Some Mideast experts are warning of a civil war in Egypt over increasingly serious economic, social and political problems, and disillusionment with the Muslim Brotherhood, which has exacerbated rather than eased the crisis.
But President Mohamed Morsi is not about to loosen his grip, and the United States, though disappointed by the turn of events, is likely to support him for now, fearful of the prospect of another failed leader in a region fraught with dangerous unrest.
But a blunt warning against underestimating the Brotherhood, in Egypt and throughout the Arab world, has come from none other than the king of Jordan, Abdullah II, who believes that many in the U.S. State Department are naïve about the group’s intentions. He said he tells U.S. officials that the Brotherhood is led by “wolves in sheeps’ clothing” and that his “major fight” is to keep them from seizing power in the region.
Those comments appeared in a lengthy and remarkably candid interview the king had with Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent of The Atlantic, appearing in the current edition (“The Modern King in the Arab Spring”).
King Abdullah said some in Washington tell him that “the only way you can have democracy is through the Muslim Brotherhood,” but he is having none of it. “I see a Muslim Brotherhood crescent developing in Egypt and Turkey,” he said, describing Morsi as a man with “no depth” and obsessed with Israelis, and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan as a more sophisticated version of Morsi, using democracy to get what he wants.
Clearly the Jordanian leader is worried about his own future, and that of his monarchy. A poor country that has absorbed more than 400,000 Syrian refugees, Jordan is reliant on the U.S. and Israel, which continues to protect it. The king says his relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “very strong,” but he worries that it may be too late for a two-state solution with the Palestinians.
His concerns should be taken seriously, especially his cautionary words about the motives and goals of the Muslim Brotherhood.