In the previous two episodes of this three-part series, we discussed the Western agenda in the region, and explained that this agenda was strongly connected with the events of 2011 in Egypt, as well as with everything that happened in the Arab region in that period, including attempts to redraw the map of the region and divide it under what came to be known as the ‘Arab Spring’.
We explained some of the plans that were concocted against the region, starting from 1973, especially in the aftermath of the victory of the Egyptian army over Israel.
These plans sought to break Arab armies, especially the Egyptian army.
We also referred to Bernard Lewis’ famous project for dismantling the constitutional unity of Arab countries, the fragmentation of North African countries, the Arabian Peninsula, the Levant, and the fragmentation of Lebanon and Jordan, and the demolition of the components that can be vital for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
We also uncovered cooperation between the United States and the Muslim Brotherhood in the light of an American research paper that acknowledges this cooperation, especially under former US President Barack Obama. This cooperation was only sabotaged by the June 30, 2013 revolution against the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
We also dealt with the secret history of the relations between the Americans and the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood, along with meetings that took place between Brotherhood leaders and US officials, which remained secret until the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.
We reviewed arrangements for the meetings the late Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi, sought to hold with the heads of Islamic parties in Arab countries.
In today’s episode, we move on to a new stage, namely of external entanglements and incubators to implement the plans of the Americans in the region and the choice of Qatar for this task. We will also talk about how American plans to exhaust Egypt had failed.
It was necessary to have incubators in the region that would help, protect and finance the implementation of American plans.
Qatar was selected to play that role, even as it did not do the slightest effort. Turkey was also selected to play the same role.
However, this raises questions about the reasons for selecting Qatar for that role.
The Americans were looking for an incubator for the organization that would have the upper hand in implementing their plan on the ground, especially in the event of a setback to the plan during its implementation.
This incubator was meant to have historical ties to the organization, as well as close relations with America, and illegitimate ambitions that need great powers to achieve. Qatar was picked to be that incubator, but why?
The Qatari peninsula had early acquaintance with the Muslim Brotherhood, when it received its first waves of immigrants from Egypt after the Brotherhood’s bitter conflict with the late Egyptian revolutionary leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1954. It received the second wave of immigrants after the Syrian massacre of Hama against Brotherhood members in 1982. The third wave arrived in Qatar from North Africa, namely from Tunisia, Algeria and Libya, in the 1990s, following the outbreak of conflicts between the governments of these countries and the Islamists.
This was exactly when the Algerian army turned against the elections which were won by the Islamic Salvation Front.
In Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali replaced the ageing Habib Bourguiba. In Libya, Muammar Gaddafi turned against the Islamists due to the failure of his ‘Islamic Legion in the African Desert’ project, through which he wanted to gain control over tribal chiefs and sheikhs in the region.
The fourth wave of Islamists poured into Qatar from Saudi Arabia, which tightened the noose around them, after the 9/11 attacks in the United States. Before these attacks, there were terrorist bombings in Khobar, Riyadh and Dammam.
Most of the perpetrators of the attacks were either Saudis, or people who had links with Saudi authorities.
The establishment of the American-Islamic Dialogue Forum in 2004 under the auspices of the Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs was the first step taken in this regard.
The forum became an annual event, bringing together American experts and representatives of all shades of political Islam in preparation for selecting an Islamic partner for the American strategy at the appropriate time.
The International Union of Muslim Scholars was also founded in Qatar. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who was himself one of the Brotherhood’s refugees to Qatar for decades, was picked to be the head of the union. However, his political role was not to remain independent until the end. He set out to defend Qatari interests and trends everywhere and at all times.
Qatar and the Renaissance Project
As a purely Qatari initiative, the Qatari government established the Renaissance Project for training, publishing, seminars and lectures. It entrusted the leadership of the project to Jassem Sultan, the general controller of the Muslim Brotherhood in Qatar.
The Jassim Sultan Center for Renaissance hosted most of the Egyptian Brotherhood leaders to train them to work through democratic organizations. It also trained them in infiltrating their societies for control or domination. Prominent Brotherhood members graduated from the center, including pediatrician Hisham Morsi, a holder of British citizenship, and a son-in-law of Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
Morsi founded the Academy of Change, through which he played a major role in the 2011 revolution in Egypt, after the Brotherhood decided to join it.
Ali Salabi, who was described by the Washington Post as the real architect of governance arrangements in Libya after the revolution, also graduated from the center.
Salabi lived in Qatar for several years. He is a disciple of al-Qaradawi. He stated that he requested Qatar’s help in the early days of the Libyan revolution.
Brotherhood, Qatar, Arab Spring
There were legitimate concerns about Qatar’s relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood. There was also a state of ambiguity around the relationship between Qatar and emerging Islamic currents before and after the Arab Spring in general, and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, in particular.
The concerns are mainly about the nature of that relationship and the corresponding price.
This came amid fears from Qatari endeavors to control Egypt’s capabilities, exploiting the economic conditions and burdens prevalent in the region and in Egypt.
Qatar dealt with the Arab Spring differently from other Gulf states which were motivated by contagion fears. The same states were also convinced of the existence of conspiracies or the lack of a purely national intention in calls for change.
Qatar adopted, however, calls for change through its own media machine and financial and international support.
This was clearly evident in the relationship between Qatar and Ennahda Party in Tunisia. Ennahda’s foreign minister, Rafik Abdel Salam, was the head of the Studies and Research Unit at al-Jazeera Center in the Qatari capital Doha. His father-in-law, Rashid Ghannouchi, was the head of the unit before him. Ennahda is the Brotherhood’s arm in Tunisia.
Qatar’s foreign policy also witnessed a major change with regard to dealing with the Libyan revolution that Doha supported with money and weapons. Qatari fighter jets also participated in NATO air raids on Libya. Qatari ground forces were deployed in Libya and cooperated with the Libyan opposition in its fight against Gaddafi’s forces.
This appeared more clearly in the statements of Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, the former head of the Libyan National Transitional Council, who said the success of the Libyan revolution was largely due to Qatar. He noted that Qatar spent nearly $2 billion in Libya. Qatari investments in Libya amount to $10 billion.
Qatar also signed new deals with Libya worth $8 billion when the war was still going on.
Qatar made strenuous efforts and spent a lot of money to deprive Mahmoud Jibril, a liberal Libyan nationalist, of the chance of heading the transitional government, even as the coalition he founded won the majority of seats in the Libyan National Congress.
Qatar did this by massing all the others against Jibril to form a government affiliated with political Islam. Such a government in an oil-rich country like Libya can reverberate in other Arab Spring countries, especially in Egypt.
As for the relationship with Syria, there was a clear Qatari desire to overthrow the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with the aim of instituting another regime headed by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.
Turkey also supported the same goal, in addition to enabling extremist groups, such as ISIS and al-Nusra Front, to control Syria.
The road to January 25
In 2006, US Ambassador to Cairo, Francis Ricciardone, sent a telegram to the State Department in Washington, specifically on March 16. The telegram was titled ‘Confidential’. It was sent at a time when American leaders classified Egypt as a ‘friendly country’ and a ‘strategic ally’.
In his telegram, Ricciardone wrote that the Egyptian regime got ready for its death and that its death should be hastened by inflicting a thousand wounds on it.
This was why the policy that was formulated in this regard came to be called the ‘Thousand Wounds in Egypt’ policy.
The telegram added: “Most likely, it will not be possible to make significant democratic progress as long as Hosni Mubarak remains. Mubarak is in office. However, his harsh rule saves space and gives time to prepare the civil society and some institutions of the Egyptian government as a stage before his departure. We do not have a successful solution for everything, but we can press for changes that will inevitably lead to death through a thousand small wounds to Egypt’s authoritarian regime by adopting a ‘mass trick’ policy”.
The telegram indicated that the military institution would be a hindrance to change. It also expected the Muslim Brotherhood’s popularity to increase because it provided social services that the Egyptian government itself could not provide.
The telegram to which we referred was preceded by a deal that took place between the Brotherhood and the Mubarak regime prior to the presidential elections in 2005. The deal was prompted by the Egyptian government’s inability to limit the Brotherhood’s activity on the streets through the security policy known as ‘nails’ clipping’.
This failure was caused by strict foreign control and foreign schemes to interfere in Egypt’s internal affairs. This encouraged the government to seek an agreement with the group. The agreement stipulated the release of Brotherhood prisoners, provided that the group participates in the elections to gain some kind of legitimacy.
Brotherhood support to liberal politician Ayman Nour in the 2005 presidential elections and its impact on the results was only to achieve several goals which included the following:
First, conveying a message to the regime that the group can influence any elections and make any candidate succeed, even if his popularity is weak on the streets.
Second, sending a message to the West, especially the US, that it is a group that believes in liberal ideas and that does not conflict with its Islamic program.
Third, the overthrow of Nouman Gomaa, the then head of the liberal al-Wafd Party, who opposed the Brotherhood’s right to establish a political party.
Beginnings of the clash
The case of al-Azhar militias disturbed relations between the regime and the Brotherhood as of 2006.
On December 10, 2006, Brotherhood students at al-Azhar University mimicked a military parade. They wore black caps on their heads that bore the words ‘steadfast Brothers’.
Security follow-up teams discovered that the group’s leaders had formed organizational committees that included student affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. These students were assigned specific tasks with the aim of achieving horizontal spread among the student sectors at al-Azhar University. This was not agreed upon between the two parties.
Shura Council elections
After dialogue sessions between the group, political parties and political forces failed came short of forming a front to confront the regime, the Brotherhood decided to return to the bosom of the regime and launch a test balloon to measure the regime’s ability to talk to it again.
The group nominated three of its deputies in the People’s Assembly (lower chamber of parliament0 in the Shura Council elections that took place in June 2010.
However, the results disappointed the group, after the failure of its three candidates to win any seats, even as they were People’s Assembly members for five consecutive years.
The group felt the enormity of the crisis and began to respond to a deep dialogue with the Americans about overthrowing the regime. It proceeded to contact Washington’s representatives in Turkey to obtain instructions.
The instructions were clear: boycotting the parliamentary elections in 2010 and riding the wave steered by former Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei.
The Egyptian information services monitored many movements of a number of foreign intelligence services, especially the American ones. They also witnessed a remarkable activity of the elements of these services in Tahrir Square during the January events.
Security assessments confirmed that there is a major event for which the country was heading to, similar to the events in Tunisia. These estimates were presented on the table in front of Egypt’s leadership on January 8, 2011. They were also known to army chief, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who had fears, according to military intelligence reports, that the events might deviate from the scope of the peaceful demonstrations to the scope of civil disobedience.
Directives were given immediately to the General Command of the Armed Forces to raise the alert level as of January 20, 2011.
On that day, an Egyptian military mission headed by Lieutenant-General Sami Anan, chief of staff of the Armed Forces, travelled to the US to attend the annual Egyptian-American Military Coordination and Cooperation Conference, which is concerned with researching all kinds of cooperation for all branches and weapons and identifying demands and evaluating what has been accomplished.
It is important to note that the aforementioned visit was planned for October 2010, but was postponed due to the People’s Assembly elections.
When Lieutenant General Anan arrived at the airport to board the plane on the way back to Egypt, the second-in-command of the US army was waited for him.
Anan said the man took him aside and said: Keep the army away from the youth movement in the streets and do not respond to these demonstrations, for the demise of Mubarak’s rule has become a matter of time. What is happening in Tahrir Square is the beginning of the end.
Anan did not realize that everything was in place and that the main actors had already pressed the button to start running the plan.
Each participant in the events had a cycle of precision decree, including the Brotherhood, ElBaradei, and the April 6 protest movement.
Only those simple and kind families of the great people of Egypt, who came out in the thousands to support slogans that expressed their pains and ambitions, were not on the line of contact with these planners and supporters. This was why their shock was violent when we revealed to them one day in the ‘Black Box’ television program the depth and gravity of what happened.