Within and between western governments, a heated policy debate is raging over the question of whether or not to engage with the worldâ€™s oldest and most influential political Islamist group: Egyptâ€™s Muslim Brotherhood.
While British analysts have suggested that engagement with the Brotherhood could provide a valuable opportunity for challenging their perceptions of the West, the Bush administration has been far less open to the idea, arguing that it would be inappropriate to enter into formal ties with a group that is not legally recognised by the Egyptian government.
This paper offers the following recommendations for western governments in regard to their specific relations with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood:
1. Western policymakers should press the Egyptian government more firmly on its political reform commitments, and should be more consistent in their criticism when opposition figures, including Islamists, are the arbitrary targets of state repression
2. Representatives of western governments should seek more opportunities for dialogue with political opposition groups in Egypt, including the Muslim Brotherhood
I think this report -- of the many on the group -- perhaps most clearly advocates a policy of engagement by Western states towards the MBs, reflecting Josh's long-held conviction that it's worth talking to the Brothers. And since it's put out by a British institution, it's framed in the introduction by the controversy over the Foreign Office hesitant policy about reaching out to Islamist groups in the region. There's a lot of interesting stuff there, even if you're Ikhwanophobic.