- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 27, 2011


The Arab League ambassador to the United States said he would be comfortable with a limited and secular role for the shadowy Muslim Brotherhood in a new democratic Egyptian government.

“They understand the majority [of Egyptians] is not in favor of their ideology,” Ambassador Hussein Hassouna told The Washington Times on Friday.

“The world has to accept them as part of Egyptian society. … I’m not alarmed about their role.”

The Muslim Brotherhood was established in the 1920s to promote the violent spread of a fundamentalist brand of Islam but claims to have abandoned support for terrorism, except against Israel.

Mr. Hassouna, an Egyptian diplomat, noted that the revolution in his country was led mostly by “young, well-educated” demonstrators who risked their lives for democracy, not Islamic jihad.

“This augurs well for the future of Egypt,” he said.

Hosni Mubarak, ousted this month in an anti-government revolution that swept Egypt, had outlawed the Brotherhood, but a military council running a transitional government has been dealing with Brotherhood representatives as part of an effort to prepare all opposition parties for elections.

Mr. Hassouna, in his interview after an interfaith conference at The Times on Friday, also denounced embattled Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and expressed disappointment that the United States vetoed a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements in Jerusalem.

“It is very sad what is happening [in Libya],” the ambassador said. “The winds of change have blown over the Middle East.”

He added that the Arab League “sent a strong message” to Mr. Gadhafi by suspending his government from the 22-member alliance.

“We pray for the victims,” he said, referring to the hundreds of Libyans killed in more than a week of protests.

Mr. Hassouna called the U.S. veto of a Feb. 18 U.N. Security Council resolution against Israeli settlements “very unfortunate.”

“It sends the wrong message to the Arab world,” he said.


The Libyan ambassador showed his support for the democratic uprising in his country by lowering the solid green banner of Moammar Gadhafi’s revolution and raising the tricolored flag with a crescent moon and star last flown by King Idris, the monarch Col. Gadhafi overthrew in 1969.

“This flag represents our past and our future,” Ambassador Ali Aujali told a crowd of jubilant supporters Friday, as he hoisted the red, black and green flag over his diplomatic residence on Wyoming Avenue Northwest.

Mr. Aujali on Saturday reiterated that he remains the Libyan ambassador to the United States but no longer represents Col. Gadhafi’s crumbling regime. He rejected the Libyan dictator after Col. Gadhafi unleashed waves of violent attacks against unarmed opponents.

The ambassador embraced an interim government established by the former justice minister, Abud Ajleil, in Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city now under the control of anti-government forces.

“This government is the government of the whole of Libya,” Mr. Aujali told reporters. “We want to support this government as the caretaker government until the liberation of Libya, which I hope will happen very soon.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or e-mail [email protected]

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