The UK parliament’s foreign affairs committee issued a report on Monday, criticising the British government for giving the impression that it is influenced by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, given that the latter countries are enemies of the Muslim Brotherhood group.
The UK government had issued a review about the Brotherhood organisation—which has been labelled by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a terrorist organisation—however, Sir John Jenkins, former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia until 2015, led this review. According to the report, this may imply the involvement of a foreign country in how the Brotherhood review was conducted.
British newspaper The Guardian cited chairperson of the committee Crispin Blunt as saying that this may undermine Britain’s credibility when it comes to engaging with political Islamist groups, particularly as they had performed well in elections across the Middle East and North Africa.
The report also censured the review for not mentioning the heavy persecution that Brotherhood members have been subject to in Egypt since 2013. It added: “This secretive review sought to understand the Muslim Brotherhood but failed to mention some of the most significant factors influencing the group, not least its removal from power in Egypt in 2013 and the subsequent repression of its supporters.”
In August, Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry described the UK’s attitude towards the Brotherhood as “tolerant”, deeming this a negative sign. His statement came after the UK government issued an internal regulation allowing Brotherhood members to seek asylum in the UK. Shoukry said that this decision may have a damaging impact on the positive Egyptian-British bilateral relations.
The internal regulation specified conditions for seeking asylum, including being at high risk and subject to persecution. It also added that former president Mohamed Morsi and his supporters are ill-treated. Former British prime minister David Cameron previously described the Brotherhood as “deliberately opaque and habitually secretive”.