The State Department hosted a delegation of leaders aligned with the radical Muslim Brotherhood looking to rally support for their ongoing opposition to Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the Washington Free Beacon reports.
But some experts say the powwow this week could backfire.
Sisi was elected president
last June after staging a bloody coup that toppled his controversial predecessor Mohammed Morsi — the country's first elected leader and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi, who like thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters is now in prison, came to power two years after U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in a popular uprising.
"What this shows is that the widespread rejection of the Muslim Brotherhood across the Middle East, particularly the largest protests in recorded human history in Egypt on June 30, 2013, that led to Morsi’s ouster, is not recognized by the State Department and the Obama administration," journalist Patrick Poole told the Free Beacon of the meeting.
"This is a direct insult to our Egyptian allies, who are in an existential struggle against the Muslim Brotherhood, all in the pursuit of the mythical ‘moderate Islamists’ who the D.C. foreign policy elite still believe will bring democracy to the Middle East."
Delegation member Waleed Sharaby – a Brotherhood-aligned judge in Egypt – posted a picture on his Facebook page,
which the Free Beacon translated as saying: "Now in the U.S. State Department. Your steadfastness impresses everyone." The Free Beacon reports Sharaby flashed the Islamic group’s four-finger Rabia symbol.
The delegation also included two other Brotherhood members: Gamal Heshmat and Abdel Mawgoud al-Dardery, the Free Beacon reports.
"Maha Azzam confirms that ‘anti-coup’ delegation, which includes 2 top [Muslim Brothers], had ‘fruitful’ conversations at State Dept," tweeted Eric Trager
of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
"The State Department continues to speak with Muslim Brothers on the assumption that Egyptian politics are unpredictable, and the Brotherhood still has some support in Egypt," Trager told the Free Beacon.
"But when pro-Brotherhood delegations then post photos of themselves making pro-Brotherhood gestures in front of the State Department logo, it creates an embarrassment for the State Department."
An unnamed State Department official told the Free Beacon "We meet with representatives from across the political spectrum in Egypt."
Samuel Tadros, a research fellow at the Hudson Institute, told the Free Beacon the visit is meant to rally support for the Muslim Brotherhood’s opposition to Sisi.
"The delegation’s composition includes several non-official Muslim Brotherhood members to portray an image of a united Islamist and non-Islamist revolutionary camp against the regime," he told the Free Beacon.
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