The title of this post is also the title of a new book co-authored by Amr Hamzawy and Nathan Brown (it’s also the raison d’être of this blog). The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace held an event featuring the authors last Wednesday, whilst the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) kindly provided an overview of the discussion (see here for the full report). According to POMED, Brown had this to say:
He then explained that the conversation would focus on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas, two groups that, while outwardly similar, were inherently different.
Different? How can this be? Both the MB in Egypt and Palestinian Hamas are part of the same broader Islamist movement. Indeed, Hamas is part of the Global Muslim Brotherhood. Of course, in their different contexts, both organisations pursue different tactics: Hamas, as a genocidal terrorist organisation, has the freedom to institute Islamic law within its Gaza fiefdom and conduct terrorist operations against Israel; the Egyptian MB are a proscribed organisation and must work within the confines of a closed, authoritarian system where their members are frequently arrested and imprisoned – it is simply not in the MB’s interests to pursue the same guerilla campaign for which they were banned in the first place. Were the situation reversed, there is no doubt in my mind that the Brothers would revert to type and install an Islamic theocracy. Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood are the same movement with the same ideology and goals.
The Brotherhood seeks peaceful change, while Hamas has an armed wing. The Brotherhood focuses primarily on Egyptian issues, rarely stepping into foreign policy, while Hamas is the center of international attention.
Again, any perceived differences in tactics are purely illusory. The Egyptian MB had (see p.30 and passim) and continues to possess an armed wing. The Brotherhood also maintain a network of contacts and sympathisers throughout the West, such as in London, where a political bureau and publishing house is to be found. Yes, Hamas, like the Egyptian MB, concentrates primarily on the dynamics of their own political context; but both organisations enjoy a network of supporters and sympathetic ideologues that act in accord with the Islamic movement as a whole.