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Muslim Brotherhood Comes Closer to Power as Israel's Neighbor

The radical Muslim Brotherhood takes a giant step to becoming a powerful force in Egypt and joins negotiations with the Mubarak regime.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 2/6/2011, 3:25 PM / Last Update: 2/6/2011, 3:13 PM

The radical Muslim Brotherhood, technically an illegal party in Egypt, took a giant step towards becoming a powerful force on Israel’s southern border as it joins negotiations with Cairo's newly-appointed vice president Omar Suleiman.

The prospect of Lebanon’s being a puppet government for Hizbullah, Egypt coming under the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Yemen ceding power to radical Islamic groups has made problems for U.S. counterterrorism efforts, according to the Associated Press.  

It reported that “lingering confusion over who will take the reins of power” may interfere with near-term decisions while leaving long-term decisions on hold because of worrying uncertainty and instability.

As Egypt re-opened its banks and returned to a more normal work routine on the 13th day of protests Sunday, Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Essam el-Erian said the group’s joining negotiations does not mean that it is backing down from its demand that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak step down. They are not satisfied with his declaration that he will not run again for president in September.

The Brotherhood said one day earlier that it would not negotiate until Mubarak leaves, an ultimatum that passed uneventfully after being issued by protest leader Mohammed ElBaradei last week.

Opposition groups have stated that they will accept nothing less than Mubarak’s resignation and that his appointment of Suleiman as his first-ever vice president is a cosmetic move. "The so-called dialogue is the first step to exhaust this revolution. The president must go," said Mohammed Habib, deputy chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood.

ElBaradei, a leftist party called Tagammu, a liberal party and the Muslim Brotherhood formally joined as an opposition group against the Mubarak-Suleiman regime.

Mubarak continues in his position as president after withstanding enormous pressure from unprecedented street demonstrations against him. Approximately 100 – some reports says 300 – protesters were killed by riot police, and thousands were wounded in clashes until Mubarak called off the police last week.

He refused to resign despite awkward pressure by the Obama administration, which said it was not telling Egypt what to do but made it clear that immediate change is necessary.

It is "important to follow the transition process announced by the Egyptian government, actually headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman, said  U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday, virtually ousting him from power. U.S. President Barack Obama told foreign leaders of the need for the Egyptian government to be "responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people."