It is the season of the Muslim Brotherhood. They are now everywhere. Their rise is not spontaneous, of course.
Qatar is now officially sponsoring the emergence and promotion of the Muslim Brotherhood around the world. Qatar seems to have abandoned its Arab nationalist pretensions and settled instead on various trends and currents of Islamism (even the Taliban now has a base in Doha, Qatar).
In Egypt, the New York Times uncovered an intensive flirtatious relationship between the US government and the Ikhwan. But the newly found love is two-sided: varieties of Islamists from Tunisia to Palestine (exemplified by Hamas) are now sending signals of reassurance and moderation to the US and even Israel. Hamas is now (deceptively and in contradictory messages) expressing willingness to abandon armed struggle against Israeli occupation and to settle its aspirations for 22 percent of Palestine (Hamas is now officially following in the footsteps of Fatah – and Fatah was launched by individuals inspired by Ikhwan thinking).
It is now clear that the Ikhwan (and variants of them) will dominate the new political arena vacated by the ouster of a few Arab dictators. In Egypt, there is a competition between the Ikhwan (sponsored by Qatar) and the Salafites (sponsored by Saudi Arabia). They are, more than any other political current – or as much as the liberal right-wingers – willing to compromise with the remnants of the ousted regime and with US and Israel. The signs are evident now.
The Syrian Ikhwan, however, may become an extreme example of opportunism that has characterized the movement.
|Muhammad Tayfur on the Left
I saw Muhammad Tayfur, the Deputy General Inspector of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood of Syria on MTV the other night. His discourse reveals much about the movement. Tayfur was pitted against Jubran Urayji of the SSNP (a pro-Syrian political party that does not express any disagreements with the Syrian regime). Urayji intended to expose the hypocrisy of the Muslim Brotherhood and he succeeded. He simply asked Tayfur about the Ikhwan’s plan to liberate the Golan Heights. Tayfur did not hesitate to give his answer. He said that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood believes in peaceful struggle to liberate the Golan Heights. Here, the hypocrisy of the long-standing Ikhwan’s stance is revealed. For years, the Ikhwan have been (rightly) mocking the stance of the Assad regime vis-à-vis the Golan: they have consistently criticized the inaction of the regime towards Israel and its unwavering willingness to negotiate peacefully with Israel.
So the Syrian Ikhwan now admit that they will settle for the same position of the Assad regime. It is now clear that they have no objections to the foreign policy of the regime toward the Arab-Israeli conflict (with the exception of support for Hezbollah and Hamas which the Ikhwan and their right-wing liberal allies would end promptly). After all those years, the Ikhwan now basically admit that they have no objections to the inaction by the regime on the Golan front. The Ikhwan would then continue the policy that basically relegates the plight of the people in the Israeli-occupied Golan to either divine intervention or to the US-dominated “international community.”
But Urayji was not satisfied: he wanted to embarrass Tayfur further. He asked him for the stance of the Ikhwan on Palestine. Tayfur mumbled some incomprehensible words before saying that the focus will be on internal matters, as if the state that occupies Palestine is different from the state that occupies the Golan Heights.
This is not the only sign of appeasement by the Ikhwan toward Israel. Rashid al-Ghannushi – who does not travel much – traveled all the way to the US to basically give a reassuring speech before an affiliate of the Zionist lobby. The Egyptian Ikhwan barely speak about Palestine anymore and the New York Times reported that officials of the movement pledged to US officials that they would respect the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.
In Lebanon, al-Jemaah al-Islamiyah, were bought off by Saudi money and are now allies of the Lebanese Forces.
But this hypocrisy and political transformation of the Ikhwan (at least in their rhetoric) will come at a price. The Ikhwan probably assume that people won’t have a second voting chance to reassess their early political choices.