Wherever there has been turmoil in the Middle East over the past year, the Muslim Brotherhood has sought to dig its heels in deeply for power. In Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco -- even Libya -- the decades-old Islamist group is seeking to ensure a powerful resurgence. A fascinating and potentially-disturbing article about the Syrian Brotherhood was published by Reuters this weekend, as the political chaos in the nation continues to take form.
The first few paragraphs provide curious information about the nature of the Brotherhood's work in Syria as well as the connections it has to leftists, among others:
At a meeting of Syria's opposition, Muslim Brotherhood officials gather round Marxists colleagues, nudging them to produce policy statements for the Syrian National Council, the main political group challenging President Bashar al-Assad.
With many living in the West, and some ditching their trademark beards, it is hard to differentiate Brotherhood from leftists. But there is little dispute about who calls the shots.
From annihilation at home 30 years ago when they challenged the iron-fisted rule of Hafez al-Assad, the Brotherhood has recovered to become the dominant force of the exile opposition in the 14-month-old revolt against his son Bashar.
Careful not to undermine the council's disparate supporters, the Brotherhood has played down its growing influence within the Syrian National Council (SNC), whose public face is the secular Paris-based professor Bourhan Ghalioun.
Clearly, the Brotherhood is active in meeting with Marxists. The massive political collective is seeking power and prominence just as it has in other embattled localities. But beyond the powers being sought, it's interesting to point out that the journalist who wrote the piece, Khaled Yacoub Oweis, also notes that "many" Brotherhood members are now living in the West.
While this information will surprise some, Glenn Beck has warned about the connections between socialists and Islamists before. Back in early 2011, he stated his case that these two ideological movements would converge due to shared interests.
"I want the left to know, I plant my flag in this soil. If I’m wrong, so be it," Beck said on his radio show. "And you can discredit me all you want for the end of time, but I’m telling you I’m not wrong on this one. And there are three points that I want to make sure are very clear."
The three points he presented were as follows:
- Groups from the hardcore socialist left, and extreme Islam will work together because of the common enemy of Israel.
- Groups from the hardcore socialist left and extreme Islam will work together because of the common enemy of capitalism.
- Groups from the hardcore socialist left, and extreme Islam will work together to overturn relative stability, because the in the status quo, they are both ostracized from power and the mainstream in most of the world.
Watch Beck discuss these issues, below:
Aside from corroborating Beck's past statements, these events obviously sound a global alarm -- specifically when teamed with other Brotherhood victories.
It seems that the Islamist group -- at least according to the article -- has learned the power of watching its words and protecting its image. In Egypt, among other nations, it has pledged not to govern with an iron fist and has attempted to re-brand itself as moderate and practical. In Syria, the Brotherhood is attempting to keep its powerful role under wraps -- perhaps to avoid fears among those who recall its antics decades ago.
These sentiments are corroborated in a video featuring former Brotherhood leader Ali Sadreddine al-Bayanouni. The clip is making its rounds, as opponents of the Islamist movement attempt to showcase the power the Brotherhood is working so feverishly to gain.
"We chose this face, accepted by the West and by the inside. We don't want the regime to take advantage if an Islamist becomes the Syrian National Council's head," al-Bayanouni says in the video. "We nominated Ghalioun as a front for national action. We are not moving now as Muslim Brotherhood but as part of a front that includes all currents."
Strategy, it seems, is at the center of this paradigm. Reuters continues, providing more information on the Brotherhood's background in the country and its intentional attempt to market purported moderation:
The Syrian Brotherhood is a branch of the Sunni Muslim movement founded in Egypt in the 1920s. It was a minor political player before a 1963 Baath Party coup but its support grew under the authoritarian 30-year rule of Hafez al-Assad, as his minority Alawite community dominated the majority Sunni country.
Mindful of international fears of Islamists taking power, and of the worries of Syria's ethnic and religious minorities, the Syrian Brotherhood portrays itself as espousing a moderate, Turkish-style Islamist agenda. It unveiled a manifesto last month that did not mention the word Islam and contained pledges to respect individual rights.
With backing from Ankara, and following the political ascendancy of the Brotherhood in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya since Arab Spring revolts broke out two years ago, the group is poised to be at the top of any new governing system in Syria.
As the political drama drags out in Syria, it will be interesting to see how the Brotherhood manages its urge for power. While there are certainly ramifications for being more blatant about its role in the SNC, the political movement has gained major power points in other nations, despite initial fears. There's no telling where the situation could lead in Syria.