A former Jordanian diplomat widely quoted in news media in recent months calming fears about the Muslim Brotherhood is a Mideast specialist for a peace institute funded by billionaire George Soros.
WND previously reported the International Crisis Group, or ICG, led in part by Soros has long petitioned for the Egyptian government to normalize ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. The ICG includes on its board Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, as well as other personalities who champion dialogue with Hamas, a violent offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Also, WND reported on the numerous ties of Soros initiatives, including his own Open Society Institute, to the revolutions sweeping the Middle East and North Africa.
Since those revolutions first started in Tunisia in January, news media have widely quoted Marwan Muasher, a former Jordanian foreign minister and deputy prime minister, as a Middle East analyst.
Muasher has roundly championed the revolutions while calling for Arab countries to include Islamist groups in a new democratic system based on an open society.
On ABC’s “This Week” earlier this month, Muasher downplayed worries about the Muslim Brotherhood opposition in Syria.
He noted the Syrian Brotherhood was “heavily represented” at a Syrian opposition meeting in Turkey this month that came out with a “very strong message that they want a secular, pluralistic Syria in which religion plays no role. And that was a surprising but welcome message.”
Speaking about the broader Mideast revolutions, Muasher stated the Muslim Brotherhood “has been used for a long time a scare tactic. … But in open, pluralistic systems, the Brotherhood will have to compete against many other alternatives, and I think that is the way that all Arab countries should go to.”
In an opinion piece in the Guardian of London in January, Muasher called for the inclusion of Islamist parties in representative democracies.
He wrote: “The last lesson is that old arguments rationalizing tight controls on politics to keep Islamists from gaining power are fundamentally undermined. Governments use the fear of Islam to justify closed political systems that clamp down on all forms of discontent.”
One month later, Muasher wrote in the Washington Post, “Arab countries, including Egypt and Jordan, need to start by building stronger parliaments. This can happen only with changes to electoral laws that make elections more fair and parliaments more representative.”
Channeling pan-socialist ideology, in March, Muasher referred to the Mideast revolutions and breakdown in Israeli-Palestinian talks as a “crisis” that should not be wasted.
“This crisis, like so many others, would be a terrible thing to waste,” he wrote in a piece with Javier Solana published by Project Syndicate.
Solana, former secretary general of the European Union, is a socialist activist and a leader in Soros’ International Crisis Group.
Muasher, meanwhile, is Middle East specialist for the Soros-funded Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
In 1995, Muasher opened Jordan’s first embassy in Israel, and from 1997 to 2002, he served in Washington as Jordan’s ambassador, negotiating the first free trade agreement between the United States and an Arab nation.
He then returned to Jordan to become foreign minister and later deputy prime minister. He often spoke to news media about creating a more open society in Jordan.
Muasher played a central role in developing the so-called Arab Peace Initiative.
The Arab Initiative, originally proposed by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in 2002 and later adopted by the Arab League, states that Israel would receive “normal relations” with the Arab world in exchange for a full withdrawal from the entire Gaza Strip, West Bank, Golan Heights and eastern Jerusalem, which includes the Temple Mount.
The West Bank contains important Jewish biblical sites and borders central Israeli population centers, while the Golan Heights looks down on Israeli civilian zones and was twice used by Syria to mount ground invasions into the Jewish state.
The Arab plan also demands the imposition of a non-binding U.N. resolution that calls for so-called Palestinian refugees who wish to move inside Israel to be permitted to do so at the “earliest practicable date.”
Palestinians have long demanded the “right of return” for millions of “refugees,” a formula Israeli officials across the political spectrum warn is code for Israel’s destruction by flooding the Jewish state with millions of Arabs, thereby changing its demographics.
‘Normalize’ Muslim Brotherhood
Soros’ ICG has petitioned for the Algerian government to cease “excessive” military activities against al-Qaida-linked groups and to allow organizations seeking to create an Islamic state to participate in the Algerian government.
The organization also is tied strongly to the Egyptian opposition movement whose protests led to the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.
Soros’ own Open Society Institute has funded opposition groups across the Middle East and North Africa, including organizations involved in the current chaos.
Following protests that led to the resignations of Mubarak and Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali – both key U.S. allies – Algeria similarly has been engulfed in anti-regime riots.
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has ruled the country with a tough hand. And he has been an ally of the U.S. in fighting al-Qaida.
Islamist parties serve as Bouteflika’s main opposition.
The International Crisis Group, which includes Soros among its eight executive committee members, long has petitioned for the reformation of the Algerian government and for the inclusion of Islamist political parties, two groups that seek to turn Algeria into an Islamic state.
In a July 2004 ICG report obtained by WND, the ICG calls on the Algerian government to curb military action against al-Qaida-affiliated organizations, particularly the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, the GSPC, and an armed Islamic terrorist group known as Houmat Daawa Salafia, or HDS. Like the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the GSPC aims to establish an Islamic state within Algeria.
Soros’ ICG names the two Islamic groups in its recommendations to the Algerian government.
“Give top priority to ending the remaining armed movements, mainly the GSPC and HDS, through a political, security, legal and diplomatic strategy,” states the ICG report.
“Avoid excessive reliance on military means and do not allow these movements’ purported links to al-Qaida to rule out a negotiated end to their campaigns,” continued the ICG’s recommendation to the Algerian government.
The ICG has issued at least six other reports recommending Algeria transition to a democracy that will allow the participation of the Islamic groups seeking to create a Muslim caliphate.
After Algeria’s president, Bouteflika, won more than 80 percent of the vote against Islamic opposition groups in 2004, Robert Malley, an ICG associate, recommended, “Rather than exclude all his opponents from the policy making process, he could empower them.”
The ICG’s Malley was an adviser to Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign. He resigned after it was exposed he had communicated with Hamas. WND reported Malley long had petitioned for dialogue with Hamas.
WND also reported previously the ICG also has petitioned for the Egyptian government to normalize ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.
The ICG released a report urging the Egyptian regime to allow the Brotherhood to establish an Islamist political party.
In a June 2008 report entitled “Egypt’s Muslim Brothers Confrontation or Integration,” Soros’ ICG urges the Egyptian regime to allow the group to participate in political life.
The report dismisses Egypt’s longstanding government crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood as “dangerously short-sighted.”
The ICG report called on Mubarak’s regime to “pave the way for the regularization of the Muslim Brothers’ participation in political life,” including by allowing for the “establishment of a political party with religious reference.”
The ICG specifically stressed allowing the Brotherhood to serve as an Islamist party several times in its 2008 report.
The ICG and its personalities also long have petitioned for the Muslim Brotherhood to be allowed to join the Egyptian government.
ElBaradei suspended his board membership in the ICG in February after he returned to Egypt to lead the anti-Mubarak protests.
U.S. board members include Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to Jimmy Carter; Samuel Berger, Bill Clinton’s national security adviser; and retired U.S. ambassador Thomas Pickering, who made headlines in 2009 after meeting with Hamas leaders and calling for the U.S. to open ties to the Islamist group.
Another ICG member is Malley.
The ICG defines itself as an “independent, non-profit, multinational organization, with 100 staff members on five continents, working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict.”
Funding the opposition
Meanwhile, Soros also has other ties to opposition groups in the Middle East.
His Open Society Institute’s Middle East and North Africa Initiative has provided numerous grants to a wide range of projects that promote so-called democratic issues across the region, including in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood stands to gain from any future election.
Soros’ Open Society also funded the main opposition voice in Tunisia, Radio Kalima, which championed the riots there that led to the ouster of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
In September, Soros’ group was looking to expand its operations in Egypt by hiring a new project manager for its Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, which is run in partnership with the Open Society Justice Initiative. The group is seeking to develop a national network of legal empowerment actors for referral of public-interest law cases. Such organizations in the past have helped represent Muslim Brotherhood leaders seeking election or more authority in the country.
Soros himself in February made public statements in support of the protests in Egypt, which the Mubarak government has warned will result in the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the country.
In a Washington Post editorial entitled “Why Obama Has to Get Egypt Right,” Soros recognized that if free elections were held in Egypt, “the Brotherhood is bound to emerge as a major political force, though it is far from assured of a majority.”
He stated the U.S. has “much to gain by moving out in front and siding with the public demand for dignity and democracy” in Egypt.
He claimed the “Muslim Brotherhood’s cooperation with Mohamed ElBaradei … is a hopeful sign that it intends to play a constructive role in a democratic political system.”
Soros did not mention his ties to ElBaradei.
Soros did, however, single out Israel as “the main stumbling block” in paving the way toward transition in the Middle East.
“In reality, Israel has as much to gain from the spread of democracy in the Middle East as the United States has. But Israel is unlikely to recognize its own best interests because the change is too sudden and carries too many risks,” he wrote.
With research by Brenda J. Elliott