Gulf media is reporting on a renewed alliance between the Muslim Brotherhood of Bahrain and their Salafist counterparts. According to a report in the Gulf News:
January 13, 2011 Manama: Bahrain’s largest Sunni Islamist societies, whose feuding cost them crucial seats in the new lower chamber, have agreed to meet to reinvigorate their cooperation. The Islamic Menbar, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, has made discreet offers to Al Asala, the flagship of Salafism in Bahrain, for a meeting that will clear the air between the two societies, sources have said. “They both realize that their lack of cooperation which has cost them dearly in the parliamentary and municipal elections must not continue,” the sources said. Al Menbar suffered a humiliating defeat in the October elections over two rounds, losing five seats in the lower chamber and winning only two, its worst score since the 2002 elections held after a 30-year constitutional hiatus. The society’s chairman, once a power-broker in the legislative body, was not re-elected, compounding the situation. Al Asala, although faring slightly better, had a dismal score and rescued only three of its 2006 – 2010 eight seats. However, its chairman was re-elected and its most prominent figure, Adel Al Mouawda, succeeded in becoming the second deputy speaker. Both societies admitted in the aftermath of their defeats that their lack of cooperation and coordination was the main reason for their spectacular downfall. In the 2006 elections, the Islamic Menbar and Al Asala worked together to ensure their candidates could carry the constituencies in which they ran. However, in 2010, there was no such coordination and the two societies even fielded candidates who competed in the same constituencies. “Now, they want to put all that behind them and while assessing what went wrong, they are keen on a new chapter that will restore their lost glory,” the sources said. A spokesman for Al Asala welcomed the decision to hold talks and resume cooperation as a positive step. “We will work together for the sake of our adherents and supporters in order to overcome the disappointments of the past,” he said on Thursday. Former MP Mohammad Khalid, who represented the Islamic Menbar for eight years before handing in his resignation before the elections, is believed to assume the role of bridging the gap between the two societies. The ex-lawmaker this week said that he was withdrawing his resignation and explained that the decision was based on Al Menbar’s latest move to review its strategies. Mohammad, who during his parliamentary days was the coordinator between the two blocs in the lower chamber, has regularly defended a strong alliance that brought together the two leading Sunni societies.
Previous posts reported on the difficulties faced by the Bahraini Muslim Brotherhood in the last elections.
A September UK media report on a campaign the the Muslim Brotherhood in Bahrain to ban alcohol in that country provides more information about Menbar:
The problem for absolute monarchies is that they do not create conditions in which civil society is able to flourish. In 2002, the results of the first parliamentary elections in Bahrain were ominous for secular politicians: the elected lower house was immediately dominated by Islamist parties and not a single woman candidate was elected. The same thing happened in 2006, when the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society took almost half of the 40 seats, although on that occasion one woman was successful. Among the most influential politicians in Bahrain is Dr Salah Ali, a former political exile who now chairs the Al-Menbar Islamic Society, a Sunni group which has seven seats in the lower house and is widely believed to have close links with the Muslim Brotherhood. Dr Ali is a smart politician who talks fluently about the importance of developing Bahrain’s democratic experiment “step by step”, and his party is expected to endorse female candidates in the elections due to take place this autumn. But to outsiders there are more intimations of the influence of political Islam in Bahrain than the government might like to admit. An MP from one of the Islamist parties flinched and refused to shake my hand, and there has been a ferocious campaign by Islamists in the lower house to ban alcohol in Bahrain. A leading light in the campaign is Mohammed Khalid, an outspoken MP from the Al-Menbar Society, who has made a name for himself as an opponent of anything he regards as un-Islamic. Mr Khalid embarrassed the government when he hailed terrorists fighting American forces in Iraq as “heroes”.
Previous posts have discussed the virulently anti-Semitic and anti-American statements of Dr. Salah Soltan, a former US Muslim Brotherhood leader now residing in Bahrain.