Opening a relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood would signal to ruling regimes and opposition groups in the region that the United States is committed to promoting democracy -- not just to supporting those who are friendly to US interests. Democracy requires a broader commitment to political participation, inclusion, reform, moderation, transparency, accountability, and better governance.But I wonder: if the US were to engage the MB, what would they talk about?
Furthering contacts with the Brotherhood would not constitute a drastic departure for American foreign policy. Despite the lack of a relationship now, American officials have had occasional contact with the Brotherhood in the past. American government officials last held talks with the organization in late 2001, under the current Bush presidency. Although the Egyptian government has occasionally expressed displeasure at such meetings, the American-Egyptian relationship has not suffered as a consequence.
Egypt receives billions of dollars a year in aid from the United States, and Washington has a responsibility to meet with all of Egypt's relevant political organizations. After the Brotherhood's success in the 2005 parliamentary elections and the increasing popularity of other Islamist groups in the region, the United States needs to consider an open and frank dialogue with moderate, nonviolent Islamist groups. And there is no more important moderate Islamist group in the region than Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.