JERUSALEM – Philanthropist billionaire George Soros has funded opposition organizations in Egypt and throughout the Middle East, where anti-regime chaos has already toppled the pro-Western leader of Tunisia and is threatening the rule of President Hosni Mubarak, a key U.S. ally.
Mohamed ElBaradei, one of the main opposition leaders in Egypt, has also sat on the board of an international “crisis management” group alongside Soros and other personalities who champion dialogue with Hamas, a violent offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood, which seeks to spread Islam around the world in part by first creating an Islamic caliphate in Egypt, now backs ElBaradai, who has defended the group in the news media the last few weeks.
ElBaradei suspended his board membership in the International Crisis Group, or ICG last week, after he returned to Egypt to lead the anti-Mubarak protests.
Soros is one of eight members of the ICG executive committee.
U.S. board members include Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was national security adviser to Jimmy Carter; Samuel Berger, who was 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 Robert Malley, a former adviser to Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign who resigned after it was exposed he had communicated with Hamas. WND first reported Malley had long petitioned for dialogue with Hamas.
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.”
Radio talk show host Michael Savage spent his entire show Friday discussing the ICG’s ties to the current Islamic uprising in Egypt. Savage also wrote a 13-page paper outlining Obama’s links to the Egypt chaos.
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 on Friday 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.
The information comes as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today tentatively welcomed Muslim Brotherhood involvement in the next Egyptian elections, saying Washington would “wait and see” how talks develop.
“Today we learned the Muslim Brotherhood decided to participate, which suggests they at least are now involved in the dialogue that we have encouraged,” Clinton told National Public Radio from Germany.
“We’re going to wait and see how this develops, but we’ve been very clear about what we expect.”
“The Egyptian people are looking for an orderly transition that can lead to free and fair elections. That is what the United States has consistently supported,” said Clinton.
“The people themselves, and leaders of various groups … will ultimately determine if it is or not meeting their needs.”
She added: “I want to make very clear we have set forth the principles we support. We are adamant about no violence.
“We want to see peaceful protests that are, so far anyway, embodying the aspirations that are in our view very legitimate.
“And we want to see an orderly, expeditious transition.”
With research by Brenda J. Elliott