Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Amred Syrian Muslim Brotherhood

"Yet the Muslim Brotherhood’s growing profile on the ground does not please everybody—including, ironically, some of the groups receiving the organization’s support. Some rebels who expected to receive material and financial assistance without strings attached are growing increasingly frustrated with what they feel is an attempt on the Muslim Brotherhood’s part to reassert its presence after thirty years of forced exile. A Syrian Islamist who returned in late November from the region of Idlib, where he actively helps the rebels, recounted how angry a local Islamist group became when a Brotherhood delegation sat down with its leaders and offered assistance of 2 million Syrian pounds (approximately $28,000) in exchange for an oath of allegiance (bay’ah) to the organization. Local leaders eventually agreed to the deal, he said, but with bitterness.
For now, at least, the Brotherhood’s calculus seems to be working. When Islamist rebel groups fighting in Aleppo issued a public statement on November 18 rejecting the new National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces and called instead for the immediate advent of an “Islamic state,” two major Islamist groups receiving Brotherhood funding, the Tawhid Brigade and the Ahrar al-Sham, initially backed the effort and subsequently distanced themselves publicly.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s decision to eschew a renewed alliance with the Fighting Vanguard makes obvious political sense. But linking its image and fate to that of other Islamist groups that have emerged over the past year inside Syria is a risky gamble for an organization seeking to consolidate its credibility as a pragmatic political actor. More broadly, the Brotherhood’s entry into the military arena offers it the hope of reinforcing its political influence. But this move is also risky, as the Brotherhood could be seen as simply endorsing the approach of other armed groups, including Islamist ones, vindicating and strengthening them instead of demonstrating its own leadership.
With alternative sources of funding and weapons available to Syria’s rebels, and with others competing on the ideological ground of political Islam, the Muslim Brotherhood will be hard put to retain the long-term political loyalty of armed groups that have not sprung directly from its own ranks."