David Cameron's decision to order an investigation into the "philosophy and activities" of the Muslim Brotherhood, particularly as they relate to Britain, stems from a broader nervousness in western European capitals about a wave of Islamist extremism and jihadism fed by the chaos in and around Syria.

But Downing Street's decision also looks suspiciously like a response to specific political developments in Egypt, where the Brotherhood was founded in 1928, and to external pressure from close British allies.

The US and Saudi Arabia were never comfortable with the Brotherhood's ascent to power in the person of Mohamed Morsi, who became Egypt's first democratically elected president in 2012.

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