After millions of Egyptians and military elite torpedoed Muslim Brotherhood rule in that country this month, the next staunchest Arab adversary of the Brotherhood is the government of the United Arab Emirates. On July 2, that small Gulf nation sentenced 69 alleged Brotherhood activists to prison on charges of plotting to overthrow the state. Human rights groups reacted harshly to the ruling: Amnesty International called the trial “grossly unfair” and charges “bogus.” In Washington, there is near consensus among think tanks and government research cadres that the UAE Brotherhood is a peaceful group, and the government’s charges are dubious.
But scrutiny of the movement’s writings, video productions, and social media shows otherwise. Senior UAE Brotherhood members have fought alongside an Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria and helped establish new militias of their own. A leader of the organizing party has stated that it aims not only to fight the Damascus regime but also to return home and wage war in the Gulf. The latter assertion may sound surprising in light of the conventional view that the Brotherhood seeks nonviolent change. But it’s indicative of a new, growing strain of the movement that appears poised to rear its head in more countries than one – particularly, in Egypt itself.
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