Media in the UAE are reporting that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has recently opened direct contact with opposition groups. According to the The National report, the Brotherhood is providing cash to these groups for the first time:
May 6, 2013 GAZIANTEP, Turkey // The Muslim Brotherhood recently opened direct contacts with opposition groups in Damascus, providing them with cash for the first time and promising political influence in an effort to gain their support, according to Syrians organising clandestine relief efforts in rebel-held areas of the capital.
The infusion of cash and offer of political collaboration last week came just days after the Muslim Brotherhood’s secretary general, Raid Al Shaqfa, announced the organisation would reopen offices inside Syria, after years of exile.
The Brotherhood’s largesse followed a cutback of relief assistance to some groups in the capital by the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), the officially recognised opposition alliance.
Although a member of the SNC, the Muslim Brotherhood is not solely channelling its aid through the formal opposition framework. Instead, it is independently dispensing cash and supplies in it own name, the Syrian aid organisers in Damascus said.
The move by the Brotherhood into Damascus is likely to become yet another bone of contention between groups attempting to overthrow the regime of Syrian president Bashar Al Assad. Deep mistrust, infighting that includes violent clashes between armed rebel groups and a failure to properly coordinate aid and military efforts have severely hamstrung Syria’s opposition.
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A post from last month reported that the Muslim Brotherhood dominated Syrian opposition was to begin establishing what was described as a “moderate form of Islamic law” in all areas of the country under their control.
The Syrian National Coalition was created in November 2012 and included members from the Syrian National Council (SNC), an earlier group that was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. (Note; there may be some confusion in the above report between the two groups).The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report had also identified three SNC leaders that were tied to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood as well as pointing out that Ghassan Hito, recently chosen by the Syrian National Coalition as its interim Prime Minister, was also part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. The SNC and Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi enjoyed close relations and Moaz Khatib, identified above as the SNC President, is also close to the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.
In March, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry seemed to confirm that the U.S. was training Syrian rebels while in February Kerry pledged an additional $60 million in aid to Syrian opposition forces. In 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. government was meeting with and actually funding the Syrian opposition that included the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood:
The U.S. has traditionally avoided contact with the Brotherhood across the Middle East. But now the State Department and National Security Council have begun to hold regular strategy sessions on Syria policy with the NSF and is funding an organization linked to it. Senior officials from the State Department and the National Security Council confirm the meetings. The U.S. has also discussed with the NSF and linked groups ways to monitor elections and promote civil society in Syria.
For additional background, see “How the Muslim Brotherhood Hijacked Syria’s Revolution” written by Hassan Hassan, an editorial writer for The National.