Posts Tagged ‘ Muslim Brotherhood ’

Will Jordan ban the Muslim Brotherhood?

Author Osama Al Sharif

April 6, 2016

Two incidents in March have heightened tensions between Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood Group (MBG) and the government to the point of raising speculation about the future of the 70-year-old Islamist movement.

In the first incident, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the MBG’s political arm, received notice March 13 from the governor of Aqaba ordering the closure of its office in that port city to comply with a court order. The closure was based on a complaint by the Muslim Brotherhood Society (MBS), an offshoot founded last year by disaffected MBG members, regarding a legal dispute over ownership of the property. It is the first time the IAF has been involved in a dispute between the MBG and the MBS.

Following the MBS’ registration in March 2015, the government asserted that the MBG lacked legal registration. It was therefore prevented from holding public rallies and other events. The MBG insisted that it has had a known legal presence since its establishment in the 1940s. In the second incident, on March 31, the governor of Amman informed MBG officials that because their group was not officially registered, they were prohibited from holding internal elections to select Shura Council members and a general overseer.

It remains unclear whether the government is moving closer to banning the MBG or whether it is forcing it to limit its activities to the IAF, which has been officially registered as a political party since 1992. The government’s actions follow parliament’s adoption in March of a new election law, which all Islamist parties in the kingdom had welcomed. The IAF boycotted the 2013 local elections to protest the one-person, one-vote electoral system, which had been in place for decades and has been removed in the new law. Under the old law, voters could only cast their ballot for a single candidate, even if there were multiple parliamentary seats available in their district. Now a voter can cast a number of votes equal to the number of available seats in his district.

Khaled al-Kalaldeh, Jordan’s minister of political development, denies that the government is considering banning the MBG. He told Al-Monitor, “The government is dealing with this issue with restraint knowing the weight of the group and its party on the popular political scene.” Kalaldeh admitted, however, that there might be pressure from certain political centers inside the government that want a confrontation in light of recent divisions within the Islamist movement.

He also emphasized that forbidding the MBG to hold internal elections is based on the legal complaint made by the registered MBS, which has claimed that the MBG is illegally using its name. “The fact is that the [MBG] is not a legal entity, and this has nothing to do with any government position,” Kalaldeh asserted.

The MBG has been struggling with internal divisions for years. In 2013, a group of moderate members calling for bold reforms launched what became the Zamzam Initiative. They opposed the movement’s decision to boycott elections and wanted the MBG to sever its historical ties to the main group in Egypt. In addition, they called on the MBG to focus on national issues and to act as an opposition in the political system. Having been repeatedly rebuffed by the hawkish leadership of the MBG, the members behind Zamzam, who were later expelled from the MBG, decided to form their own movement. On March 26, the Zamzam leadership unveiled plans to establish their own political party to contest legislative elections expected to be held later this year.

Irhail al-Gharaibeh, general coordinator for the Zamzam Initiative, told Al-Monitor that he expects the government to dissolve the MBG, because it is not registered in Jordan, and defended the decision to prevent the group from holding internal elections. “It has no legal structure, and if the group insists on holding elections, then the authorities must intervene and take action,” Gharaibeh said.

According to Gharaibeh, the divisions within the MBG are long-standing, but they resurfaced following the events of the Arab Spring. “We wanted to have flexibility in political action and to avoid the mistakes of the past,” he said. “But the conservatives rejected our efforts, and we as reformers had to take action through what we call conciliatory democracy.”

Gharaibeh warned that the Islamist movement in Jordan could collapse if it fails to adapt and that it should break from its ideological trenches and accept competition based on merit rather than tribe. He reiterated the decision by the Zamzam Initiative to contest future elections as a moderate Islamist party.

Ali Abu al-Sukkar, former chairman of the MBG’s Shura Council, dismissed speculation that the government’s recent decisions might eventually lead to banning the group. “Practically and historically, we had a good working relationship with governments, and we were never extreme in our policies,” he told Al-Monitor.

Abu al-Sukkar described the present relationship as tepid, but said it would never result in a total break. “The rise of the Islamist movement in the region has raised fears here, and the presence of Daesh [the Islamic State] has created a fear of Islamist parties,” he said. Abu al-Sukkar also said the MBG will hold its internal elections before the end of this month, regardless of the government’s position.

Meanwhile, the MBS has announced its intention to participate in this year’s parliamentary elections, but has not yet filed for a political party license. On April 3, its Shura Council adopted a unanimous decision to end years of political boycott, which began with the 2013 IAF election boycott.

The fragmentation of the Islamist movement is already having an effect on society. On March 30, the Teachers Association, the largest professional union in Jordan, held general elections and the results clearly revealed the MBGs waning popularity. The group’s candidates lost ground to independents, who won 56% of the seats on the union’s central committee.

These results will be used by MBG critics to point to its exaggerated influence on the Jordanian electorate. The real test, however, will be how the IAF performs in legislative elections in competition against the two new planned Islamist parties. Meanwhile, as the government’s legal siege against the MBG continues, the group’s big showdown, its internal elections, awaits the end of this month.

Source: al-Monitor.

Link: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/04/muslim-brotherhood-group-jordan-government-tension.html.

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Split of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood blow to regional group

March 16, 2015

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood has formally split after 70 years — a breakup blamed on long-running ideological disputes, but also on a government attempt to further weaken what was once the country’s main opposition group.

The split deals a new blow to the region-wide Brotherhood movement, which has been outlawed as a terror group by close Jordan allies Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In Jordan, some warned that the government’s apparent divide-and-control policy could backfire by pushing more Brotherhood supporters into the ranks of extremists like the Islamic State group, seen as the main threat to the country’s stability.

The new, officially licensed Brotherhood offshoot defines itself as a strictly Jordanian group, saying it cut ties with the regional movement to avoid being branded as militant. “We were concerned that we would be considered as a terrorist organization if we continued to be a branch of an organization branded as a terrorist group,” the group’s leader, Abdel-Majid Thnaibat, told The Associated Press.

The larger Brotherhood faction, still loyal to the regional movement, alleged the government engineered the division to weaken the group. “This is a coup sponsored by the regime,” spokesman Murad Adaileh told the AP.

Jordan’s government has declined to address the allegation. The split was formalized earlier this month when the government licensed Thnaibat’s breakaway faction, and the core movement promptly expelled the defectors.

The status of the second faction now remains unclear. A government official said that while Thnaibat’s group registered with the authorities, the other faction “did not correct” its status, suggesting it is legally vulnerable. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue with reporters.

It’s not clear if Jordan’s authorities eventually will outlaw the original movement, which is deeply rooted in Jordanian society through its social outreach and welfare system. There have been some signs of a crackdown in recent months, including the arrests of about two dozen activists and the sentencing of the group’s No. 2 — Zaki Bani Ersheid — to 18 month in prison for criticizing the Emirates.

The problems have put the Brotherhood in Jordan at its lowest point in years. It has no representation in parliament because of self-imposed election boycotts and is losing some of its young to extremist groups.

“The Brotherhood, by relative standards, is fairly innocuous, it’s not a significant threat to the kingdom,” said David Schenker of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank. “Many are asking what (is the) utility of kicking the Brotherhood when it is down.”

The division was preceded by long-running ideological disagreements between “doves” and “hawks,” exacerbated by 2007 Gaza takeover of the Islamic militant Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood.

The doves emphasize their Jordanian identity, want to keep Hamas at arm’s length, appear more willing to play by the restrictive rules set by the monarchy and want to focus on “dawa,” or preaching. The hawks criticize government policies more openly, particularly Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel, embrace Hamas and see the Brotherhood as a transnational movement.

Tribal identities also appear to play a role, as Thnaibat and some of his key supporters are members of Jordan’s Bedouin tribes, while some of the leading hawks are descendants of Palestinian refugees.

For years, the Brotherhood was Jordan’s largest and most cohesive opposition group, seeking political reform, but stopping short of seeking the ouster of the king. With the hawks in charge, friction between the Brotherhood and the government has grown in recent years.

At the same time, the Jordanian Brotherhood has been weakened by regional developments in recent years, including the growing ideological competition from Islamic extremists following the outbreak of the Arab Spring uprising in 2011.

Some warn the government crackdown could radicalize Brotherhood supporters and help swell the ranks of the Islamic State group. Jordan has taken on a high-profile role in a U.S.-led military coalition that carries out airstrikes against the militants, after they burned a captive Jordanian pilot to death in a cage. Jordan’s King Abdullah II has framed the battle as an ideological fight to the finish.

Others say the Brotherhood is responsible for losing supporters. “The Muslim Brotherhood failed to deal with the young generation and to lead them in the right direction,” said Mahmoud al-Kharabseh, a pro-government legislator.

Analyst Labib Kamhawi said the Brotherhood’s troubles offered an opportunity for the government to encourage the split. “Jordan is simply trying to trim the Brotherhood in power and size, to be able to manage it easily,” he said.

It’s not clear how the rival factions will now deal with each other, and whether court battles over the Brotherhood brand and the movement’s properties, such as hospitals and real estate, are looming.

Adaileh alleged that trying to entangle the Brotherhood in legal battles is part of the government’s alleged strategy of weakening the movement. Thnaibat left open the possibility that his group will participate in future elections after the Brotherhood boycotted the last two rounds over claims the system favored tribal candidates. He also said his group would try to persuade the rank and file to join them.

“We are going to contact our Brothers in the provinces to explain to them why a Brother shouldn’t stay in an illegal organization,” he said.

Daraghmeh reported from Ramallah, West Bank.

Jordanian MB Forms Political Alliance to Fight Corruption

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Disregarding ideological differences, Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood offshoot, the Islamic Action Front, and leftist parties formed a National Reform Front (NRF) to combat corruption.

According to PM Ahmed Obeidat, the coalition was formed to create a national reform strategy. He asserted that the NRF’s priority is to put the country on the right democratic track and to fight corruption and tyranny which are Jordan’s main problems. He added that fighting corruption starts with reforming the regime itself.

Mohammad Masri, a researcher at the University of Jordan’s Center for Strategic Studies stated that Jordan’s corruption was similar to the situation in the region, referring to Tunisia, Egypt and Syria, where corruption was a key element responsible for the uprisings.

Since January, Jordan has been facing a protest movement demanding political and economic reforms, and an end to corruption.

Source: Ikhwanweb.
Link: http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=28664.

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