x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Brotherhood will thrive in most parts of the Gulf

An Arab writer argues that most of the Gulf countries would endorse the Brotherhood in their own interests. Other Digest topics include: Brotherhood policy, Syria plan

Friendly relations with the Muslim Brotherhood serve Gulf states, but not the UAE and Saudi

The Muslim Brotherhood in the Gulf cannot be assessed without knowing how each Gulf country has historically dealt with it, argued Kuwaiti writer Shamlan Yousef Al Issa in the Abu Dhabi-based newspaper Al Ittihad.

Qatar's experience with the Brotherhood has been a unique one. The Brotherhood emerged in Qatar in the early 1950s after they fled Egypt when Gamal Abdel Nasser was hunting them down. The Brotherhood leaders, including the influential cleric Yusuf Al Qaradawi, settled in Qatar and since then strengthened its ties with the ruling family. This might be one of the reasons to the dissolution of the Brotherhood organisation there in 1999.

Qatar has always had a special relationship with the Brotherhood. It is the only Gulf state which still defends them through Al Jazeera news network. Qatar has also opposed the military crackdown to break up protests in Rabia Al Adawiyya square and the ensuing chases and arrests.

The Brotherhood surfaced in Kuwait in 1952 when the Islamic Association for Guidance was created by Abdulaziz Al Ali Al Mutawa.

In Mecca in 1947, he met Brotherhood founder Hassan Al Banna who asked him to establish a branch in Kuwait.

In 1962, the Social Reform Association was created, first as a preaching-orientated movement but gradually expanded to politics after it aligned with the government against the pan-Arab and Nasserist trends in the 1960s and 1970.

As nationalist trends waned, political Islam gained momentum both in business and politics. The Brotherhood figures ran big companies and dominated Kuwait's students union, teachers' association and many labour unions and charities.

They did all this with the government's approval, despite opposition. The question is why is the Kuwaiti government lenient with the Brotherhood to the extent of assigning them to the task of running the moderation committee at the endowment ministry?

Cognisant of the Brotherhood's strength, the government is playing the game of political balances with them, just it does with the Salafis, the Shiites and others.

Let's be honest that all Gulf nations, except Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have links with the Brotherhood, and all the talk about tightening the grip on them is unfounded; it is just for media consumption.

Most of the Gulf region comprises rentier, conservative states - the UAE being an exception - that are apprehensive of change and modernity.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE aside, most Gulf states are more likely to retain a friendly, at least a blurry, relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood because of their own interests and domestic concerns, the writer said.

Brotherhood tends to overlook own history

When the Muslim Brotherhood slams liberals for "licking the boots" of those who staged the coup instead of defending the democracy, it overlooks its own history in that regard, Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef wrote in the Cairo-based Al Shorouk.

"Oh, Mushir [in reference to Marshal Tantawi], you're the emir [the prince] and we're your soldiers from Tahrir," the Brotherhood chanted in Tahrir Square when protesters were shouting "down with military rule", he said.

"The army must be obeyed at this point even if it is against the Sharia", one of their apologist preachers said.

When protesting Copts were brutalised by the military, the Brotherhood would say they were trying to divide the nation and seeking foreign intervention.

After the Brotherhood's ousting, "the traitorous army" and "Al Sisi, the killer", suddenly became popular chants at Cairo's Rabia Al Adawiyya square. He said that was a highly elastic discourse.

Brotherhood leader Safwat Hegazi had been artfully "licking the boots" of the army and Mr Morsi; after the latter was ousted, he would instigate people against the army and push them to death.

He was recently arrested while trying to flee the country with a shaved beard and a dyed goatee. He said: "I respect Al Sisi a lot; I'm not against trying Morsi and I swear I'm not from the Brotherhood".

Limited strikes will not bring down Assad

The upcoming intervention against the Syrian regime will be no more than a limited operation that will aim at forcing President Bashar Al Assad to reconsider the use of weapons banned under international law, Abdul Rahman Al Rashed wrote in yesterday's edition of the London-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

"Although limited air raids will not force President Bashar Al Assad to change his bedroom, its future implications are significant," he wrote.

If the plan is carried out, it will be the first international military attack on the Assad regime since the civil war began 27 months ago. Also significant are the unprecedented signs of approval from Moscow, although President Putin still warns against military attacking its ally.

A similar situation occurred in 2003, when Russia opposed the US invasion of Iraq but did not intervene.There are reports of Russia withdrawing from Syria.

When they are gone, what can Iran and Hizbollah do? Saddam and Al Qaddafi also threatened to set the region ablaze, to no avail.

Iran is too intelligent to get entangled in a war and Hizbollah will not strike Israel, knowing that it won't prevent the attack on Syria. The attack is expected to hit selected targets that will not topple the regime, but it will help to move closer to that goal.

* Digest compiled by Abdelhafid Ezzouitni