White House to designate Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organisation

The Trump administration reportedly decided to pursue sanctions against the Muslim Brotherhood after an April meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
The Trump administration reportedly decided to pursue sanctions against the Muslim Brotherhood after an April meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

The Trump administration is working to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organisation, the White House said on Tuesday.

The designation will bring economic and travel sanctions against Egypt’s oldest Islamist movement, with more than a million members across the Middle East.

The decision follows a White House visit by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in April.

Mr Sisi asked US President Donald Trump to make the move, US media said.

On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed the administration is pushing for the designation.

“The President has consulted with his national security team and leaders in the region who share his concern, and this designation is working its way through the internal process,” Ms Sanders said in a statement.

The Trump administration first directed security and diplomatic officials to find a way to impose sanctions on the Brotherhood after a meeting between Mr Trump and Mr Sisi on 9 April, US media report.

Pro Mohammed Morsi supporters rally near where over 50 were purported to have been killed by members of the Egyptian military and police in early morning clashes on July 8, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt.
In 2013, then-army head Mr Sisi led a coup that deposed President Mohammed Morsi, a Brotherhood leader

Egypt already describes the Muslim Brotherhood as terrorists. Mr Sisi overthrew President Mohammed Morsi in 2013, a former Brotherhood leader.

Once the US designation is announced, sanctions on companies and individuals who interact with the group will come into effect.

The decision has caused a rift between White House officials and Pentagon staff, according to the New York Times.

Though US National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both purportedly support the move, career national security staff, government lawyers and diplomatic officials have raised legal and policy concerns.

Last month, the White House hit Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) with the same designation, the first time the US has labelled another nation’s military as a terrorist organisation.

The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna, has influenced Islamist movements around the world with its model of political activism combined with Islamic charity work.

The movement was initially intended to spread Islamic morals and good works, but soon became involved in politics, particularly the fight to rid Egypt of British colonial control and cleanse it of all Western influence.

Poster showing President al-Sisi
Egypt’s parliament has recently approved constitutional amendments that would allow Mr Sisi to stay in power until 2030

In the first parliamentary elections after President Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow in February 2011, the political party associated with the Muslim Brotherhood ascended to power, winning nearly half the seats in Egypt’s parliament.

Since Mr Morsi’s ousting, thousands of Brotherhood members have been arrested.