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Jan
15

MEMRI Report Says Efforts Failing To Weaken Muslim Brotherhood in Syrian Opposition

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A new MEMRI report on the Syrian opposition umbrella group known as the National Coalition discusses the failure of the group to weaken the Muslim Brotherhood influence in the opposition. According to the report:

Another goal in establishing the National Coalition was, apparently, to weaken the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in the opposition and in the future Syrian regime, after claims were made in the past year that the MB controls the SNC.[37] The MB itself claimed that there was a Western attempt to exclude it from the opposition. Several weeks after the establishment of the National Coalition, MB General Supervisor Riad Al-Shaqfa accused Western countries of attempting to achieve this. He stressed that these attempts had failed, that the MB enjoyed popular support, and that the people and political forces in Syria eagerly awaited the return of its members to the country, from which they had been banished in the 1980s.[38] It seems that the MB indeed wields considerable influence in the National Coalition. Coalition member Kamal Al-Labwani claimed that, even though the MB is a minority in this body, it has the support of coalition members who are not in the MB, which guarantees this movement a majority in votes. According to Al-Labwani, all the committees formed by the coalition are pro-MB.[39] It is possible that the involvement of Qatar, a major MB sponsor, has helped to maintain its power in the opposition. Despite the attempts to weaken it, the MB, along with the SNC, has maintained its power and even grown stronger in morale. This is evident from two conferences recently held in Turkey, both of them the first of their kind: a conference of commanders representing over 100 military organizations in Syria, which was attended by Riad Al-Shaqfa and his deputy ‘Ali Al-Bayanouni,[40] and a conference of MB youths, which was attended by Al-Bayanouni and officials from Arab MB movements (The Egyptian MB, the Tunisian Al-Nahda movement and Hamas).[41] Al-Bayanouni even visited Syria and met with revolutionary elements in the field.[42] It should be mentioned that, according to reports, the Supreme Military Council that was established approximately one month after the National Coalition also has a majority of members associated with the MB.

A post from November reported on the formation of the new, broader-based Syrian opposition group that included members from the Syrian National Council (SNC). The NYT had earlier reported on efforts by the Syrian National Council (SNC), a group with heavy Muslim Brotherhood participation,  to resist the unification initiative: 

DOHA, Qatar — The Syrian National Council, the largest antigovernment coalition, resisted an initiative on Saturday that would place all opponents of the government under one umbrella — a streamlining sought by foreign backers who fear that the bickering exile movements are being eclipsed by events on the battlegrounds in Syria.  ‘Nobody should be subsumed under anybody,’ said George Sabra, the newly elected president of the council, opening his inaugural news conference here in a combative mood before heading into negotiations over the unification proposal. ‘The S.N.C. is older than this initiative or any other initiative, and it has a deep political and regional structure,’ said Mr. Sabra, 65, a Christian and a veteran leftist dissident. But a group of more than 50 activists of various stripes — backed by the United States, Qatar and other foreign supporters of the uprising — have proposed creating a larger body that would include the council. It would effectively end the S.N.C.’s failed efforts of more than a year to be recognized as the government in exile for all Syrians. Called the Syrian National Initiative, the new group is aimed at incorporating virtually all opposition parties, internal councils and notable figures. 

Read the rest here.

post from earlier this month reported that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had dismissed the Syrian National Council (SNC) as no longer the “visible leader of the opposition.” 

post from late August reported that a third individual was identified who is tied to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and who is also a part of the SNC. Previous posts had noted that the SNC includes at least two other known members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood- Louay Safi, a leader in the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and Najib Ghadbian, a board member of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID). The relationship between the SNC and Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi should also be noted. The GMBDW notes that the NYT report above failed to mention any of the Safi’s ties to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. 

In 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported on moves by the U.S. Government to reach closer relations with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

For a comprehensive account of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in 2006, go here.

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