the intel community, DOD, State policy, who in the American government –
RAYMOND STOCK: I think the advisers around president Obama. I mean, James Clapper seemed to think that the Muslim Brotherhood was a secular liberal organization. President Obama must have been getting from someone the idea that the Muslim Brotherhood was an important player they could work with or they wouldn’t have made such an effort to get them into that – into that speech’s audience. I can’t tell you that – I can’t tell you the chain of command, you know, where – the sources for all of this. I can just tell you that the obvious policy implications and what they must have been able to see. That whoever designed this, it must have been the executive branch, I don’t think most diplomats in the American foreign service would want to promote the Muslim Brotherhood. I don’t believe that at all. I believe these are people who are closer to the president. He’s, for example, he’s got a woman named Dalia Mogahed who works with him, who is a very, obviously, a Hamas sympathizer. And she’s his liaison with the Muslim world. And his speech in Cairo was allegedly written by a Saudi relations firm. So this is, you know, somewhere this stuff is operating – it’s at the highest level. I don’t think it’s coming from the bureaucracy. It’s at the highest level.
FRED GRANDY: Raymond, let me just follow on those first two questions because they invite another – you mentioned very early on in your remarks that there was a belief by most of the high ranking policy officials in this country and probably members of congress that Muslim Brotherhood represented an emerging democratic base. It clearly did not. Is there a democratic base in Egypt? Is it the so-called, the secular parties, the Wafd party, or – and is it big enough to sustain any kind of potential ruling majority?
RAYMOND STOCK: I would say that there is a potentially democratic base, a potentially strong democratic base. It didn’t appear that way as much in the first stage of the revolution, because the Muslim Brotherhood so thoroughly stole the show. Even though people didn’t see it. I mean, to me, it was obvious they were running it. And I thought that the secular liberals were just very weak. But if you saw it during the run-off, you know, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis made a big mistake. The Salafis – something I want to address as well – but the Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood behaved so badly in that first parliament under the – at the revolution, that they scared a lot of people that otherwise shared their values. And that would have voted for them, that want shariah law, for example. But the style of the government was so weird it scared even them. So there was a great longing for the kind of order and somewhat liberal atmosphere that existed under Mubarak, which was a sort of faint echo of what had existed in the previous liberal secular democratic experiment – not totally secular, but under the king. It was a liberal democratic experiment before the revolution of ’52. And these people saw that last fading bit of liberalism in society disappearing quickly. In the sort of sense of tolerance, you know, and enlightenment that people talk about in Egypt. They pride themselves on, you know, [ARABIC] so this is – this was all threatened by what happened then. So they rebelled against that by voting for Shafik – Ahmed Shafik, who was the last prime minister under Mubarak. And he possibly won the election. We don’t even know for sure. There was no open recount. Or no open actual counting of the ballots. It was done in a very shady way and Ahmed Shafik himself believes he won by a relatively small margin, maybe even as few as thirty-eight thousand votes, but he won. And there are many activists in Egypt who believe that. But in terms of organizations, there is a whole group of secular liberal organizations that are not really liberal in our sense, not in every way. And some of them are quite – many of them are quite rabidly anti-Israeli. That’s what really bound all these movements together. But they are at least not going to impose an Islamist regime if they are in power. And you can talk to them in a different way. And you can work with them in a different way. And they should be – they should have been developed. They should have been nurtured. All the aid went to Islamists that I know of. All the aid to develop democratic institutions in Egypt prior to that, like civil society, was – that was going to the Islamists primarily. And the aid to – aid to the Muslim Brotherhood to get their prisoners out of jail and stuff like that. So it was – that was the focus of the human rights groups. They were the great cause celebre of the human rights groups, the Muslim Brotherhood prisoners. So it was a mis-focus, you know.
FRED GRANDY: We had, let’s see, we had a question right here. Andy, you want to give the microphone right there?
QUESTION: Can you talk about taqiyya as it relates to how the author Mahfouz, Naguib Mahfouz, developed it in his books on taqiyya [OVERLAPPING VOICES] I may not be pronouncing it correct –
RAYMOND STOCK: Oh, the pronunciation’s fine. Both taqiyya and Muslim Brotherhood, I mean, Naguib Mahfouz were correct – correctly pronounced. No, what I’m responding to is Mahfouz himself is not an Islamist, so he did not practice taqiyya. He was an anti-Islamist. And he was stabbed by Islamists in fact in 1994, on October 14th, 1994 he was stabbed by an Islamist coming out of his house. He was sitting in a car. Normally, I’d have been sitting in that car with him, but I was detained in America for a week. I was caught – had to take care of something, I delayed my return. And I wasn’t in the car when he was actually stabbed. But he – I’ll tell you this interesting anecdote about him. He was, by the way, he was very old. He died at the age of ninety-four in 2006. This was in ’94. He was eighty-two. And January of – I’m sorry, 1995, rather. The next January, he was still recovering, he was out of the hospital, someone from the German embassy called me and asked me to set up a meeting with Mahfouz and this man who was from one of the democratic – one of the more leftist German parties, a major party, wanted to tour the Muslim world and correct – meet Muslim intellectuals and correct the distorted image of Islam, distorted image of Islam that had been caused by terrorism. And I went to Mahfouz at their request and asked him whether he would meet this gentleman. And he said, how can I correct a distorted image of Islam when I was someone who was stabbed by Islam? So – but he also made very many pious statements, you know, so you can’t take that as his only view of Islam.
FRED GRANDY: Let me give the next question [OVERLAPPING VOICES]
QUESTION: Wonderful. Raymond, we at EMET since the very beginning of the revolution in Tahrir Square have been on the Hill asking people to just stop and pause in terms of our 1.5 billion dollars a year of military assistance to Egypt because we were able to – you didn’t have to be much of a prophet, you know, to read the tea leaves and see which way the – most, and we have since the 1979 Camp David accords, built up the Egyptian military and taken it from a C minus Soviet equipped military to an A minus American equipped military. And most people have – or many people, many much more powerful organizations than ours have argued that this is leverage and we have to keep military aid to Egypt. I’m very worried. What is your feeling about this?
RAYMOND STOCK: Well, so long as we remain the major source of funding for the Egyptian military and the major source of new technology for the Egyptian military, we do have a little bit of leverage at least. So there’s an argument there. But I believe that the European Union has announced there going to give 6.4 billion dollars to the Egyptians. The – Morsi was in China before he went to Iran and he asked them for three billion dollars for his nuclear program. Alone. And that’s going to be – there’s going to be more as well for that, perhaps. From the Saudis and the Qataris. They’ve already announced they’re going to give Egypt several billion dollars each. And, you know, the Iranians may be giving them something soon, too. So it’s the Iranians – and they are allegedly in a hostile relationship still. But they’re not, actually. They’re actually working together over Syria and other issues.
FRED GRANDY: Let’s go to this side. This gentleman right here. Dan, you want to give him the microphone?
QUESTION: Could you quickly delineate on the growing relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda and then the second part of the question I have is, is it possible in your opinion that perhaps the United States government has directly or indirectly funded al-Qaeda through its support of the Muslim Brotherhood?
RAYMOND STOCK: Well, you know, I can’t say I know all the details of the relationship between them. I do know that they share many philosophical points in common. They both believe that we’re the most evil thing in the world. Our society and our country and our way of life. They’re both militantly antisemitic and they both draw inspiration from Hitler. They have different strategies. The strategy of the Muslim Brotherhood, as I announced earlier – or as I said earlier, was, you know, it’s dawa. You know, it’s this building up slowly through the institutions that exist and creating new institutions in their place. Al-Qaeda has often been thought of as a nihilistic organization which just wants to destroy. But in fact to rebuilt you have to first destroy as some people believe. So you basically see a confluence of interest. I think you might see more openly a relationship between them in the Sinai. Because they – but they will not be direct, you know, contact. It will be more like using surrogates. So the Salafis, during this recent, you know, uptick in violence in August of this year continuing till today, they allowed the Salafi allies, the Muslim Brotherhood allowed their Salafi allies to negotiate directly with the militant groups in the Sinai to arrange some sort of truce. And this was all sparked by an incident in which fifteen Egyptian soldiers were killed by one of these groups that were attempting to get at Israelis inside of Israel. And my belief, my fear, is that are really just sort of lining up, you know, all their – all their ducks, basically. And getting them all in the same row to use them as they wish. Not to prevent them from ever attacking Israel, but to have a coordinated strategy. That – or at least to have one and have that strategy in reserve for when they may want to use it. Certainly they don’t want any embarrassing incidents where Egyptian soldiers are killed, you know, that was a big problem for – even for Morsi. Because the issue was credibility that he could protect Egyptian troops, it was a big issue between the Egyptians and Israel the year before when five or six Israelis – or Egyptians were killed after eight Israelis were killed inside Israel, they sent people over – just across the border to get the people who were dressed like policemen and military people who had done the attack and they – they accidentally killed six Egyptians, five or six Egyptians, and they were – there was a huge outrage which led to the sacking of the Israeli embassy in September of last year. So he has to deal with local, you know, popular opinion. But he also has a long term strategic vision. Which I doubt he’s, you know, just dropped because he’s become president of Egypt. Yes?
FRED GRANDY: Okay, let’s go to this side of the table. Andy? Can you get that gentleman –
RAYMOND STOCK: Oh, one more thing. He also mourned – the Muslim Brotherhood mourned the death of Osama bin Laden. And they called him a martyr.
QUESTION: [OVERLAP] Thank you. You know, we’ve had a lot of discussion about things that are bad and things that have gone wrong, and from our perspective. But assuming that, as far as the Obama administration is concerned, now having won big this last election, that their approach is past is prologue and going forward, can you sort of speculate, assuming, you know, these correlation of forces don’t change, what’s the outcome – result for the Unite States? [OVERLAPPING VOICES] Where do we wind up?
RAYMOND STOCK: Well, that’s a very good question. And I think it’s really the heart of what we’re talking about is where things are going. I want to – because it relates directly to what you’re saying, what you’re asking, I want to also reconnect that to the previous question. And that is the relationship of the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda. In Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda probably work together very directly. In Libya, they may as well. And there is a lot of evidence that we’re, you know, trying to funnel weapons to – that may have been purchased by the Saudis and the Qataris, that we’re funneling them through Turkey, which is also run by an Islamist regime, which is essentially a Muslim Brotherhood regime, and our president’s closest friend in the world of foreign leaders is, you know, Erdogan. Prime minister of Turkey. And so right there you have a probable, you know, confluence between al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood that we are directly feeding into. Feeding it weapons. At least through using our expertise and possibly our funding. Our CIA expertise. The New York Times reported that we’re doing that. Yeah.
FRED GRANDY: Let’s go –
RAYMOND STOCK: And there’s a Libyan connection to that, too, by the way, perhaps. [BACKGROUND VOICES]
FRED GRANDY: Adam, just wait for the mike. It’s right there.
RAYMOND STOCK: And just to go back to that question, the way it was asked to me, to really answer that question, we are creating a situation in which we’re going to replace the sort of imperfect, to say the least, regimes that existed in the Middle East before – but at least they were our allies – with openly hostile regimes. That we may actually be funding the first period of their possession of power. That they will ultimately use against us. And they’re also trying to infiltrate our own society, they’re all over here. They’re here. They’re right in this city.
FRED GRANDY: Adam?
QUESTION: Building on what Sarah talked about earlier about the aid, we had a presentation from David Goldman last month about Egypt as well. And he was talking about the fact that Egypt is pretty much, there’s no escape for them, they’re going bankrupt. I mean, right now, they’ve got some money from the EC, they’re going to get some money from the Obama administration, but no one has enough money to keep shoveling it to them. So based on that it would seem to me that this is sort of a waste to give them more money when we can actually use the money for other things. Plus, how does that apply, we’re giving them military aid right now, they clearly need more economic aid than they need military aid. Plus, military aid can kill someone. Economic aid cannot. So –
RAYMOND STOCK: [OVERLAP] Let me give you an example of all this. Let me give you an example of this very thing. Right now, actually, since – for several months since Morsi became president, we were discussing giving them one billion dollars in additional aid in debt relief. At this moment, Egypt is awaiting delivery of two diesel electric submarines, not nuclear submarines, but two diesel electric submarines from Germany that will cost one billion dollars. The same amount as we’re giving them. So they can use that money to displace, you know, other funds. And to replace other funds. Sorry. And so to get to your question, I think that – in terms of whether we should fund them or not, really, I think we should just evaluate the situation and see how much leverage it actually gets us. This crisis, for example, is part of that. This particular crisis over Gaza. If it seems as though they’re really just using the money to hoodwink us, then I think we should stop. But if you can at least have some control over their behavior – cause they are in power, they are real now. But it’s no longer truly an alliance. It’s an alliance in form and not in content. At this point.
FRED GRANDY: Ed?
QUESTION: Professor, I wonder if you can drill down on the Sinai Peninsula for a second. A lot of analysts are commenting that the Sinai could be the next sort of ungoverned territory, if you will, from which we might see a new al-Qaeda foothold. We see the kinds of smuggling and that sort of thing already taking place. Already being referred to as sort of this newly emerged lawless region, if you will, right on Israeli’s doorstep. To what extent are those developments part of Muslim Brotherhood intentions vis a vis that region versus genuinely divorced from what the Muslim Brotherhood would like to see happen in the Sinai?
RAYMOND STOCK: It’s very hard to say because they have this vision of, you know, destroying Israel and also destroying us. This is part of their agenda. But tactically and strategically I think it would be foolish for them to openly ally with al-Qaeda, to be openly participating in such activities. So – but they could be doing it sub rosa, you know, very easily. And this is what I was getting at before in terms of evaluating the current Sinai crisis because they – for example, Morsi was just up in Mansoura giving a, you know, attending a meeting with some local leaders there, and he went to a mosque and this imam was praying for death to all the Jews, not just Israelis, all the Jews, destruction of all the Jews in the United States. And he went amen. You know, amin. He was clearly supporting it. I mean, he looked very, you know, he was just listening silently, but you could see by his gestures that he – and his facial expression – that he was agreeing with what the imam was saying. He cannot come out and, you know, declare this in a meeting with the president of the United States or, for example, whatever happens, but I really think we probably have somewhat better intelligence than people – you know, people in here would argue that actually, no. So all I can say is, we shouldn’t trust them not to do that.
FRED GRANDY: Let’s go to this lady. She’s had her hand up for some time. Ann, if you could –
QUESTION: Hi, I have two questions.
RAYMOND STOCK: Sure.
QUESTION: The first is addressing social networking and the second is the conference that took place with the UN exclusive of Israel in Chicago addressing the social networking in 2009. AOL, CISCO, and Intel were hosted by Steve Case’s wife down at the chamber of commerce. There were talking about the centers that they’re opening up and developing for the Gaza youth to learn skills in. Then we have O or forty-four then loping around Silicon Valley where he went and met with Jobs, Case, all of the bigwigs. And then we have Robert Gibbs leaving – leaving the lower press office and going over to Facebook. Do you really still think the uprising was an accidental uprising exclusive of America’s involvement or Mr. Obama’s involvement? Second is the Muslim Brotherhood was in Chicago. There was a level of credentials that Israel didn’t have, but people that had lower – groups that had lower levels of credentials were invited. Israel was excluded –
RAYMOND STOCK: [OVERLAP] Yes, I know that. Very terrible situation.
QUESTION: And Israel was excluded. This was all coincidental or before the election. And then we have the activities of Jay Street. We all know it comes through Qatar, is tied to Qatar and Mr. Soros’s involvement. I want to know the significance of that. Cause I don’t want us to think that these aren’t all connected and accidental. So –
RAYMOND STOCK: [OVERLAP] Oh, I think they’re not accidental.
QUESTION: I think it’s coordinated, but –
RAYMOND STOCK: [OVERLAP] I don’t know about Robert Gibbs going to Facebook. I’m not sure about that, but –
QUESTION: [OVERLAP] Well, Robert Gibbs went to Facebook and he was dodging us back and forth. He explained away the timing of his going to Facebook was for a job. People that worked in lower press saw it as being a little bit coincidental. He then left the Facebook job before the election with an explanation that fit the people that currently call themselves media and now we have this in a coordinated win with a hundred and eight percent in some precincts, so –
RAYMOND STOCK: Well, you know, really, I’m not sure – I would not say all these things are connected necessarily. I would say that in terms of the effect on the ground in the Middle East, our policy has an impact – our overall policy has an impact. I do think that it’s not a coincidence that we – that we have been encouraging the Muslim Brotherhood in this way and that they have risen to the forefront so quickly. Especially the Egyptian example, I think, really set the pattern for subsequent activity. But one more thing that you could have mentioned is that we also have excluded Israel from the – Obama has excluded Israel from the major international terrorism forum that they have created. Which is chaired by Turkey. And it was Turkey which objected to Israel’s presence at the NATO meeting in Chicago. And once again, I want to emphasize our relationship with Turkey is most important to Obama – more important than our relationship with Israel, I think, in his mind.
FRED GRANDY: [OVERLAP] Let’s take one more question. I’m going to go to this one down here.
QUESTION: This is all off the record. What was our ambassador doing in Benghazi. It’s a small place. Why was – what had he left the, you know, the seat of – does anyone have any idea what he was doing there? I mean, I’ve heard allegations going from that he was – that there are a lot of arms, that we – and that he was dealing, trying to locate and get those arms and perhaps sell them to the Syrian al-Qaeda groups. I –
RAYMOND STOCK: [OVERLAP] Well, yeah, I think there is – some people believe there is a pipeline between the people we were working with and he was particularly, Chris Stevens, was actually outreaching with and interacting with in Libya, and, you know, this idea of supplying the Syrian rebels and that was going through Turkey and that was – this is the allegation – and that he was actually involved in trying to retrieve these weapons that had been taken from Gaddafi’s stockpiles. And some of them were – actually were shoulder-fire weapons, missiles that could bring down even civilian aircraft. That could be used by terrorists. And shipping them off to Syria where the – our main connections are through Islamist groups. Which of course have liaison with al-Qaeda. And this to me is a very, very serious matter if it’s true. We definitely know that during the Libyan revolution, Chris Stevens was working with the groups that now comprise the Libyan military and some of the main opposition people in Syria. Cause they’ve gone over there. This guy Abdel Hakim Belhaj who is an al-Qaeda commander that we were actually working with during the Libyan uprising, and he was the head of their major new militia and now he’s off working with the groups that we’re supporting in Syria, apparently. So we have a direct connection of some kind with al-Qaeda at this point, you may argue. We may in fact be dealing with al-Qaeda already. In terms of weapons. [BACKGROUND VOICES] I can’t say for sure. All I can say is it’s very alarming. If it’s true. I do think that it’s very difficult to separate these groups, the so-called harmless Islamists from the more dangerous ones. As people try to pursue this policy. There really is a very blurred distinction between those which are violently militant and those which are not.
FRED GRANDY: Raymond, thank you very much for your insight [APPLAUSE] and the time you spent with us. I think it’s probably safe to say you’ve probably gotten a better briefing about the ideology that drives some of these actions today than a lot of people at the Defense Department, State, or the CIA –
RAYMOND STOCK: [OVERLAP] Oh, thank you.
FRED GRANDY: Before we – and, by the way, that last question was on the record, just to reiterate to our press, but what’s happening now is not.