RECOMMENDED READING: “The Brotherhood Plan for Syria”


A Saudi-owned, London-based political journal published in Arabic and English has published an interview with Ali Sadreddine Al-Bayanouni, the leader of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood from 1996 to 2010. The interview begins:

Friday, 29 Nov, 2013 In Syria, Al-Qaeda and affiliated groups have gradually emerged as one of the main threats to the survival of the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad. Ironically, however, the presence of thousands of jihadists—always talked up by the pro-Assad media—has also provided the struggling Syrian government with a card to play. The willingness of Western governments to become more actively involved in the Syrian conflict in support of the rebels, particularly through the supply of lethal weapons, suffered a setback due to the mere possibility of those weapons falling into the hands of jihadist groups.

The spectrum of violent Islamism has long offered the Ba’ath Party a narrative through which Syria’s governing party has justified its legitimacy. Among other Islamist groups based in Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood has historically been the focus of the regime’s oppression. ‘We’ve been fighting the Muslim Brotherhood since the 1950s, and we are still fighting with them,’ said the current president of Syria after the initial protests in Deraa. Most notably, a six-year-long uprising against the government of Hafez Al-Assad, led by the Muslim Brotherhood, was brutally crushed in 1982 in the western city of Hama.

Despite the brutality of the Syrian civil war, the Muslim Brotherhood has again become one of the main players on the ground, after years operating underground. The Majalla spoke with Ali Sadreddine Al-Bayanouni, the leader of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood from 1996 to 2010. Born into a pedigreed family of religious scholars in Aleppo, he became interested in the ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood at the age of sixteen. He was encouraged to take part in the group by his father, Sheikh Ahmed Izzedin Al-Bayanouni. While his father preferred Sufism and the duties of running a mosque, the young Bayanouni soon began his political activities in earnest.

In 1979—during the Islamist insurgency in Syria—Bayanouni’s family were targeted by the government and then sent into exile. Nevertheless, he is a tenacious man who has secretly entered Syria several times. From 1980 onwards he lived in exile in Jordan, pursuing his political activities. But the Hashemite Kingdom’s relationship with Syria gradually improved, and in 2000 Bayanouni was informed during a visit to the UK that he could not return to Jordan. Consequently, he sought refuge in the UK and now resides in London.

The Majalla: What is your analysis of the current situation in Syria?”

Read the rest here.

 In October, Raphaël Lefèvre, the author of a recently released history of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has published an article titled “Militias for the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood?” that looked at the armed wing established by the Syrian Brotherhood. In August, the GMBDW reported that Lefèvre had published an article titled “The Brotherhood Starts Anew in Syria” which looked at the current status of the Syrian Brotherhood. The GMBDW reported in April that  the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood was planning to open offices inside Syria for the first time since it was quashed by then Syrian President Hafez Assad in 1982. In May , we reported that the Syrian Brotherhood had opened direct contact with opposition groups.

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. 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 Qaradawenjoyed close relations and Moaz Khatib, identified above as the SNC President, is also close to the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. 

Journalist  Frederick Deknatel has written an article titled “The Syrian And Egyptian Brotherhoods – Different Histories, Different Outlooks” which looks at some of the differences between the two organizations.

For a comprehensive account of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood as of 2006, go here.

For Lefèvre’s recently released book on the history of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, go here.

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