The Islamist movement on Saturday approved a four-year strategy to increase the membership base of its political party, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to IAF officials. “The political and economic situation in the Kingdom is ripe for the IAF to increase the number of its members by at least 50 per cent, if not double that,” said Tayseer Fityani, head of the IAF’s internal court. The decision to expand the group’s outreach was adopted during an IAF shura council meeting yesterday. He said no changes will be made to membership conditions, but branches across the Kingdom are expected to become more active in the community. Those who wish to join the party must be Jordanians aged above 18 and have recommendations from at least two founding members. Established in 1993, the IAF is considered the largest party in the country, although the party remains tight-lipped over the number of its members. Independent estimates put the membership at 3,000. “We need to learn from our mistakes in the past regarding the membership database, including the focus on young people… and be more open,” Fityani noted. The party also approved a number of decisions that aim to tackle political, economic and social challenges, including the establishment of two national campaigns against the rising cost of living and corruption, he told The Jordan Times. “Let us live,” the first campaign, seeks to highlight the various economic challenges facing the Kingdom in light of the global economic crisis, while the second, “We are enough,” aims at combating corruption in the public sector, he said. Party officials also agreed to establish a committee to address rising social violence, according to IAF Secretary General Hamzah Mansour. “The committee will be entrusted to engage with different groups of society to put an end to bloody feuds that threaten the country’s stability,” he said. Other issues discussed during the meeting included ties with the Palestinian Authority and Israel as well as progress of the peace process, according to IAF sources. The decision whether to participate in the municipal elections was not on the agenda. The party also agreed to “be open to all parties in the country, including the government”. “We have agreed to divide roles within the party’s leadership in order to avoid misunderstandings and conflict of interest and also to engage with the government over issues of public concern,” Fityani noted.
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.”