RECOMMENDED READING: "Strategies of the Muslim Brotherhood Movement 1928-2007"


Israel Elad Altman, a Senior research fellow at the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, has published a report titled “Strategies of the Muslim Brotherhood Movement 1928-2007.” The summary of the report contains a lucid characterization of the entire global Muslim Brotherhood although it seems that Dr. Altman bases his analysis only on the Brotherhood movements in Egypt, Syria, and Jordan:

The al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun (The Muslim Brotherhood, MB, Ikhwan) organizations in Egypt, Syria, and Jordan have been major political and ideological actors in their respective countries for the last six decades, and the strongest opposition forces there for the last thirty years. Their Palestinian counterpart, Hamas, is the strongest ideological force in the Palestinian territories and has held partial power there since early 2006. To what extent do these organizations share common strategies to attain power? How do their strategies for attaining power differ in the various Arab states? The short answer is that there is no Ikhwani strategy common to all the branches of the Muslim Brother hood movement. What characterizes the MB, however, is its adherence to a set of final objectives and a rigid commitment to a core of related principles, combined with pragmatism and flexibility as far as the strategy and tactics of achieving those objectives are concerned. There are no clear timetables to reach the goals, and gradual, methodical progress takes priority. The Muslim Brothers share an interpretation of history and of the crisis of Islam; a holistic view of Islam as both religion and state; a vision of bringing Islam back to its rightful place; and a number of principles regarding how to make that vision a reality: resistance to foreign occupation and liberation of Muslim countries from all types of foreign domination; creation of the Islamist state, which will implement sharia; unification of the Muslims; and spread- ing Islam, a universal religion, all over the world. The combination of rigidity over the final goals and flexibility on strategies and tactics is compatible with a movement that seeks to be an inclusive mass movement rather than an exclusive, elitist, vanguard organization, and looks at itself not as one more social-political force among others, but as the real Muslim community. This inclusive attitude has allowed the MB, which has viewed itself since its inception as a transnational movement with a universal message, to become a global movement with over fifty national branches. Many of those branches are affiliated in various degrees with the International Organization of the MB, which functions as a fund-raising and coordinating body. Policies of the national branches occasionally contradict each other and reflect local realities and constraints. Some of the national branches go under names other than the MB, sometimes in order to bypass legislation making it illegal to form parties connected to a foreign entity. Still, most national branches act in many respects as parts of one movement and regard the International Organization and its Guidance Bureau as a coordinator and arbiter.

To read the report in its entirety, go here.

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