Like many of you, I've been trying to learn more about the mysterious Muslim Brotherhood that is now playing a large behind-the-scenes role in Egyptian politics. Here are five items of interest:
• The Brotherhood is organized like the Communist Party: A 15-member General Guidance Council is in charge. It's self-perpetuating, itself selecting new members to fill vacancies that occur. It's headed by a "General Guide" who serves for life.
• It's a Brotherhood, with no sisters allowed. In the 2005 election it did allow one woman to run among its 100 or so candidates, but she was OK because she wrote an article titled "Men Are Superior to Women."
• General Guide Muhammad Mahdi Akef told an Egyptian publication that "martyrdom" bombings in Israel and Iraq are an obligation for Muslims, since "these two countries are occupied countries, and the occupier must be expelled in every way possible."
• Oops, I need to correct the statement above: There's no such thing as Israel, only-according to Akef-some territory controlled by "Zionist gangs that occupied an Arab land after kicking out its residents."
• The Brotherhood has sought the appointment of a Supreme Ulama Council to supervise Egypt's civilian government. But that's standard: Muslims almost always want unicity, a union of mosque and state.
I've learned what's above from Joshua Muravchik and others, and here's an interesting note Stratfor posted last night:
"Israel for the first time has permitted Egypt to deploy two battalions, that's 800 troops, to Sharm el-Sheikh in the Sinai Peninsula. This is a direct violation of the '78 Peace Accords, but apparently Israel feels it is worth the political risk at home to do so. The question is, what is behind the deployment?
"We know Mubarak has a home in Sharm el-Sheikh and we have been saying the time for the army to nudge him out might be nearing. Whether or not Israel is facilitating a military transition to force Mubarak out, if he is in fact in Sharm el-Sheikh, remains to be seen. But we'll certainly be watching this closely. The problem now for Israel is that the longer the military waits to push Mubarak out, the more the crisis escalates in the streets of Egypt and the more Israel then has to fear the unknown."
ADDENDUM: For more, see The New York Times' "As Islamist Group Rises, Its Intentions Are Unclear."