Reuters is reporting that Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi attended a ceremony organized by Saudi Arabia in Qatar earlier this month. The report suggests that Qaradawi’s appearance was “signaling an easing of Riyadh’s hostility toward the Islamist movement”:
October 2, 2015 REUTERS The spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood attended a ceremony organized by Saudi Arabia in Qatar on Friday, signaling an easing of Riyadh’s hostility toward the Islamist movement.
Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, a Qatar-based cleric whose fiery sermons have strained ties with Gulf neighbors, appeared alongside the Qatari prime minister and the Saudi ambassador at an event in Doha to celebrate Saudi Arabia’s national day.
The accession to the Saudi throne in January of King Salman, who is more sympathetic to religious conservatives than his predecessor King Abdullah, caused glimmers of hope among Muslim Brotherhood exiles in Qatar that the Middle East’s political winds had started to shift in their favor, potentially giving the Islamist group more space to act.
Salman, while stopping short of befriending the Brotherhood, has worked to reduce tensions with the movement’s own allies, strengthening Riyadh’s ties with Turkey and Qatar and reaching out to Islah, the Islamist group’s offshoot in Yemen.
‘We are optimistic now,’ said an Egyptian Brotherhood member living in Qatar who declined to be named.
‘The new (Saudi) leadership could mean a new era for the Middle East, where Islamists are worked with and seen as partners rather than demonized.’
Qaradawi, who was born in Egypt, has often in his sermons admonished the authorities in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who see the Brotherhood as an insidious threat to regional stability through its activities in Egypt and other Arab countries.
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The GMBDW has been warning since March 2014 that the Saudi Arabia’s designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization was likely not what it seemed at first and that the Kingdom has been continuing its outreach and support of the Global Muslim Brotherhood. The GMBDW reported in August on a French newspaper report that Saudi Arabia was trying to ‘normalise’ its relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood. The GMBDW reported in July that a high-level Hamas delegation, including the group’s political leader, had visited Saudi Arabia where they met with the new Saudi King as well as other officials. The GMBDW considers the appearance of Youssef Qaradawi widely regarded as the most important leader of the Global Muslim Brotherhood, at the Saudi event as complete confirmation of our warnings. As we have noted before, we believe that the GMBDW is able to more accurately analyze such developments since unlike most academics, and almost all political scientists, we follow what the Brotherhood networks are actually doing as opposed to constructing fanciful theories about what they are doing.