Opinion

Egypt's leader-in-waiting vows to finish off Muslim Brotherhood

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Egypt,Middle East,Charles Hoskinson,Muslim Brotherhood

Egyptian strongman turned presidential candidate Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi vowed in a television interview on Monday to finish off the Muslim Brotherhood if he is elected president as expected in the May 26-27 vote.

"Yes, just like this," he said in the joint interview on the privately-owned CBC and ONTV stations, according to an English translation published by Al Ahram. "Egyptians reject reconciliation with the Brotherhood."

In the interview -- the clearest sign yet of the former military leader's intentions for Egypt -- Sisi expressed admiration for Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt's first military leader, who also led a crackdown on the Islamist group, which is the ideological godfather of many other extremist movements, including al Qaeda.

"I wish I was like Nasser," Sisi said. "Nasser was not just a portrait on walls for Egyptians but a photo and voice carved in their hearts."

Nasser also established the military regime that has ruled Egypt since 1952 and bears much responsibility for the fragile state of the country's economy and political institutions.

Sisi was named defense minister by former President Mohammed Morsi in a housecleaning move after Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood took power in Egypt's first free election in 2012. A year later, he played a key role in the military uprising that ousted the Brotherhood from power before stepping down as leader of the armed forces to run for president.

Since then, the military regime's policies have posed both opportunities and problems for the U.S. Defeating the Brotherhood would eliminate an important ideological support center for Islamist extremism, but the regime's harsh methods have put pressure on the Obama administration to distance itself.

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