Gulf states see Obama’s hand in rise of Muslim Brotherhood

Special to

ABU DHABI — Gulf Arab states have detected a U.S. role in the rise
of the Muslim Brotherhood in the region.

The Gulf Cooperation Council was said to have been examining the growth
of Brotherhood-aligned groups in the six member states over the last year.

Dubai police chief Brig. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan. /Reuters

GCC sources said the Brotherhood’s expansion in the Gulf region appeared
to reflect U.S. encouragement of the Egyptian-based movement.

“Today the Americans are mobilizing the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab nation, for the benefit of America, not the Arabs,” Brig. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan, regarded as the security chief of the United Arab Emirates, said. “There is an American plan that has been drawn up for the region.”

In a statement on Sept. 2, Khalfan, police commander of the UAE port of Dubai, said the Brotherhood was being manipulated by the United States as part of its effort to overthrow the ruling families of GCC members. The police chief cited alleged Brotherhood plots in the region.

Khalfan stressed that he was not speaking for the UAE. But GCC sources said the leadership in the emirates regularly employs the outspoken police
chief to issue statements that reflect concern by Abu Dhabi as well as other
Gulf Arab regimes.

“Khalfan is not a loose cannon; that’s not the way things work here,” a
GCC source said.

“He is responsible for UAE internal security, and he
reflects the view of the leadership in the emirates and often the entire

The UAE has launched a campaign against the Brotherhood. Over the last
nine months, Abu Dhabi has arrested and interrogated dozens of suspected
Brotherhood operatives, some of whom were identified as leading academics.

The sources said the UAE as well as other GCC states were dismayed by
U.S. support of the new Brotherhood-led regime in Egypt. They said U.S. arms
sales and debt relief to Egypt’s first Islamist government, led by President
Mohammed Morsi, have encouraged the movement to undermine other Arab states,
particularly the conservative ruling families in the Gulf.

For his part, Khalfan said Washington was working with the Brotherhood
to replace the GCC leadership by 2016. At the same time, Bahrain has accused
the United States of encouraging the Shi’ite opposition to oust the Sunni

Qatar has been the only GCC state to have embraced the Brotherhood. The
sources cited significant Qatari military aid to the rebels in Libya and
Syria as well as a relatively free hand granted to a top Brotherhood cleric,
Sheik Yusef Al Qaradawi.

“Qatar is just as concerned as the rest of the GCC of the Brotherhood,”
the GCC source said. “But it is gambling that the Brotherhood could be
coopted — even if for a short while.”