RSSArchive for December, 2009

Die Bewertung der islamistischen Mainstream in Ägypten und Malaysia

Beyond ‘Terrorism’ and ‘StateHegemony’: assessing the Islamistmainstream in Egypt and Malaysia

Januar STRONGMalaysia-Islamists

International networks of Islamic ‘terrorism’ have served as themost popular explanation to describe the phenomenon of political Islam sincethe 11 September attacks.

This paper argues that both the self-proclaimeddoctrinal Islam of the militants and Western perceptions of a homogeneousIslamist threat need to be deconstructed in order to discover the oftenambiguous manifestations of ‘official’ and ‘opposition’ Islam, of modernity andconservatism.

As a comparison of two Islamic countries, Egypt and Malaysia,which both claim a leading role in their respective regions, shows, moderateIslamic groups have had a considerable impact on processes of democratisationand the emergence of civil society during the quarter century since the ‘Islamicresurgence’.

Shared experiences like coalition building and active participationwithin the political system demonstrate the influence and importance of groupssuch as the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM) or the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS).

These groups haveshaped the political landscape to a much larger extent than the current pre-occupation with the ‘terrorist threat’ suggests. The gradual development of a‘culture of dialogue’ has rather revealed new approaches towards politicalparticipation and democracy at the grassroots level.

Mahmoud Ezzat in ein umfassendes Interview mit Al Jazeera Ahmed Mansur

Mahmoud Ezzat

Dr. Mahmoud Ezzat, Generalsekretär der Muslimbruderschaft, in a comprehensive interview with Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Mansour ascertained that the Muslim Brotherhood’s elections for Chairman scheduled to be held in the upcoming period by members of the Guidance Bureau is open to everyone who wishes to submit his nomination papers as a candidate.

In seinem Vortrag Anweisung, um die Show war Hedood (Without Borders) auf Al-Jazeera TV, Ezzat explained that nomination papers generally should not be used for the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidates but rather a complete list of the entire Brotherhood’s 100-member Shura Council is presented to elect the Brotherhood’s Chairman and Guidance Bureau. Er bestritt, dass die Bruderschaft Allgemeine Anleitung des Shura-Rat Allgemeine Führung erlaubt ihm nicht die Freiheit, auf eigene Faust in seine endgültige Entscheidung macht Arbeit. Er zeigte auch, dass der Rat die Befugnis, den Präsidenten rechenschaftspflichtig für Ausfälle zu halten und bei Bedarf zu entlassen ihn zu jeder Zeit.

Er betonte, dass die Bewegung bereit, das ultimative Opfer zu bringen ist, um das Prinzip der Shura Praxis (Konsultation) in den Reihen der, Hinweis darauf, dass die Shura-Rat wird der Vorsitzende gewählt und eine neue Ausrichtung Präsidium im kommenden Jahr.

Er kommentiert die Berichterstattung in den Medien von dem, was wirklich passiert hinter den Kulissen bei der Ausrichtung Bureau, zitiert, dass der Ausschuss die von führenden Persönlichkeiten wie Dr. bestand. Essam El-Erian und eine Reihe der Mitglieder des Präsidiums Guidance für das Drucken des Chairman's Statement in der Woche Einspruch gegen Herrn. Mahdi Akef Wunsch eine Kleinigkeit Meinungsverschiedenheit. Akef erste Amtszeit wird auf Ende Januar 13, 2010 Allerdings hat er vorher angekündigt; er wird noch eine Entscheidung treffen, ob er im Amt für eine zweite Amtszeit als Gruppe allgemeine Anleitung bleiben.

Er fuhr fort, dass die 81-jährige Akef Mitglieder des Präsidiums Guidance zuvor mitgeteilt, dass er zum Rücktritt gedacht und wird nicht für eine zweite Amtszeit. Mitglieder des Präsidiums sofort reagiert und drängte ihn, im Amt bleiben.

In seiner wöchentlichen Meldung, Mahdi Akef vage bezeichnete seine Absichten nicht läuft eine zweite Amtszeit und dankte der Muslimbruderschaft und der Mitglieder des Präsidiums Guidance, die mit ihm gemeinsam die Verantwortung, als ob er sie an seine Abschiedsrede sein soll. Am Sonntag, Oktober 17 den Medien behauptet, dass der Vorsitzende der Bruderschaft hatte seinen Rücktritt angekündigt; aber der Vorsitzende hat wiederholt Vorwürfe Medien, wo er ins Büro kam am nächsten Tag und traf sich mit Mitgliedern vorenthalten. Er gab später eine Erklärung, die Offenlegung der Wahrheit. Media Behauptungen über die Ausrichtung des Präsidiums Unwilligkeit, Dr ernennen. Essam El-Erian sind völlig falsch.

Dr. Mahmoud Ezzat festgestellt, dass die Bewegung ist sehr erfreut, eine Gelegenheit zu bieten, um ihre Mitglieder Meinungen austauschen können, betont, es ist eine Manifestation der Macht mit ihren bestehenden passender Größe und führende Rolle, darauf hinweist, dass Vorsitzender der Muslimbruderschaft sehr erfreut, dies zu tun ist.

Er betonte, dass alle Fragen zurück auf die Ausrichtung der Office kommen für die endgültige Entscheidung, wo ihre Beschlüsse sind verbindlich und zufrieden stellend für alle, ungeachtet der Unterschiede in der Stellungnahme.

“Ich unterschätze nicht, was bereits passiert oder ich würde einfach sagen, es gibt keine Krise, gleichzeitig, Wir sollten nicht Schlag Dinge aus ihrem Kontext, Wir sind entschlossen, das Prinzip der Shura gelten”, fügte er hinzu.

Es war früher bei der nächsten Sitzung des Präsidiums diskutiert, dass die Ausrichtung des Konzerns Shura-Rat das alleinige Recht, die Mitgliedschaft im Präsidium Guidance für jedes Mitglied zu wählen hat, , erklärte er. Dr. Essam sich einig, dass sie nicht geeignet war, ein neues Mitglied in der Bruderschaft Guidance Präsidium ernennt seit der Wahl wurde in der Nähe.

Ezzat erklärt, dass die Episode auf dem Shura-Rat auf Empfehlung der Leitlinien Büro wurde unter häufigen Verhaftungen und Inhaftierungen geführt von der Sicherheit des Staates vorgelegt. Wir bemühen uns schwer, die Shura-Rat einbeziehen, um den nächsten Präsidenten und Mitglieder der Guidance Amt wählen. Es wird erwartet, die ganze Sache geklärt werden, Allah's bereit, vor Januar 13.

Es war in dieser Sitzung durch den Vorsitzenden und die Mitglieder des MB Guidance Präsidium beschließt, ein Schreiben an die Shura-Rat schicken, betont, dass der Termin für diese Wahlen werden spätestens sechs Monate. Es wurde angenommen, dass das Verfahren vor oder während der Wahlen durchgeführt werden, in denen 5 neue Mitglieder gewählt wurden letztes Jahr. Es ist die Shura-Rat die Entscheidung und nicht die MB Guidance Bureau. Folglich, die allgemeine Gruppe Shura-Rat schließlich erreichte ihren einstimmigen Beschluss die Abhaltung von Wahlen so bald wie möglich.

Er betonte, dass die Muslimbrüder, mit der Durchsetzung der Shura wird durch seine internen Regeln organisiert. Verordnungen angenommen und befürwortet werden durch Gesetze der Shura Rat und Änderungen vorbehalten. Die jüngste Änderung im Gange mit einer ihrer Klauseln ist die Dauer der Amtszeit eines Mitglieds der Guidance Amt sieht vor, dass ein Mitglied darf nicht mehr als zwei aufeinander folgende Amtszeiten.

Einige Mitglieder der Guidance Office wurden ihrer Einhaltung vorgeworfen, im Amt zu bleiben für viele Jahre; Dr. Ezzat behauptete, dass häufige Verhaftungen nicht ausschließen Hat man das Executive Bureau uns dazu veranlasst, einen anderen Artikel in der internen Verordnung sieht vor, dass ein Mitglied seine Mitgliedschaft beibehalten, auch wenn er inhaftiert war än. Die Abwesenheit des Herrn arbeiten für das Wohl des Vaterlandes und der erhabenen Mission führte uns auf sie darauf bestehen, die Aufrechterhaltung ihrer Mitgliedschaft. Engineer Khayrat Al-shater wird als zweiter stellvertretender Vorsitzender des MB und Dr. bleiben. Mohammed Ali Bishr Mitglied des Executive Bureau MB. Es wird erwartet, Bishr wird nächsten Monat veröffentlicht werden.

Dr. Mahmoud Ezzat völlig versagt Gerüchte über interne Konflikte innerhalb der oppositionellen Gruppe in Bezug auf Führung, betont, dass die Mechanismen, Regelungen und Bedingungen sind die Weichen für die Bewegung Staats-und Regierungschefs wählen. Er stellte ferner fest, dass Ägypten die geographische Lage und erhebliche moralisches Gewicht innerhalb der muslimischen Welt die Notwendigkeit für die MB Vorsitzender zu sein ägyptischen rechtfertigt.

“Die Guidance Amt prüft derzeit die allgemeine Tendenz der 100-köpfigen Schura-Rat der Bruderschaft im Hinblick auf einen geeigneten Kandidaten nominieren förderfähigen Kosten zu tragen als Vorsitzender”, sagte er.

“Es ist extrem schwer vorherzusagen, wer der nächste Präsident werden, Feststellung, dass 5 Minuten vor der Ernennung von Herrn. Akef als Vorsitzender wusste niemand,, der Stimmzettel nur entschieden, wer würde das neue Anführer sein”, sagte er.

Dr. Mahmoud Ezzat schrieben die Medien scheinbare widersprüchliche Berichte über die Anschuldigungen gegen Bemerkungen über die Bruderschaft Top-Führungskräfte die gleichen Widersprüche der medialen Berichterstattung über Spitzenpolitiker, die von der Zeitung.

Dr. Mahmoud Ezzat beleuchten mit Zahlen auf Razzien, die zur Festnahme einiger LED 2696 Mitglieder der Gruppe in 2007, 3674 in 2008 und 5022 in 2009. Dies führte in der Shura-Rat in der Lage ist zu den Sitzungen und Wahlen abzuhalten.

Er betonte auch, dass die Muslimbruderschaft extrem scharf auf die Aufrechterhaltung der nationalen Sicherheit in Ägypten und wird seine’ Interesse an der Erreichung friedlicher Reformen in der Gesellschaft. “Wir sind uns bewusst, dass die Sitzungen des Amtes durch die Ausrichtung der Sicherheit überwacht, obwohl wir nur zu Demokratie ausüben wollen. Tatsächlich, Wir wollen nicht die Feindschaft und Feindseligkeit der anderen auslösen”.

Er betonte auch die Unterschiede innerhalb der Organisation nicht durch Hass oder persönlichen Differenzen, da die menschenwürdige Temperamente durch die erhabenen Lehren des Islam ermutigt, motiviert uns dazu ermutigen Unterschied der Meinungen toleriere. Er fügte hinzu, dass die Geschichte hat bewiesen, dass die Muslimbruderschaft Bewegung hat viel schwieriger Umstände als die bestehende Krise begegnet.

Die Medien haben ein negatives Bild von der Muslimbruderschaft, wo sie am SSI Untersuchungen stützte Informationen projiziert. Es ist zwingend notwendig, dass Journalisten Tatsachen erhalten von der Original-Quellen, wenn sie irgendeine Art von Glaubwürdigkeit haben, sind. In der Tat der Justiz für ungültig erklärt hat alle Vorwürfe berichtet in staatlichen Untersuchung, sagte er.

Dr. Mahmoud Ezzat sei optimistisch, dass die derzeitige politische Krise wird vorübergehen zu behaupten, dass die Ereignisse beweisen wird, dass die Muslimbrüder mit all seinen edlen Sitten, Objektivität, und Üben der Demokratie durchscheinen mit Bravour.

Published on Ikhwanweb

Abweichende Brothers

Founded in 1928, die Muslimbruderschaft (MB) has never experienced a leadership crisis as serious as that which erupted two weeks ago. As is now well-known, the problem originated with the refusal on the part of the MB’s Guidance Bureau (the organisation’s highest executive body) to accept Essam El-Erian as a member to replace Mohamed Hilal following the latter’s death four weeks ago. It was a clear act of defiance against Supreme Guide Mohamed Mahdi Akef who wanted to promote El-Erian and who maintained that the MB’s internal regulations gave him that right. In response to the refusal Akef has threatened to resign and designated most of his powers to his first deputy, Mohamed Habib.
Of course, the crisis goes much deeper than the question of El-Erian’s promotion. This is not the first time the supreme guide has encountered resistance. The problem is rooted in the way the MB handles its internal disputes and in its reading of the Egyptian political scene as it touches upon the organisation’s image and activities. Although in the course of the past two decades the MB has managed to deal clearly and firmly with internal opposition, disciplining and marginalising dissenters, it has signally failed to benefit from any intellectual and ideological diversity among its ranks. As a consequence, it has forfeited an important political asset which it desperately needs in its confrontations with adversaries.
The tensions in the upper echelons of the MB hierarchy are too sharp to be swept under the carpet in the usual way. The supreme guide has set himself against the will of the conservative wing of the leadership over the promotion of El-Erian, whom he believes deserves a chance to serve on the Guidance Bureau. But regardless of what actions he takes, including the threat to resign, there are unmistakable signs that he will be unable to reign in the conservatives. Since becoming head of the movement in January 2004 Akef has worked hard to maintain smooth relations between the different ideological trends within the MB. Almost always, jedoch, his efforts have come at the expense of the reformists or pragmatists, whether because of the relative weakness of their influence within the organisation compared to the conservatives or because he feared a rift that would render the organisation vulnerable to the regime’s political and security tactics.
That tensions have reached their current pitch is due to the brewing conflict over the succession to the office Akef now holds. In March Akef announced that he did not intend to nominate himself for a new term, which would begin on 13 January. His decision marked the first time in the group’s history that a supreme guide has voluntarily stepped down at the height of his career. All six of his predecessors died while still in office. Akef’s unprecedented and, apparently, unexpected decision, triggered an initially silent power struggle over who would fill his post. Interestingly, the struggle has not been between conservatives and reformists, but rather between hardliners and pragmatists inside the conservative camp.
The current situation is significant for several reasons. Rarely have internal differences bubbled over into public view. This time, jedoch, the main players have been vying ferociously for media attention.
Then there is Akef’s threat, subsequently denied, that he would resign. That Akef should have been driven to such a step reflects the magnitude of the pressures and anger he has faced during his nearly six-year long tenure. Having served as the keel between diverse trends, Akef’s threat must reflect his sense of failure at checking the conservativeshegemony over all the organisation’s bodies and decision-making mechanisms.
That Akef has delegated many of his powers to his first deputy is also unprecedented, as well as being in violation of the group’s internal regulations. Article 6 of the MB’s charter states that the supreme guide can leave his post under three conditionspoor performance of his duties, resignation or death. Since none of these conditions obtains Akef had no right to delegate his responsibilities to his first deputy.
The crisis has thrown into relief a major problem in the MB’s constitutional structure, the lack of an institutionalised arbitrating authority capable of settling disputes between the supreme guide and the Guidance Bureau. It has also demonstrated that many of the group’s internal taboos regarding reverence for, and uncritical obedience to, its leaders have cracked.
The MB leadership will undoubtedly attempt to resolve the crisis as quickly as possible, so that it does not spread through the movement’s rank and file. For this reason, the MB’s General Shura Council will hold elections for the next supreme guide within the next couple of weeks. Even so, it is doubtful that the new leader will enjoy the same level of prestige as his predecessors and will, as a consequence, be hampered in any attempts to maintain equilibrium inside the group. Neither the MB’s Secretary- General Mahmoud Ezzat, or First Deputy to the Supreme Guide Mohamed Habib, the two leading contenders for the post, have the historical legitimacy of Akef, the last of the MB’s founding generation.
But the election of the next supreme guide is not the only problem with which the MB must contend. No less important, or problematic, is the need to elect a new Guidance Bureau. The current bureau was elected in 1995, since which time some members have been added through promotion, as was the case with Mohamed Mursi who became chairman of the political committee in 2004, and others by means of the partial elections in 2008. Comprehensive elections to the bureau should have been held a year ago, following the election of the new MB Shura Council which is responsible for selecting the members of the Guidance Bureau and the supreme guide.
The MB is entering a very delicate phase in its history. Even if MB leaders manage to smooth over the current crisis, its effects will continue to reverberate beneath the surface and, undoubtedly, erupt once again.

Khalil Al-anani

Esam

Founded in 1928, die Muslimbruderschaft (MB) has never experienced a leadership crisis as serious as that which erupted two weeks ago. As is now well-known, the problem originated with the refusal on the part of the MB’s Guidance Bureau (the organisation’s highest executive body) to accept Essam El-Erian as a member to replace Mohamed Hilal following the latter’s death four weeks ago. It was a clear act of defiance against Supreme Guide Mohamed Mahdi Akef who wanted to promote El-Erian and who maintained that the MB’s internal regulations gave him that right. In response to the refusal Akef has threatened to resign and designated most of his powers to his first deputy, Mohamed Habib.

Of course, the crisis goes much deeper than the question of El-Erian’s promotion. This is not the first time the supreme guide has encountered resistance. The problem is rooted in the way the MB handles its internal disputes and in its reading of the Egyptian political scene as it touches upon the organisation’s image and activities. Although in the course of the past two decades the MB has managed to deal clearly and firmly with internal opposition, disciplining and marginalising dissenters, it has signally failed to benefit from any intellectual and ideological diversity among its ranks. As a consequence, it has forfeited an important political asset which it desperately needs in its confrontations with adversaries.

The tensions in the upper echelons of the MB hierarchy are too sharp to be swept under the carpet in the usual way. The supreme guide has set himself against the will of the conservative wing of the leadership over the promotion of El-Erian, whom he believes deserves a chance to serve on the Guidance Bureau. But regardless of what actions he takes, including the threat to resign, there are unmistakable signs that he will be unable to reign in the conservatives. Since becoming head of the movement in January 2004 Akef has worked hard to maintain smooth relations between the different ideological trends within the MB. Almost always, jedoch, his efforts have come at the expense of the reformists or pragmatists, whether because of the relative weakness of their influence within the organisation compared to the conservatives or because he feared a rift that would render the organisation vulnerable to the regime’s political and security tactics.

That tensions have reached their current pitch is due to the brewing conflict over the succession to the office Akef now holds. In March Akef announced that he did not intend to nominate himself for a new term, which would begin on 13 January. His decision marked the first time in the group’s history that a supreme guide has voluntarily stepped down at the height of his career. All six of his predecessors died while still in office. Akef’s unprecedented and, apparently, unexpected decision, triggered an initially silent power struggle over who would fill his post. Interestingly, the struggle has not been between conservatives and reformists, but rather between hardliners and pragmatists inside the conservative camp.

The current situation is significant for several reasons. Rarely have internal differences bubbled over into public view. This time, jedoch, the main players have been vying ferociously for media attention.

Then there is Akef’s threat, subsequently denied, that he would resign. That Akef should have been driven to such a step reflects the magnitude of the pressures and anger he has faced during his nearly six-year long tenure. Having served as the keel between diverse trends, Akef’s threat must reflect his sense of failure at checking the conservativeshegemony over all the organisation’s bodies and decision-making mechanisms.

That Akef has delegated many of his powers to his first deputy is also unprecedented, as well as being in violation of the group’s internal regulations. Article 6 of the MB’s charter states that the supreme guide can leave his post under three conditionspoor performance of his duties, resignation or death. Since none of these conditions obtains Akef had no right to delegate his responsibilities to his first deputy.

The crisis has thrown into relief a major problem in the MB’s constitutional structure, the lack of an institutionalised arbitrating authority capable of settling disputes between the supreme guide and the Guidance Bureau. It has also demonstrated that many of the group’s internal taboos regarding reverence for, and uncritical obedience to, its leaders have cracked.

The MB leadership will undoubtedly attempt to resolve the crisis as quickly as possible, so that it does not spread through the movement’s rank and file. For this reason, the MB’s General Shura Council will hold elections for the next supreme guide within the next couple of weeks. Even so, it is doubtful that the new leader will enjoy the same level of prestige as his predecessors and will, as a consequence, be hampered in any attempts to maintain equilibrium inside the group. Neither the MB’s Secretary- General Mahmoud Ezzat, or First Deputy to the Supreme Guide Mohamed Habib, the two leading contenders for the post, have the historical legitimacy of Akef, the last of the MB’s founding generation.

But the election of the next supreme guide is not the only problem with which the MB must contend. No less important, or problematic, is the need to elect a new Guidance Bureau. The current bureau was elected in 1995, since which time some members have been added through promotion, as was the case with Mohamed Mursi who became chairman of the political committee in 2004, and others by means of the partial elections in 2008. Comprehensive elections to the bureau should have been held a year ago, following the election of the new MB Shura Council which is responsible for selecting the members of the Guidance Bureau and the supreme guide.

The MB is entering a very delicate phase in its history. Even if MB leaders manage to smooth over the current crisis, its effects will continue to reverberate beneath the surface and, undoubtedly, erupt once again.

Published On Al-ahram Weekly

Syrian Muslim Brothers and the Syrian-Iranian Relationship.

Dr. Yvette Talhamy

Bianony-syr

The ‘Alawis of Syria are part of the Shi’a stream; this has led to an alliance with Iran, the center of Shi’ite Islam. This alliance aggravated the oppositionist Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (MB), whose members have been in exile since 1982. According to them, the alliance is a stage in a Shi’ite scheme to take over the Sunni countries, including Syria. Aber, during the past year the MB has changed their strategy, and we are currently witnessing a rapprochement between the Brotherhood and Damascus.

The purpose of this article is to examine the attitude of the Syrian Muslim Brothers towards the ‘Alawi regime as a sectarian Shi’ite regime and as a part of a Shi’ite/Iranian scheme that intends to take over the Sunni world.

The Muslim Brothers of Syria, the prominent opposition to the current regime, are a Sunni Islamist movement, while the ‘Alawis, the current rulers of Syria, are defined as Shi’ites. This brings to the surface the old Sunni-Shi’ite schism wherein each accuses the other of deviation from the true path of Islam. The situation in Syria, in which a Shi’ite minority rules over a Sunni majority through the secular Ba’th Party, is considered unacceptable by the Sunni Muslim Brothers, who believe that this situation ought to be changedeven by the use of force. The Muslim Brothers believe that Syria should be ruled by Sunni Shari’a (Islamic law) and not by the heretic Nusayris, as the Shi’ite ‘Alawis are called. As a result of the violent Muslim resistance to the secular Ba’th regime during the 1960s and against the secular, sectarian Asad regime during the 1970s and 1980s, many Brothers were killed and imprisoned while the Brotherhood’s leadership left Syria and has never been allowed to return. Today the Syrian Muslim Brothers reside in London, under the leadership of ‘Ali Sadr al-Din al-Bayanuni.

The Nusayris of Syria

The ‘Alawis of Syria are part of the Shi’a stream; this has led to an alliance with Iran, the center of Shi’ite Islam. This alliance aggravated the oppositionist Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (MB), whose members have been in exile since 1982. According to them, the alliance is a stage in a Shi’ite scheme to take over the Sunni countries, including Syria. Aber, during the past year the MB has changed their strategy, and we are currently witnessing a rapprochement between the Brotherhood and Damascus.
The purpose of this article is to examine the attitude of the Syrian Muslim Brothers towards the ‘Alawi regime as a sectarian Shi’ite regime and as a part of a Shi’ite/Iranian scheme that intends to take over the Sunni world.
The Muslim Brothers of Syria, the prominent opposition to the current regime, are a Sunni Islamist movement, while the ‘Alawis, the current rulers of Syria, are defined as Shi’ites. This brings to the surface the old Sunni-Shi’ite schism wherein each accuses the other of deviation from the true path of Islam. The situation in Syria, in which a Shi’ite minority rules over a Sunni majority through the secular Ba’th Party, is considered unacceptable by the Sunni Muslim Brothers, who believe that this situation ought to be changedeven by the use of force. The Muslim Brothers believe that Syria should be ruled by Sunni Shari’a (Islamic law) and not by the heretic Nusayris, as the Shi’ite ‘Alawis are called. As a result of the violent Muslim resistance to the secular Ba’th regime during the 1960s and against the secular, sectarian Asad regime during the 1970s and 1980s, many Brothers were killed and imprisoned while the Brotherhood’s leadership left Syria and has never been allowed to return. Today the Syrian Muslim Brothers reside in London, under the leadership of ‘Ali Sadr al-Din al-Bayanuni.
The Nusayris of Syria
The ‘Alawis, the dominant elite of Syria, were known up until the 1920s as Nusayris. The term Nusayris is derived from the name Muhammad ibn Nusayr who lived in the ninth century. Ibn Nusayr claimed that ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law, was divine, and he placed him above the Prophet Muhammad. The Nusayris also believe in the Trinitarian concept of ‘A.M.S. (‘Ali. Muhammad. Salman.).1 They believe in the transmigration of souls, and they resort to religious dissimulation, or taqiyya. Since the 13th century they have inhabited the mountain region known after their name, Jabal al-Nusayriya (the Nusayriya Mountain) in northwest Syria and in the Hatay region in southern Turkey.2
For centuries, the Nusayris, though considered an extremist Muslim sect, were ill-treated by the local Syrian Sunnis and by successive Sunni governments, which considered them to be heretics outside of Islam. The Nusayris lived in isolation in their mountains, and their encounters with the local inhabitants, both Muslims and Christians, were rare. They did not cultivate their lands and lived by raiding neighboring villages and robbing travellers, which earned them a negative reputation.
At the beginning of the French Mandate period in Syria (1920-1946), the group changed their name to‘Alawis.Some researchers, such as Daniel Pipes, say that the French gave them this name in order to win them over to their side.3 Others argue that the Nusayris were the ones who wanted to change their name to‘Alawis,” meaning the adherents of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, which made them more closely tied to Islam.4 Adopting the name ‘Alawis and obtaining fatawa (legal opinions) that related them to Shi’ism were supposed to help them integrate with the Syrian Muslim population and end their heretic status. As Nusayris, they were regarded as an outcast sect, but as ‘Alawis, and the adherents of ‘Ali, they were part of Shi’ism and thus part of the Muslim community. Although during the French Mandate and the struggle for independence, Sunni nationalists had put national solidarity above religious allegiance and recognized the ‘Alawis as fellow Arabs, there were still many who referred to them asNusayris,” implying that they were disbelievers and extremists who are related neither to Sunni nor to Shi’ite Islam.5 However, unlike the Sunnis, the Shi’ites embraced the ‘Alawis and ultimately won their support.
The Sunni/Shi’a Schism
To understand the divisions between Shi’a6 and Sunni we must first understand the historical roots and doctrinal differences that led to this dichotomy. After the death of the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century and the internal disputes over who would inherit the place of the Prophet as leader of the Muslim community, a division occurred between the Sunnis and the Shi’ites. The disagreements between the two became particularly acute regarding the process of succession (vis a vis the Caliphate and the Imamate) and the role of Islamic law absent a clear Qur’anic statement on a certain matter.
Today the Shi’a are a minority in the Muslim world consisting of approximately 10%-15% of the population, including all the different sects such as Ismailis, Zaydis, and ‘Alawis. Although the ‘Alawis are considered a sect within the Shi’ite doctrine, there are few similarities between the Shi’ites and the ‘Alawis. They both revere ‘Ali and the 12 Imamsalthough they hold different views concerning themand they both resort to religious dissimulation (taqiyya), but the similarities end there. Beispielsweise, the Nusayris/’Alawis have many beliefs that are not accepted by the Shi’ites, such as the belief in the transmigration of souls, their placement of ‘Ali above the Prophet Muhammad, and their own religious books and ceremonies.
Yet their theological differences did not prevent the two Shi’ite-ruled states of Iran and Syria from becoming allies. Some regarded the alliance as being based on political, security, and economic interests, but the Syrian Muslim Brothers saw it differently. According to them, this alliance is only a stage in the Iranian/Shi’ite scheme of forming an Iranian/Shi’ite empire throughout the Muslim world with the purpose of taking over the Sunni world. Before continuing to examine the subject deeply we must first answer the question as to how and when the Nusayris became Shi’a.
Becoming Shi’a
For centuries the ‘Alawis/Nusayris had suffered both socially and economically under successive Sunni rulers. Under the Ottomans, who ruled Syria for 400 years, the ‘Alawis suffered greatly. Isolated in their mountain redoubts, living in ramshackle villages, they had to endure famine and poverty while being exploited by their mainly Sunni landlords, who held them in contempt and considered them infidels.7 After the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, Syria came under the French Mandate in 1920. This was seen by the Nusayris as an opportunity to obtain autonomy or independence in the region of the Nusayriya Mountain where they constituted the majority.
With the beginning of the French Mandate in Syria, the ‘Alawi leaders asked the French to give them their own state. The French, who pursued a policy of divide and rule, granted the ‘Alawis their own state, das “State of the ‘Alawis” (1920-1936) in the Nusayriya Mountain area along the coast of Syria, thus preventing the inner regions of Syria from having an outlet to the Mediterranean Sea. Though they enjoyed autonomy during those years, the ‘Alawis were divided among themselves. Some ‘Alawis, mainly those who were educated, supported a broader nationalism and desired the unification of the whole of Syria, while others supported separatism and wanted to keep their independent state. Among the separatists was ‘Ali Sulayman al-Asad, the father of Hafiz al-Asad. While the supporters of separatism relied on religious differences as the basis for their demand for an independent state, serious measures were made, mainly by the nationalist ‘Alawis, to stress their links with the Shi’ite doctrine.8
The ‘Alawis who supported nationalism saw that the only way to preserve their existence was through integration within a united Syria rather than having their own country, and they fostered this idea beginning in the 1920s. They realized that it was important for them first to be recognized as part of the Muslim community as Shi’ites. As Nusayris they were viewed as infidels by both Sunnis and Shi’ites, but as ‘Alawis they would become part of Islam and no longer be regarded as an outcast sect.
In 1926 the ‘Alawis took the first step towards becoming part of the Muslim faith when a group of ‘Alawi shaykhs issued a proclamation stating that: “Every ‘Alawi is a Muslimevery ‘Alawi who does not confess his Islamic faith or denies that the Qur’an is the word of God and that Muhammad is his Prophet is not ‘AlawiThe ‘Alawis are Shi’ite Muslimsthey are the adherents of the Imam ‘Ali.”9 In April 1933 a group of ‘Alawi ‘ulamaheld a meeting and issued a declaration connecting the ‘Alawis with Islam, and asked to be recognized in the population registers under the nameAlawi Muslims.”10 In July 1936 another major step was taken to support ‘Alawi integration into the Muslim faith when the Palestinian Mufti, Hajj Amin al-Husayni,11 a pan-Arabist who supported the idea of Greater Syria, issued a fatwa recognizing the ‘Alawis as Muslims. His fatwa was published in the Syrian newspaper al-Sha’b [The People].12 The aim of Hajj Amin was to unite all Muslim Arabs for one causeArab unity and the struggle against occupation by the Western powers. This fatwa was the first official religious decree recognizing the ‘Alawis as Muslims.
It was during this year that the ‘Alawis lost their independent, autonomous state and were annexed to Syria, which was then still under the French Mandate. During the Mandate (1936-1946), the ‘Alawis who supported separatism continued to demand that the French restore their independence, but to no avail. At the same time, the nationalist stream among the ‘Alawis was gaining strength. On one hand, the nationalist ‘Alawis continued to stress their connection to Islam, and on the other hand the Muslim community, both Sunni and Shi’ite, wanted to win them over to the cause of the Syrian nation-state by issuing several fatwas and declarations legitimizing the ‘Alawi sect as part of the Muslim faith. The French left Syria in April 1946, and the ‘Alawis who supported separatism knew that they had no alternative other than integration with the independent state of Syria.
Although during the 26 years of the French Mandate the ‘Alawis adopted Shi’ism, helping them become integrated with the Muslim world and in the Syrian nation, they had never learned its doctrines. In 1947, the leading Shi’ite authority in Najaf, Ayatullah Muhsin al-Hakim, decided to make the first formal step towards embracing the ‘Alawis and making them part of the Shi’ite community. In 1948, the first delegation of ‘Alawi students went to Najaf to study Shi’ite theology and to pursue legal studies.13 This step was unsuccessful, since the ‘Alawi students were faced with Shi’ite hostility and were viewed as extremists (ghulat), causing most of the students to drop out and return home. After this failure, a Ja’fari (Twelver) Society was established in Latakia, which undertook educational work and religious guidance, and inaugurated several branches in other towns such as Jabla, Tartus, and Banias.
Despite these actions, the ‘Alawis were still not regarded as true Muslims even by the Shi’ites, who believed that they needed more guidance.14 Between 1950-1960 some ‘Alawi students studied at the Sunni al-Azhar University in Cairo, which granted its graduates a diploma recognized in Syria.15 It was during those years that the Ba’th Party under ‘Alawi leadership seized power in Syria as a preliminary stage to taking over the whole of the country. As Martin Kramer puts it: “This situation was rich in irony. The ‘Alawis, having been denied their own state by the Sunni nationalists, had taken all of Syria instead.”16
The ‘Alawi Regime and the Syrian Muslim Brothers
There were two main channels that helped the ‘Alawis capture power in Syria: the socialist, secular Ba’th Party, which especially attracted the rural class and non-Sunni minorities, and the armed forces, where various religious minorities were over-represented during the French Mandate and continued to be so after their departure. The coup d’etats of March 1963 and February 1966, in which the ‘Alawis played a major role, marked the ‘Alawisconsolidation of power. The last Syrian coup occurred in November 1970, and was known as theAsad coup.”17 In 1971 Hafiz al-Asad became the first ‘Alawi President of Syria. Aber, some branches of the Syrian nation refused to accept this fact. These were mainly the Muslim Brothers of Syria who, von 1964 to today, are the main Syrian opposition to the rule of the Ba’th Party and to thesectarianrule, as they call it, of the Asad family.18 In 1945-1946, Dr. Mustafa al-Siba’i founded the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, which fought against the French for an Islamic state.19 During the first years after its establishment, the society published newspapers and literature and played an active role in Syrian politics. Within that same period the secular Ba’th evolved, and in contrast with the Muslim Brothers, who fought against secularization, it gained support from different sectors of Syrian society, especially among minorities, thus becoming the most important political party in Syria.
The secular doctrine of the ruling Ba’th Party only augmented the fears of the Sunnis, and clashes between the secular, socialist Ba’th and the religious Muslim Brothers were inevitable. In 1964, the Ba’th regime outlawed the Muslim Brothers, and its new leader, ‘Isam al-‘Attar, was exiled. During the same year a revolt led by the Muslim Brothers and other opposition factions, including socialists, liberals, and Nasserists, erupted in the city of Hama against the secular, rural, and minority nature of the Syrian ruling elite. The revolt was put down after a bombing of the city’s Al-Sultan Mosque, which caused many casualties.20
Clashes between the two sides were renewed in April 1967 when a young ‘Alawi officer named Ibrahim Khallas published an article in the army magazine Jaysh al-Sha’b (The Army of the People) under the titleThe Path Towards the Creation of a New Arab Man,” wherein he announced that belief in God and religion, feudalism, capitalism, imperialism, and all of the values that had controlled society should be placed in a museum.21 This article caused strikes and disturbances in different parts of Syria, which were led by the ‘ulama’, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood and even Christian clergy. As a result, Khallas was discharged from office.22 According to the Muslim Brothers, they opposed the Ba’th because it was a secular party. They believed that Islam should be declared the state religion and that Shari’a should be the basis of legislation.23 They also opposed Asad not because of his ‘Alawi origins, but because, in their view, his regime was sectarian, tyrannical, corrupt, oppressive, and unjust.24
During the 1970s, relations between the Asad regime and the Muslim Brothers deteriorated. In 1973, disturbances erupted again when the Syrian Constitution was publicized and did not designate Islam as the state religion. The Muslim Brothers demanded that Islam be the state religion, although it had never been designated as such. In 1950, the Syrian assembly announced the Syrian Constitution and, at the request of the MB, added a clause that the religion of the Head of State would be Islam. This clause was later omitted, and after ascending to the presidency, Asad reinserted this clause into the Syrian Constitution, but when the Constitution was introduced for public census, the clause was once again omitted. This act caused a wave of angry demonstrations organized by the Muslim Brothers, who referred to Asad as theenemy of Godand called for a jihad against him and against hisatheist and corrupt regime.”25As a result, Asad reinserted a clause into the Constitution thatIslam shall be the religion of the head of the state,” meaning that since he was the President, he considered himself a Muslim. Außerdem, during that same year, he ordered the printing of a new Qur’an with his picture on the frontispiece, to be called theAsad Qu’ran,” thereby arousing the anger of the Sunnis and the Muslim Brothers.26
Asad made many conciliatory gestures to gain the trust of the Sunni majority and the Muslim Brothers. He prayed in mosques on Fridays27 and on the main Muslim holidays such as ‘Id al-Fitr and ‘Id al-Adha.28 He abolished restrictions on religious institutions and allowed the construction of new mosques.29 In December 1972, he obtained a legitimization from Hasan al-Shirazi, an Iraqi Shi’ite cleric in exile in Lebanon, stating thatthe beliefs of the ‘Alawis conformed in every respect to those of their Twelver Shi’ite brethren.”30 Later, in July 1973, Musa al-Sadr, head of the Lebanese Shi’ite Supreme Council and a confidant of Asad,31 declared that the ‘Alawis were a Shi’ite sect,32 and the following year Asad performed the ‘umrah to Mecca. Asad also was declared a devout Muslim by the Grand Mufti of Syria, Shaykh Ahmad Kaftaru.33 But the Muslim Brothers still considered him a non-Muslim and led a violent struggle against the Asad regime.34
During the 1970s the Muslim Brothers also suffered from internal problems, splitting into two factions. One faction, which was in Jordan, opposed violent opposition, while the other faction, stationed in Aleppo, called for jihad against the Asad regime and for its replacement by a Sunni regime.35 From 1976 zu 1982, the Asad regime faced both secular and Islamist opposition. The intervention in Lebanon in 1976 and domestic problems such as inflation, official corruption, and the domination of the ‘Alawis in every sphere of life in Syria were the driving force for the opposition’s efforts to overthrow Asad’s non-Muslim, tyrannical regime.36 The Asad regime was viewed as a sectarian government in which an infidel religious minority ruled over the majority. According to the Muslim Brothers, this was an unnatural situation that ought to be changed.
In 1979 the Muslim Brothers carried out an armed attack against the Aleppo Artillery School where 83 young recruits, all ‘Alawis, were killed.37 The Minister of the Interior, ‘Adnan Dabbagh, accused the Muslim Brothers of being agents subservient to the United States andthe Zionist influence,”38 and as a result many Islamists were imprisoned and others were executed.39 In April 1980, armed clashes between the Muslim Brothers and the security forces occurred in the city of Aleppo. Using tanks, armored vehicles, and rockets, the government troops, backed by armed party irregulars,40 occupied the city after killing between 1,000 und 2,000 people and arresting some 8,000.41
In June 1980, the Muslim Brothers were accused of a failed attempt to assassinate President Asad, and as a result Rif’at al-Asad, the President’s brother, led a revenge campaign against the Muslim Brothers held in Tadmor (Palymra) prison, massacring hundreds of defenseless Islamist prisoners.42 The Muslim Brothers struck back by attacking ‘Alawi officials and placing car bombs outside government installations and military bases, killing and injuring hundreds. In response, the government carried out brutal reprisals against the Islamists. Many were arrested, summary executions were carried out, and thousands went into exile.43 In July 1980, membership or association with the Muslim Brothers was made a crime punishable by death.44
In November 1980, as the next step in their anti-regime struggle, the Muslim Brothers issued a manifesto that contained their detailed program for the future Islamic state of Syria. The manifesto included an attack against the corrupt, sectarian ‘Alawi regime of theAsad brothers,” and emphasized that a minority cannot and should not rule over a majority.45
The Hama Massacre
The city of Hama was one of the main centers of the Muslim Brotherhood opposition to the regime. The first encounter between the Muslim Brothers and the military in the city occurred in April 1981 when the Brothers ambushed a security checkpoint. In revenge, special forces units moved into the city and began a house-to-house search. About 350 people were killed, many fled into exile, others disappeared or were imprisoned, and clashes between the two sides continued.46 When Anwar al-Sadat was killed by Islamists on October 6, 1981, flyers were distributed in Damascus threatening Asad with the same fate, and the confrontation between the rival forces became inevitable.47 In February 1982, bloody clashes between the Syrian army and the Muslim Brothers occurred in the city of Hama, where about 100 government and party representatives were killed by the armed Brothers. Special forces were sent to the city to fight the rebels. The city was strafed by helicopters and bombarded with rocket, artillery, and tank fire. Large parts of the city were destroyed, leaving hundreds of people homeless. Many more deserted the city. Estimates of the number killed vary, but it is clear that thousands were killed or injured.48
In the same period, there were several violent demonstrations against the regime that were unrelated to the Muslim opposition. In March 1980, violent demonstrations against the government erupted in the small town of Jisr al-Shughur (between Aleppo and Latakia). The government regained control in the town after using mortars and rockets. Many houses and stores were destroyed and 150-200 people were killed. Demonstrations also erupted in Idlib, Ma’arra (März 1980), and Dayr al-Zur (April 1980).49
After the clashes with the Muslim Brothers, Asad felt that his position was in danger, and he accused Israel, Ägypten, and the United States of using the Muslim Brothers against him.50 In a speech that he gave on the 19th anniversary of the Ba’th revolution, Asad shouted, “Death to the hired Muslim Brothers who tried to play havoc with the homeland! Death to the Muslim Brothers who were hired by US intelligence, reactionaries and Zionists!”51
During the following years Asad decided to change his internal and external policy. Internally, many Muslim Brothers in Syria and abroad were granted amnesty, and many were released from jails. He also allowed the opening of new Qur’anic schools and the building of new mosques, and he lifted the restrictions on Islamic publications and dress.52 Externally, he was alienated since, in addition to his unfriendly relations with the West, his relations with some Arab countries, such as Iraq, Ägypten, and Jordan, were remarkably bad. He felt that he needed new allies in the region, and therefore began to enhance his relations with different countries and Muslim organizations. Among the countries with which Asad chose to strengthen his alliance was the Islamic Republic of Iran. Among the Muslim organizations that gained Asad’s support and hospitality were the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (Sunni) and the Lebanese Hizbullah (Shi’ite).53 After the peace treaties signed by Israel with Egypt and Jordan, and the unofficial relations between Israel and other Arab countries, Syria under the Asads (both father and son) remained the only frontline Arab country carrying the banner of the pan-Arab, anti-Zionist, and anti-Israeli campaign, thus gaining the support of the Arab population.54 However, the recent Syrian-Iranian alliance has aroused suspicion among the Arab population and leadership concerning the motivations for this alliance with the Shi’ite, non-Arab Islamic Republic of Iran.
Syria and Iran Become Allies
The relationship between Syria and Iran began in the 1970s. During those years the Syrian authorities accorded privileges and protection to some major Iranian opposition figures.55 In 1978, President Asad offered to receive the main Iranian opposition leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini,56 in Damascus after he was expelled from Iraq in 1978. Khomeini declined Asad’s invitation, and instead settled in Paris until the 1979 revolution, when he returned to Iran as head of state and became the only leader in the Muslim world to combine political and religious authority through the doctrine of velayat-e faqih.57 The Muslim Brothers in general, including those in Syria, supported the Iranian Islamic Revolution and saw it as a revolution of all the Islamic movements of the various schools and sects. Shortly after assuming his position, Khomeini began calling for Islamic revolutions across the entire Muslim world. The Syrian Muslim Brothers saw this as a positive step for change, and hoped that it would lead to a similar revolution in Syria and the overthrow of the oppressiveAsad rule.”58 Although the Brothers had publicly stated their support of the Iranian Revolution, to their disappointment the Islamic Republic of Iran maintained close relations with the Asad regime59 despite the fact that the Ba’th Party proclaimed itself to be a socialist, secular, Arab party whereas Iran was a Muslim, non-Arab theocracy.60
Since the 18th century, the Iranian Shi’ite ‘ulamahave enjoyed wide religious and political power, but during the 20th century the Pahlavi Shah of Iran, Muhammad Reza, took official measures to erode the position of the ‘ulama’. Following the revolution and the overthrow of the Shah, Iran became a kind of informal center for the Shi’a of different countries. The Iranians tried to export their revolution to neighboring Arab states, causing turbulence in Arab Gulf states with Shi’ite populations such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain. In 1981, the Iranians even backed an unsuccessful plot to overthrow the Sunni government of Bahrain, a country with a Shi’ite majority.61 Later, the Gulf region became an arena of terrorism against local and Western targets, and was shaken by suicide attacks. These Iranian terrorist actions in support of other Shi’ites led to a violent response by the Kuwaiti Sunni Muslim Brothers, who bombed Iranian offices in Kuwait. The Kuwaiti Brothers even denounced the Shi’a as anathema.62 Today, in retrospect, the Kuwaiti Brothers perceive these terrorist actions as part of a long-term Shi’ite scheme to take over the Sunni world.
It is hard to explain the reasons behind Khomeini’s preference for Asad over the Muslim Brothers, or as Martin Kramer puts it, “when religion is subordinate to politics, miracles again become possible, and Syria’s ‘Alawis may get recognition as Twelver Shi’is.”63
During the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88), Syrien, unlike other Arab countries, supported Iran, and the cooperation and strategic alliance between the two countries grew stronger in the following years.64 In exchange for their support, the Iranians supplied Syria with free petroleum products and oil at concession rates.65 In April 1980, when there were clashes between the Muslim Brothers and security forces in Syria, the Iranians condemned the actions of the Muslim Brothers, accusing them of conspiring with Egypt, Israel, and the United States against Syria.66 For their part, the Syrian Muslim Brothers, as well as the Kuwaiti Muslim Brothers, began to view Iran as a sectarian Shi’ite regime. Parallel with the growing ties between Syria and Iran, the Muslim Brothers of Syria supported and were supported politically and financially by the Iraqi regime under Saddam Husayn.67 In the 1980s, the attacks of the Muslim Brothers against the Islamic Republic of Iran intensified. In a book written by Sa’id Hawwa, the chief ideologist of the Syrian Muslim Brothers in the 1980s, he stressed that the People of the Sunna are the real Muslim community, thus widening the gap between the Muslim Brothers and Iran.68 In April 1982, a coalition of different Syrian opposition groups, including the Syrian MB, set up theNational Alliance for the Liberation of Syria,” which was backed by the Iraqi regime.69 During the 1980s relations between Iran and Syria remained generally close, despite the fact that some Iranian actions had aggravated the Syrians, such as the announcement of a four-stage plan for the establishment of an Islamic Shi’ite regime in Iraq in early 1982. In March of the same year, some Iraniantourists” (who were actually Iranian revolutionary activists) had visited Syria and distributed posters of Khomeini and hung religious slogans on the walls of the Damascus airport and its surroundings.70 Such actions caused a cooling in the relationship between the two countries, but since Iran was alienated from the rest of the region due to the war with Iraq, its relations with the Arab countries were nearly universally poor, making Syria too precious an ally for Iran to lose. The Iranian leadership did whatever was needed to maintain its alliance with Syria, the only Arab state with which it had good relations.
At present, the Shi’ite Hizbullah of Lebanon, currently under the leadership of Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah, is another ally of the Asad regime, constituting the third component of the Shi’ite triple alliance. In the early 1980s, while the Syrians were in Lebanon, the Iranians began to cultivate the Shi’ite community of Lebanon. Iran sent Shi’ite clerics to the country to indoctrinate the local Shi’ites with their ideology.71 Iran regarded Lebanon as fertile soil for exporting its revolution, and Hizbullah was the means through which Iran planned toovercomeLebanon in order to attack theZionistenemy, Israel, from the north, and to liberate Palestine. Iran supplied Hizbullah with money, weapons, and military and religious guidance,72 in addition to supporting health, education, and social welfare institutions.73
According to the Syrian Muslim Brothers, the basis of the alliance between the three parties – Syrien, Iran, and Hizbullahis their common Shi’ite doctrine. This allegation was not true in the 1980s, when the relationship between Hizbullah and the Asad regime was marked by tension. During the 1980s, relations between Syria and Hizbullah were indeed more of a rivalry than an alliance, despite Iran’s dissatisfaction with this lack of accord between her two allies.74 In February 1987, the Syrians even perpetrated a massacre against Hizbullah militiamen. After Hizbullah abducted a number of Western citizens, Syrian troops deployed in Beirut’s southern suburbs, where 23 Hizbullah members were subsequently killed. As a result thousands of outraged Lebanese Shi’ite mourners protested against Syria, with some even accusing it of conspiring with Israel.75 For its part, Iran never held Syria responsible for this action but rather attributed it to renegades within the Syrian army. But Iran, knowing this was not true, warned Syria that any action against its allies in Lebanon would be considered an attack against Iran.76
Despite the tension between the two states, Iran was careful not to lose its ally and continued to supply it with free or discounted crude oil. As it became increasingly isolated from the rest of the Arab and Western states, Iran’s relations with Syria became more valuable, especially since there were some diplomatic efforts made on the part of the Arab states to separate the two allies and restore Arab unity.77 During 1987, Iran faced another problem that needed Syrian mediation when Iranian pilgrims demonstrated in Mecca, resulting in bloody clashes with the Saudi security forces. In the incident, 275 Iranians and 85 members of the Saudi security forces were killed, causing a crisis in Saudi/Arab- Iran relations. This incident was regarded by Saudi Arabia as an Iranian plot intended to shake the foundations of Sunni Saudi Arabia. The situation deteriorated to a level where the Iran-Iraq War became regarded as war between the Arabs and the Persians.78
According to the Syrian Muslim Brothers, considering all the aforementioned violent actions committed by Iran in different Arab countries, the Shi’ite Iranians, under the cover of Islam, are more dangerous to the Muslim countries than the Zionists or the Americans. According to the Brothers, the latter’s plan is obvious, but the Shi’ite Iranians manage to obtain Sunni support by waving the flag of war against the Zionists and the Americans, while their genuine aim is to take over these countries and rebuild the Shi’ite Safavid empire.79
In 1987, Sa’id Hawwa, the chief ideologist of the Syrian Muslim Brothers, wrote a book called The Khumayniyya: Deviation in Beliefs and Deviation in Behavior (al- Khumayniyya: shudhudh fi al-‘Aqa’id wa-shudhudh fi al-Mawaqif), in which he presents the disappointment of the Muslim Brothers in the Islamic Revolution in Iran and exposes thedeviationof Khomeini. In his book, Hawwa quotes from works written by Khomeini himself that, according to Hawwa, reveal the deviation in Khomeini’s thoughts and Shi’ite beliefs. Hawwa goes so far as to regard the Shi’ites and Khomeini as a danger to the existence of the Sunni world, warning young Sunnis against believing the false statements of thisMuslim Revolution.”80 According to Hawwa, the purpose of this revolution is to take over the Sunni world and turn it into a Shi’ite world. To prove his claims, Hawwa points to the Iranian interference in Lebanon and its support for Shi’ite movements such as Hizbullah and Amal, and also presents the odd relationship between Iran and Syria. In his view, the main purpose of the Iran-Iraq War was toconquerIraq and turn it into a Shi’ite state, and then conquer the rest of the Gulf Arab states as a preliminary stage in taking over the whole of the Sunni world.81 Hawwa concludes his book by stating that the Shi’a are different from the Sunnis, their beliefs are different, their prayers are different, and whoever supports them is considered a traitor against God and his Prophet.82
The Iran-Iraq War ended in 1988, and Khomeini died the following year. ‘Ali Khameine’i, who had been Iran’s President, became its Supreme Leader,83 and Akbar Hashimi Rafsanjani84 was elected President, remaining in office until 1997. Rafsanjani and the Presidents who suceeded him, under the guidance of Khameine’i, pursued Khomeini’s legacy. In March 1991, the Arab states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Ägypten, and Syria participated in the Damascus meeting,85 and later on in October, the Arab countries, including Syria, participated in the Madrid peace talks with Israel. These actions caused tension between Syria and Iran, but after the failure of these talks, the tension between the two allies declined.86 During the 1990s, Syria also played an important role as mediator between Iran and the Arab Gulf states.87 Syria played a mediating role in the dispute between Abu Dhabi and Iran over Iran’s annexation of Abu Musa Island in the Persian Gulf in early 1992, and in the internal Shi’ite disturbances in Bahrain in early 1995.88
Until the 1970s, the ‘Alawis and later President Asad sought religious confirmation as Shi’ite Muslims from prominent Muslim leaders, and especially from Shi’ite leaders. After the Iranian Revolution and the imposition of religious rule, Iran sought an ally in the region, and Syria was that ally. It is fair to say that these two countries built their alliance out of mutual necessity. Over the years their alliance faced numerous obstacles, but managed to survive. Many elements contributed to the survival of this alliance, amongst them the failure of the peace talks in the Middle East, the Palestinian problem, and Western policy that seemed to favor the Israeli side, thus driving Syria to seek a strong ally as a counterweight. Asad’s commitment to the Palestinian cause did not change the attitude of the Muslim Brothers towards him, because they still regarded his regime as an oppressive, sectarian regime and sought to overthrow it, and his alliance with Shi’ite Iran only aggravated them and aroused their suspicions.
The Shi’ite Revolution
The Muslim Brothers of Syria view the ‘Alawi/Shi’ite Asad regime as a part of a Shi’ite/Iranian scheme intended to establish or restore the glory of the old Persian empire and impose Shi’ite doctrine in the various Arab and Muslim states. To support their claims of this purported scheme, they rely on an alleged secret letter that was published in 1998 by the Iranian Sunni League in London, and which they claim was sent from the Iranian Revolution Assembly to different Iranian provinces. This alleged letter included a very detailed five-stage Iranian/Shi’ite plan on how toexportthe Iranian/ Shi’ite revolution to other Muslim countries. The duration of each stage of this plan is ten years, with a total duration of 50 years. The plan’s goal is to unite the Muslims by striking at the Sunni regimes that consider Shi’ite doctrine heretical. According to the plan, controlling these countries would result in control of half the world.
The first step of this plan is: “To improve the relations between Iran and the neighboring Arab states. When the cultural, the economic and the political relations between Iran and those states are good, it will be easy for Iranian agents to enter those countries as immigrants.
The Iranian agents will buy houses, apartments, and lands and help their Shi’ite brothers living in these countries. They will foster good business and personal relations with the powerful figures in these countries, obey the laws of these countries, and obtain permits to celebrate their feasts and to build their own mosquesObtain local nationality through bribes or by using their connections. Encourage the young Shi’ites to incorporate themselves within the local administrations and to enlist in the local armyArouse suspicion and mistrust between the local authorities and the [Sunni] religious authorities by spreading flyers allegedly published by religious leaders criticizing the actions of the local government. This action would lead to friction in the relations between the two sides causing the government to suspect every act of the religious leaders.
The third step is: “After incorporation within the local bureaucracy and army, the task of the Shi’ite religious leaders, contrary to the local Sunni religious leaders, will be to declare publicly their loyalty to the local government, thus gaining their goodwill and trust. Then begins the step of striking at the local economy.
The fourth step is: When mistrust is caused between the religious and political leaders and the collapse of their economy, anarchy will prevail everywhere, and the agents will be the only protectors of the country. After building trust with the ruling elite, the crucial stage will begin by announcing the political leaders as traitors, thus causing their expulsion or their replacement by the Iranian agents. Incorporating Shi’a in the different governmental offices will arouse the anger of the Sunnis who will respond by attacking the government. The agent’s role at this point is to ‘stand bythe head of state and buy the property of those who decide to flee the country.
The fifth step is: “Help to regain peace in those countries by appointing a People’s Assembly, where the Shi’ite candidates will have the majority and will later take over the country, if not through those peaceful measures, then by causing a revolution. After taking over the country, Shi’ism will be imposed.”89
The Syrian Muslim Brothers used this letter to prove90 that the alliance between the ‘Alawi regime and Iran was actually a part of the Shi’ite scheme against the Sunni world. Dr. Muhammad Bassam Yusuf, a Syrian author of the Muslim Brothers information bureau, published a series of articles on the Syrian Muslim Brothersofficial website under the titleThe Suspicious Iranian Safavid Persian Scheme in the Arab and Muslim Countries” (al-Mashrual-Irani al-Safawi al-Farisi al-Mashbuh fi Bilad al-‘Arab). The aim of these articles was to reveal the Iranian scheme and the true face of the ‘Alawi regime. In his articles, Dr. Yusuf begins with a description of how the Shi’ite Safavids took over Iran in 1501, and how their influence expanded to Iraq down to the present time. Außerdem, he emphasizes that the Iranianscruel treatment of the Sunni inhabitants under their rule is an illustration of their hate for the Sunnis.91
Actually, Dr. Yusuf’s allegations coincide with Khomeini’s declarations. In his speeches and religious sermons, Khomeini regarded some Sunni governments as illegitimate, claiming that the only truly Islamic state was Iran, and thus believing that Iran has the right to force these states (including by the use of violence), even those that claim to advocate Islamic law, to adopt reforms.92 In his sermons and speeches, Khomeini also attacked the Western powers, especially the United States and their allies (orpuppetsas he called them) in the region. He fiercely attacked Saudi Arabia, the unofficial leader of the Sunni world, for betraying Islam, as well as Saddam Husayn’s Iraq, which he regarded as an infidel, atheistic government.93 Khomeini’s death did not end the implementation of the Iranian scheme; his successors continued his legacy. The Muslim Brothers believe that the overthrow of Saddam coincided with the goals of Iran, which, according to the Brothers, is working inside Iraq more than ever to turn it into a Shi’ite state.94
Laut Dr.. Yusuf, what we are seeing now in countries such as Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Sudan, Yemen, Jordan, Syrien, and Lebanon is the implementation of the Iranian five-stage scheme. In Syria, zum Beispiel, the plan is being implemented under the protection of the Asad regime, and it is the duty of the Muslim Brothers to stop them andsaveSyria.95 On their official website, the Muslim Brothers elaborate and illustrate the Iranianconquestof Syria and their attempts to turn it into a Shi’ite state. “What is conquest?” they ask;
Is it the existence of foreign intelligence in the country that works side by side with local intelligence and controls it? Is it the existence of foreign weapons, troops, and military bases such as the Iranian weapons, troops, and military bases that exist in Damascus? Is not the massive Iranian missionary activity in the villages and the towns of Syria under the protection of the government an attempt to turn them into Shi’a? Is not taking over some regions, by buying them or by using force, and building shrines on them through the help of the government an attempt to turn Syria into a Shi’ite center? They say that they strive for ‘Muslim Unityand wage actions against the West and the Zionists to deceive the Muslim world and build their Empire.96
These allegations of the Muslim Brothers are refuted by the Syrian Grand Mufti, Ahmad Badr al-Din Hassun, who has stated that these allegations are false andridiculous,” rejecting their doubts that ‘Alawis are Muslims, and emphasizing again that the ‘Alawis, Isma’ilis, and the Druze are all true Muslims.97
The Muslim Brothers view the alliance between Syria, Iran, and Hizbullah (or theKhameine’i Party,” as they call it) as the implementation of the Shi’ite scheme, since the common link between the three is Shi’ism. According to the Muslim Brothers, Hizbullah’s provocative act, in which two Israeli soldiers were abducted in July 2006, precipitating that summer’s Israel-Hizbullah war, only caused the destruction of Lebanon because the war’s goals, such as freeing Lebanese prisoners in Israel and liberating the Sheb’a Farms, the Golan Heights, and Palestine, were never achieved.98 The only achievements of thisDivine Victorywere the death and injury of many innocent people, the crippling of the Lebanese economy, and the destruction of many houses and villages, which left thousands homeless. According to the Muslim Brothers, the Lebanese discovered that thisDivine Victorywas their destruction, rather than the destruction of the Zionist enemy.
The Muslim Brothers regard the war with Israel as a part of the Iranian scheme. The goal of the war was not to fight in Lebanon’s name, but to destroy the country as a preparatory step to taking it over by causing the fall of its legitimate government, and dominating the country in accordance with the Iranian scheme.99 To support his thesis, Dr. Yusuf relies on Iranian statements during the war, in which they declared that if the war extended to Syria, they would stand by the side of the Syrian regime. Außerdem, according to him, it is well known that the Iranians supplied Hizbullah with the weapons used in the war.100 To support their arguments, the Muslim Brothers also quote the words of the Secretary General of Hizbullah, Hasan Nasrallah, who, according to the Brothers, proclaimed that he is merely asmall soldierunder the service of the Imam Khameine’i and that his soldiers fought in the name of Khameine’i and the Imam Husayn (‘Ali ibn Abi Talib’s son), rather than in the name of God. According to the Muslim Brothers these statements are heresy, and Nasrallah’s loyalty is first and foremost to Iran and not to God or the Arab world. His army and military preparations, which were funded by the Iranians, will soon turn against the Arabs, and especially the Syrians, Lebanese, and the Palestinians. The Syrian Brothers believe that it is their duty to warn the Sunni world before it is too late.101
In March 2008, they sent a letter to the Arab leaders at the Arab summit held in Damascus complaining of the Syrian regime’s aggression against the Syrian people and the Syrian Muslim Brothers, underlining the alleged Shi’ite scheme that endangered Syrian identity and demography.102 The bloody clashes in Lebanon on May 7, 2008, when armed Hizbullahsoldiersturned their weapons against their fellow Lebanese, both Sunnis and Christians, only served to strengthen the claims of the Syrian Muslim Brothers that an Iranian-armed Hizbullah was planning to take over Lebanon to implement velayat-e faqih in Lebanon.103 However, during the June 7, 2009 elections in Lebanon, Hizbullah did not win, as most polls had anticipated. The election results were viewed by the Muslim Brothers as a victory for democracy.104 Some observers say that Hizbullah lost the elections because they had turned their weapons against the Lebanese, which they had promised they would never do, and because Nasrallah called this act of aggression aglorious day for the resistance,” stating that it would be easy for Hizbullah and its allies to govern Lebanon.105 Some say that this result was due to Western interference, while others say that it was Hizbullah that chose to lose the elections.
During most of 2008, the Muslim Brothers continued their attack against the Syrian-Iranian alliance, accusing Asad of allowing Iran to control Syria’s economy, politics, and army.106 According to them, there is a contest in the region between two main forcesIran and the United Statesbut Iran has the advantage because it shares the same religion with the people of the region. In their view, neither Israel nor the United States can compete with Iran in this sphere. Since many Muslims regard Iran as a strong Muslim state facing off against the Zionist/American program in the region, there are manycrazy advocatesof Iran, as they call them, who disregard much of Iran’s own program in the region and defend its overall regional policy.107 According to them, the different assassinations that took place in Syria, such as the assassination of Brigadier-General Muhammad Sulayman, Asad’s right hand man and security advisor, are warnings by a fretful Iran and Hizbullah to the Asad regime for making conciliatory gestures towards Israel, Libanon, and the West.108
The Syrian Muslim Brothers continued their attack against Iran’s hidden regional agenda, questioning the real reason for Iran’s eagerness to free Palestine: “Do they want to free Palestine for the Palestinians or for the velayat-e faqih and its interests in the region?”109 Aber, the Syrian Muslim Brothers faced a problem in late 2008 when Israel attacked the Gaza Strip. The prominent supporters of the Hamas government in Gaza were Syria, Iran, and Hizbullah, while Egypt faced heavy criticism for not opening its border with Gaza. Hasan Nasrallah attacked Egypt for its actions and accused it of complicity with Israel. The Egyptian government saw this as an intentional act by Hizbullah, with Iran’s backing, aimed at causing the fall of the Egyptian government. Hizbullah had attempted to undermine Egypt’s role as a leading Arab country, because Egypt had sought to preserve its relations with Israel rather than help the besieged Palestinians. For their part, during the Israeli attack against the Gaza Strip, the Syrian Muslim Brothers decided to suspend their actions against the Syrian regime,110 and this action was considered by some opposition figures as an act of rapprochement towards Damascus.111 Yet the Muslim Brothers were in an awkward situation: it was Syria, Iran, and Hizbullah, their enemies, who stood with the Palestinians, and they could not attack them anymore.
During the months that followed the Gaza Strip war, the Muslim Brothersattacks moderated. In March 2009 they published an article under the titleIs It Not about Time?” (“Ama ‘an al-‘awan?”), in which they revealed their disappointment at the cold reaction of the regime towards their attempts at rapprochement. They stated that they wanted to be able to return to their country, to work within Syria for what is best for the nation.112 Since 1982 the main leaders of the Syrian Muslim Brothers had been residing outside Syria, and neither they nor their children were allowed to return.
In April 2009, when a Hizbullah terrorist cell was caught in Egypt, relations between Egypt and Hizbullah deteriorated even further. The cell was intended to help the Palestinians in Gaza against Israel. Egypt accused Hizbullah of using its soil for terrorist actions and also accused it of spreading Shi’ism in Egypt.113 Like the Syrian Muslim Brothers, Egyptian President Husni Mubarak accused thePersians” (Iran) of trying to take over the Arab countries;114 jedoch, the Muslim Brothers did not make any statement regarding this affair.
Though the Syrian Muslim Brothers believe that Syria is endangered by the Shi’ite Asad regime and that it is their duty to awaken the Sunni community and save it from the Iranian-‘Alawi/Shi’ite scheme before it is too late, they have changed their behavior towards the government. Early in April 2009 they withdrew from theNational Salvation Front,” which had been formed in June 2006 under the leadership of ex-Vice President ‘Abd al-Halim Khaddam, since, according to them, this alliance only caused damage to their image.115 Khaddam accused them of seeking a rapprochement with Damascus and meeting with agents of the regime.116 Although the Muslim Brothers did not cease their attacks against the Asad regime, Iran, and Hizbullah, they became more moderate. It seems that after over 30 years as an opposition force outside of Syria, they understood that this caused them to be a weak opposition. Today, they no longer have an ally, such as Saddam Husayn, to support them, and the support they receive from some Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan, where some of the Muslim Brothers reside, depends upon the relations between these countries and Syria. When these relations are good, the Muslim Brothers are not granted the same privileges and the freedom to attack the Syrian regime as when relations are bad. They know that they cannot change the situation inside Syria while remaining outside it, and therefore they are striving to return to Syria. But so far the regime is not showing any flexibility in response to their conciliatory actions.
In the last few months we are viewing, to the dissatisfaction of the Muslim Brothers, signs of rapprochement between Syria and some Arab countries such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia, backed by a new American policy towards Syria which attempts to shatter its Iranian alliance and to isolate Iran in the region. The recent bloody disturbances that occurred in Iran after its presidential elections on June 12, 2009 – when the regime was accused of forging the resultsmight cause Syria to notice that its interests are with the West and the Sunni Arab countries rather than with Iran, where the future of the current regime is in doubt. The Syrian Muslim Brothers supported117 the presidential candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi, who stood for election in opposition to Asad’s ally, Mahmud Ahmadinejad.
Conclusion
The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has sought to emphasize the religious dimension of the triple alliance between Syria, Iran, and Hizbullah, since they see Shi’ite doctrine as the link among the three. The MB has claimed for several years that these allies portray themselves as protecting the Muslim world from the Zionists and the West, but they have relied on religious segregation to reach their goal. They carry the flag of protecting the Muslim world as a cover for their real intention, which is to take over the Sunni states. The MB has tried to stir up Sunni fears in Syria, and worldwide, of a possible Shi’ite takeover of Syria and other Sunni states. The fact that Iran, Syrien, and Hizbullah are regarded by many Muslims worldwide as the primary front against the Zionist/American program has minimized their ability to convince the Muslim world generally and Syrian Sunnis specifically of their claims. To their disappointment, the strategy they had adopted until recently has kept them from emerging as a strong opposition and as a possible future alternative to the existing regime.
As an opposition with a leadership residing outside Syria, they face a major problem because they have lost contact with the Syrians still living in the country and neither they nor their children have been allowed to return to Syria. Their attachment to their mother country is therefore becoming weaker as years go by, and they are viewed by many Syrians as outsiders. With the recent rapprochement in which the United States and the Arab states are courting Syria in order to advance the peace process and weaken its alliance with Iran, the MB has understood that they too should change their approach and adopt a new policy which will help them achieve their aims, since their previous strategy did not garner much success. Probably for this reason, during the past year we have witnessed a significant change in the attitude of the MB. For the first time after more than 40 years of attacking the Ba’th regime, and after 27 years in exile, they finally decided to suspend their opposition to the regime and President Bashar al-Asad. They now claim that the Muslim world is in danger and is under attack and that defending it is more important than fighting the regime in Syria; they do not call for an armed resistance of any kind inside or outside Syria. They also have left the SyrianNational Salvation Front,” which they now view as having damaged their image, particularly in their alliance with ‘Abd al-Halim Khaddam, who was for over 30 years one of the most powerful figures in the Syrian regime. They now emphasize that the suspension of their actions against the regime stems from their perception of a more significant threat to the Muslim world, das “open war against the Arab and Muslim States.They also emphasize, perhaps for the first time, that they do not hold President Asad responsible for the past, but they want changes in Syria for the benefit of the country and its people. Despite their denial that there is a rapprochement with Damascus, all signs show that the MB has moderated their attack against the regime. Despite these conciliatory gestures, some questions remain: Are these gestures genuine, or are they merely a tactical maneuver to allow the MB leadership to return to Syria and regain their hold inside it? Furthermore, will President Asad respond positively to these gestures and allow the MB leadership to return to Syria?
1. For more on the Nusayri religion seeA Catechism of the Nusayri religion,” in Meir Bar-Asher and Aryeh Kofsky, The Nusayri-‘Alawi Religion (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2002), pp. 163-199.
2. About the Nusayriya/’Alawi religion see: Bar-Asher and Kofsky, The Nusayri-‘Alawi Religion.
3. Daniel Pipes, “The Alawi Capture of power in Syria,” Middle East Studies, Vol. 25, No. 4 (1989), pp. 429-450.
4. Umar F. Abd-Allah, The Islamic Struggle in Syria (Berkeley: Mizan Press, 1983), p. 44.
5. Martin Kramer, Shi’ism, Widerstand, and Revolution (Boulder: Westview Press, 1987), pp. 237-238.
6. The largest denomination within the Shi’ite sect is Ithna ‘Ashriyya/Twelver Shi’ism, also known as Ja’fariyya or Imamiyya.
7. For more on the history of the ‘Alawis/Nusayris in the 19th century see Yvette Talhamy, “The Nusayriya Uprisings in Syria in the 19th Century,” PhD thesis, Haifa University, 2006.
8. Kais M. Firro, “The ‘Alawis in Modern Syria: From Nusayriya to Islam via ‘Alawiya,” Der Islam, Bd. 82 (2005), pp. 1-31.
9. ‘Ali ‘Aziz Al-Ibrahim, al-‘Alawiyun wa al-tashayyu’ (Beirut, 1992), pp. 87-88.
10. Gitta Yafee, “Between Separatism and Union: The Autonomy of the Alawi Region in Syria, 1920-1936,” PhD thesis, Tel-Aviv University, 1992, pp. 251-257.
11. For the fatwa see: Paulo Boneschi, “Une fatw? du Grand Mufti de J?rusalem Muhammad ‘Amin al-husayni sur les ‘Alawites,” Revue de l’Histoire des Religions [Review of the History of Religions], Vol. 122 (July-August 1940), pp. 42-54.
12. Husayn Muhammad Al-Mazlum, al-Muslimun al-‘alawiyun: bayna muftarayat al-aqlam wajawr al-hukkam (1999), p. 127
13. Sulayman Ahmad Khadir, al-Irfan, Vol. 37, No. 3 (März 1950), pp. 337-338.
14. Ayatullah Muhsin al-Hakim of Najaf assumed the ‘Alawis to be deficient in their understanding of the true religion and in need of additional guidance. Kramer, Shi’ism, Widerstand, and Revolution, p. 244.
15. Kramer, ed., Shi’ism, Widerstand, and Revolution, pp. 244-245.
16. Kramer, ed., Shi’ism, Widerstand, and Revolution.
17. Pipes, “The Alawi Capture of power in Syria,” p. 440.
18. Abd-Allah, The Islamic Struggle in Syria, p. 43.
19. Raymond A. Hinnebusch, “The Islamic Movement in Syria: Sectarian Conflict and Urban Rebellion in an Authoritarian-Populist Regime,” in Ali Hilal Dessouki, ed., Islamic Resurgence in the Arab World (New York: Praeger, 1982), p. 151.
20. Hinnebusch, “The Islamic Movement in Syria,” p. 157.
21. Eyal Zisser, “Hafiz al-Asad Discovers Islam,” Middle East Quarterly, Vol. VI, No. 1 (März 1999), p. 49.
22. Adrienne L. Edgar, “The Islamic Opposition in Egypt and Syria: A Comparative Study,” Journal of Arab Affairs, Vol. 6, No. 1 (April 1987), p. 88.
23. Raymond A. Hinnebusch, Authoritarian Power and State Formation in Ba’athist Syria (Boulder: Westview Press, 1990), p. 278.
24. Abd-Allah, The Islamic Struggle in Syria, p. 43.
25. Moshe Ma’oz, “Damascus vs. Washington: Between the ‘Axis of Eviland ‘Pax Americana’,” in Bruce Cummings et al, eds., Inventing the Axis of Evil: The Truth about North Korea, Iran and Syria (New York: The New Press, 2004), p. 183.
26. Robert Olson, The Ba’th and Syria, 1947 zu 1982: The Evolution of Ideology, Party and State from the French Mandate to the Era of Hafiz Al Asad (Princeton: Kingston Press, 1982), p. 169.
27. R. Hrair Dekmejian, Islam in Revolution: Fundamentalism in the Arab World (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1995), p. 107.
28. Mordechai Kedar, “In Search of Legitimacy: Asad’s Islamic Image in the Syrian Official Press,” in Moshe Maoz et al, eds., Modern Syria from Ottoman Rule to Pivotal Role in the Middle East (Eastbourne: Sussex Academic Press, 1999), p. 24.
29. Ma’oz, “Damascus vs. Washington: Between the ‘Axis of Eviland ‘Pax Americana’,” p. 182.
30. Martin Kramer, “Syria’s Alawis and Shi’ism,” in Kramer, ed., Shi’ism, Widerstand, and Revolution, p. 249.
31. Patrick Seale, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988), p. 352.
32. Hanna Batatu, “Syria’s Muslim Brethren,” MERIP REPORTS, Vol.12, No. 110 (November/ December 1982), p. 20. Musa al-Sadr was of Iranian origin, and was one of the opponents of the Shah of Iran.
33. Ma’oz, “Damascus vs. Washington: Between the ‘Axis of Eviland ‘Pax Americana’,” p. 182.
34. The Muslim Brothers accused and still accuse Asad of treason. According to them, during the 1967 war, Asad, who served as Minister of Defense, handed the Golan Heights to Israel without a struggle. http://www.ikhwansyria.com/index2.php2?option=com_content&task=view&id=2003&itemid=84.
35. The factions also split over questions of leadership. Edgar, “The Islamic Opposition in Egypt and Syria: A Comparative Study,” p. 88.
36. Middle East Watch, Syria Unmasked: The Suppression of Human Rights by the Asad Regime (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991), p. 8.
37. Middle East Watch, Syria Unmasked, p. 10.
38. Thomas Mayer, “The Islamic Opposition in Syria, 1961-1982,” Orient (1983), p. 589.
39. Middle East Watch, Syria Unmasked, p. 10.
40. Seale, Asad of Syria, p. 328.
41. Middle East Watch, Syria Unmasked, p. 15.
42. Middle East Watch, Syria Unmasked, p. 16.
43. Middle East Watch, Syria Unmasked, p. 17.
44. Dekmejian, Islam in Revolution, p. 109.
45. For the full manifesto translated to English see: Abd-Allah, The Islamic Struggle in Syria, pp. 201-267.
46. Middle East Watch, Syria Unmasked, pp. 17-21.
47. Seale, Asad of Syria, p. 331.
48. Middle East Watch, Syria Unmasked, pp. 17-21.
49. Middle East Watch, Syria Unmasked, pp. 10-13.
50. Seale, Asad of Syria, p. 335.
51. Seale, Asad of Syria, p. 337.
52. Ma’oz, “Damascus vs. Washington: Between the ‘Axis of Evil’ und “Pax Americana’,” p. 184.
53. Ma’oz, “Damascus vs. Washington: Between the ‘Axis of Evil’ und “Pax Americana’,” p. 185.
54. Ma’oz, “Damascus vs. Washington: Between the ‘Axis of Evil’ und “Pax Americana’,” p. 187.
55. Particularly the opposition to Muhammad Reza Shah’s rule.
56. Khomeini was expelled from Iran in 1964; he spent his exile years in Najaf, Iraq until 1978. When he was exiled from Iraq he moved to Paris, Frankreich.
57. Hussein J. Agha and Ahmad S. Khalidi, Syria and Iran: Rivalry and Cooperation (London: Pinter Publishers, 1995), p. 4. Khomeini was the Supreme Leader of Iran. The Supreme Leader is elected by the Assembly of Experts and is considered the ultimate head of the Iranian political and governmental establishment, above Iran’s President, who is elected by a direct public vote.
58. Abd-Allah, The Islamic Struggle in Syria, p. 184.
59. Abd-Allah, The Islamic Struggle in Syria, pp. 186-187.
60. Yair Hirschfeld, “The Odd Couple: Ba’athist Syria and Khomeini’s Iran,” in Moshe Ma’oz and Avner Yaniv, eds., Syria under Assad (London: Croom Helm, 1987), p. 105.
61. Joseph Kostiner, “Shi’i Unrest in the Gulf,” in Kramer, ed., Shi’ism, Widerstand, and Revolution, p. 180.
62. Kostiner, “Shi’i Unrest in the Gulf,” p. 184.
63. Kramer, ed., Shi’ism, Widerstand, and Revolution, p. 14.
64. Zisser, “Hafiz al-Asad Discovers Islam,” p. 52.
65. Middle East Watch, Syria Unmasked, p. 194.
66. Abd-Allah, The Islamic Struggle in Syria, p. 183.
67. Hinnebusch, Authoritarian Power, p. 285.
68. Batatu, “Syria’s Muslim Brethren,” p. 13.
69. Hirschfeld, “The Odd Couple: Ba’athist Syria and Khomeini’s Iran,” p. 115.
70. Hirschfeld, “The Odd Couple: Ba’athist Syria and Khomeini’s Iran,” pp. 113-114.
71. Jubin M. Goodarzi, Syria and Iran: Diplomatic Alliance and Power Politics in the Middle East (London: Tauris, 2006), p. 88.
72. Goodarzi, Syria and Iran, p. 144.
73. Agha and Khalidi, Syria and Iran: Rivalry and Cooperation, p. 81.
74. Goodarzi, Syria and Iran, pp. 200-206.
75. Goodarzi, Syria and Iran, p. 202.
76. Goodarzi, Syria and Iran, p. 204.
77. Goodarzi, Syria and Iran, pp. 212-217.
78. Goodarzi, Syria and Iran, p. 228.
79. http://www.ikhwansyria.com/index2.php2?option=com_content&task=view&id=203&itemid=84.
80. Sa’id Hawwa, al-Khuminyya: Shudhudh fi al-‘Aqa’id wa-Shudhudh fi al-Mawaqif [The Khumayniyya: Deviation in Beliefs and Deviation in Behavior] (Amman: Dar Amman li al-Nashr wa-al- Tawzi’, 1987).
81. Hawwa, al-Khuminyya: Shudhudh fi al-‘Aqa’id wa-Shudhudh fi al-Mawaqif, pp. 45-46.
82. Hawwa, al-Khuminyya: Shudhudh fi al-‘Aqa’id wa-Shudhudh fi al-Mawaqif, pp. 55-56.
83. ‘Ali Khameine’i also served as Iran’s President during 1981-1989.
84. President Rafsanjani was succeeded by Muhammad Khatimi (1997-2005) and later by Mahmud Ahmadinejad (2005 to the present).
85. In March 1991, after Operation Desert Storm, the Arab states of the GCC, Ägypten, and Syria participated in the Damascus meeting, issuing theDamascus declarationwherein they declared their intention to establish a deterrent force to protect Kuwait.
86. Agha and Khalidi, Syria and Iran: Rivalry and Cooperation, p. 65.
87. Agha and Khalidi, Syria and Iran: Rivalry and Cooperation, p. 31.
88. Agha and Khalidi, Syria and Iran: Rivalry and Cooperation, p. 87.
89. The letter was published on the following website: http://www.alburhan.com/articles. aspx?id=1568&page_id=0&page_size=5&links=False&gate_id=0.
90. This letter was sent from the opposition Iranian Sunni League in London and first published in al-Bayan magazine and later published in several Sunni and anti-Shi’ite websites, magazines, and newspapers. Those publications presented the letter as authentic and regarded the situations in Arab Sunni countries such as Egypt, Tunesien, Sudan, Yemen, the Gaza Strip, and others as the implementation of this Shi’ite scheme. The letter seems to be genuine, but one always should bear in mind that since it was published in Sunni media, its publishers may have had an ulterior, sectarian motive in publishing it. Sharif Qindil, http://www.alwatan.com.sa/news/newsdetail.asp?id=72921&issueno=2932.
91. http://www.ikhwansyria.com/index2.php2?option=com_content&task=view&id=1967&item id=84.
92. Marvin Zonis and Daniel Brumberg, “Shi’ism as Interpreted by Khomeini: An Ideology of Revolution Violence,” in Kramer, ed., Shi’ism, Widerstand, and Revolution, p. 50.
93. Zonis and Brumberg, “Shi’ism as Interpreted by Khomeini: An Ideology of Revolution Violence,” p. 52.
94. Ma’d Fayad, http://www.asharqalawsat.com/details.asp?section=45&issue=10398&articl e=419648.
95. Muhammad Bassam Yusuf, http://www.ikhwansyria.com/index2.php2?option=com_content& task=view&id=2223&itemid=84.
96. ‘Abdallah al-Qahtany, http://www.ikhwansyria.com/index2.php2?option=com_content&task =view&id=3638&itemid=5.
97. http://www.alaweenonline.com/site/modules/news/article.php?storyid=80.
98. Samir Quntar and four Lebanese prisoners were freed from Israeli prisons on July 16, 2008 in exchange for the bodies of the two abducted Israeli soldiers.
99. Muhammad Bassam Yusuf, http://www.ikhwansyria.com/index2.php2?option=com_content& task=view&id=2876&itemid=84.
100. Muhammad Bassam Yusuf, http://www.ikhwansyria.com/index2.php2?option=com_content &task=view&id=2876&itemid=84.
101. Faysal al-Shaykh Muhammad, http://www.ikhwansyria.com/index2.php2?option=com_cont ent&task=view&id=3564&itemid=5.
102. “Kitab maftuh ila al-qadah al-‘arab fi mu’tamar al-qimah,”http://www.ikhwansyrian.com/ index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7107&Itemid=141.
103. Muhammad Sayf, http://www.ikhwansyrian.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=vie w&id=7744&Itemid=141.
104. Zuhir Salim, http://www.ikhwansyria.com/ar/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k+cOd87MDI46m9rUxJEpMO+i1s7RTweb+m3DE7T3o5RBQP+8ftHmfmmpxlyq+8xpXUaWxXWcb /9jcWuI24e75yktXIABuVESOmQJmmy+mz/FVxNNqb9vKfB3u7HIZFUEhBMfok=.
105. Therese Sfeir, “Nasrallah hails May 7 ‘glorious dayfor Resistance,” Daily Star, May 16, 2009, http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=102027.
106. Muhammad Sayf, http://www.ikhwansyrian.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=vie w&id=8771&Itemid=141.
107. ‘Abdallah al-Qahtany, http://www.ikhwansyrian.com/index.php?option=com_content&task= view&id=8955&Itemid=141.
108. Muhammad Sayf, http://www.ikhwansyrian.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=vie w&id=10142&Itemid=141.
109. ‘Abdallah al-Qahtany, http://www.ikhwansyrian.com/index.php?option=com_content&task= view&id=11031&Itemid=141.
110. Zuhir Salim, http://www.ikhwansyrian.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id =11558&Itemid=141.
111.”Ab’ad al-inshiqaq fi jabhat al-khalas al-suriyya al-mu’arida,”http://www.ikhwansyria.com/ ar/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k+cOd87MDI46m9rUxJEpMO+i1s7+GaiuXiRmBqRtZgsgsy kAcSnsH3WAi1ZfnptOdZW9bNFwgladkbU8ynWKIGQnf3DCaCvEqPmpHzaNwy+OsX20i80 DFmQSFPDk5/3LB8PZt4=.
112. Hassan Riyad, http://www.ikhwansyrian.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view& id=12689&Itemid=141.
113. Bahiya Mardiny, http://www.elaph.com/Web/Politics/2009/4/428050.htm.
114. Ian Siperco, “Iran: Shia Tide Rising,” Middle East Policy Council,http://www.mepc.org/ resources/Siperco001.asp.
115. “Hawl al-mawaqif min jabhat al-khalas al-wataniya,”http://www.ikhwansyrian.com/index. php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12824&Itemid=141.
116. “Jama’t al-ikhwan al-muslimin tansahib min jabhat al-khalas al-wataniya al-suriyya al-muarida,” http://www.aawsat.com/details.asp?section=4&article=513896&issueno=11086.
117. On their site, the MB proclaimed that the Iranians were fed up with 30 years of velayat-e faqih and wanted change. The MB asked the international community to support the Iranian people in achieving this goal. They see Moussavi as a good man who was part of the Iranian Revolution, but who did not join any political party and is very supportive of the poor and stands against Ahmadinejad. For the MB’s support of the Moussavi see: Faysal al-Shaykh Muhammad, http://www.ikhwansyria. com/ar/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k+cOd87MDI46m9rUxJEpMO+i1s7JD1nshrHNqO0H sQSEugYBxUZbV5VAz3gJta60uHHeRODBb71fi57OOCRZWqfyddaMdPa0oJ3KiVLDZXzBX6R z64g+IgYmt6rZVzphhEtAAE=; Faysal al-Shaykh Muhammad, http://www.ikhwansyria.com/ar/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k+cOd87MDI46m9rUxJEpMO+i1s7s8FtXW84zfjioqY8b0a/ 8ULIQMnL/5rTaf970+zKegLai6vZaNUw5Nm5W4zTDKPiS+mxbaRqXbc+RmhnQO KarMvYUPw1FB4I0a/QmbboaOo=.
Dr. Yvette Talhamy is Fellow Teacher in the University of Haifa’s Department of Middle Eastern Studies. Her forthcoming publications will appear in the British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, and Chronos History Journal. She spent 2008-9 on a post-doctoral fellowship in Tel Aviv University’s Department of Middle Eastern and African History.
Copyright Middle East Institute Autumn 2009
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Talhamy, YvetteSyrian Muslim Brothers and the Syrian-Iranian Relationship, Der”. Middle East Journal, Der. FindArticles.com. 15 Dezember, 2009. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_7664/is_200910/ai_n42040707/
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http://findarticle The ‘Alawis of Syria are part of the Shi’a stream; this has led to an alliance with Iran, the center of Shi’ite Islam. This alliance aggravated the oppositionist Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (MB), whose members have been in exile since 1982. According to them, the alliance is a stage in a Shi’ite scheme to take over the Sunni countries, including Syria. Aber, during the past year the MB has changed their strategy, and we are currently witnessing a rapprochement between the Brotherhood and Damascus.The purpose of this article is to examine the attitude of the Syrian Muslim Brothers towards the ‘Alawi regime as a sectarian Shi’ite regime and as a part of a Shi’ite/Iranian scheme that intends to take over the Sunni worlThe Muslim Brothers of Syria, the prominent opposition to the current regime, are a Sunni Islamist movement, while the ‘Alawis, the current rulers of Syria, are defined as Shi’ites. This brings to the surface the old Sunni-Shi’ite schism wherein each accuses the other of deviation from the true path of Islam. The situation in Syria, in which a Shi’ite minority rules over a Sunni majority through the secular Ba’th Party, is considered unacceptable by the Sunni Muslim Brothers, who believe that this situation ought to be changedeven by the use of force. The Muslim Brothers believe that Syria should be ruled by Sunni Shari’a (Islamic law) and not by the heretic Nusayris, as the Shi’ite ‘Alawis are called. As a result of the violent Muslim resistance to the secular Ba’th regime during the 1960s and against the secular, sectarian Asad regime during the 1970s and 1980s, many Brothers were killed and imprisoned while the Brotherhood’s leadership left Syria and has never been allowed to return. Today the Syrian Muslim Brothers reside in London, under the leadership of ‘Ali Sadr al-Din al-BayanuniThe Nusayris of Syria

The ‘Alawis, the dominant elite of Syria, were known up until the 1920s as Nusayris. The term Nusayris is derived from the name Muhammad ibn Nusayr who lived in the ninth century. Ibn Nusayr claimed that ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law, was divine, and he placed him above the Prophet Muhammad. The Nusayris also believe in the Trinitarian concept of ‘A.M.S. (‘Ali. Muhammad. Salman.).1 They believe in the transmigration of souls, and they resort to religious dissimulation, or taqiyya. Since the 13th century they have inhabited the mountain region known after their name, Jabal al-Nusayriya (the Nusayriya Mountain) in northwest Syria and in the Hatay region in southern Turkey.2

For centuries, the Nusayris, though considered an extremist Muslim sect, were ill-treated by the local Syrian Sunnis and by successive Sunni governments, which considered them to be heretics outside of Islam. The Nusayris lived in isolation in their mountains, and their encounters with the local inhabitants, both Muslims and Christians, were rare. They did not cultivate their lands and lived by raiding neighboring villages and robbing travellers, which earned them a negative reputation.

At the beginning of the French Mandate period in Syria (1920-1946), the group changed their name to‘Alawis.Some researchers, such as Daniel Pipes, say that the French gave them this name in order to win them over to their side.3 Others argue that the Nusayris were the ones who wanted to change their name to‘Alawis,” meaning the adherents of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, which made them more closely tied to Islam.4 Adopting the name ‘Alawis and obtaining fatawa (legal opinions) that related them to Shi’ism were supposed to help them integrate with the Syrian Muslim population and end their heretic status. As Nusayris, they were regarded as an outcast sect, but as ‘Alawis, and the adherents of ‘Ali, they were part of Shi’ism and thus part of the Muslim community. Although during the French Mandate and the struggle for independence, Sunni nationalists had put national solidarity above religious allegiance and recognized the ‘Alawis as fellow Arabs, there were still many who referred to them asNusayris,” implying that they were disbelievers and extremists who are related neither to Sunni nor to Shi’ite Islam.5 However, unlike the Sunnis, the Shi’ites embraced the ‘Alawis and ultimately won their support.

The Sunni/Shi’a Schism

To understand the divisions between Shi’a6 and Sunni we must first understand the historical roots and doctrinal differences that led to this dichotomy. After the death of the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century and the internal disputes over who would inherit the place of the Prophet as leader of the Muslim community, a division occurred between the Sunnis and the Shi’ites. The disagreements between the two became particularly acute regarding the process of succession (vis a vis the Caliphate and the Imamate) and the role of Islamic law absent a clear Qur’anic statement on a certain matter.

Today the Shi’a are a minority in the Muslim world consisting of approximately 10%-15% of the population, including all the different sects such as Ismailis, Zaydis, and ‘Alawis. Although the ‘Alawis are considered a sect within the Shi’ite doctrine, there are few similarities between the Shi’ites and the ‘Alawis. They both revere ‘Ali and the 12 Imamsalthough they hold different views concerning themand they both resort to religious dissimulation (taqiyya), but the similarities end there. Beispielsweise, the Nusayris/’Alawis have many beliefs that are not accepted by the Shi’ites, such as the belief in the transmigration of souls, their placement of ‘Ali above the Prophet Muhammad, and their own religious books and ceremonies.

Yet their theological differences did not prevent the two Shi’ite-ruled states of Iran and Syria from becoming allies. Some regarded the alliance as being based on political, security, and economic interests, but the Syrian Muslim Brothers saw it differently. According to them, this alliance is only a stage in the Iranian/Shi’ite scheme of forming an Iranian/Shi’ite empire throughout the Muslim world with the purpose of taking over the Sunni world. Before continuing to examine the subject deeply we must first answer the question as to how and when the Nusayris became Shi’a.

Becoming Shi’a

For centuries the ‘Alawis/Nusayris had suffered both socially and economically under successive Sunni rulers. Under the Ottomans, who ruled Syria for 400 years, the ‘Alawis suffered greatly. Isolated in their mountain redoubts, living in ramshackle villages, they had to endure famine and poverty while being exploited by their mainly Sunni landlords, who held them in contempt and considered them infidels.7 After the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, Syria came under the French Mandate in 1920. This was seen by the Nusayris as an opportunity to obtain autonomy or independence in the region of the Nusayriya Mountain where they constituted the majority.

With the beginning of the French Mandate in Syria, the ‘Alawi leaders asked the French to give them their own state. The French, who pursued a policy of divide and rule, granted the ‘Alawis their own state, das “State of the ‘Alawis” (1920-1936) in the Nusayriya Mountain area along the coast of Syria, thus preventing the inner regions of Syria from having an outlet to the Mediterranean Sea. Though they enjoyed autonomy during those years, the ‘Alawis were divided among themselves. Some ‘Alawis, mainly those who were educated, supported a broader nationalism and desired the unification of the whole of Syria, while others supported separatism and wanted to keep their independent state. Among the separatists was ‘Ali Sulayman al-Asad, the father of Hafiz al-Asad. While the supporters of separatism relied on religious differences as the basis for their demand for an independent state, serious measures were made, mainly by the nationalist ‘Alawis, to stress their links with the Shi’ite doctrine.8

The ‘Alawis who supported nationalism saw that the only way to preserve their existence was through integration within a united Syria rather than having their own country, and they fostered this idea beginning in the 1920s. They realized that it was important for them first to be recognized as part of the Muslim community as Shi’ites. As Nusayris they were viewed as infidels by both Sunnis and Shi’ites, but as ‘Alawis they would become part of Islam and no longer be regarded as an outcast sect.

In 1926 the ‘Alawis took the first step towards becoming part of the Muslim faith when a group of ‘Alawi shaykhs issued a proclamation stating that: “Every ‘Alawi is a Muslimevery ‘Alawi who does not confess his Islamic faith or denies that the Qur’an is the word of God and that Muhammad is his Prophet is not ‘AlawiThe ‘Alawis are Shi’ite Muslimsthey are the adherents of the Imam ‘Ali.”9 In April 1933 a group of ‘Alawi ‘ulamaheld a meeting and issued a declaration connecting the ‘Alawis with Islam, and asked to be recognized in the population registers under the nameAlawi Muslims.”10 In July 1936 another major step was taken to support ‘Alawi integration into the Muslim faith when the Palestinian Mufti, Hajj Amin al-Husayni,11 a pan-Arabist who supported the idea of Greater Syria, issued a fatwa recognizing the ‘Alawis as Muslims. His fatwa was published in the Syrian newspaper al-Sha’b [The People].12 The aim of Hajj Amin was to unite all Muslim Arabs for one causeArab unity and the struggle against occupation by the Western powers. This fatwa was the first official religious decree recognizing the ‘Alawis as Muslims.

It was during this year that the ‘Alawis lost their independent, autonomous state and were annexed to Syria, which was then still under the French Mandate. During the Mandate (1936-1946), the ‘Alawis who supported separatism continued to demand that the French restore their independence, but to no avail. At the same time, the nationalist stream among the ‘Alawis was gaining strength. On one hand, the nationalist ‘Alawis continued to stress their connection to Islam, and on the other hand the Muslim community, both Sunni and Shi’ite, wanted to win them over to the cause of the Syrian nation-state by issuing several fatwas and declarations legitimizing the ‘Alawi sect as part of the Muslim faith. The French left Syria in April 1946, and the ‘Alawis who supported separatism knew that they had no alternative other than integration with the independent state of Syria.

Although during the 26 years of the French Mandate the ‘Alawis adopted Shi’ism, helping them become integrated with the Muslim world and in the Syrian nation, they had never learned its doctrines. In 1947, the leading Shi’ite authority in Najaf, Ayatullah Muhsin al-Hakim, decided to make the first formal step towards embracing the ‘Alawis and making them part of the Shi’ite community. In 1948, the first delegation of ‘Alawi students went to Najaf to study Shi’ite theology and to pursue legal studies.13 This step was unsuccessful, since the ‘Alawi students were faced with Shi’ite hostility and were viewed as extremists (ghulat), causing most of the students to drop out and return home. After this failure, a Ja’fari (Twelver) Society was established in Latakia, which undertook educational work and religious guidance, and inaugurated several branches in other towns such as Jabla, Tartus, and Banias.

Despite these actions, the ‘Alawis were still not regarded as true Muslims even by the Shi’ites, who believed that they needed more guidance.14 Between 1950-1960 some ‘Alawi students studied at the Sunni al-Azhar University in Cairo, which granted its graduates a diploma recognized in Syria.15 It was during those years that the Ba’th Party under ‘Alawi leadership seized power in Syria as a preliminary stage to taking over the whole of the country. As Martin Kramer puts it: “This situation was rich in irony. The ‘Alawis, having been denied their own state by the Sunni nationalists, had taken all of Syria instead.”16

The ‘Alawi Regime and the Syrian Muslim Brothers

There were two main channels that helped the ‘Alawis capture power in Syria: the socialist, secular Ba’th Party, which especially attracted the rural class and non-Sunni minorities, and the armed forces, where various religious minorities were over-represented during the French Mandate and continued to be so after their departure. The coup d’etats of March 1963 and February 1966, in which the ‘Alawis played a major role, marked the ‘Alawisconsolidation of power. The last Syrian coup occurred in November 1970, and was known as theAsad coup.”17 In 1971 Hafiz al-Asad became the first ‘Alawi President of Syria. Aber, some branches of the Syrian nation refused to accept this fact. These were mainly the Muslim Brothers of Syria who, von 1964 to today, are the main Syrian opposition to the rule of the Ba’th Party and to thesectarianrule, as they call it, of the Asad family.18 In 1945-1946, Dr. Mustafa al-Siba’i founded the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, which fought against the French for an Islamic state.19 During the first years after its establishment, the society published newspapers and literature and played an active role in Syrian politics. Within that same period the secular Ba’th evolved, and in contrast with the Muslim Brothers, who fought against secularization, it gained support from different sectors of Syrian society, especially among minorities, thus becoming the most important political party in Syria.

The secular doctrine of the ruling Ba’th Party only augmented the fears of the Sunnis, and clashes between the secular, socialist Ba’th and the religious Muslim Brothers were inevitable. In 1964, the Ba’th regime outlawed the Muslim Brothers, and its new leader, ‘Isam al-‘Attar, was exiled. During the same year a revolt led by the Muslim Brothers and other opposition factions, including socialists, liberals, and Nasserists, erupted in the city of Hama against the secular, rural, and minority nature of the Syrian ruling elite. The revolt was put down after a bombing of the city’s Al-Sultan Mosque, which caused many casualties.20

Clashes between the two sides were renewed in April 1967 when a young ‘Alawi officer named Ibrahim Khallas published an article in the army magazine Jaysh al-Sha’b (The Army of the People) under the titleThe Path Towards the Creation of a New Arab Man,” wherein he announced that belief in God and religion, feudalism, capitalism, imperialism, and all of the values that had controlled society should be placed in a museum.21 This article caused strikes and disturbances in different parts of Syria, which were led by the ‘ulama’, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood and even Christian clergy. As a result, Khallas was discharged from office.22 According to the Muslim Brothers, they opposed the Ba’th because it was a secular party. They believed that Islam should be declared the state religion and that Shari’a should be the basis of legislation.23 They also opposed Asad not because of his ‘Alawi origins, but because, in their view, his regime was sectarian, tyrannical, corrupt, oppressive, and unjust.24

During the 1970s, relations between the Asad regime and the Muslim Brothers deteriorated. In 1973, disturbances erupted again when the Syrian Constitution was publicized and did not designate Islam as the state religion. The Muslim Brothers demanded that Islam be the state religion, although it had never been designated as such. In 1950, the Syrian assembly announced the Syrian Constitution and, at the request of the MB, added a clause that the religion of the Head of State would be Islam. This clause was later omitted, and after ascending to the presidency, Asad reinserted this clause into the Syrian Constitution, but when the Constitution was introduced for public census, the clause was once again omitted. This act caused a wave of angry demonstrations organized by the Muslim Brothers, who referred to Asad as theenemy of Godand called for a jihad against him and against hisatheist and corrupt regime.”25As a result, Asad reinserted a clause into the Constitution thatIslam shall be the religion of the head of the state,” meaning that since he was the President, he considered himself a Muslim. Außerdem, during that same year, he ordered the printing of a new Qur’an with his picture on the frontispiece, to be called theAsad Qu’ran,” thereby arousing the anger of the Sunnis and the Muslim Brothers.26

Asad made many conciliatory gestures to gain the trust of the Sunni majority and the Muslim Brothers. He prayed in mosques on Fridays27 and on the main Muslim holidays such as ‘Id al-Fitr and ‘Id al-Adha.28 He abolished restrictions on religious institutions and allowed the construction of new mosques.29 In December 1972, he obtained a legitimization from Hasan al-Shirazi, an Iraqi Shi’ite cleric in exile in Lebanon, stating thatthe beliefs of the ‘Alawis conformed in every respect to those of their Twelver Shi’ite brethren.”30 Later, in July 1973, Musa al-Sadr, head of the Lebanese Shi’ite Supreme Council and a confidant of Asad,31 declared that the ‘Alawis were a Shi’ite sect,32 and the following year Asad performed the ‘umrah to Mecca. Asad also was declared a devout Muslim by the Grand Mufti of Syria, Shaykh Ahmad Kaftaru.33 But the Muslim Brothers still considered him a non-Muslim and led a violent struggle against the Asad regime.34

During the 1970s the Muslim Brothers also suffered from internal problems, splitting into two factions. One faction, which was in Jordan, opposed violent opposition, while the other faction, stationed in Aleppo, called for jihad against the Asad regime and for its replacement by a Sunni regime.35 From 1976 zu 1982, the Asad regime faced both secular and Islamist opposition. The intervention in Lebanon in 1976 and domestic problems such as inflation, official corruption, and the domination of the ‘Alawis in every sphere of life in Syria were the driving force for the opposition’s efforts to overthrow Asad’s non-Muslim, tyrannical regime.36 The Asad regime was viewed as a sectarian government in which an infidel religious minority ruled over the majority. According to the Muslim Brothers, this was an unnatural situation that ought to be changed.

In 1979 the Muslim Brothers carried out an armed attack against the Aleppo Artillery School where 83 young recruits, all ‘Alawis, were killed.37 The Minister of the Interior, ‘Adnan Dabbagh, accused the Muslim Brothers of being agents subservient to the United States andthe Zionist influence,”38 and as a result many Islamists were imprisoned and others were executed.39 In April 1980, armed clashes between the Muslim Brothers and the security forces occurred in the city of Aleppo. Using tanks, armored vehicles, and rockets, the government troops, backed by armed party irregulars,40 occupied the city after killing between 1,000 und 2,000 people and arresting some 8,000.41

In June 1980, the Muslim Brothers were accused of a failed attempt to assassinate President Asad, and as a result Rif’at al-Asad, the President’s brother, led a revenge campaign against the Muslim Brothers held in Tadmor (Palymra) prison, massacring hundreds of defenseless Islamist prisoners.42 The Muslim Brothers struck back by attacking ‘Alawi officials and placing car bombs outside government installations and military bases, killing and injuring hundreds. In response, the government carried out brutal reprisals against the Islamists. Many were arrested, summary executions were carried out, and thousands went into exile.43 In July 1980, membership or association with the Muslim Brothers was made a crime punishable by death.44

In November 1980, as the next step in their anti-regime struggle, the Muslim Brothers issued a manifesto that contained their detailed program for the future Islamic state of Syria. The manifesto included an attack against the corrupt, sectarian ‘Alawi regime of theAsad brothers,” and emphasized that a minority cannot and should not rule over a majority.45

The Hama Massacre

The city of Hama was one of the main centers of the Muslim Brotherhood opposition to the regime. The first encounter between the Muslim Brothers and the military in the city occurred in April 1981 when the Brothers ambushed a security checkpoint. In revenge, special forces units moved into the city and began a house-to-house search. About 350 people were killed, many fled into exile, others disappeared or were imprisoned, and clashes between the two sides continued.46 When Anwar al-Sadat was killed by Islamists on October 6, 1981, flyers were distributed in Damascus threatening Asad with the same fate, and the confrontation between the rival forces became inevitable.47 In February 1982, bloody clashes between the Syrian army and the Muslim Brothers occurred in the city of Hama, where about 100 government and party representatives were killed by the armed Brothers. Special forces were sent to the city to fight the rebels. The city was strafed by helicopters and bombarded with rocket, artillery, and tank fire. Large parts of the city were destroyed, leaving hundreds of people homeless. Many more deserted the city. Estimates of the number killed vary, but it is clear that thousands were killed or injured.48

In the same period, there were several violent demonstrations against the regime that were unrelated to the Muslim opposition. In March 1980, violent demonstrations against the government erupted in the small town of Jisr al-Shughur (between Aleppo and Latakia). The government regained control in the town after using mortars and rockets. Many houses and stores were destroyed and 150-200 people were killed. Demonstrations also erupted in Idlib, Ma’arra (März 1980), and Dayr al-Zur (April 1980).49

After the clashes with the Muslim Brothers, Asad felt that his position was in danger, and he accused Israel, Ägypten, and the United States of using the Muslim Brothers against him.50 In a speech that he gave on the 19th anniversary of the Ba’th revolution, Asad shouted, “Death to the hired Muslim Brothers who tried to play havoc with the homeland! Death to the Muslim Brothers who were hired by US intelligence, reactionaries and Zionists!”51

During the following years Asad decided to change his internal and external policy. Internally, many Muslim Brothers in Syria and abroad were granted amnesty, and many were released from jails. He also allowed the opening of new Qur’anic schools and the building of new mosques, and he lifted the restrictions on Islamic publications and dress.52 Externally, he was alienated since, in addition to his unfriendly relations with the West, his relations with some Arab countries, such as Iraq, Ägypten, and Jordan, were remarkably bad. He felt that he needed new allies in the region, and therefore began to enhance his relations with different countries and Muslim organizations. Among the countries with which Asad chose to strengthen his alliance was the Islamic Republic of Iran. Among the Muslim organizations that gained Asad’s support and hospitality were the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (Sunni) and the Lebanese Hizbullah (Shi’ite).53 After the peace treaties signed by Israel with Egypt and Jordan, and the unofficial relations between Israel and other Arab countries, Syria under the Asads (both father and son) remained the only frontline Arab country carrying the banner of the pan-Arab, anti-Zionist, and anti-Israeli campaign, thus gaining the support of the Arab population.54 However, the recent Syrian-Iranian alliance has aroused suspicion among the Arab population and leadership concerning the motivations for this alliance with the Shi’ite, non-Arab Islamic Republic of Iran.

Syria and Iran Become Allies

The relationship between Syria and Iran began in the 1970s. During those years the Syrian authorities accorded privileges and protection to some major Iranian opposition figures.55 In 1978, President Asad offered to receive the main Iranian opposition leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini,56 in Damascus after he was expelled from Iraq in 1978. Khomeini declined Asad’s invitation, and instead settled in Paris until the 1979 revolution, when he returned to Iran as head of state and became the only leader in the Muslim world to combine political and religious authority through the doctrine of velayat-e faqih.57 The Muslim Brothers in general, including those in Syria, supported the Iranian Islamic Revolution and saw it as a revolution of all the Islamic movements of the various schools and sects. Shortly after assuming his position, Khomeini began calling for Islamic revolutions across the entire Muslim world. The Syrian Muslim Brothers saw this as a positive step for change, and hoped that it would lead to a similar revolution in Syria and the overthrow of the oppressiveAsad rule.”58 Although the Brothers had publicly stated their support of the Iranian Revolution, to their disappointment the Islamic Republic of Iran maintained close relations with the Asad regime59 despite the fact that the Ba’th Party proclaimed itself to be a socialist, secular, Arab party whereas Iran was a Muslim, non-Arab theocracy.60

Since the 18th century, the Iranian Shi’ite ‘ulamahave enjoyed wide religious and political power, but during the 20th century the Pahlavi Shah of Iran, Muhammad Reza, took official measures to erode the position of the ‘ulama’. Following the revolution and the overthrow of the Shah, Iran became a kind of informal center for the Shi’a of different countries. The Iranians tried to export their revolution to neighboring Arab states, causing turbulence in Arab Gulf states with Shi’ite populations such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain. In 1981, the Iranians even backed an unsuccessful plot to overthrow the Sunni government of Bahrain, a country with a Shi’ite majority.61 Later, the Gulf region became an arena of terrorism against local and Western targets, and was shaken by suicide attacks. These Iranian terrorist actions in support of other Shi’ites led to a violent response by the Kuwaiti Sunni Muslim Brothers, who bombed Iranian offices in Kuwait. The Kuwaiti Brothers even denounced the Shi’a as anathema.62 Today, in retrospect, the Kuwaiti Brothers perceive these terrorist actions as part of a long-term Shi’ite scheme to take over the Sunni world.

It is hard to explain the reasons behind Khomeini’s preference for Asad over the Muslim Brothers, or as Martin Kramer puts it, “when religion is subordinate to politics, miracles again become possible, and Syria’s ‘Alawis may get recognition as Twelver Shi’is.”63

During the Iran-Iraq War (1980-88), Syrien, unlike other Arab countries, supported Iran, and the cooperation and strategic alliance between the two countries grew stronger in the following years.64 In exchange for their support, the Iranians supplied Syria with free petroleum products and oil at concession rates.65 In April 1980, when there were clashes between the Muslim Brothers and security forces in Syria, the Iranians condemned the actions of the Muslim Brothers, accusing them of conspiring with Egypt, Israel, and the United States against Syria.66 For their part, the Syrian Muslim Brothers, as well as the Kuwaiti Muslim Brothers, began to view Iran as a sectarian Shi’ite regime. Parallel with the growing ties between Syria and Iran, the Muslim Brothers of Syria supported and were supported politically and financially by the Iraqi regime under Saddam Husayn.67 In the 1980s, the attacks of the Muslim Brothers against the Islamic Republic of Iran intensified. In a book written by Sa’id Hawwa, the chief ideologist of the Syrian Muslim Brothers in the 1980s, he stressed that the People of the Sunna are the real Muslim community, thus widening the gap between the Muslim Brothers and Iran.68 In April 1982, a coalition of different Syrian opposition groups, including the Syrian MB, set up theNational Alliance for the Liberation of Syria,” which was backed by the Iraqi regime.69 During the 1980s relations between Iran and Syria remained generally close, despite the fact that some Iranian actions had aggravated the Syrians, such as the announcement of a four-stage plan for the establishment of an Islamic Shi’ite regime in Iraq in early 1982. In March of the same year, some Iraniantourists” (who were actually Iranian revolutionary activists) had visited Syria and distributed posters of Khomeini and hung religious slogans on the walls of the Damascus airport and its surroundings.70 Such actions caused a cooling in the relationship between the two countries, but since Iran was alienated from the rest of the region due to the war with Iraq, its relations with the Arab countries were nearly universally poor, making Syria too precious an ally for Iran to lose. The Iranian leadership did whatever was needed to maintain its alliance with Syria, the only Arab state with which it had good relations.

At present, the Shi’ite Hizbullah of Lebanon, currently under the leadership of Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah, is another ally of the Asad regime, constituting the third component of the Shi’ite triple alliance. In the early 1980s, while the Syrians were in Lebanon, the Iranians began to cultivate the Shi’ite community of Lebanon. Iran sent Shi’ite clerics to the country to indoctrinate the local Shi’ites with their ideology.71 Iran regarded Lebanon as fertile soil for exporting its revolution, and Hizbullah was the means through which Iran planned toovercomeLebanon in order to attack theZionistenemy, Israel, from the north, and to liberate Palestine. Iran supplied Hizbullah with money, weapons, and military and religious guidance,72 in addition to supporting health, education, and social welfare institutions.73

According to the Syrian Muslim Brothers, the basis of the alliance between the three parties – Syrien, Iran, and Hizbullahis their common Shi’ite doctrine. This allegation was not true in the 1980s, when the relationship between Hizbullah and the Asad regime was marked by tension. During the 1980s, relations between Syria and Hizbullah were indeed more of a rivalry than an alliance, despite Iran’s dissatisfaction with this lack of accord between her two allies.74 In February 1987, the Syrians even perpetrated a massacre against Hizbullah militiamen. After Hizbullah abducted a number of Western citizens, Syrian troops deployed in Beirut’s southern suburbs, where 23 Hizbullah members were subsequently killed. As a result thousands of outraged Lebanese Shi’ite mourners protested against Syria, with some even accusing it of conspiring with Israel.75 For its part, Iran never held Syria responsible for this action but rather attributed it to renegades within the Syrian army. But Iran, knowing this was not true, warned Syria that any action against its allies in Lebanon would be considered an attack against Iran.76

Despite the tension between the two states, Iran was careful not to lose its ally and continued to supply it with free or discounted crude oil. As it became increasingly isolated from the rest of the Arab and Western states, Iran’s relations with Syria became more valuable, especially since there were some diplomatic efforts made on the part of the Arab states to separate the two allies and restore Arab unity.77 During 1987, Iran faced another problem that needed Syrian mediation when Iranian pilgrims demonstrated in Mecca, resulting in bloody clashes with the Saudi security forces. In the incident, 275 Iranians and 85 members of the Saudi security forces were killed, causing a crisis in Saudi/Arab- Iran relations. This incident was regarded by Saudi Arabia as an Iranian plot intended to shake the foundations of Sunni Saudi Arabia. The situation deteriorated to a level where the Iran-Iraq War became regarded as war between the Arabs and the Persians.78

According to the Syrian Muslim Brothers, considering all the aforementioned violent actions committed by Iran in different Arab countries, the Shi’ite Iranians, under the cover of Islam, are more dangerous to the Muslim countries than the Zionists or the Americans. According to the Brothers, the latter’s plan is obvious, but the Shi’ite Iranians manage to obtain Sunni support by waving the flag of war against the Zionists and the Americans, while their genuine aim is to take over these countries and rebuild the Shi’ite Safavid empire.79

In 1987, Sa’id Hawwa, the chief ideologist of the Syrian Muslim Brothers, wrote a book called The Khumayniyya: Deviation in Beliefs and Deviation in Behavior (al- Khumayniyya: shudhudh fi al-‘Aqa’id wa-shudhudh fi al-Mawaqif), in which he presents the disappointment of the Muslim Brothers in the Islamic Revolution in Iran and exposes thedeviationof Khomeini. In his book, Hawwa quotes from works written by Khomeini himself that, according to Hawwa, reveal the deviation in Khomeini’s thoughts and Shi’ite beliefs. Hawwa goes so far as to regard the Shi’ites and Khomeini as a danger to the existence of the Sunni world, warning young Sunnis against believing the false statements of thisMuslim Revolution.”80 According to Hawwa, the purpose of this revolution is to take over the Sunni world and turn it into a Shi’ite world. To prove his claims, Hawwa points to the Iranian interference in Lebanon and its support for Shi’ite movements such as Hizbullah and Amal, and also presents the odd relationship between Iran and Syria. In his view, the main purpose of the Iran-Iraq War was toconquerIraq and turn it into a Shi’ite state, and then conquer the rest of the Gulf Arab states as a preliminary stage in taking over the whole of the Sunni world.81 Hawwa concludes his book by stating that the Shi’a are different from the Sunnis, their beliefs are different, their prayers are different, and whoever supports them is considered a traitor against God and his Prophet.82

The Iran-Iraq War ended in 1988, and Khomeini died the following year. ‘Ali Khameine’i, who had been Iran’s President, became its Supreme Leader,83 and Akbar Hashimi Rafsanjani84 was elected President, remaining in office until 1997. Rafsanjani and the Presidents who suceeded him, under the guidance of Khameine’i, pursued Khomeini’s legacy. In March 1991, the Arab states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Ägypten, and Syria participated in the Damascus meeting,85 and later on in October, the Arab countries, including Syria, participated in the Madrid peace talks with Israel. These actions caused tension between Syria and Iran, but after the failure of these talks, the tension between the two allies declined.86 During the 1990s, Syria also played an important role as mediator between Iran and the Arab Gulf states.87 Syria played a mediating role in the dispute between Abu Dhabi and Iran over Iran’s annexation of Abu Musa Island in the Persian Gulf in early 1992, and in the internal Shi’ite disturbances in Bahrain in early 1995.88

Until the 1970s, the ‘Alawis and later President Asad sought religious confirmation as Shi’ite Muslims from prominent Muslim leaders, and especially from Shi’ite leaders. After the Iranian Revolution and the imposition of religious rule, Iran sought an ally in the region, and Syria was that ally. It is fair to say that these two countries built their alliance out of mutual necessity. Over the years their alliance faced numerous obstacles, but managed to survive. Many elements contributed to the survival of this alliance, amongst them the failure of the peace talks in the Middle East, the Palestinian problem, and Western policy that seemed to favor the Israeli side, thus driving Syria to seek a strong ally as a counterweight. Asad’s commitment to the Palestinian cause did not change the attitude of the Muslim Brothers towards him, because they still regarded his regime as an oppressive, sectarian regime and sought to overthrow it, and his alliance with Shi’ite Iran only aggravated them and aroused their suspicions.

The Shi’ite Revolution

The Muslim Brothers of Syria view the ‘Alawi/Shi’ite Asad regime as a part of a Shi’ite/Iranian scheme intended to establish or restore the glory of the old Persian empire and impose Shi’ite doctrine in the various Arab and Muslim states. To support their claims of this purported scheme, they rely on an alleged secret letter that was published in 1998 by the Iranian Sunni League in London, and which they claim was sent from the Iranian Revolution Assembly to different Iranian provinces. This alleged letter included a very detailed five-stage Iranian/Shi’ite plan on how toexportthe Iranian/ Shi’ite revolution to other Muslim countries. The duration of each stage of this plan is ten years, with a total duration of 50 years. The plan’s goal is to unite the Muslims by striking at the Sunni regimes that consider Shi’ite doctrine heretical. According to the plan, controlling these countries would result in control of half the world.

The first step of this plan is: “To improve the relations between Iran and the neighboring Arab states. When the cultural, the economic and the political relations between Iran and those states are good, it will be easy for Iranian agents to enter those countries as immigrants.

The Iranian agents will buy houses, apartments, and lands and help their Shi’ite brothers living in these countries. They will foster good business and personal relations with the powerful figures in these countries, obey the laws of these countries, and obtain permits to celebrate their feasts and to build their own mosquesObtain local nationality through bribes or by using their connections. Encourage the young Shi’ites to incorporate themselves within the local administrations and to enlist in the local armyArouse suspicion and mistrust between the local authorities and the [Sunni] religious authorities by spreading flyers allegedly published by religious leaders criticizing the actions of the local government. This action would lead to friction in the relations between the two sides causing the government to suspect every act of the religious leaders.

The third step is: “After incorporation within the local bureaucracy and army, the task of the Shi’ite religious leaders, contrary to the local Sunni religious leaders, will be to declare publicly their loyalty to the local government, thus gaining their goodwill and trust. Then begins the step of striking at the local economy.

The fourth step is: When mistrust is caused between the religious and political leaders and the collapse of their economy, anarchy will prevail everywhere, and the agents will be the only protectors of the country. After building trust with the ruling elite, the crucial stage will begin by announcing the political leaders as traitors, thus causing their expulsion or their replacement by the Iranian agents. Incorporating Shi’a in the different governmental offices will arouse the anger of the Sunnis who will respond by attacking the government. The agent’s role at this point is to ‘stand bythe head of state and buy the property of those who decide to flee the country.

The fifth step is: “Help to regain peace in those countries by appointing a People’s Assembly, where the Shi’ite candidates will have the majority and will later take over the country, if not through those peaceful measures, then by causing a revolution. After taking over the country, Shi’ism will be imposed.”89

The Syrian Muslim Brothers used this letter to prove90 that the alliance between the ‘Alawi regime and Iran was actually a part of the Shi’ite scheme against the Sunni world. Dr. Muhammad Bassam Yusuf, a Syrian author of the Muslim Brothers information bureau, published a series of articles on the Syrian Muslim Brothersofficial website under the titleThe Suspicious Iranian Safavid Persian Scheme in the Arab and Muslim Countries” (al-Mashrual-Irani al-Safawi al-Farisi al-Mashbuh fi Bilad al-‘Arab). The aim of these articles was to reveal the Iranian scheme and the true face of the ‘Alawi regime. In his articles, Dr. Yusuf begins with a description of how the Shi’ite Safavids took over Iran in 1501, and how their influence expanded to Iraq down to the present time. Außerdem, he emphasizes that the Iranianscruel treatment of the Sunni inhabitants under their rule is an illustration of their hate for the Sunnis.91

Actually, Dr. Yusuf’s allegations coincide with Khomeini’s declarations. In his speeches and religious sermons, Khomeini regarded some Sunni governments as illegitimate, claiming that the only truly Islamic state was Iran, and thus believing that Iran has the right to force these states (including by the use of violence), even those that claim to advocate Islamic law, to adopt reforms.92 In his sermons and speeches, Khomeini also attacked the Western powers, especially the United States and their allies (orpuppetsas he called them) in the region. He fiercely attacked Saudi Arabia, the unofficial leader of the Sunni world, for betraying Islam, as well as Saddam Husayn’s Iraq, which he regarded as an infidel, atheistic government.93 Khomeini’s death did not end the implementation of the Iranian scheme; his successors continued his legacy. The Muslim Brothers believe that the overthrow of Saddam coincided with the goals of Iran, which, according to the Brothers, is working inside Iraq more than ever to turn it into a Shi’ite state.94

Laut Dr.. Yusuf, what we are seeing now in countries such as Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Sudan, Yemen, Jordan, Syrien, and Lebanon is the implementation of the Iranian five-stage scheme. In Syria, zum Beispiel, the plan is being implemented under the protection of the Asad regime, and it is the duty of the Muslim Brothers to stop them andsaveSyria.95 On their official website, the Muslim Brothers elaborate and illustrate the Iranianconquestof Syria and their attempts to turn it into a Shi’ite state. “What is conquest?” they ask;

Is it the existence of foreign intelligence in the country that works side by side with local intelligence and controls it? Is it the existence of foreign weapons, troops, and military bases such as the Iranian weapons, troops, and military bases that exist in Damascus? Is not the massive Iranian missionary activity in the villages and the towns of Syria under the protection of the government an attempt to turn them into Shi’a? Is not taking over some regions, by buying them or by using force, and building shrines on them through the help of the government an attempt to turn Syria into a Shi’ite center? They say that they strive for ‘Muslim Unityand wage actions against the West and the Zionists to deceive the Muslim world and build their Empire.96

These allegations of the Muslim Brothers are refuted by the Syrian Grand Mufti, Ahmad Badr al-Din Hassun, who has stated that these allegations are false andridiculous,” rejecting their doubts that ‘Alawis are Muslims, and emphasizing again that the ‘Alawis, Isma’ilis, and the Druze are all true Muslims.97

The Muslim Brothers view the alliance between Syria, Iran, and Hizbullah (or theKhameine’i Party,” as they call it) as the implementation of the Shi’ite scheme, since the common link between the three is Shi’ism. According to the Muslim Brothers, Hizbullah’s provocative act, in which two Israeli soldiers were abducted in July 2006, precipitating that summer’s Israel-Hizbullah war, only caused the destruction of Lebanon because the war’s goals, such as freeing Lebanese prisoners in Israel and liberating the Sheb’a Farms, the Golan Heights, and Palestine, were never achieved.98 The only achievements of thisDivine Victorywere the death and injury of many innocent people, the crippling of the Lebanese economy, and the destruction of many houses and villages, which left thousands homeless. According to the Muslim Brothers, the Lebanese discovered that thisDivine Victorywas their destruction, rather than the destruction of the Zionist enemy.

The Muslim Brothers regard the war with Israel as a part of the Iranian scheme. The goal of the war was not to fight in Lebanon’s name, but to destroy the country as a preparatory step to taking it over by causing the fall of its legitimate government, and dominating the country in accordance with the Iranian scheme.99 To support his thesis, Dr. Yusuf relies on Iranian statements during the war, in which they declared that if the war extended to Syria, they would stand by the side of the Syrian regime. Außerdem, according to him, it is well known that the Iranians supplied Hizbullah with the weapons used in the war.100 To support their arguments, the Muslim Brothers also quote the words of the Secretary General of Hizbullah, Hasan Nasrallah, who, according to the Brothers, proclaimed that he is merely asmall soldierunder the service of the Imam Khameine’i and that his soldiers fought in the name of Khameine’i and the Imam Husayn (‘Ali ibn Abi Talib’s son), rather than in the name of God. According to the Muslim Brothers these statements are heresy, and Nasrallah’s loyalty is first and foremost to Iran and not to God or the Arab world. His army and military preparations, which were funded by the Iranians, will soon turn against the Arabs, and especially the Syrians, Lebanese, and the Palestinians. The Syrian Brothers believe that it is their duty to warn the Sunni world before it is too late.101

In March 2008, they sent a letter to the Arab leaders at the Arab summit held in Damascus complaining of the Syrian regime’s aggression against the Syrian people and the Syrian Muslim Brothers, underlining the alleged Shi’ite scheme that endangered Syrian identity and demography.102 The bloody clashes in Lebanon on May 7, 2008, when armed Hizbullahsoldiersturned their weapons against their fellow Lebanese, both Sunnis and Christians, only served to strengthen the claims of the Syrian Muslim Brothers that an Iranian-armed Hizbullah was planning to take over Lebanon to implement velayat-e faqih in Lebanon.103 However, during the June 7, 2009 elections in Lebanon, Hizbullah did not win, as most polls had anticipated. The election results were viewed by the Muslim Brothers as a victory for democracy.104 Some observers say that Hizbullah lost the elections because they had turned their weapons against the Lebanese, which they had promised they would never do, and because Nasrallah called this act of aggression aglorious day for the resistance,” stating that it would be easy for Hizbullah and its allies to govern Lebanon.105 Some say that this result was due to Western interference, while others say that it was Hizbullah that chose to lose the elections.

During most of 2008, the Muslim Brothers continued their attack against the Syrian-Iranian alliance, accusing Asad of allowing Iran to control Syria’s economy, politics, and army.106 According to them, there is a contest in the region between two main forcesIran and the United Statesbut Iran has the advantage because it shares the same religion with the people of the region. In their view, neither Israel nor the United States can compete with Iran in this sphere. Since many Muslims regard Iran as a strong Muslim state facing off against the Zionist/American program in the region, there are manycrazy advocatesof Iran, as they call them, who disregard much of Iran’s own program in the region and defend its overall regional policy.107 According to them, the different assassinations that took place in Syria, such as the assassination of Brigadier-General Muhammad Sulayman, Asad’s right hand man and security advisor, are warnings by a fretful Iran and Hizbullah to the Asad regime for making conciliatory gestures towards Israel, Libanon, and the West.108

The Syrian Muslim Brothers continued their attack against Iran’s hidden regional agenda, questioning the real reason for Iran’s eagerness to free Palestine: “Do they want to free Palestine for the Palestinians or for the velayat-e faqih and its interests in the region?”109 Aber, the Syrian Muslim Brothers faced a problem in late 2008 when Israel attacked the Gaza Strip. The prominent supporters of the Hamas government in Gaza were Syria, Iran, and Hizbullah, while Egypt faced heavy criticism for not opening its border with Gaza. Hasan Nasrallah attacked Egypt for its actions and accused it of complicity with Israel. The Egyptian government saw this as an intentional act by Hizbullah, with Iran’s backing, aimed at causing the fall of the Egyptian government. Hizbullah had attempted to undermine Egypt’s role as a leading Arab country, because Egypt had sought to preserve its relations with Israel rather than help the besieged Palestinians. For their part, during the Israeli attack against the Gaza Strip, the Syrian Muslim Brothers decided to suspend their actions against the Syrian regime,110 and this action was considered by some opposition figures as an act of rapprochement towards Damascus.111 Yet the Muslim Brothers were in an awkward situation: it was Syria, Iran, and Hizbullah, their enemies, who stood with the Palestinians, and they could not attack them anymore.

During the months that followed the Gaza Strip war, the Muslim Brothersattacks moderated. In March 2009 they published an article under the titleIs It Not about Time?” (“Ama ‘an al-‘awan?”), in which they revealed their disappointment at the cold reaction of the regime towards their attempts at rapprochement. They stated that they wanted to be able to return to their country, to work within Syria for what is best for the nation.112 Since 1982 the main leaders of the Syrian Muslim Brothers had been residing outside Syria, and neither they nor their children were allowed to return.

In April 2009, when a Hizbullah terrorist cell was caught in Egypt, relations between Egypt and Hizbullah deteriorated even further. The cell was intended to help the Palestinians in Gaza against Israel. Egypt accused Hizbullah of using its soil for terrorist actions and also accused it of spreading Shi’ism in Egypt.113 Like the Syrian Muslim Brothers, Egyptian President Husni Mubarak accused thePersians” (Iran) of trying to take over the Arab countries;114 jedoch, the Muslim Brothers did not make any statement regarding this affair.

Though the Syrian Muslim Brothers believe that Syria is endangered by the Shi’ite Asad regime and that it is their duty to awaken the Sunni community and save it from the Iranian-‘Alawi/Shi’ite scheme before it is too late, they have changed their behavior towards the government. Early in April 2009 they withdrew from theNational Salvation Front,” which had been formed in June 2006 under the leadership of ex-Vice President ‘Abd al-Halim Khaddam, since, according to them, this alliance only caused damage to their image.115 Khaddam accused them of seeking a rapprochement with Damascus and meeting with agents of the regime.116 Although the Muslim Brothers did not cease their attacks against the Asad regime, Iran, and Hizbullah, they became more moderate. It seems that after over 30 years as an opposition force outside of Syria, they understood that this caused them to be a weak opposition. Today, they no longer have an ally, such as Saddam Husayn, to support them, and the support they receive from some Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan, where some of the Muslim Brothers reside, depends upon the relations between these countries and Syria. When these relations are good, the Muslim Brothers are not granted the same privileges and the freedom to attack the Syrian regime as when relations are bad. They know that they cannot change the situation inside Syria while remaining outside it, and therefore they are striving to return to Syria. But so far the regime is not showing any flexibility in response to their conciliatory actions.

In the last few months we are viewing, to the dissatisfaction of the Muslim Brothers, signs of rapprochement between Syria and some Arab countries such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia, backed by a new American policy towards Syria which attempts to shatter its Iranian alliance and to isolate Iran in the region. The recent bloody disturbances that occurred in Iran after its presidential elections on June 12, 2009 – when the regime was accused of forging the resultsmight cause Syria to notice that its interests are with the West and the Sunni Arab countries rather than with Iran, where the future of the current regime is in doubt. The Syrian Muslim Brothers supported117 the presidential candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi, who stood for election in opposition to Asad’s ally, Mahmud Ahmadinejad.

Conclusion

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has sought to emphasize the religious dimension of the triple alliance between Syria, Iran, and Hizbullah, since they see Shi’ite doctrine as the link among the three. The MB has claimed for several years that these allies portray themselves as protecting the Muslim world from the Zionists and the West, but they have relied on religious segregation to reach their goal. They carry the flag of protecting the Muslim world as a cover for their real intention, which is to take over the Sunni states. The MB has tried to stir up Sunni fears in Syria, and worldwide, of a possible Shi’ite takeover of Syria and other Sunni states. The fact that Iran, Syrien, and Hizbullah are regarded by many Muslims worldwide as the primary front against the Zionist/American program has minimized their ability to convince the Muslim world generally and Syrian Sunnis specifically of their claims. To their disappointment, the strategy they had adopted until recently has kept them from emerging as a strong opposition and as a possible future alternative to the existing regime.

As an opposition with a leadership residing outside Syria, they face a major problem because they have lost contact with the Syrians still living in the country and neither they nor their children have been allowed to return to Syria. Their attachment to their mother country is therefore becoming weaker as years go by, and they are viewed by many Syrians as outsiders. With the recent rapprochement in which the United States and the Arab states are courting Syria in order to advance the peace process and weaken its alliance with Iran, the MB has understood that they too should change their approach and adopt a new policy which will help them achieve their aims, since their previous strategy did not garner much success. Probably for this reason, during the past year we have witnessed a significant change in the attitude of the MB. For the first time after more than 40 years of attacking the Ba’th regime, and after 27 years in exile, they finally decided to suspend their opposition to the regime and President Bashar al-Asad. They now claim that the Muslim world is in danger and is under attack and that defending it is more important than fighting the regime in Syria; they do not call for an armed resistance of any kind inside or outside Syria. They also have left the SyrianNational Salvation Front,” which they now view as having damaged their image, particularly in their alliance with ‘Abd al-Halim Khaddam, who was for over 30 years one of the most powerful figures in the Syrian regime. They now emphasize that the suspension of their actions against the regime stems from their perception of a more significant threat to the Muslim world, das “open war against the Arab and Muslim States.They also emphasize, perhaps for the first time, that they do not hold President Asad responsible for the past, but they want changes in Syria for the benefit of the country and its people. Despite their denial that there is a rapprochement with Damascus, all signs show that the MB has moderated their attack against the regime. Despite these conciliatory gestures, some questions remain: Are these gestures genuine, or are they merely a tactical maneuver to allow the MB leadership to return to Syria and regain their hold inside it? Furthermore, will President Asad respond positively to these gestures and allow the MB leadership to return to Syria?

1. For more on the Nusayri religion seeA Catechism of the Nusayri religion,” in Meir Bar-Asher and Aryeh Kofsky, The Nusayri-‘Alawi Religion (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2002), pp. 163-199.

2. About the Nusayriya/’Alawi religion see: Bar-Asher and Kofsky, The Nusayri-‘Alawi Religion.

3. Daniel Pipes, “The Alawi Capture of power in Syria,” Middle East Studies, Vol. 25, No. 4 (1989), pp. 429-450.

4. Umar F. Abd-Allah, The Islamic Struggle in Syria (Berkeley: Mizan Press, 1983), p. 44.

5. Martin Kramer, Shi’ism, Widerstand, and Revolution (Boulder: Westview Press, 1987), pp. 237-238.

6. The largest denomination within the Shi’ite sect is Ithna ‘Ashriyya/Twelver Shi’ism, also known as Ja’fariyya or Imamiyya.

7. For more on the history of the ‘Alawis/Nusayris in the 19th century see Yvette Talhamy, “The Nusayriya Uprisings in Syria in the 19th Century,” PhD thesis, Haifa University, 2006.

8. Kais M. Firro, “The ‘Alawis in Modern Syria: From Nusayriya to Islam via ‘Alawiya,” Der Islam, Bd. 82 (2005), pp. 1-31.

9. ‘Ali ‘Aziz Al-Ibrahim, al-‘Alawiyun wa al-tashayyu’ (Beirut, 1992), pp. 87-88.

10. Gitta Yafee, “Between Separatism and Union: The Autonomy of the Alawi Region in Syria, 1920-1936,” PhD thesis, Tel-Aviv University, 1992, pp. 251-257.

11. For the fatwa see: Paulo Boneschi, “Une fatw? du Grand Mufti de J?rusalem Muhammad ‘Amin al-husayni sur les ‘Alawites,” Revue de l’Histoire des Religions [Review of the History of Religions], Vol. 122 (July-August 1940), pp. 42-54.

12. Husayn Muhammad Al-Mazlum, al-Muslimun al-‘alawiyun: bayna muftarayat al-aqlam wajawr al-hukkam (1999), p. 127

13. Sulayman Ahmad Khadir, al-Irfan, Vol. 37, No. 3 (März 1950), pp. 337-338.

14. Ayatullah Muhsin al-Hakim of Najaf assumed the ‘Alawis to be deficient in their understanding of the true religion and in need of additional guidance. Kramer, Shi’ism, Widerstand, and Revolution, p. 244.

15. Kramer, ed., Shi’ism, Widerstand, and Revolution, pp. 244-245.

16. Kramer, ed., Shi’ism, Widerstand, and Revolution.

17. Pipes, “The Alawi Capture of power in Syria,” p. 440.

18. Abd-Allah, The Islamic Struggle in Syria, p. 43.

19. Raymond A. Hinnebusch, “The Islamic Movement in Syria: Sectarian Conflict and Urban Rebellion in an Authoritarian-Populist Regime,” in Ali Hilal Dessouki, ed., Islamic Resurgence in the Arab World (New York: Praeger, 1982), p. 151.

20. Hinnebusch, “The Islamic Movement in Syria,” p. 157.

21. Eyal Zisser, “Hafiz al-Asad Discovers Islam,” Middle East Quarterly, Vol. VI, No. 1 (März 1999), p. 49.

22. Adrienne L. Edgar, “The Islamic Opposition in Egypt and Syria: A Comparative Study,” Journal of Arab Affairs, Vol. 6, No. 1 (April 1987), p. 88.

23. Raymond A. Hinnebusch, Authoritarian Power and State Formation in Ba’athist Syria (Boulder: Westview Press, 1990), p. 278.

24. Abd-Allah, The Islamic Struggle in Syria, p. 43.

25. Moshe Ma’oz, “Damascus vs. Washington: Between the ‘Axis of Eviland ‘Pax Americana’,” in Bruce Cummings et al, eds., Inventing the Axis of Evil: The Truth about North Korea, Iran and Syria (New York: The New Press, 2004), p. 183.

26. Robert Olson, The Ba’th and Syria, 1947 zu 1982: The Evolution of Ideology, Party and State from the French Mandate to the Era of Hafiz Al Asad (Princeton: Kingston Press, 1982), p. 169.

27. R. Hrair Dekmejian, Islam in Revolution: Fundamentalism in the Arab World (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1995), p. 107.

28. Mordechai Kedar, “In Search of Legitimacy: Asad’s Islamic Image in the Syrian Official Press,” in Moshe Maoz et al, eds., Modern Syria from Ottoman Rule to Pivotal Role in the Middle East (Eastbourne: Sussex Academic Press, 1999), p. 24.

29. Ma’oz, “Damascus vs. Washington: Between the ‘Axis of Eviland ‘Pax Americana’,” p. 182.

30. Martin Kramer, “Syria’s Alawis and Shi’ism,” in Kramer, ed., Shi’ism, Widerstand, and Revolution, p. 249.

31. Patrick Seale, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1988), p. 352.

32. Hanna Batatu, “Syria’s Muslim Brethren,” MERIP REPORTS, Vol.12, No. 110 (November/ December 1982), p. 20. Musa al-Sadr was of Iranian origin, and was one of the opponents of the Shah of Iran.

33. Ma’oz, “Damascus vs. Washington: Between the ‘Axis of Eviland ‘Pax Americana’,” p. 182.

34. The Muslim Brothers accused and still accuse Asad of treason. According to them, during the 1967 war, Asad, who served as Minister of Defense, handed the Golan Heights to Israel without a struggle. http://www.ikhwansyria.com/index2.php2?option=com_content&task=view&id=2003&itemid=84.

35. The factions also split over questions of leadership. Edgar, “The Islamic Opposition in Egypt and Syria: A Comparative Study,” p. 88.

36. Middle East Watch, Syria Unmasked: The Suppression of Human Rights by the Asad Regime (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991), p. 8.

37. Middle East Watch, Syria Unmasked, p. 10.

38. Thomas Mayer, “The Islamic Opposition in Syria, 1961-1982,” Orient (1983), p. 589.

39. Middle East Watch, Syria Unmasked, p. 10.

40. Seale, Asad of Syria, p. 328.

41. Middle East Watch, Syria Unmasked, p. 15.

42. Middle East Watch, Syria Unmasked, p. 16.

43. Middle East Watch, Syria Unmasked, p. 17.

44. Dekmejian, Islam in Revolution, p. 109.

45. For the full manifesto translated to English see: Abd-Allah, The Islamic Struggle in Syria, pp. 201-267.

46. Middle East Watch, Syria Unmasked, pp. 17-21.

47. Seale, Asad of Syria, p. 331.

48. Middle East Watch, Syria Unmasked, pp. 17-21.

49. Middle East Watch, Syria Unmasked, pp. 10-13.

50. Seale, Asad of Syria, p. 335.

51. Seale, Asad of Syria, p. 337.

52. Ma’oz, “Damascus vs. Washington: Between the ‘Axis of Evil’ und “Pax Americana’,” p. 184.

53. Ma’oz, “Damascus vs. Washington: Between the ‘Axis of Evil’ und “Pax Americana’,” p. 185.

54. Ma’oz, “Damascus vs. Washington: Between the ‘Axis of Evil’ und “Pax Americana’,” p. 187.

55. Particularly the opposition to Muhammad Reza Shah’s rule.

56. Khomeini was expelled from Iran in 1964; he spent his exile years in Najaf, Iraq until 1978. When he was exiled from Iraq he moved to Paris, Frankreich.

57. Hussein J. Agha and Ahmad S. Khalidi, Syria and Iran: Rivalry and Cooperation (London: Pinter Publishers, 1995), p. 4. Khomeini was the Supreme Leader of Iran. The Supreme Leader is elected by the Assembly of Experts and is considered the ultimate head of the Iranian political and governmental establishment, above Iran’s President, who is elected by a direct public vote.

58. Abd-Allah, The Islamic Struggle in Syria, p. 184.

59. Abd-Allah, The Islamic Struggle in Syria, pp. 186-187.

60. Yair Hirschfeld, “The Odd Couple: Ba’athist Syria and Khomeini’s Iran,” in Moshe Ma’oz and Avner Yaniv, eds., Syria under Assad (London: Croom Helm, 1987), p. 105.

61. Joseph Kostiner, “Shi’i Unrest in the Gulf,” in Kramer, ed., Shi’ism, Widerstand, and Revolution, p. 180.

62. Kostiner, “Shi’i Unrest in the Gulf,” p. 184.

63. Kramer, ed., Shi’ism, Widerstand, and Revolution, p. 14.

64. Zisser, “Hafiz al-Asad Discovers Islam,” p. 52.

65. Middle East Watch, Syria Unmasked, p. 194.

66. Abd-Allah, The Islamic Struggle in Syria, p. 183.

67. Hinnebusch, Authoritarian Power, p. 285.

68. Batatu, “Syria’s Muslim Brethren,” p. 13.

69. Hirschfeld, “The Odd Couple: Ba’athist Syria and Khomeini’s Iran,” p. 115.

70. Hirschfeld, “The Odd Couple: Ba’athist Syria and Khomeini’s Iran,” pp. 113-114.

71. Jubin M. Goodarzi, Syria and Iran: Diplomatic Alliance and Power Politics in the Middle East (London: Tauris, 2006), p. 88.

72. Goodarzi, Syria and Iran, p. 144.

73. Agha and Khalidi, Syria and Iran: Rivalry and Cooperation, p. 81.

74. Goodarzi, Syria and Iran, pp. 200-206.

75. Goodarzi, Syria and Iran, p. 202.

76. Goodarzi, Syria and Iran, p. 204.

77. Goodarzi, Syria and Iran, pp. 212-217.

78. Goodarzi, Syria and Iran, p. 228.

79. http://www.ikhwansyria.com/index2.php2?option=com_content&task=view&id=203&itemid=84.

80. Sa’id Hawwa, al-Khuminyya: Shudhudh fi al-‘Aqa’id wa-Shudhudh fi al-Mawaqif [The Khumayniyya: Deviation in Beliefs and Deviation in Behavior] (Amman: Dar Amman li al-Nashr wa-al- Tawzi’, 1987).

81. Hawwa, al-Khuminyya: Shudhudh fi al-‘Aqa’id wa-Shudhudh fi al-Mawaqif, pp. 45-46.

82. Hawwa, al-Khuminyya: Shudhudh fi al-‘Aqa’id wa-Shudhudh fi al-Mawaqif, pp. 55-56.

83. ‘Ali Khameine’i also served as Iran’s President during 1981-1989.

84. President Rafsanjani was succeeded by Muhammad Khatimi (1997-2005) and later by Mahmud Ahmadinejad (2005 to the present).

85. In March 1991, after Operation Desert Storm, the Arab states of the GCC, Ägypten, and Syria participated in the Damascus meeting, issuing theDamascus declarationwherein they declared their intention to establish a deterrent force to protect Kuwait.

86. Agha and Khalidi, Syria and Iran: Rivalry and Cooperation, p. 65.

87. Agha and Khalidi, Syria and Iran: Rivalry and Cooperation, p. 31.

88. Agha and Khalidi, Syria and Iran: Rivalry and Cooperation, p. 87.

89. The letter was published on the following website: http://www.alburhan.com/articles. aspx?id=1568&page_id=0&page_size=5&links=False&gate_id=0.

90. This letter was sent from the opposition Iranian Sunni League in London and first published in al-Bayan magazine and later published in several Sunni and anti-Shi’ite websites, magazines, and newspapers. Those publications presented the letter as authentic and regarded the situations in Arab Sunni countries such as Egypt, Tunesien, Sudan, Yemen, the Gaza Strip, and others as the implementation of this Shi’ite scheme. The letter seems to be genuine, but one always should bear in mind that since it was published in Sunni media, its publishers may have had an ulterior, sectarian motive in publishing it. Sharif Qindil, http://www.alwatan.com.sa/news/newsdetail.asp?id=72921&issueno=2932.

91. http://www.ikhwansyria.com/index2.php2?option=com_content&task=view&id=1967&item id=84.

92. Marvin Zonis and Daniel Brumberg, “Shi’ism as Interpreted by Khomeini: An Ideology of Revolution Violence,” in Kramer, ed., Shi’ism, Widerstand, and Revolution, p. 50.

93. Zonis and Brumberg, “Shi’ism as Interpreted by Khomeini: An Ideology of Revolution Violence,” p. 52.

94. Ma’d Fayad, http://www.asharqalawsat.com/details.asp?section=45&issue=10398&articl e=419648.

95. Muhammad Bassam Yusuf, http://www.ikhwansyria.com/index2.php2?option=com_content& task=view&id=2223&itemid=84.

96. ‘Abdallah al-Qahtany, http://www.ikhwansyria.com/index2.php2?option=com_content&task =view&id=3638&itemid=5.

97. http://www.alaweenonline.com/site/modules/news/article.php?storyid=80.

98. Samir Quntar and four Lebanese prisoners were freed from Israeli prisons on July 16, 2008 in exchange for the bodies of the two abducted Israeli soldiers.

99. Muhammad Bassam Yusuf, http://www.ikhwansyria.com/index2.php2?option=com_content& task=view&id=2876&itemid=84.

100. Muhammad Bassam Yusuf, http://www.ikhwansyria.com/index2.php2?option=com_content &task=view&id=2876&itemid=84.

101. Faysal al-Shaykh Muhammad, http://www.ikhwansyria.com/index2.php2?option=com_cont ent&task=view&id=3564&itemid=5.

102. “Kitab maftuh ila al-qadah al-‘arab fi mu’tamar al-qimah,”http://www.ikhwansyrian.com/ index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7107&Itemid=141.

103. Muhammad Sayf, http://www.ikhwansyrian.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=vie w&id=7744&Itemid=141.

104. Zuhir Salim,

105. Therese Sfeir, “Nasrallah hails May 7 ‘glorious dayfor Resistance,” Daily Star, May 16, 2009, http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=102027.

106. Muhammad Sayf, http://www.ikhwansyrian.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=vie w&id=8771&Itemid=141.

107. ‘Abdallah al-Qahtany, http://www.ikhwansyrian.com/index.php?option=com_content&task= view&id=8955&Itemid=141.

108. Muhammad Sayf, http://www.ikhwansyrian.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=vie w&id=10142&Itemid=141.

109. ‘Abdallah al-Qahtany, http://www.ikhwansyrian.com/index.php?option=com_content&task= view&id=11031&Itemid=141.

110. Zuhir Salim, http://www.ikhwansyrian.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id =11558&Itemid=141.

111.”Ab’ad al-inshiqaq fi jabhat al-khalas al-suriyya al-mu’arida, here

112. Hassan Riyad, http://www.ikhwansyrian.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view& id=12689&Itemid=141.

113. Bahiya Mardiny, http://www.elaph.com/Web/Politics/2009/4/428050.htm.

114. Ian Siperco, “Iran: Shia Tide Rising,” Middle East Policy Council,http://www.mepc.org/ resources/Siperco001.asp.

115. “Hawl al-mawaqif min jabhat al-khalas al-wataniya,”http://www.ikhwansyrian.com/index. php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12824&Itemid=141.

116. “Jama’t al-ikhwan al-muslimin tansahib min jabhat al-khalas al-wataniya al-suriyya al-muarida,” http://www.aawsat.com/details.asp?section=4&article=513896&issueno=11086.

117. On their site, the MB proclaimed that the Iranians were fed up with 30 years of velayat-e faqih and wanted change. The MB asked the international community to support the Iranian people in achieving this goal. They see Moussavi as a good man who was part of the Iranian Revolution, but who did not join any political party and is very supportive of the poor and stands against Ahmadinejad. For the MB’s support of the Moussavi see: Faysal al-Shaykh Muhammad, ; Faysal al-Shaykh Muhammad, .

Dr. Yvette Talhamy is Fellow Teacher in the University of Haifa’s Department of Middle Eastern Studies. Her forthcoming publications will appear in the British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, and Chronos History Journal. She spent 2008-9 on a post-doctoral fellowship in Tel Aviv University’s Department of Middle Eastern and African History.

Copyright Middle East Institute Autumn 2009

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

Talhamy, YvetteSyrian Muslim Brothers and the Syrian-Iranian Relationship, Der”. Middle East Journal, Der. FindArticles.com. 15 Dezember, 2009. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_7664/is_200910/ai_n42040707/

Qual der Stimmzettel

Marc Lynch

marc-akef

Moderate Islamist movements across the Arab world have made a decisive turn towards participation in democratic politics over the last 20 years. They have developed an elaborate ideological justification for contesting elections, which they have defended against intense criticism from more radical Islamist competitors. At the same time, they have demonstrated a commitment to internal democracy remarkable by the standards of the region, and have repeatedly proved their willingness to respect the results of elections even when they lose.
But rather than welcome this development, secular authoritarian regimes have responded with growing repression. Again and again, successful electoral participation by Islamists has triggered a backlash, often with the consent – if not the encouragement – of the United States. When Hamas prevailed in the Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006, the response was boycott and political subversion. When the Egyptian government cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood after elections in 2005, few outsiders objected.
As the door to democracy is slammed in their faces, how have the Islamist groups that embraced participation responded? In some ways, they have passed the test with flying colours. They have remained committed to democratic participation even in the face of massive electoral fraud and harsh campaigns of repression. Their leaders have affirmed their democratic ideals, and have often spoken out to reiterate their ideological and strategic commitment to democracy. Tatsächlich, they have often emerged as the leading advocates for public freedoms and democratic reform. And there is as yet little sign of any such organisation turning to violence as an alternative.
But in other ways, the toll of repression is beginning to show. Doubts about the value of democratic participation inside these movements are growing. Splits in the top ranks have roiled movements in Jordan and Egypt, among others. In many of the cases, a Brotherhood leadership which prefers a moderate, accommodationist approach to the regime has struggled to find a way to respond to the escalating pressures of repression and the closing down of the paths towards democratic participation. In Egypt, frustration over extended detentions of the most moderate leaders have tarnished the coin of those calling for political participation, with a rising trend calling for a retreat from politics and a renewed focus upon social activism and religious work. In Jordan, the influence of those seeking to abandon worthless domestic politics and to focus instead on supporting Hamas has grown.
Critics of the Brotherhood have pointed to these recent struggles as evidence that Islamists cannot be trusted with democracy. But this profoundly misreads the current trends. These crises in fact reflect a delayed response to the blocked promise of democratic participation. The Islamist debate today is not about the legitimacy of democracy – it is about how to respond to frustrated efforts to play the democratic game.
********************************
I recently spent a week in Amman, talking to most of the senior leaders of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood as well as a cross-section of the country’s political and journalistic elite. The picture that emerged was one not simply of an Islamist movement in crisis, but also of a blocked and deteriorating political system. The government was in the process of declining to call the Parliament back into session in order to force through its desired legislation as temporary laws of dubious constitutionality. Stories of social conflict among the tribes and of crushing economic problems amid spiralling corruption filled daily conversation.
The Jordanian Brotherhood, established in 1946, is one of the oldest and most deeply rooted branches of the global Islamist organisation. Unlike in many other countries, where the Brotherhood worked in opposition to those in power, in Jordan it played a crucial role for decades in supporting the Hashemite throne against external and domestic challengers. In return, it enjoyed a privileged relationship with the Jordanian state, including control over key ministries, and good relations with King Hussein in spite of his friendly ties with Israel and the United States.
When Jordan lost the West Bank in the 1967 war, it struggled to maintain its role in the occupied territories. In 1988, jedoch, as the Palestinian Intifada raged and threatened to spread to the East Bank, Jordan formally renounced its claims, severing its ties and concentrating on developing the East Bank and “Jordanising” the truncated state, a decision that was not accepted by the Brotherhood, which maintained ties with its West Bank counterparts.
When riots broke out throughout the country the next year, King Hussein responded with a remarkable democratic opening which revitalised the Kingdom’s political life. The Brotherhood participated fully in this process, and emerged in the 1989 elections as the dominant bloc in Parliament. The years that followed are fondly remembered in Jordan as the apex of political life, with an effective Parliament, a “national pact” establishing the ground rules of democracy and a vibrant emerging press.
In 1993, jedoch, the Jordanian regime changed the electoral law in a way that served to limit Muslim Brotherhood success. As it moved rapidly towards a peace treaty with Israel, the state began to clamp down on the Brotherhood and on all other forms of political opposition. Its interventions in the political process grew so extreme that in 1997 the Brotherhood’s political party, the Islamic Action Front, decided to boycott elections. After King Hussein’s death in 1999, the crown passed to his son Abdullah, who showed little interest in democratic reform, and in 2001 decided to suspend Parliament and rule by emergency law. While formal democracy returned in 2003, political reform efforts failed to gain traction. The extent of electoral fraud against the Brotherhood and other critics of the regime during the 2007 vote shocked even jaded observers.
The Jordanian crackdown has not reached the brutal levels of Syria or Tunisia (where the Islamist opposition was massacred or driven abroad). The Brotherhood continues to operate publicly, and the Islamic Action Front holds six seats in Parliament. But the gerrymandered electoral system and massive fraud has hamstrung Islamist political participation, to the degree that many believe that the Brotherhood is being dared to boycott.
Following the 2007 electoral debacle, the Brotherhood entered a period of intense internal unrest. It dissolved its Shura Council as penance for its fateful decision to participate in the election. The core issue was over how best to respond to the regime’s repression: through confrontation, or through a retreat and consolidation of the political strategy? In April 2008, the “hawkish” trend won the internal elections to the Shura Council by a single vote, and the pragmatic and domestically-orientated Salem Falahat was replaced by the fiery, Palestine-centric hawk Himmam Said. Said and the new head of the Islamic Action Front, Zaki Bani Arshid, steered the Islamist movement into more direct conflict with the regime, with little success. The reformist trend, led by the soft-spoken intellectual Ruheil Ghuraybeh, avoided open confrontation but advanced an ambitious programme to transform Jordan into a constitutional monarchy.
As the Brotherhood rank and file lost interest in a stalled domestic political process, they were simultaneously galvanised by the electoral success of Hamas and then by the visceral images of Israel’s war on Gaza. The growing interest in Palestinian issues at the expense of Jordanian politics worried not only the regime but also the traditional leadership of the Brotherhood. The leading Jordanian journalist Mohammed Abu Rumman argues that the issue of relations with Hamas has supplanted the traditional “hawk-dove” struggle within the organisation. While both trends support Hamas – “if you are not with Hamas, you are not with the Muslim Brotherhood”, explained one of the “dovish” leaders – they disagree over the appropriate organisational relationship. The “Hamasi” trend supports close ties and the prioritisation of Palestinian issues, and embraces a common Muslim identity over a narrowly Jordanian one. The “reformist” trend insists that Hamas, as the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, should have responsibility for Palestine while the Jordanian Brotherhood must be a national organisation focused upon domestic Jordanian issues.
This crisis came to a head over the issue of Hamas participation in the administrative structures of the Jordanian Brotherhood. Three leading reformists resigned from the Executive Office, triggering an as-yet-unresolved internal crisis that threatens one of the first serious internal splits in the history of the movement. The media has eagerly egged this conflict on; indeed, a number of Brotherhood leaders told me that what made the current crisis unique was not the issues at stake or the intensity of the disagreement, but the fact that for the first time it had become public.
********************************
The story of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood is many things, but certainly not a story of Islamists retreating from democracy. Similar dynamics can be seen in Egypt, where the Brotherhood’s leadership is similarly divided over how to respond to escalating repression. During multiple trips to Cairo in the last few years, I saw the growing frustration of a generation of reformists who found their every effort to embrace democracy met with force and rejection.
After “independent” Brotherhood candidates scored sweeping victories in the first of three rounds of the 2005 Parliamentary elections, government forces began to intervene to prevent further gains. Despite well-documented fraud and heavy-handed security interference in Brotherhood strongholds, the movement emerged as the largest opposition bloc with 88 seats. As Deputy Supreme Guide Mohammed Habib ruefully told me, their mistake was that they did too well – had they won 50 seats, perhaps they would not have triggered such harsh reprisals.
The subsequent crackdown matched the magnitude of the Brotherhood victory. A series of media campaigns aimed to scare mainstream Egyptians with alleged nefarious Brotherhood schemes (they were supposedly training an underground militia, conspiring with Hizbollah, and more). A wide range of leading Brotherhood figures, including noted moderates such as the financier Khairat el Shater and the intellectual Abd el Monem Abou el Fattouh, were detained indefinitely on trumped up charges.
For a while, the Egyptian Brotherhood held fast in the face of these provocations. They continued to try to participate in elections even as the fraud and overt manipulation mounted. Their Parliamentarians performed well as an opposition. They routinely expressed their ongoing commitment to democracy to every audience which would listen. And they imposed discipline on their own members to prevent the explosion of frustration into violence.
But over time, the pressure began to take its toll. The leadership reined in its freewheeling young bloggers, whose public airing of internal issues was being exploited by the organisation’s opponents. It adopted tougher rhetoric on foreign policy issues such as the Gaza war – attacking the Egyptian government’s enforcement of the blockade of Gaza – in part to rally its demoralised membership. Considerable evidence suggests that the cadres of the organisation were growing disenchanted with politics and preferred to return to the core social and religious mission. And growing voices from inside and outside the movement began to suggest retreating from politics until a more propitious time.
Earlier this month the conflicts inside the Egyptian Brotherhood leapt into the pages of local newspapers, which reported that the movement’s leader, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, had abruptly resigned his post in protest after conservatives refused to appoint the leading reformist Essam el Erian to an open leadership seat. Akef has denied the reports – but the portrait of a movement in turmoil is clear.
The Jordanian, Egyptian and American governments may see all this as something of a success story: the influence of the Islamists has been curbed, both in formal politics and in the social sector, and the restraint exercised by the Brotherhood leadership has meant the states have not faced a backlash. But this is dangerously short-sighted. The campaigns against Islamists weaken the foundations of democracy as a whole, not just the appeal of one movement, and have had a corrosive effect on public freedoms, transparency and accountability. Regardless of the fortunes of the movements themselves, the crackdown on the Islamists contributes to the wider corruption of public life. The growing frustration within moderate Islamist groups with democratic participation cannot help but affect their future ideological trajectory.
Sowing disenchantment with democratic politics in the ranks of the Brotherhood could forfeit one of the signal developments in Islamist political thinking of the last few decades. The failure of the movement’s democratic experiment could empower more radical Islamists, including not only terrorist groups but also doctrinaire salafists less inclined to pragmatic politics. The degradation of its organisational strengths could open up space for al Qa’eda and other radical competitors to move in. The alternative to Ismail Haniya might be Osama bin Laden rather than Abu Mazen, and the exclusion of Essam el-Erian may not produce an Ayman Nour.
Marc Lynch is associate professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. He writes a blog on Arab politics and media for Foreign Policy.

Moderate Islamist movements across the Arab world have made a decisive turn towards participation in democratic politics over the last 20 years. They have developed an elaborate ideological justification for contesting elections, which they have defended against intense criticism from more radical Islamist competitors. At the same time, they have demonstrated a commitment to internal democracy remarkable by the standards of the region, and have repeatedly proved their willingness to respect the results of elections even when they lose.

But rather than welcome this development, secular authoritarian regimes have responded with growing repression. Again and again, successful electoral participation by Islamists has triggered a backlash, often with the consent – if not the encouragement – of the United States. When Hamas prevailed in the Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006, the response was boycott and political subversion. When the Egyptian government cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood after elections in 2005, few outsiders objected.

As the door to democracy is slammed in their faces, how have the Islamist groups that embraced participation responded? In some ways, they have passed the test with flying colours. They have remained committed to democratic participation even in the face of massive electoral fraud and harsh campaigns of repression. Their leaders have affirmed their democratic ideals, and have often spoken out to reiterate their ideological and strategic commitment to democracy. Tatsächlich, they have often emerged as the leading advocates for public freedoms and democratic reform. And there is as yet little sign of any such organisation turning to violence as an alternative.

But in other ways, the toll of repression is beginning to show. Doubts about the value of democratic participation inside these movements are growing. Splits in the top ranks have roiled movements in Jordan and Egypt, among others. In many of the cases, a Brotherhood leadership which prefers a moderate, accommodationist approach to the regime has struggled to find a way to respond to the escalating pressures of repression and the closing down of the paths towards democratic participation. In Egypt, frustration over extended detentions of the most moderate leaders have tarnished the coin of those calling for political participation, with a rising trend calling for a retreat from politics and a renewed focus upon social activism and religious work. In Jordan, the influence of those seeking to abandon worthless domestic politics and to focus instead on supporting Hamas has grown.

Critics of the Brotherhood have pointed to these recent struggles as evidence that Islamists cannot be trusted with democracy. But this profoundly misreads the current trends. These crises in fact reflect a delayed response to the blocked promise of democratic participation. The Islamist debate today is not about the legitimacy of democracy – it is about how to respond to frustrated efforts to play the democratic game.

********************************

I recently spent a week in Amman, talking to most of the senior leaders of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood as well as a cross-section of the country’s political and journalistic elite. The picture that emerged was one not simply of an Islamist movement in crisis, but also of a blocked and deteriorating political system. The government was in the process of declining to call the Parliament back into session in order to force through its desired legislation as temporary laws of dubious constitutionality. Stories of social conflict among the tribes and of crushing economic problems amid spiralling corruption filled daily conversation.

The Jordanian Brotherhood, established in 1946, is one of the oldest and most deeply rooted branches of the global Islamist organisation. Unlike in many other countries, where the Brotherhood worked in opposition to those in power, in Jordan it played a crucial role for decades in supporting the Hashemite throne against external and domestic challengers. In return, it enjoyed a privileged relationship with the Jordanian state, including control over key ministries, and good relations with King Hussein in spite of his friendly ties with Israel and the United States.

When Jordan lost the West Bank in the 1967 war, it struggled to maintain its role in the occupied territories. In 1988, jedoch, as the Palestinian Intifada raged and threatened to spread to the East Bank, Jordan formally renounced its claims, severing its ties and concentrating on developing the East Bank and “Jordanising” the truncated state, a decision that was not accepted by the Brotherhood, which maintained ties with its West Bank counterparts.

When riots broke out throughout the country the next year, King Hussein responded with a remarkable democratic opening which revitalised the Kingdom’s political life. The Brotherhood participated fully in this process, and emerged in the 1989 elections as the dominant bloc in Parliament. The years that followed are fondly remembered in Jordan as the apex of political life, with an effective Parliament, a “national pact” establishing the ground rules of democracy and a vibrant emerging press.

In 1993, jedoch, the Jordanian regime changed the electoral law in a way that served to limit Muslim Brotherhood success. As it moved rapidly towards a peace treaty with Israel, the state began to clamp down on the Brotherhood and on all other forms of political opposition. Its interventions in the political process grew so extreme that in 1997 the Brotherhood’s political party, the Islamic Action Front, decided to boycott elections. After King Hussein’s death in 1999, the crown passed to his son Abdullah, who showed little interest in democratic reform, and in 2001 decided to suspend Parliament and rule by emergency law. While formal democracy returned in 2003, political reform efforts failed to gain traction. The extent of electoral fraud against the Brotherhood and other critics of the regime during the 2007 vote shocked even jaded observers.

The Jordanian crackdown has not reached the brutal levels of Syria or Tunisia (where the Islamist opposition was massacred or driven abroad). The Brotherhood continues to operate publicly, and the Islamic Action Front holds six seats in Parliament. But the gerrymandered electoral system and massive fraud has hamstrung Islamist political participation, to the degree that many believe that the Brotherhood is being dared to boycott.

Following the 2007 electoral debacle, the Brotherhood entered a period of intense internal unrest. It dissolved its Shura Council as penance for its fateful decision to participate in the election. The core issue was over how best to respond to the regime’s repression: through confrontation, or through a retreat and consolidation of the political strategy? In April 2008, the “hawkish” trend won the internal elections to the Shura Council by a single vote, and the pragmatic and domestically-orientated Salem Falahat was replaced by the fiery, Palestine-centric hawk Himmam Said. Said and the new head of the Islamic Action Front, Zaki Bani Arshid, steered the Islamist movement into more direct conflict with the regime, with little success. The reformist trend, led by the soft-spoken intellectual Ruheil Ghuraybeh, avoided open confrontation but advanced an ambitious programme to transform Jordan into a constitutional monarchy.

As the Brotherhood rank and file lost interest in a stalled domestic political process, they were simultaneously galvanised by the electoral success of Hamas and then by the visceral images of Israel’s war on Gaza. The growing interest in Palestinian issues at the expense of Jordanian politics worried not only the regime but also the traditional leadership of the Brotherhood. The leading Jordanian journalist Mohammed Abu Rumman argues that the issue of relations with Hamas has supplanted the traditional “hawk-dove” struggle within the organisation. While both trends support Hamas – “if you are not with Hamas, you are not with the Muslim Brotherhood”, explained one of the “dovish” leaders – they disagree over the appropriate organisational relationship. The “Hamasi” trend supports close ties and the prioritisation of Palestinian issues, and embraces a common Muslim identity over a narrowly Jordanian one. The “reformist” trend insists that Hamas, as the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, should have responsibility for Palestine while the Jordanian Brotherhood must be a national organisation focused upon domestic Jordanian issues.

This crisis came to a head over the issue of Hamas participation in the administrative structures of the Jordanian Brotherhood. Three leading reformists resigned from the Executive Office, triggering an as-yet-unresolved internal crisis that threatens one of the first serious internal splits in the history of the movement. The media has eagerly egged this conflict on; indeed, a number of Brotherhood leaders told me that what made the current crisis unique was not the issues at stake or the intensity of the disagreement, but the fact that for the first time it had become public.

********************************

The story of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood is many things, but certainly not a story of Islamists retreating from democracy. Similar dynamics can be seen in Egypt, where the Brotherhood’s leadership is similarly divided over how to respond to escalating repression. During multiple trips to Cairo in the last few years, I saw the growing frustration of a generation of reformists who found their every effort to embrace democracy met with force and rejection.

After “independent” Brotherhood candidates scored sweeping victories in the first of three rounds of the 2005 Parliamentary elections, government forces began to intervene to prevent further gains. Despite well-documented fraud and heavy-handed security interference in Brotherhood strongholds, the movement emerged as the largest opposition bloc with 88 seats. As Deputy Supreme Guide Mohammed Habib ruefully told me, their mistake was that they did too well – had they won 50 seats, perhaps they would not have triggered such harsh reprisals.

The subsequent crackdown matched the magnitude of the Brotherhood victory. A series of media campaigns aimed to scare mainstream Egyptians with alleged nefarious Brotherhood schemes (they were supposedly training an underground militia, conspiring with Hizbollah, and more). A wide range of leading Brotherhood figures, including noted moderates such as the financier Khairat el Shater and the intellectual Abd el Monem Abou el Fattouh, were detained indefinitely on trumped up charges.

For a while, the Egyptian Brotherhood held fast in the face of these provocations. They continued to try to participate in elections even as the fraud and overt manipulation mounted. Their Parliamentarians performed well as an opposition. They routinely expressed their ongoing commitment to democracy to every audience which would listen. And they imposed discipline on their own members to prevent the explosion of frustration into violence.

But over time, the pressure began to take its toll. The leadership reined in its freewheeling young bloggers, whose public airing of internal issues was being exploited by the organisation’s opponents. It adopted tougher rhetoric on foreign policy issues such as the Gaza war – attacking the Egyptian government’s enforcement of the blockade of Gaza – in part to rally its demoralised membership. Considerable evidence suggests that the cadres of the organisation were growing disenchanted with politics and preferred to return to the core social and religious mission. And growing voices from inside and outside the movement began to suggest retreating from politics until a more propitious time.

Earlier this month the conflicts inside the Egyptian Brotherhood leapt into the pages of local newspapers, which reported that the movement’s leader, Mohammed Mahdi Akef, had abruptly resigned his post in protest after conservatives refused to appoint the leading reformist Essam el Erian to an open leadership seat. Akef has denied the reports – but the portrait of a movement in turmoil is clear.

The Jordanian, Egyptian and American governments may see all this as something of a success story: the influence of the Islamists has been curbed, both in formal politics and in the social sector, and the restraint exercised by the Brotherhood leadership has meant the states have not faced a backlash. But this is dangerously short-sighted. The campaigns against Islamists weaken the foundations of democracy as a whole, not just the appeal of one movement, and have had a corrosive effect on public freedoms, transparency and accountability. Regardless of the fortunes of the movements themselves, the crackdown on the Islamists contributes to the wider corruption of public life. The growing frustration within moderate Islamist groups with democratic participation cannot help but affect their future ideological trajectory.

Sowing disenchantment with democratic politics in the ranks of the Brotherhood could forfeit one of the signal developments in Islamist political thinking of the last few decades. The failure of the movement’s democratic experiment could empower more radical Islamists, including not only terrorist groups but also doctrinaire salafists less inclined to pragmatic politics. The degradation of its organisational strengths could open up space for al Qa’eda and other radical competitors to move in. The alternative to Ismail Haniya might be Osama bin Laden rather than Abu Mazen, and the exclusion of Essam el-Erian may not produce an Ayman Nour.

Marc Lynch is associate professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. He writes a blog on Arab politics and media for Foreign Policy.

From the National

Published on October 30, 2009

Das Internet und islamistische Politik in Jordanien, Marokko und Ägypten.

The end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first saw a
dissemination of the Internet as a center of communication, information, entertainment and
commerce. The spread of the Internet reached all four corners of the globe, connecting the
researcher in Antarctica with the farmer in Guatemala and the newscaster in Moscow to the
Bedouin in Egypt. Through the Internet, the flow of information and real-time news reaches
across continents, and the voices of subalternity have the potential to project their previously
silenced voices through blogs, websites and social networking sites. Political organizations
across the left-right continuum have targeted the Internet as the political mobilizer of the future,
and governments now provide access to historical documents, party platforms, und
administrative papers through their sites. Ähnlich, religious groups display their beliefs online
through official sites, and forums allow members from across the globe to debate issues of
eschatology, orthopraxy and any number of nuanced theological issues. Fusing the two, Islamist
political organizations have made their presence known through sophisticated websites detailing
their political platforms, relevant news stories, and religiously oriented material discussing their
theological views. This paper will specifically examine this nexus – the use of the Internet by
Islamist political organizations in the Middle East in the countries of Jordan, Morocco and
Ägypten.
Although a wide range of Islamist political organizations utilize the Internet as a forum to
publicize their views and create a national or international reputation, the methods and intentions
of these groups vary greatly and depend on the nature of the organization. This paper will
examine the use of the Internet by three ‘moderate’ Islamist parties: the Islamic Action Front in
2
Jordan, the Justice and Development Party in Morocco and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
As these three parties have increased their political sophistication and reputation, both at home
and abroad, they have increasingly utilized the Internet for a variety of purposes. First, Islamist
organizations have used the Internet as a contemporary extension of the public sphere, a sphere
through which parties frame, communicate and institutionalize ideas to a broader public.
Secondly, the Internet provides Islamist organizations an unfiltered forum through which
officials may promote and advertise their positions and views, as well as circumvent local media
restrictions imposed by the state. Schließlich, the Internet allows Islamist organizations to present a
counterhegemonic discourse in opposition to the ruling regime or monarchy or on display to an
international audience. This third motivation applies most specifically to the Muslim
Brüderlichkeit, which presents a sophisticated English language website designed in a Western
style and tailored to reach a selective audience of scholars, politicians and journalists. The MB
has excelled in this so-called “bridgeblogging” 1 and has set the standard for Islamist parties
attempting to influence international perceptions of their positions and work. The content varies
between the Arabic and English versions of the site, and will be examined further in the section
on the Muslim Brotherhood. These three goals overlap significantly in both their intentions and
desired outcomes; jedoch, each goal targets a different actor: the public, the media, and the
Regime. Following an analysis of these three areas, this paper will proceed into a case study
analysis of the websites of the IAF, the PJD and the Muslim Brotherhood.
1

Andrew Helms

Ikhwanweb

The end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first saw a dissemination of the Internet as a center of communication, information, entertainment and commerce.

The spread of the Internet reached all four corners of the globe, connecting the researcher in Antarctica with the farmer in Guatemala and the newscaster in Moscow to the Bedouin in Egypt.

Through the Internet, the flow of information and real-time news reaches across continents, and the voices of subalternity have the potential to project their previously silenced voices through blogs, websites and social networking sites.

Political organizations across the left-right continuum have targeted the Internet as the political mobilizer of the future, and governments now provide access to historical documents, party platforms, and administrative papers through their sites. Ähnlich, religious groups display their beliefs online through official sites, and forums allow members from across the globe to debate issues of eschatology, orthopraxy and any number of nuanced theological issues.

Fusing the two, Islamist political organizations have made their presence known through sophisticated websites detailing their political platforms, relevant news stories, and religiously oriented material discussing their theological views. This paper will specifically examine this nexus – the use of the Internet by Islamist political organizations in the Middle East in the countries of Jordan, Marokko und Ägypten.

Although a wide range of Islamist political organizations utilize the Internet as a forum to publicize their views and create a national or international reputation, the methods and intentions of these groups vary greatly and depend on the nature of the organization.

This paper will examine the use of the Internet by three ‘moderate’ Islamist parties: the Islamic Action Front in Jordan, the Justice and Development Party in Morocco and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. As these three parties have increased their political sophistication and reputation, both at home and abroad, they have increasingly utilized the Internet for a variety of purposes.

First, Islamist organizations have used the Internet as a contemporary extension of the public sphere, a sphere through which parties frame, communicate and institutionalize ideas to a broader public.

Secondly, the Internet provides Islamist organizations an unfiltered forum through which officials may promote and advertise their positions and views, as well as circumvent local media restrictions imposed by the state.

Schließlich, the Internet allows Islamist organizations to present a counterhegemonic discourse in opposition to the ruling regime or monarchy or on display to an international audience. This third motivation applies most specifically to the Muslim Brotherhood, which presents a sophisticated English language website designed in a Western style and tailored to reach a selective audience of scholars, politicians and journalists.

The MB has excelled in this so-called “bridgeblogging” 1 and has set the standard for Islamist parties attempting to influence international perceptions of their positions and work. The content varies between the Arabic and English versions of the site, and will be examined further in the section on the Muslim Brotherhood.

These three goals overlap significantly in both their intentions and desired outcomes; jedoch, each goal targets a different actor: the public, the media, and the regime. Following an analysis of these three areas, this paper will proceed into a case study analysis of the websites of the IAF, the PJD and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Islamistischen Bewegungen im Nahen Osten: Ägypten als Fallstudie

ÖZLEM TÜR KAVLİ

Akef

The Islamic challenge remains a central issue within the ongoing debate on the nature of Middle East
politics. As the main opposition to government policies, the Islamic movements enjoy widespread
popularity, especially among the lower echelons of those populations —people who are
economically or politically alienated. Egypt has been a pioneer of Arab countries in many aspects of
economic, political and cultural development. It has also been the pioneer in the rise of Islamic
movements and the state’s fight with these groups. The aim of this paper is to look at Egypt as a case
study in Middle East’s Islamist movements in general.
The first part of this paper looks briefly at nineteenth century Islamic reformers who had an impact
on the development of modern Islamic movements. In the second part, the focus will be on the
formation of the Islamic movements and their cadres and main ideologies. The third part looks at
contemporary movements and their position in Egyptian society.
ISLAMIC REFORMISTS
Islamic reformism is a modern movement that came into the scene in the nineteenth century as a
reaction to European supremacy and expansion. It was during this period that Muslim religious
leaders and politicians began to realise that their state of affairs was inferior to that of Europe and
was in steady decline. Although Islam has suffered many defeats by Europeans, it was in the
nineteenth century that Muslims felt for the first time their weakness and decline and the need to
borrow from their ‘enemy’. This painful awareness made Muslim intellectuals think about the
defects and the weaknesses they were suffering from and they started to search for a remedy.1 On the
one hand, Islamic reformists embarked on studies of Europe’s pre-industrial phase in order to trace
ways of building a strong state and economy. On the other, they sought viable cultural paradigms
capable of checking the dominance of Europe. The Islamic reformist movement was an urban
movement and tried to establish strategies for the development of the Muslim world. The frustration
of the early reformists with the status quo did not entail a demonising of the West or even a rejection
of modernisation per se. In their quest for progress, Jamal Al-Din Al-Afghani and Mohammad
Abduh looked upon the West both as a model and as a rival. They perceived the challenge the
Umma, the Muslim community, was facing as shaped by a need to readjust their worldview to the
realities of the approaching new age. The Muslim people were given priority as citizens, whereas
Islam as a normative system “assumed the role of a defensive weapon that had to be restored in order
to stop deterioration and check the decline”.2 Rashid Rida had more radical views about society as
being corrupt and the heads of Arab states as being the apostates of Islam and he supported the
implementation of Koranic punishments. These three reformists desired to bring back the glory of
Islam by embracing ijtihad, rejecting the superstitions of popular religion and the stagnant thinking
of the ulama. They aimed at “creating a synthesis of Islam and the modern West rather than a
purified society constructed primarily along Islamic lines”.3 It is ironic that these reformists became
the founding ideologues of the Islamic movements that demand strictly purified Islamic
communities.

The Islamic challenge remains a central issue within the ongoing debate on the nature of Middle East politics. As the main opposition to government policies, the Islamic movements enjoy widespread popularity, especially among the lower echelons of those populations —people who are economically or politically alienated.

Egypt has been a pioneer of Arab countries in many aspects of economic, political and cultural development. It has also been the pioneer in the rise of Islamic movements and the state’s fight with these groups. The aim of this paper is to look at Egypt as a case study in Middle East’s Islamist movements in general.

The first part of this paper looks briefly at nineteenth century Islamic reformers who had an impact on the development of modern Islamic movements. In the second part, the focus will be on the formation of the Islamic movements and their cadres and main ideologies. The third part looks at contemporary movements and their position in Egyptian society.

ISLAMIC REFORMISTS

Islamic reformism is a modern movement that came into the scene in the nineteenth century as a reaction to European supremacy and expansion.

It was during this period that Muslim religious leaders and politicians began to realise that their state of affairs was inferior to that of Europe and was in steady decline. Although Islam has suffered many defeats by Europeans, it was in the nineteenth century that Muslims felt for the first time their weakness and decline and the need to borrow from their ‘enemy’.

This painful awareness made Muslim intellectuals think about the defects and the weaknesses they were suffering from and they started to search for a remedy.On the one hand, Islamic reformists embarked on studies of Europe’s pre-industrial phase in order to trace ways of building a strong state and economy. On the other, they sought viable cultural paradigms capable of checking the dominance of Europe.

The Islamic reformist movement was an urban movement and tried to establish strategies for the development of the Muslim world. The frustration of the early reformists with the status quo did not entail a demonising of the West or even a rejection of modernisation per se.

In their quest for progress, Jamal Al-Din Al-Afghani and Mohammad Abduh looked upon the West both as a model and as a rival. They perceived the challenge the Umma, the Muslim community, was facing as shaped by a need to readjust their worldview to the realities of the approaching new age.

The Muslim people were given priority as citizens, whereas Islam as a normative system “assumed the role of a defensive weapon that had to be restored in order to stop deterioration and check the decline”. Rashid Rida had more radical views about society as being corrupt and the heads of Arab states as being the apostates of Islam and he supported the implementation of Koranic punishments.

These three reformists desired to bring back the glory of Islam by embracing ijtihad, rejecting the superstitions of popular religion and the stagnant thinking of the ulama. They aimed at “creating a synthesis of Islam and the modern West rather than a purified society constructed primarily along Islamic lines”.

It is ironic that these reformists became the founding ideologues of the Islamic movements that demand strictly purified Islamic communities.

Die Muslimbruderschaft in den Vereinigten Staaten

MBusThe leadership of the U.S. Muslimbruderschaft (MB, or Ikhwan) has said that its goal
was and is jihad aimed at destroying the U.S. from within. The Brotherhood leadership has
also said that the means of achieving this goal is to establish Islamic organizations in the
US-. under the control of the Muslim Brotherhood. Since the early 1960s, the Brotherhood has
constructed an elaborate covert organizational infrastructure on which was built a set of public or
“front” organizations. Die aktuelle US-. Bruderschaft Führung hat versucht, diese Geschichte zu leugnen,
both claiming that it is not accurate and at the same time that saying that it represents an older
form of thought inside the Brotherhood. An examination of public and private Brotherhood documents,
jedoch, indicates that this history is both accurate and that the Brotherhood has taken
no action to demonstrate change in its mode of thought and/or activity.sss

Steven MerleyMBus

The leadership of the U.S. Muslimbruderschaft (MB, or Ikhwan) has said that its goal was and is jihad aimed at destroying the U.S. from within.

The Brotherhood leadership has also said that the means of achieving this goal is to establish Islamic organizations in the U.S. under the control of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Since the early 1960s, the Brotherhood has constructed an elaborate covert organizational infrastructure on which was built a set of public or “front” organizations.

Die aktuelle US-. Bruderschaft Führung hat versucht, diese Geschichte zu leugnen, beide behaupten, dass es nicht genau und zugleich ist, dass zu sagen, dass es eine ältere Form des Denkens innerhalb der Bruderschaft repräsentiert.

An examination of public and private Brotherhood documents, jedoch, indicates that this history is both accurate and that the Brotherhood has taken no action to demonstrate change in its mode of thought and/or activity.

Die Muslimbruderschaft: Hasan al-Hudaibi und Ideologie

Hasan Isma>il al-Hudaybi led the Society of the Muslim Brotherhood during a
time of crisis and dissolution. Succeeding Hasan al-Banna’, who was the founder
and fi rst leader of the organisation, al-Hudaybi was to be its head for more than
twenty years. During his leadership he faced severe criticism from fellow Brothers.
Following the Revolution of July 1952, he was pitted against the antagonism
of >Abd al-Nasir, who became increasingly infl uential in the council of
leading Free Offi cers. >Abd al-Nasir’s determination to thwart the cause of the
Brotherhood and its infl uence on society was part of his path to absolute rule.
Considering the signifi cance of al-Hudaybi’s years as leader of the Muslim
Brüderlichkeit, it is surprising that there is little scholarly work on the subject.
When taking into account that his moderate ideas continue to have a strong infl uence
on the policy and attitude of today’s Muslim Brotherhood, e.g. his conciliatory
position towards the state system and his refutation of radical ideas, the fact
that so little attention is paid to his writing is even more startling. Certainly, there
has been interest in the Muslim Brotherhood. There are quite extensive studies
available on Hasan al-Banna’: the founder and fi rst leader of the Muslim Brotherhood
has been described as a model fi gure of Islamic campaigning; others depict
him as the originator of threatening political activism in the name of Islam. There
has been even more interest in the ideas of Sayyid Qutb; some see him as the
ideologue of Islamist radicalism, whose concepts trained extremist groups; others
describe him as a victim of state persecution who developed a theology of liberation
in reaction to his maltreatment. No doubt, it is important to examine the
work of these thinkers in order to understand currents of Islamist ideology and
Islamist movements. Whatever the verdict on al-Banna’ and Qutb, it is a fact
that certain ideas of the two thinkers have been incorporated into the modern-day
Muslimbruderschaft. Aber, this focus has led to an incorrect perception that
the Islamic movement is necessarily radical in its thinking and/or militant in its
deeds, an assumption which has, in recent years, been questioned by a number
of scholars, among them John L. Edwards, Fred Halliday, François Burgat, und
Gudrun Krämer. 1 The following study of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood under the
leadership of Hasan al-Hudaybi will form an addition to these theses, addressing
and reassessing the viewpoint that political Islam is a monolithic block, all in all
disposed towards violent means.
2 Introduction
There are reasons why al-Hudaybi is hardly mentioned in the literature on the
Muslimbruderschaft. The fi rst that comes to mind is the observation that Islamist
movements are, by defi nition, seen as fundamentally radical, anti-democratic and
anti-Western. This reasoning questions any distinction between moderate Islamism
and its radical counterpart. The argument goes that both have the objective
of establishing an Islamic state system, that they both aim to replace existing
secular governance and that they therefore differ only in the degree of their methods,
but not in principle. This book, jedoch, clearly joins the scholarly circle on
politischen Islam, which identifi es arguments such as these as neo-Orientalist. As
Esposito shows, this approach to political Islam is based on what he terms ‘secular
fundamentalism’.
The external view of political Islam is focused primarily on radical thought,
and this may be due to the creation, on the part of power politics, of a fear of
Islam as a religion, which is different, strange and seemingly in opposition to
Western thought. Alternatively, it may be because radical or even militant groups
are constantly appearing in the media by reason of their actions. Tatsächlich, militant
Islamists actually seek such publicity. While radical thought and militant action
make it necessary to study extremist groups, the focus on terrorism in the name
of Islam marginalises moderate Islamists. It also makes it diffi cult to explain the
differences between radical and moderate Islamism. In effect, the scholarly focus
on radical or militant groups reinforces the generally negative public perception
of Islam in the West.
A further reason why al-Hudaybi in particular has not been studied by Western
scholars has to do with the internal affairs of the Brotherhood. It is astonishing
that his name is not mentioned much by the writers of the Muslim Brotherhood
itself. There is no simple explanation for this. One reason may be that members
particularly stress their sympathies for al-Banna’, depicting him as an ideal
leader who died for his activist convictions. Aber, as many Brothers endured
imprisonment, hard labour and even torture inside >Abd al-Nasir’s prisons and
camps, their personal histories have resulted in a dearth of discourse on Hasan
al-Hudaybi. So, there is a tendency to remember al-Hudaybi’s period of leadership
as a time of near defeat and destruction. Still, the experiences of the
persecuted are caught in the ambiguous relationship between forgetting and reappraisal.
Many personal accounts of the time have been published since the mid
1970s, 2 narrating stories of torture and stressing steadfastness of faith. Only a
few of the books written by Muslim Brothers take a broader approach, which
includes discussion of a crisis within the organisation and of al-Hudaybi’s part
therein. Those authors who do tackle this issue not only reveal the society’s weak
position vis-à-vis >Abd al-Nasir, but also expose signs of disintegration within the
Muslimbruderschaft. 3 This has led to differing attitudes towards al-Hudaybi, with
most portraying him as an incompetent leader lacking the charismatic personality
of his predecessor, al-Banna’. Im Speziellen, he was accused of not commanding
the authority to bring together the different wings of the Muslim Brotherhood
or to adopt a strong position in relation to the authoritarian state system. In the
latter view lies an ambiguity, for it would appear to show al-Hudaybi not just as a
Introduction 3
failure, but also as a victim of the political situation. Schließlich, these accounts reveal
an ideological gap which opened at the beginning of the period of persecution in
1954. To a certain extent, Sayyid Qutb fi lled this gap. During his imprisonment
he developed a radical approach, rejecting the then state system as illegitimate
and ‘un-Islamic’. In developing a revolutionary concept and explaining thereby
the reasons underlying the persecution, he turned the condition of victimisation
into one of pride. So, he gave many imprisoned Muslim Brothers, insbesondere
young members, an ideology that they could hold on to.
It has to be said that al-Hudaybi did not react decisively to the situation of
internal crisis and dissolution. Tatsächlich, to a certain extent his indecisiveness triggered
this situation. This was especially obvious during the period of persecution
(1954–71), when he omitted to provide any guidelines to help in overcoming
the feeling hopelessness ushered in by >Abd al-Nasir’s mass imprisonments. His
reaction to the radical ideas which fl ourished in the prisons and camps among
certain, especially young, members came fairly late. Even then, his scholarly and
juridical argumentation did not have the same sweeping effect as Sayyid Qutb’s
writings. In 1969, al-Hudaybi proposed a moderate concept in his writing Du<bei
la Qudat (Preachers not Judges). 4 This writing, which was secretly distributed
among fellow Brothers, is considered the fi rst substantial refutation of Sayyid
Qutb’s ideas. 5 Qutb, who was hanged in 1966, was by then considered to be a
martyr, his thoughts already having a considerable infl uence. This does not mean
that the majority of Muslim Brothers did not pursue a moderate approach, but the
lack of guidelines left them voiceless and reinforced the perception of al-Hudaybi
as a weak leader.
Nevertheless, al-Hudayb’is moderate thought had an impact on his fellow
Muslim Brothers. After the general amnesty of 1971, al-Hudaybi played a major
part in the re-establishment of the organisation. Although he died in 1973, his moderate
and conciliatory ideas continued to be relevant. The fact that close companions
such as Muhammad Hamid Abu Nasr, >Umar al-Tilmisani and Muhammad
Mashhur, who died recently, succeeded him as leaders shows the continuance of his
thought. Furthermore, his son Ma’mun al-Hudaybi has played a major role in
his capacity as the Brotherhood’s secretary and spokesman. Another reason why
his thinking became important lies in the changed attitude towards the Muslim
Brotherhood since Anwar al-Sadat’s presidency. Al-Sadat, who succeeded >Abd
al-Nasir, released the imprisoned Brothers and offered the organisation a half-legal
though not offi cially recognised status. A period of reorganisation (1971–77) followed,
during which the government lifted the censorship of books written by
Muslim Brothers. Many memoirs of formerly imprisoned members were published,
such as Zaynab al-Ghazali’s account or al-Hudaybi’s book Du<at la Qudat
(Preachers not Judges). Dealing with the past, these books did not merely preserve
the memory of the cruelties of >Abd al-Nasir’s persecution. Al-Sadat followed
his own agenda when he allowed these publications to fi ll the market; this
was a deliberate political stratagem, implying a change of direction and aimed at
distancing the new government from the old. The posthumous publication of
al-Hudaybi’s writings was not merely aimed at providing ideological guidance to
4 Introduction
the Muslim Brothers; they were distributed because of their statements against
radical thought, and were thus used to address a new and rising problem, nämlich
the establishment of Islamist groups, which began to fi ght actively against the
political system in the early 1970s. In these terms, Du<at la Qudat remains an
important critique of radical thought.
Hasan al-Hudaybi’s main aim was to change society, i.e. Egyptian society,
which, in his view, was not aware of the political nature of Islamic belief. So,
real change could only be brought about through creating awareness and by
tackling the issue of Islamic identity (as opposed to a Western perception). Only
through developing a sense of Islamic consciousness could the ultimate goal of the
establishment of an Islamic society be reached. Given this approach, al-Hudaybi
refuted revolutionary overthrow, instead preaching gradual development from
within. A major point was therefore education and social engagement, as well as
participation in the political system, appealing by means of mission ( da<wa ) to the
consciousness of the individual believer.
This path of his is now followed by today’s Muslim Brotherhood, which endeavours
to be recognised as a political party and which infl uences political decision
making by infi ltrating the political participatory structures (parliament, Verwaltung,
non-governmental organisations). This study of the Muslim Brotherhood
from the 1950s until the early 1970s, therefore, is not only a piece of research into
the modern political history of Egypt and an analysis of a religious ideology, but
has also a relationship to current politics.

Barbara HE. Zollner

HasanHasan Ismail al-Hudaybi led the Society of the Muslim Brotherhood during a time of crisis and dissolution. Succeeding Hasan al-Banna’, who was the founder and first leader of the organisation, al-Hudaybi was to be its head for more than twenty years. During his leadership he faced severe criticism from fellow Brothers.

Following the Revolution of July 1952, he was pitted against the antagonism of Abd al-Nasir, who became increasingly infl uential in the council of leading Free Officers. Abd al-Nasir’s determination to thwart the cause of the Brotherhood and its infl uence on society was part of his path to absolute rule. Considering the signifi cance of al-Hudaybi’s years as leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, it is surprising that there is little scholarly work on the subject.

When taking into account that his moderate ideas continue to have a strong infl uence on the policy and attitude of today’s Muslim Brotherhood, e.g. his conciliatory position towards the state system and his refutation of radical ideas, the fact that so little attention is paid to his writing is even more startling. Certainly, there has been interest in the Muslim Brotherhood.

There are quite extensive studies available on Hasan al-Banna’: the founder and fi rst leader of the Muslim Brotherhood has been described as a model figure of Islamic campaigning; others depict him as the originator of threatening political activism in the name of Islam.

There has been even more interest in the ideas of Sayyid Qutb; some see him as the ideologue of Islamist radicalism, whose concepts trained extremist groups; others describe him as a victim of state persecution who developed a theology of liberation in reaction to his maltreatment.

No doubt, it is important to examine the work of these thinkers in order to understand currents of Islamist ideology and Islamist movements. Whatever the verdict on al-Banna’ and Qutb, it is a fact that certain ideas of the two thinkers have been incorporated into the modern-day Muslim Brotherhood.

Aber, this focus has led to an incorrect perception that the Islamic movement is necessarily radical in its thinking and/or militant in its deeds, an assumption which has, in recent years, been questioned by a number of scholars, among them John L. Edwards, Fred Halliday, François Burgat, and Gudrun Krämer.

The following study of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood under the leadership of Hasan al-Hudaybi will form an addition to these theses, addressing and reassessing the viewpoint that political Islam is a monolithic block, all in all disposed towards violent means.

There are reasons why al-Hudaybi is hardly mentioned in the literature on the Muslim Brotherhood. The fi rst that comes to mind is the observation that Islamist movements are, by defi nition, seen as fundamentally radical, anti-democratic and anti-Western.

This reasoning questions any distinction between moderate Islamism and its radical counterpart. The argument goes that both have the objective of establishing an Islamic state system, that they both aim to replace existing secular governance and that they therefore differ only in the degree of their methods, but not in principle.

This book, jedoch, clearly joins the scholarly circle on political Islam, which identifi es arguments such as these as neo-Orientalist. As Esposito shows, this approach to political Islam is based on what he terms ‘secular fundamentalism’.

The external view of political Islam is focused primarily on radical thought, and this may be due to the creation, on the part of power politics, of a fear of Islam as a religion, which is different, strange and seemingly in opposition to

Western thought. Alternatively, it may be because radical or even militant groups are constantly appearing in the media by reason of their actions. Tatsächlich, militant Islamists actually seek such publicity.

While radical thought and militant action make it necessary to study extremist groups, the focus on terrorism in the name of Islam marginalises moderate Islamists.

It also makes it difficult to explain the differences between radical and moderate Islamism. In effect, the scholarly focus on radical or militant groups reinforces the generally negative public perception of Islam in the West.

A further reason why al-Hudaybi in particular has not been studied by Western scholars has to do with the internal affairs of the Brotherhood. It is astonishing that his name is not mentioned much by the writers of the Muslim Brotherhood itself. There is no simple explanation for this.

One reason may be that members particularly stress their sympathies for al-Banna’, depicting him as an ideal leader who died for his activist convictions. Aber, as many Brothers endured imprisonment, hard labour and even torture insideAbd al-Nasir’s prisons and camps, their personal histories have resulted in a dearth of discourse on Hasan al-Hudaybi.

So, there is a tendency to remember al-Hudaybi’s period of leadership as a time of near defeat and destruction. Still, the experiences of the persecuted are caught in the ambiguous relationship between forgetting and reappraisal.

Many personal accounts of the time have been published since the mid 1970s, 2 narrating stories of torture and stressing steadfastness of faith. Only a few of the books written by Muslim Brothers take a broader approach, which includes discussion of a crisis within the organisation and of al-Hudaybi’s part therein. Those authors who do tackle this issue not only reveal the society’s weak position vis-à-vis Abd al-Nasir, but also expose signs of disintegration within the

Muslimbruderschaft. 3 This has led to differing attitudes towards al-Hudaybi, with most portraying him as an incompetent leader lacking the charismatic personality of his predecessor, al-Banna’. Im Speziellen, he was accused of not commanding the authority to bring together the different wings of the Muslim Brotherhood or to adopt a strong position in relation to the authoritarian state system.

In the latter view lies an ambiguity, for it would appear to show al-Hudaybi not just as a failure, but also as a victim of the political situation. Schließlich, these accounts reveal an ideological gap which opened at the beginning of the period of persecution in 1954.

To a certain extent, Sayyid Qutb fi lled this gap. During his imprisonment he developed a radical approach, rejecting the then state system as illegitimate and ‘un-Islamic’. In developing a revolutionary concept and explaining thereby the reasons underlying the persecution, he turned the condition of victimisation into one of pride.

So, he gave many imprisoned Muslim Brothers, particularly young members, an ideology that they could hold on to.

It has to be said that al-Hudaybi did not react decisively to the situation of internal crisis and dissolution. Tatsächlich, to a certain extent his indecisiveness triggered this situation.

This was especially obvious during the period of persecution (1954–71), when he omitted to provide any guidelines to help in overcoming the feeling hopelessness ushered in by Abd al-Nasir’s mass imprisonments. His reaction to the radical ideas which fl ourished in the prisons and camps among certain, especially young, members came fairly late.

Even then, his scholarly and juridical argumentation did not have the same sweeping effect as Sayyid Qutb’s writings. In 1969, al-Hudaybi proposed a moderate concept in his writing Duat la Qudat (Preachers not Judges).

This writing, which was secretly distributed among fellow Brothers, is considered the fi rst substantial refutation of Sayyid Qutb’s ideas. 5 Qutb, who was hanged in 1966, was by then considered to be a martyr, his thoughts already having a considerable infl uence.

This does not mean that the majority of Muslim Brothers did not pursue a moderate approach, but the lack of guidelines left them voiceless and reinforced the perception of al-Hudaybi as a weak leader.

Nevertheless, al-Hudayb’is moderate thought had an impact on his fellow Muslim Brothers. After the general amnesty of 1971, al-Hudaybi played a major part in the re-establishment of the organisation. Although he died in 1973, his moderate and conciliatory ideas continued to be relevant.

The fact that close companions such as Muhammad Hamid Abu Nasr, Umar al-Tilmisani and Muhammad Mashhur, who died recently, succeeded him as leaders shows the continuance of his thought.

Furthermore, his son Ma’mun al-Hudaybi has played a major role in his capacity as the Brotherhood’s secretary and spokesman.

Another reason why his thinking became important lies in the changed attitude towards the Muslim Brotherhood since Anwar al-Sadat’s presidency. Al-Sadat, who succeeded Abd al-Nasir, released the imprisoned Brothers and offered the organisation a half-legal though not offi cially recognised status.

A period of reorganisation (1971–77) followed, during which the government lifted the censorship of books written by Muslim Brothers. Many memoirs of formerly imprisoned members were published, such as Zaynab al-Ghazali’s account or al-Hudaybi’s book Du<at la Qudat (Preachers not Judges).

Dealing with the past, these books did not merely preserve the memory of the cruelties of Abd al-Nasir’s persecution.

Al-Sadat followed his own agenda when he allowed these publications to fi ll the market; this was a deliberate political stratagem, implying a change of direction and aimed at distancing the new government from the old.

The posthumous publication of al-Hudaybi’s writings was not merely aimed at providing ideological guidance to the Muslim Brothers; they were distributed because of their statements against radical thought, and were thus used to address a new and rising problem, namely the establishment of Islamist groups, which began to fi ght actively against the political system in the early 1970s. In these terms, Duat la Qudat remains an important critique of radical thought.

Hasan al-Hudaybi’s main aim was to change society, i.e. Egyptian society, which, in his view, was not aware of the political nature of Islamic belief. So, real change could only be brought about through creating awareness and by tackling the issue of Islamic identity (as opposed to a Western perception).

Only through developing a sense of Islamic consciousness could the ultimate goal of the establishment of an Islamic society be reached. Given this approach, al-Hudaybi refuted revolutionary overthrow, instead preaching gradual development from within. A major point was therefore education and social engagement, as well as participation in the political system, appealing by means of mission ( dawa ) to the consciousness of the individual believer.

This path of his is now followed by today’s Muslim Brotherhood, which endeavors to be recognised as a political party and which infl uences political decision making by infi ltrating the political participatory structures (parliament, Verwaltung, non-governmental organisations).

This study of the Muslim Brotherhood from the 1950s until the early 1970s, therefore, is not only a piece of research into the modern political history of Egypt and an analysis of a religious ideology, but has also a relationship to current politics.

Goldstone Report On Israel’s War On Gaza

Goldstone in Gaza

1. On 3 April 2009, the President of the Human Rights Council established the United Nations
Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict with the mandate “to investigate all violations of
international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been
committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza
during the period from 27 Dezember 2008 und 18 January 2009, whether before, during or
after.”
2. The President appointed Justice Richard Goldstone, former judge of the Constitutional Court
of South Africa and former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former
Yugoslavia and Rwanda, to head the Mission. The other three appointed members were:
Professor Christine Chinkin, Professor für Völkerrecht an der London School of Economics
und Politikwissenschaft, der ein Mitglied der High-Level-Fact-Finding-Mission nach Beit Hanoun
(2008); Frau. Hina Jilani, Anwalt des Obersten Gerichtshofes von Pakistan und ehemaligen Sonder
Vertreter des Generalsekretärs über die Situation der Menschenrechtsverteidiger, wer ein
Mitglied der Internationalen Untersuchungskommission zu Darfur (2004); und Oberst Desmond
Travers, ein ehemaliger Offizier in der irischen Verteidigungskräfte und Mitglied des Board of Directors von
das Institut für Internationale Kriminalpolizei.
3. Wie üblich, das UNHCHR
(OHCHR) wurde ein Sekretariat die Mission zu unterstützen.
4. The Mission interpreted the mandate as requiring it to place the civilian population of the
region at the centre of its concerns regarding the violations of international law.
5. The Mission convened for the first time in Geneva between 4 und 8 May 2009. Additionally,
the Mission met in Geneva on 20 May, auf 4 und 5 Juli, and between 1 und 4 August 2009. Der
Mission conducted three field visits: two to the Gaza Strip between 30 May and 6 June, und
between 25 June and 1 Juli 2009; and one visit to Amman on 2 und 3 Juli 2009. Several staff of

1. On 3 April 2009, the President of the Human Rights Council established the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict with the mandate “to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 Dezember 2008 und 18 January 2009, whether before, während oder nach.“

2. The President appointed Justice Richard Goldstone, ehemalige Richter des Verfassungsgerichts von Südafrika und ehemaligen Chefankläger des Internationalen Strafgerichtshofes für das ehemalige Jugoslawien und Ruanda, to head the Mission. Die anderen drei ernannten Mitglieder waren Professor Christine Chinkin, Professor für Völkerrecht an der London School of Economics and Political Science, der ein Mitglied der High-Level-Fact-Finding-Mission nach Beit Hanoun (2008); Frau. Hina Jilani, Anwalt des Obersten Gerichtshofes von Pakistan und ehemaligen Sonderbeauftragten des Generalsekretärs über die Situation der Menschenrechtsverteidiger, der ein Mitglied der Internationalen Untersuchungskommission zu Darfur (2004); und Oberst Desmond Travers, ein ehemaliger Offizier in der irischen Verteidigungskräfte und Mitglied des Board of Directors des Instituts für Internationale Kriminalpolizei.

3. Wie üblich, das UNHCHR (OHCHR) wurde ein Sekretariat die Mission zu unterstützen.

4. Die Mission interpretiert das Mandat als erforderlich es, die Zivilbevölkerung in der Region in den Mittelpunkt seiner Bedenken in Bezug auf die Verletzung des internationalen Rechts zu platzieren.

5. The Mission convened for the first time in Geneva between 4 und 8 May 2009. Additionally, the Mission met in Geneva on 20 May, auf 4 und 5 Juli, and between 1 und 4 August 2009. Die Mission führte drei Feldbesuche: two to the Gaza Strip between 30 May and 6 June, and between 25 June and 1 Juli 2009; and one visit to Amman on 2 und 3 Juli 2009. Mehrere Mitarbeiter OFTHE wurden Mission des Sekretariats in Gaza zum Einsatz von 22 Kann zu 4 Juli 2009 Felduntersuchungen durchzuführen.

6. Verbalnoten wurden in allen Mitgliedstaaten der Vereinten Nationen und der Vereinten Nationen Organe und Einrichtungen geschickt auf 7 May 2009. On 8 June 2009 die Mission einen Aufruf für die Einreichung alle interessierten Personen und Organisationen einladen relevante Informationen und Unterlagen vorzulegen in der Durchführung ihres Mandats zu unterstützen.

7. Öffentliche Anhörungen wurden in Gaza statt auf 28 und 29 Juni und in Genf auf 6 und 7 Juli 2009.

8. Die Mission suchte immer wieder die Zusammenarbeit der Regierung von Israel zu erhalten. Nach zahlreichen Versuchen gescheitert, die Mission suchte und erhielt die Unterstützung der Regierung von Ägypten es zu ermöglichen, den Gazastreifen durch den Grenzübergang Rafah zu betreten.

9. Die Mission hat die Unterstützung und Zusammenarbeit der Palästinensischen Behörde und der Ständigen Beobachtermission Palästinas bei den Vereinten Nationen genossen. Aufgrund der mangelnden Kooperation der israelischen Regierung, die Mission konnte nicht Mitglieder der Palästinensischen Behörde in der Westbank treffen. Die Mission hat, jedoch, treffen sich Beamte der Palästinensischen Behörde, darunter ein Mitglied des Kabinetts, in Amman. Während seiner Besuche in den Gazastreifen, die Mission Sitzungen mit hochrangigen Mitgliedern der Behörden in Gaza und sie dehnten ihre volle Kooperation und Unterstützung für die Mission.

10. Im Anschluss an die öffentlichen Anhörungen in Genf, die Mission war, dass ein palästinensischer Teilnehmer informiert, Herr. Mohammed Srour, war von israelischen Sicherheitskräften festgenommen, als auf der Westbank zurückkehrt und wurde besorgt, dass seine Inhaftierung vor der Mission eine Folge seiner Erscheinung gewesen sein. Die Mission ist in Kontakt mit ihm und weiterhin den Entwicklungen beobachten.

Der 500 Die meisten einflussreichen Muslime

scope

introduction
The publication you have in your hands is the first of what we hope will be an
annual series that provides a window into the movers and shakers of the Muslim
world. We have strived to highlight people who are influential as Muslims, that
is, people whose influence is derived from their practice of Islam or from the fact
that they are Muslim. We think that this gives valuable insight into the different
ways that Muslims impact the world, and also shows the diversity of how people
are living as Muslims today.
Influence is a tricky concept. Its meaning derives from the Latin word influens
meaning to flow-in, pointing to an old astrological idea that unseen forces (like the
moon) affect humanity. The figures on this list have the ability to affect humanity
too. In a variety of different ways each person on this list has influence over the
lives of a large number of people on the earth. Der 50 most influential figures
are profiled. Their influence comes from a variety of sources; however they are
unified by the fact that they each affect huge swathes of humanity.
We have then broken up the 500 leaders into 15 categories—Scholarly, Political,
Administrative, Lineage, Preachers, Frauen, Youth, Philanthropy, Development,
Science and Technology, Arts and Culture, Medien, Radicals, International Islamic
Networks, and Issues of the Day—to help you understand the different kinds of
ways Islam and Muslims impact the world today.
Two composite lists show how influence works in different ways: International
Islamic Networks shows people who are at the head of important transnational
networks of Muslims, and Issues of the Day highlights individuals whose
importance is due to current issues affecting humanity.


The publication is the first of what we hope will be an annual series that provides a window into the movers and shakers of the Muslim world.

We have strived to highlight people who are influential as Muslims, that is, people whose influence is derived from their practice of Islam or from the fact that they are Muslim.

We think that this gives valuable insight into the different ways that Muslims impact the world, and also shows the diversity of how people are living as Muslims today.

Influence is a tricky concept. Its meaning derives from the Latin word influens meaning to flow-in, pointing to an old astrological idea that unseen forces (like the moon) affect humanity. The figures on this list have the ability to affect humanity too. In a variety of different ways each person on this list has influence over the lives of a large number of people on the earth. Der 50 most influential figures are profiled. Their influence comes from a variety of sources; however they are unified by the fact that they each affect huge swathes of humanity.

We have then broken up the 500 leaders into 15 categories—Scholarly, Political, Administrative, Lineage, Preachers, Frauen, Youth, Philanthropy, Development, Science and Technology, Arts and Culture, Medien, Radicals, International Islamic Networks, and Issues of the Day—to help you understand the different kinds of ways Islam and Muslims impact the world today.

Two composite lists show how influence works in different ways: International Islamic Networks shows people who are at the head of important transnational networks of Muslims, and Issues of the Day highlights individuals whose importance is due to current issues affecting humanity.