Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood challenged by all sides

Jordanian supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood gather during a protest to celebrate the "Gaza victory" in the war against Israel, in the capital Amman on August 8, 2014. (Photo: AFP-Khalil Mazraawi)

By: Mahmoud Sharaan

Published Monday, August 25, 2014

No sooner had the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan dealt with major attacks by the Jordanian media and political sectors after a rally it held in support of Gaza, an internal battle erupted over the election of Mohammed Awad al-Zyoud as secretary general of the Islamic Action Front party.

Amman – In light of the obvious media and governmental mobilization [against the Muslim Brotherhood], the decision-making establishment in Jordan marshalled its press to wage a war on the Islamic movement after they held a rally entitled “Gaza Triumphs.” The event was organized by the movement two weeks ago in support of the Resistance and its accomplishments during the last assault on the Gaza Strip.

The crisis faced by the Islamic movement began after statements made by the Muslim Brotherhood leader, Hammam Said, at the rally. He directly attacked the Jordanian regime and the decision-making establishment, describing its role towards Gaza as “shameful” and “unacceptable.” Another reason for the crisis was due to a military parade by a group of the movement’s young men in which they dressed up as al-Qassam Brigades [the armed wing of Hamas] fighters.

After the rally ended, the state-run media and a number of political figures immediately launched a public attack on the Islamic movement, demanding that the Muslim Brotherhood be dissolved, especially since they issued a number of statements that could be considered offensive to Arab states like Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. The Islamic Action Front party, the political wing of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood branch, had issued several statements in which it described the positions of these states towards Gaza as “spineless.”

Civil society organizations in the Palestinian refugee camps in the Hashemite Kingdom issued a statement in which they condemned the military parade at the rally in support of Gaza. The statement said: “The military parade is tantamount to declaring a military state or a state of war by the Muslim Brotherhood.”

In a related development, former Jordanian Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit criticized the Islamic Movement in Jordan, describing it as “opportunistic.” He blamed the Jordanian government for “not swooping in on it and banning it the moment former Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi was overthrown.” He also pointed out that the “Muslim Brotherhood is an extension of the Salafi Wahhabi ideology.”

The press have also joined the fray,with a number of journalists publishing articles criticizing the Muslim Brotherhood rally and calling for the group to be banned.

In response, Muslim Brotherhood leader Zaki Bani Arshid told Al-Akhbar, “These calls are not worth commenting on. They are attempts by failed groups that have influence politically and in the media which are meant to intimidate us.”

“The regime’s tools vented out their anger over Western political and media accusations about Jordan’s complicity in the assault on Gaza at the Islamists’ rally,” he argued.

The Islamic Action Front party criticized the attack on the Muslim Brotherhood, stressing that “what happened at the rally was a peaceful expression of their support for the Palestinian Resistance.”

After all this bickering by the media and governmental figures on one hand and the Muslim Brotherhood on the other, Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour put an end to this debate, announcing that “the Muslim Brotherhood will not be dissolved.”

“Jordan will not and is not thinking about dissolving the Brotherhood,” describing the mere thought of dissolving the Brotherhood as a “sad day,” he said.

Ensour, however, criticized the Muslim Brotherhood for what he described was its “unfairness towards the position of the Kingdom during the Israeli assault on Gaza.”

After the attacks on the Muslim Brotherhood were halted, the group was dealt another blow that had even more widespread ramifications for the group. This time, the blow came from within its own ranks when the shura council of the Islamic Action Front party elected Mohammed Awad al-Zyoud from the party’s hawkish wing as general secretary to succeed Hamza Mansour. They had [initially] agreed on Salem al-Falahat, who was from the more dovish spectrum of the party.

Hours before the shura council met, Falahat was surprised by a call from hawkish leaders informing him that they changed their minds about his nomination and that he was replaced with another candidate, Awad al-Zyoud.

The meeting – held in the presence of Falahat and other party doves – witnessed divisions within the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood. The lack of an agreement and excluding Falahat will only further complicate matters and renew disagreements within the Muslim Brotherhood as the rift between the hawks and the doves grow wider.

That is why a number of the movement’s leaders will use internal organizational measures in an attempt to have another election, according to some sources.

The Islamic Action Front’s shura council member, Saleh al-Zunaibat, said to Al-Akhbar, that “efforts have been made to follow up on the issue of electing a secretary general through group’s internal regulations.”

He added that “there is an upcoming meeting that will present a reformist vision for the Muslim Brotherhood, which will not be secessionist in nature but will rather rearrange the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood’s internal structure.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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