AMMAN – The Islamic Action Front (IAF) on Saturday elected Hamzah Mansour as its secretary general for the coming four years, ending weeks of wrangling between doves and hawks. Former MP Mansour was named secretary general after winning 62 votes in the party’s 120-member shura council, against 55 votes for his hawkish rival Mohammad Zyod. Mansour’s victory was assured when the party’s doves decided unanimously to back him. The doves initially sought former overall leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Salem Falahat to occupy the post, but fierce opposition from the hawks meant otherwise, according to IAF shura council member Tayseer Fityani. Throughout the past months, the party has been deeply divided between hawks, who favour stronger ties with Hamas and a more confrontational posture towards the government, and doves, who are pushing for the party to sever its links with the Palestinian Islamist group and focus on local issues. The previous shura council meeting saw tensions flare when key leaders within the group exchanged insults as the council was poised to elect a new secretary general. The doves then capitalised on their victory in the recent shura council elections and engineered a walkout from the assembly to prevent the election of former IAF secretary general Zaki Bani Rsheid. Bani Rsheid’s name had been put forward by the Muslim Brotherhood shura council, which has significant influence on who leads the party, founded in 1992 as the Brotherhood’s political arm.Following weeks of talks among the group’s top figures, during which some influential dovish members threatened to resign if Bani Rsheid was placed at the helm of the party, the former secretary general agreed under pressure to “step down” as the nominee for the post in an attempt to “preserve the group’s unity”. Last week, the Muslim Brotherhood said it would no longer interfere in the party’s elections, paving the way for Saturday’s vote. The shura council assembly was presided over by the council’s president, Ali Abul Sukkar, who played a major role in ending a feud that had dragged on for nearly two months. “We are glad this chapter is closed. Now it is time to focus on pressing issues that face the country and the Arab nation,” said Abul Sukkar.
Although described in the report part of the IAF “dovish faction, a 2005 Saudi media report describes Mr. Mansour as close to Hamas:
Samih al-Ma’aitah agrees with the opinion that says Hamas has a strong and fundamental influence on the Jordanian Brotherhood movement. He said, “They are working now on finding a mentor general who is close to them. Some of the names to be considered are: Hamzah Mansour, a former spokesman for the Islamic Action Front, and Zaki Sa’d”.
In 2009, the Chinese news agency reported that Mr. Mansour alleged that the Israelis were trying to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque, a well-known feature of Global Muslim Brotherhood incitement against Israel:
“The Zionist attack on Al Aqsa Mosque and the holy sites in Jerusalem is not something new. There have been several attempts to destroy the mosque and all should shoulder the responsibility to defend Jerusalem and the holy sites,” Hamzah Mansour, head of the parliamentary bloc of the IAF, which is the political arm of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, said at the sit-in.
The IAF is the political action arm of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood and earlier posts have reported on what has been described as the crisis within the organization. Generally unreported are the ties between the IAF and the US Muslim Brotherhood. The former IAF caretaker was Ishaq Farhan, a Jordanian of Palestinian origin, one of the three founders of the IAF, and a former education minister and senator. Mr. Farhan is also listed as a director of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), founded in the U.S. in 1980 by important members of the Global Muslim Brotherhood who wished to promote the “Islamization of Knowledge.” IIIT was associated with the now defunct SAAR Foundation, a network of Islamic organizations located in Northern Virginia that was raided by the Federal government in March 2002 in connection with the financing of terrorism. In 2000, Mr. Farhan was denied entry to the U.S. after having had his visa revoked in the prior year without informing him. The New York Times reported at that time that unidentified American diplomats called Mr. Farhan a “moderating force” and that he “as kept a distance from the vociferous opposition to peaceful relations with Israel.” However, in 2003 a media report said that the IAF had “declared a jihad in favor of Iraq and Palestine if the US attacks Iraq.” More recently, after congratulating President Obama on his election, the IAF called his decision to send more troops to Afghanistan “a hostile step against the Arab and Islamic worlds. In 2009, the IAF also called Israeli actions in Gaza “the ugliest crime in history.”
An earlier post from reported that the deputy leader of the IAF was scheduled to appear as a featured speaker at the annual conference of the Center for the Study of Islamic and Democracy (CSID), held last month which also feature Tariq Ramadan, As that post discussed, CSID has many ties to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.