Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood May Have Played Role In Withdrawal Of Syrian Muslim Brotherhood From Opposition Coalition


The London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi website has carried a report suggesting that the head of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood was responsible in part for the decision of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood to withdraw from the Syrian opposition front known as the National Salvation Front [NSF]. According to the report:

…recent media reports also noted that the International Organization of the MB, represented by [Egyptian MB] General Guide Muhammad Mahdi Akif, put pressure on the general guide of the Syrian branch of the MB, prompting him to declare the Syrian MB’s withdrawal from the NSF, which grouped the Syrian MB with Abd-al-Halim Khaddam. According to a Syrian official, “Damascus has no problem with the Islamic trends in the country, particularly those supportive of resistance; the problem is with an organization that harmed and committed wrongs against the Syrian people,” making a reference to the Syrian MB. Information available to Al-Quds al-Arabi affirms that Syria’s support for Hamas and the Islamic Jihad and its good rapport with the International Council of Muslim Scholars and its head, Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, discredits the argument that was raised by the MB. Syrian sources have denied that Syrian-Saudi reconciliation has had any role in changing the stand of the Syrian branch of the MB. They stressed that the Syrian MB may have reached the conclusion that it was necessary to reject what it had done and drop the stance it had adopted against Syria. According to confirmed information, certain leaders from Hamas (a component of the International Organization of the Muslim Brotherhood) who are living in Damascus had earlier met with Sadr al-Din al-Bayanuni, the general guide of the Syrian branch of the MB, and told him that the Syrian MB was wrong in having allied itself with Abd-al-Halim Khaddam and in joining the NSF. The Syrian branch of the MB released a statement last April stressing that “it reconsidered its stand on the NSF and, after consultation and deliberation, decided by a large majority to withdraw from the NSF, which had practically broken up. In its current state, the NSF has become unable to rise up to the level of requirements of the national project and to meet its obligations.”

Previous posts have discussed the decision by the Syrian MB to end it activities against the Syrian regime and to end its participation in the NSF.

In 1982 Hafez Assad, the father of the current Syrian President, launched massive military action against an uprising by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in the city of Hama. As a result of this action, large parts of the city were destroyed resulting in an estimated 20,000 deaths. Numerous Syrian Muslim Brothers fled the country and joined the global jihadist network and, until recently, there was no public evidence that the the remaining elements of Syrian Brotherhood leadership in exile were interacting with the global Muslim Brotherhood. This may also be changing in the wake of the Gaza crisis however. A recent post discussed a U.K. Gaza “victory celebration” that featured a list of participants that included Ali Sadruddin Bayanouni, the head of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in exile living in London, together with global Brotherhood leaders such as Kemal Al-Helbawy and Rachid Ghannouchi. It should also be noted that the above report indicating that Youssef Qaradawi, the most important leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, has good relations with the Syrian regime is consistent with a previous post indicating that Syrian MB leader Bayanouni had met with Qaradawi and that Qaradawi may have been  helping to mediate a “rapprochement” between the Syrian Brotherhood and the Syrian regime.

In 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported on moves by the U.S. Government to reach closer relations with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. Closer relations between the Syrian Brotherhood and the Syrian regime would seem to work against U.S. hopes to use the Brotherhood as a means top pressure that regime.

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

For a comprehensive account of Islamist activities in Syria, go here.

(Source: August 14, 2009 Friday “Syrian sources say opposition figures returning to Damascus” Text of report by London-based independent newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi website on 10 August [Report by Kamil Saqr in Damascus: “Reports Say Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and the Council of Muslim Scholars Play a Role in Changing the Position of the Syrian Branch of the Muslim Brotherhood; Muslim Brotherhood Leaders Return to Damascus”] Source: Al-Quds al-Arabi website, London, in Arabic 10 Aug 09 ]BBC Monitoring Middle East – Political)

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