Syrian Muslim Brothers Returning From Exile

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Reuters is reporting that hundreds of members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood have returned to Syria from exile where they hope to rebuild the Brotherhood there. The report begins:

May 7, 2015 (Reuters) – Hundreds of members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood have returned from exile, hoping to rebuild a movement which was crushed decades ago at home and is deemed a terrorist organization by leading Arab states.

Membership of the Brotherhood remains punishable by death in Syria more than 30 years after President Bashar al-Assad’s father outlawed the group, but the exiles are filtering back mainly into opposition-held areas.

There they are trying to re-establish the influence and credibility of the movement which has no official military wing and plays down suggestions that it is covertly supporting armed groups fighting in the Syrian civil war.

‘We are encouraging people to go back to Syria… I would say hundreds,’ Mohammed Walid, who heads the Syrian Brotherhood, told Reuters.

Walid said in an interview that these ‘nuclei’ members had to explain the aims of his group, which is an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. ‘We’ve been absent from the scene for so long now – many people in Syria don’t know us much,’ he said in Istanbul, where he lives.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates classify the wider Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, and it has been excluded from the latest round of U.N.-led peace talks.

However, the Syrian arm says it practices ‘moderate Islam’, distancing itself from radical Islamic State militants who have carved out a self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

Walid, a 70-year-old eye specialist from the port city of Latakia who left Syria in the 1970s, said the returnees had mostly settled in Aleppo, Idlib and Hama.

Read the rest here.

The GMBDW reported in November 2014 that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood had appointed Mohammad Hekmat Walid as its new leader. be the first leader born in Latakia, Bashar al-Assad hometown. The GMBDW reported in April 2013 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 2013 , we reported that the Syrian Brotherhood had opened direct contact with opposition groups.

The GMBDW has discussed a number of reports relating to the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood including:

  • In November 2013, an interview with Ali Sadreddine Al-Bayanouni, the leader of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood from 1996 to 2010.
  • In October 2013, an article by the author of a recently released history of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood that looked at the armed wing established by the Syrian Brotherhood.
  • In August, 2013 an article by the same author published which looked at the current status of the Syrian Brotherhood.

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.

For an article which looks at some of the differences between the Syrian and Egyptian Brotherhoods, go here.

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