RECOMMENDED READING” “The Muslim Brotherhood Reborn: The Syrian Uprising”


The Middle East Quarterly has published an article titled “The Muslim Brotherhood Reborn: The Syrian Uprising” by analyst Yvette Talhamy. The article begins:

As Syrian president Bashar al-Assad struggles to contend with a massive popular uprising, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (SMB) is poised to dominate whatever coalition of forces manages to unseat the Baathist regime. Though in many ways the Brotherhood’s official political platform is a model of Islamist moderation and tolerance, it is less a window into the group’s thinking than a reflection of its political tactics. Unlike its parent organization, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which often kept its ideological opponents at arm’s length, the SMB has repeatedly forged alliances with secular dissident groups even as it secretly tried to negotiate a deal with the Assad regime to allow its return from exile. Since the moderation of its political platform over the past two decades has clearly been intended to facilitate this triangulation, it does not tell us much about the ultimate intentions of the Syrian Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood’s Background

After the secular, nationalist Baath party took power in 1963, tensions between it and the Muslim Brotherhood ratcheted up, culminating in the February 1982 bombardment and massacre by the regime at Hama, a Brotherhood stronghold. Here, Baath soldiers stand over a body in Hama. The SMB was established in 1945-46 by Mustafa as-Sibai as a branch of Hassan al-Banna’s Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Though favoring the establishment of an Islamic state in Syria,[1] it participated in parliamentary elections after the country gained independence in 1946 (winning 4 seats in 1947, 3 seats in 1949, 5 seats in 1954, and 10 seats in 1961) and even had ministers in two governments.[2]

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In 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported on moves by the U.S. Government to reach closer relations with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

For another, earlier account of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, go here.

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

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