Hassan Hassan, an editorial writer for the United Arab Emirates-based National, has written an article titled “How the Muslim Brotherhood Hijacked Syria’s Revolution.” The article begins:
BY HASSAN HASSAN | MARCH 13, 2013 No one in Syria expected the anti-regime uprising to last this long or be this deadly, but after around 70,000 dead, 1 million refugees, and two years of unrest, there is still no end in sight. While President Bashar al-Assad’s brutal response is mostly to blame, the opposition’s chronic failure to form a viable front against the regime has also allowed the conflict to drag on. And there’s one anti-Assad group that is largely responsible for this dismal state of affairs: Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood. COMMENTS (3) SHARE: Twitter Reddit More… Throughout the Syrian uprising, I have had discussions with opposition figures, activists, and foreign diplomats about how the Brotherhood has built influence within the emerging opposition forces. It has been a dizzying rise for the Islamist movement. It was massacred out of existence in the 1980s after the Baathist regime put down a Brotherhood-led uprising in Hama. Since then, membership in the Brotherhood has been an offense punishable by death in Syria, and the group saw its presence on the ground wither to almost nothing. But since the uprising erupted on March 15, 2011, the Brotherhood has moved adroitly to seize the reins of power of the opposition’s political and military factions. According to a figure present at the first conference to organize Syria’s political opposition, held in Antalya, Turkey, in May 2011, the Brotherhood was initially hesitant to join an anti-Assad political body. The group had officially suspended its opposition to the Baathist regime in the wake of the Israeli onslaught on Gaza in 2009, and it pulled out of an alliance with Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian vice president who defected in 2005. The Brotherhood nonetheless sent members to participate in the conference, including Molhem Droubi, who became a member of the conference’s executive bureau. Meanwhile, it took steps to form fighting groups inside Syria, recruiting potential fighters and calling on its relatively meager contacts on the ground in Homs, Hama, Idlib, and Aleppo. As the idea of a unified opposition group to lead the popular revolt gained momentum, the Brotherhood became more involved. A month after the meeting in Antalya, it organized a conference in Brussels, attended by 200 people, mostly Islamists — one of the first obvious fractures in the unity of the opposition. The Brotherhood subsequently organized several conferences that formed opposition groups to serve as fronts for the movement, allowing it to beef up its presence in political bodies.
Read the rest here.
A post from last week reported that the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had appeared to confirm that the U.S. is training Syrian rebels. A post from last mont reported that Kerry has pledged an additional $60 million in aid to Syrian opposition forces that include heavy representation by the Muslim Brotherhood.
A post from November reported on the formation of the new, broader-based National Coalition that included members from the Syrian National Council (SNC). A MEMRI report on the the National Coalition discusses the failure of the group to weaken the Muslim Brotherhood influence in the opposition. The NYT had earlier reported on efforts by the Syrian National Council (SNC), a group with heavy Muslim Brotherhood participation, to resist the unification initiative. A post from late August reported that a third individual was identified who is tied to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and who is also a part of the SNC. Previous posts had noted that the SNC includes at least two other known members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood- Louay Safi, a leader in the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and Najib Ghadbian, a board member of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID). The relationship between the SNC and Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi should also be noted. In addition, a Carnegie Middle East Center report indicates that Moaz Khatib, who heads the National Coalition, is himself quite close to the Muslim Brotherhood:
In ideological terms, al-Hasani is close to the moderate Islamist profile of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, although he is not formally affiliated with the group. He more closely identifies with the Islamism of the Brotherhood’s Damascene branch, which is associated with Issam al-Attar, a former spiritual guide of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria who was exiled by the Baathist regime in the 1970s, than with its current, more hard-line leadership from the Hama branch.
Issam Al-Attar has been known for many year as head of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in Germany and his son is married to Youssef Nada, the infamous Muslim Brotherhood banker who formerly ran the now-defunct Al-Taqwa bank. The Syrian Brotherhood in Germany is also known to have close relations with their Egyptian counterparts in that country.
In 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported on moves by the U.S. Government to reach closer relations with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.
For a comprehensive account of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in 2006, go here.