Muslim Brotherhood pretty excited about visit from Hamas PM

2012’s going to be a great year!

“The Brotherhood center has always embraced issues of liberation, foremost the Palestinian issue,” [Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed] Badie said, according to Egypt’s state Middle East News Agency.

He added that Hamas has served as a role model to the Brotherhood in its reconciliation with the Fatah movement and in closing the recent prisoner swap deal with Israel.

The Brotherhood renounced violence in the 1970s, but it supports Hamas in its “resistance” against Israel…

Haniyeh described Hamas as the “jihadi movement of the Brotherhood with a Palestinian face.” He said his visit to the Brotherhood center would confuse and frighten Israel.

“Our presence with the Brotherhood threatens the Israeli entity,” Haniyeh said according to MENA.

Who benefits more from this photo op, the Brotherhood or Hamas? On the one hand, the MB gets a shot of Islamist cred before the last round of Egypt’s elections by hugging it out on camera with the tip of the jihadi “liberationist” spear against Israel. They might need it too: Official results from the second round of the elections show the Salafists finishing within single digits of the Brotherhood and nearly 20 points ahead of the third-place liberal party. The Salafists improved from the first round to the second and can only benefit in the final round from all the media attention they’re getting, so the Haniyeh endorsement might be useful in preventing the Brotherhood from being “out-fundied.”

Hamas gains leverage from the Brotherhood’s show of solidarity over Israel and, especially, Fatah. A public spectacle like today’s is one way of signaling that future Israeli attacks on Hamas might have consequences for the Camp David accords, just in case anyone doubted it, and it can only help Hamas with Palestinian voters to be embraced by the new power next door, now the vanguard of the Arab Spring. Just within the past few hours, a Hamas spokesman not only predicted a landslide over Fatah in the next parliamentary elections but hinted that they might challenge Mahmoud Abbas by nominating their own presidential candidate. No wonder the group’s reportedly thinking of moving its headquarters from Damascus to Cairo. (Well, that and the chaos in Syria.) The grander strategy here, I take it, is to pressure western countries that are eager to domesticate the Brotherhood into granting Hamas more legitimacy as a condition of that domestication. Erdogan, the MB’s Turkish role model, has been shilling for Hamas for years but he’s not going to walk away from the west over that point of disagreement. Would the Brotherhood, especially when they’re facing electoral pressure from the Salafists to be even more hardline in their Islamism? Or will the prospect of losing sweet, sweet western foreign aid make them inch away from Hamas too?

Long story short, the choice in Egypt right now is between these nuts, a military that defends the practice of stomping women half to death in the streets, and the Wahhabist faction that wants to Talibanize the country. We’ve arrived at a glorious moment, my friends, where Yasser Arafat’s party is now the best hope of moderation in Palestinian and Egyptian politics. Exit question: Why are the Salafists, of all people, suddenly hinting they might uphold the peace treaty with Israel? A hint to the west that they can bought off too, or is there something else going on?