I’m proud of today’s video, but I wish I had delved into the topic of the Muslim Brotherhood a little more deeply before making it. I have of course looked into the issue in the past. This week I’m reading a lot about 1848, so I ended up interpreting my long settled views on the MB through that lens. Sadly I didn’t do a review of what the “Muslim Brotherhood” is supposed to be in the countries of the Arab world in 2018, until I got to the editing process. I was kind of blown away. The whole Muslim Brotherhood theory really makes no sense at all.
Saudi Arabia really doesn’t like the Muslim Brotherhood. Supposedly. In Saudi Arabia’s view of the world, it’s the Muslim Brotherhood that’s responsible for all the Sunni terrorism over the past couple decades. Saudi Arabia has nothing to do with it. It’s not Saudi Arabia, it’s this vast, international conspiracy that the Saudis are heroically fighting! Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood is supposedly one of the main reasons that Saudi Arabia is trying to isolate Qatar democratically. Yet in Saudi Arabia’s failed invasion of Yemen, one of Saudi Arabia’s great allies… is the local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. It’s amazing how completely that undermines the narrative, but just doesn’t get talked about much. There is no real connection to an over-arching group or philosophy.
That’s because there is no over-arching group or philosophy. The Muslim Brotherhood is very powerful in Egypt. Egypt’s military is now trying very hard to crush it, as it has been doing on and off for at least 70 years now. The Brotherhood’s presence elsewhere is an artifact from the dimly remembered past, when Egypt was the leader of the Arab world. The Muslim Brotherhood is as much a parody of what it once was, as Egypt itself is. The most significant problem for the Saudi/US theory of the all powerful Muslim Brotherhood is the movement’s complete absence from Syria. The Assads apparently did a pretty good job of slaughtering the local chapter decades ago. But if the MB was this powerful force for world-wide terror… wouldn’t it have some kind of “boots on the ground” in Syria’s almost decade long coming out party for all of radical Islam’s worst pathologies? Not a thing. The Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t really exist as an international force. Wish I had remembered to get that in today’s video. But I still think it’s pretty good.
Video Transcript after the jump…
Hey there. Was Jamal Khashoggi a member of the Muslim Brotherhood? Sigh…Today we are going to be discussing exactly what to do with that question.
First off let’s emphasize something that is obvious to most kindergartners, but apparently needs to be explained to some of the adults in Washington DC. Having the wrong ideas does not make it OK for your government to murder you, dismember you and hide the body when you try to get some paperwork done at the Consulate. It’s not yet 100% certain that that’s what Saudi Arabia did to Jamal Khashoggi but the evidence is piling up, and nobody has offered a better explanation.
So Saudi Arabia’s many friends in Washington DC are trying to discredit Khashoggi. This is disgusting of course. As we take a tour through this cavalcade of immorality let’s not lose track of how dumb and evil it is to argue that Khashoggi somehow deserved what happened to him. It’s worth looking through this stuff though because it highlights the massive blind spots many Americans still have when it comes to the US Saudi relationship.
Khashoggi and Osama Bin Laden
The Trump family has been bought by Saudi Arabia and they want the money to keep flowing. Some of their hotels have become dependent on Saudi money to be profitable. So Trump friendly media outlets are trying to discredit Khashoggi by pointing out he met with Osama Bin Laden in the 1980s. This claim is accurate. But to find that surprising you have to avoid knowing anything else about the 1980s.
It’s a subject of some controversy whether or not Osama Bin Laden was paid directly by the CIA in the 1980s. Both entities deny the relationship, but neither of them are exactly trustworthy on the topic. It’s more likely that the fabulously wealthy Bin Laden partnered with the CIA to support Jihadist elements in Afghanistan, directly or indirectly.
The embarrassing fact that nobody disputes is that the US Government and Osama Bin Laden were very much on the same side in the 1980s. So were the Pakistanis and the Saudis. As Twitter has delighted in pointing out, everybody from Ronald Reagan to Rambo supported Afghanistan’s jihadists in the 1980s. You would have to be a complete moron to honestly think Khashoggi’s 1980s relationship with Bin Laden proves anything sinister. Donald Trump Jr. Retweeted the claim of course.
Khashoggi and the Muslim Brotherhood
Khashoggi himself has admitted a youthful affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood. This is a complicated topic. I have avoided talking about it on this channel because I don’t really know what the Muslim Brotherhood is. There are a lot of people who will confidently tell you exactly what the Muslim Brotherhood is. I am pretty sure they don’t have any idea what they are talking about either.
The Muslim Brotherhood has been around for 90 years now, and it has meant very different things from decade to decade. For most of its lifetime the brotherhood was heavily supported by Saudi Arabia. Now Qatar and maybe Turkey support some elements of the brotherhood against Saudi Arabia. That’s the story Washington DC’s been selling us anyway. The brotherhood was first condemned in Egypt, then accepted as a normal political party and now its ferociously persecuted again. Conflicting offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood, and diverse political outcomes in multiple countries have led to a movement that is impossible to characterize as any one thing.
Yet Commentators in the US take these diverse groups with widely divergent goals from at least a dozen different countries and multiple different historical eras and try to jam them into one unified framework. This makes very little sense. But we have seen this before.
A couple hundred years back the countries that made up “the West” were subject to waves of revolution. The hereditary aristocrats who ran Europe back then thought they knew exactly what was going on. There was a sinister international network of revolutionaries that controlling everything. This super clear picture was incorrect. There were secret networks, and there were affinities between revolutionaries in different countries, but nothing was as tightly controlled or well organized as those conspiracy minded aristocrats imagined. The priorities and goals of the revolutionaries varied from country to country and even from town to town. Thomas Paine, the writer of one of the American Revolutions most important books, found himself imprisoned by the French Revolution, as just one example. Advocates for Hungarian independence in 1848 were very against independence for anybody else.
When I read about the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States it often feels like I am reading the paranoid ramblings of some old Austrian aristocrat. Which makes sense when you think about it. Any self respecting middle easterner today is sick of outside influence. Which means they are, directly or indirectly, rebelling against the United States. So we in the US work to make that striving for independence look as evil as possible.
We create broad conspiracy theories that flatten diverse goals in diverse countries into a single movement. Then we take the worst actions and ideas that can be attributed to any aspect of this movement, and ascribe it to every member of that movement. It’s Just like a 19th century European aristocrat accusing opponents of child labor of wanting to send everybody to the guillotine.
This makes sense politically but it doesn’t really describe reality. Which is why I avoid talking about the Muslim Brotherhood. I don’t think the term really means anything. Or at least not what everybody at the Gulf funded think tanks in Washington DC say it means…
I think it’s perfectly fair to talk about what Jamal Khashoggi, a one time member of Saudi Arabia’s version of the Muslim Brotherhood believed. As a member of the Saudi elite he had power. He chose to use that power to argue against Saudi Arabia’s support of religious fanaticism. This wasn’t helpful to US or Saudi plans in Afghanistan or Syria so he lost a lot of jobs. After MBS came to power he felt less and less comfortable in Saudi Arabia. At the Washington Post he courageously and repeatedly pointed out the dark side of Muhammad Bin Salman’s leadership of Saudi Arabia. He sacrificed his life to tell that truth. And his sacrifice may end up changing the world for the better. If that’s what the Muslim Brotherhood is, I am all for it.
Thanks for watching please subscribe and if you want to know the truth about the US Saudi relationship that killed Jamal Khashoggi I suggest you read my essay, everybody’s lying about Islam, available now on the Amazon Kindle and in paperback form.