RECOMMENDED READING: Kuwait’s Muslim Brotherhood Under Pressure”


Two Carnegie Foundation analysts have posted an article titled “Kuwait’s Muslim Brotherhood Under Pressure” that looks at the current status of the Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait. The article begins:

November 20, 2013 The Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliated political party, the Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM, known by its Arabic acronym Hadas), have a long history as accepted participants in Kuwaiti politics and society. Yet the movement has not been immune to the growing regional backlash against Islamist movements. In recent months, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was removed from office by the military, Tunisia’s secular political parties have used months of street protests to pressure the Ennahda-led government into resigning, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) put 20 Egyptians and 10 Emiratis on trial for alleged links to the Brotherhood, and opposition to the Libyan Justice and Construction Party has grown increasingly shrill. While it is unlikely to be subject to full repression, Kuwait’s Muslim Brotherhood similarly is feeling an unfamiliar pressure. 

The Kuwait branch of the Muslim Brotherhood was built slowly in the 1950s and 1960s, following the model of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. It spent much of its first few decades focused primarily on charitable, educational, and social activities to propagate its message of building a more Islamic society. The Brotherhood dabbled in politics as well, running candidates in parliamentary elections and participating in student government, but it proceeded cautiously and earned a reputation for being loathe to alienate the regime. 

In the aftermath of the 1990 Iraqi invasion, the Kuwait Brotherhood underwent a period of significant change, breaking organizational ties with the international Muslim Brotherhood over Islamist support for Iraq and founding a political party, Hadas, to participate fully in Kuwaiti politics. Throughout the 1990s, the Brotherhood stepped up its domestic focus and increased its investment in electoral politics. With its superior organization and relative independence from its parent movement, Hadas quickly established itself as an effective political party, working with other opposition forces and regularly winning several seats in parliament throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

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A Carnegie Foundation report identifies the Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM) as the “political arm of the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood” and the Social Reform Society as “the formal organization associated with the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood.”  In November 2012, Gulf media reported on  comments by the Dubai police chief accusing the Muslim Brotherhood of creating unrest in the UAE.  Lt. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan also said that UAE Muslim Brotherhood members who had been arrested had met with Kuwaiti Brotherhood “mentors”  including Tariq Al-Suwaidan

In January, German media reported that the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood had boycotted the parliamentary elections which were won largely by Shiites. Despite the boycott, the Brotherhood won four seats.

Also in January, a Kuwaiti MP alleged that there were Muslim Brotherhood “sleeper cells” operating in Kuwait.

In February, a Turkish news portal reported that the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood was supporting the formation of an opposition alliance.

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