How the Muslim Brotherhood Hijacked Syria’s Revolution
Ya Libnan | World News Live from Lebanon
By Hassan Hassan, March 13, 2013
No one in Syria expected the anti-regime uprising to last this long or be this deadly, but after around 70,000 dead, 1 million refugees, and two years of unrest, there is still no end in sight. While President Bashar al-Assad’s brutal response is mostly to blame, the opposition’s chronic failure to form a viable front against the regime has also allowed the conflict to drag on. And there’s one anti-Assad group that is largely responsible for this dismal state of affairs: Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood.
Throughout the Syrian uprising, I have had discussions with opposition figures, activists, and foreign diplomats about how the Brotherhood has built influence within the emerging opposition forces. It has been a dizzying rise for the Islamist movement. It was massacred out of existence in the 1980s after the Baathist regime put down a Brotherhood-led uprising in Hama. Since then, membership in the Brotherhood has been an offense punishable by death in Syria, and the group saw its presence on the ground wither to almost nothing. But since the uprising erupted on March 15, 2011, the Brotherhood has moved adroitly to seize the reins of power of the opposition’s political and military factions.
According to a figure present at the first conference to organize Syria’s political opposition, held in Antalya, Turkey, in May 2011, the Brotherhood was initially hesitant to join an anti-Assad political body. The group had officially suspended its opposition to the Baathist regime in the wake of the Israeli onslaught on Gaza in 2009, and it pulled out of an alliance with Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former Syrian vice president who defected in 2005.
COMMENT/ANALYSIS: The umbrella group for opposition groups in Syria is the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, commonly called the Syrian National Coalition. Of the 60 seats comprising the coalition, 22 of those are held by the Syrian National Council – an organization primarily composed of Syrian Muslim Brotherhood members. On February 28, 2013, the United States announced it would provide $60m in “non-lethal” assistance to the Syrian National Coalition. As of last week, there has been confirmation that the United States has been also providing military training as well.
- U.S. Arming and Training Radical Islamists in Syria (vineoflife.net)