Former Ambassador Pickering: US Should be ‘Concerned,’ ‘Not Panicked,’ About Muslim Brotherhood

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports:

The certainty that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is leaving office has driven fears of who and what might replace him, including the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement that – as President Obama put it yesterday – has an “anti-US” ideology, and has announced that it plans to participate in plans for a new government.

On ABC’s “Top Line” today, Thomas Pickering – who served as ambassador to the United Nations as well as Jordan and Israel – told us that while Americans should be concerned about the role the Muslim Brotherhood will play in the next Egyptian government, the organization is highly unlikely to wrest control.

“They should be concerned but we should not be panicked,” Pickering told us. “They represent a group. They are divided into many different parts. They have radicals who speak of Islamic fundamentalist state as their objective. They have moderates who have even morphed off onto political parties….”

“The Muslim Brotherhood should participate, but obviously not as a majority,” he added. “And one would hope in free and fair elections the bulk of Egyptians would continue to support what the polls say to us they seem to believe.”

Concerns about what might come next, Pickering said, shouldn’t be used to justify Mubarak’s continued hold on power.

“It is inevitable he will go. He has said that he will go,” he said. “He ought to go gracefully, but that ought not to be too long. And that ought to be in a way that facilitates change and reform. And I would hope that's what the [US] government's pushing for.”

Other countries in the region – chiefly Yemen, Jordan, and Sudan – should be concerned about the fervor that’s engulfed Egypt spreading to them, Pickering said.

And the Israelis are particularly worried about the events in Egypt, since Mubarak’s Egypt has been a rare staunch ally in the Arab world.

“They're nervous,” Pickering said. “They're in some cases anguished about the situation. They fear contagion. But they also fear that somehow there will be enough change in Egypt to put in people who will radically wish to divorce themselves from the peace treaty with Egypt. I think that that's less likely.”

Watch the full interview with former Ambassador Thomas Pickering HERE .

We also checked in with Bloomberg News’ Peter Cook, to discuss President Obama’s outreach to the business community, including his speech today to the US Chamber of Commerce.

Watch that portion of “Top Line” HERE.

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