Critics noted that the move may lead to tension between the US and many of its allies whose parties have Muslim Brotherhood affiliations.
Rabat – According to a statement from the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on Tuesday, April 30, the Trump administration is pushing to officially designate the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization.
“The President has consulted with his national security team and leaders in the region who share his concern, and this designation is working its way through the internal process,” Sanders said.
The designation would result in economic and travel sanctions on members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has more than a million members across the Middle East, as well as companies and individuals who interact with the group.
The White House’s push follows a visit from Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi on April 9, an opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood who came to power after overthrowing Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Brotherhood, in 2013.
The Egyptian president asked Trump to put sanctions on the Muslim Brotherhood during el-Sissi’s White House visit and Trump responded affirmatively, according to the New York Times.
White House officials and Pentagon staff are reportedly divided on the issue, with fierce debate being sparked since the April 9 meeting. Although National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo support the idea, Pentagon staff, government lawyers, and diplomatic officials have voiced legal and policy objections.
Experts are arguing that the Muslim Brotherhood is too diffuse and multifaceted an organization to legally be classified as a terrorist organization.
Trump initially considered pushing for the Muslim Brotherhood to be labeled a terrorist organization soon after his election in 2017. But the State Department “concluded there was no legal basis for designation. That continues to be true,” according to Daniel Benjamin, a former counter-terrorism coordinator at the US State Department.
Critics also note that the move may lead to tension between the US and many of its allies whose parties have Muslim Brotherhood affiliations, such as Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, and Tunisia.
Turkey’s ruling party, AKP, has already criticized the move, saying it would hinder democratization efforts in the Middle East and boost other militant groups in the region in a statement on Tuesday.
According to officials, the White House’s national security council convened a senior-level meeting of policymakers from various departments following the meeting of two presidents in order to “find a more limited step that would satisfy the White House,” according to the New York Times.
The United Kingdom conducted a review of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2015, looking into its ideology and origins o determine whether the group had any terrorist links.
The UK’s review found that “for the most part, the Muslim Brotherhood have preferred non-violent incremental change,” and the group was primarily committed to political rather than violent engagement.