Turkey’s Borrowed Knife Blunted by Russia’s Shield – Syria’s Immoderate Brotherhood’s Ambitions Revealed
Before there was ISIS, al Qaeda and Co., or even the Mujahideen, there was the Muslim Brotherhood, a group like the others that had been covertly and maliciously used by various western and gulf state powers for decades.
One year before the proxy war in Syria, in 2010, Dr. Liad Porat, then Junior Research Fellow at the Crown Center for Middle Studies, Brandeis University produced a report that started
In April 2009, the then leader of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan), ‘Ali Sadr al-Din al-Bayanuni, announced an end to the Brotherhood’s participation in the National Salvation Front (NSF)—a coalition of various opposition groups founded by former Syrian president Abdul Halim Khaddam and committed to overthrowing Bashar al-Asad’s regime.
Yet, Dr Porat's brief:
...argues that the withdrawal from the NSF did not represent a fundamental shift in the Ikhwan’s longstanding stance with respect to the Asad regime, which it remains committed to toppling and replacing. Furthermore, it contends that the Ikhwan will not reach any meaningful understanding with the regime unless and until the latter accepts its basic conditions for a true reconciliation: namely, that its leaders be permitted to return to Syria and to operate there not as individuals but as a movement.
Syrian Deputy Premier, Foreign and Expatriates Minister, Walid al-Moallem, went on to describe
the Muslim Brotherhood's influence on the 2011 conflict focused on Turkey's part:
As for the Syrian-Turkish dispute, al-Moallem said the reason behind this dispute was triggered in 2011 when the Syrian leadership rejected a request by Ankara to allow the Muslim Brotherhood be part of the power.
“we said ‘no’ because the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization and it has been so since 1980,” he added.
In a 2012 Reuters article titled, “Syria's Muslim Brotherhood rise from the ashes”, Khaled Yacoub Oweis put it like this
…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.
Important backstory, the Muslim Brotherhood has been banned in Syria for some time and since been exposed
as a CIA Cold War driven program to destabilize the Communist Arab Nationalist countries with 'fascist' Islamists. The Brotherhood failed an assassination attempt on an incredibly popular Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1954 and eventually was banned in Syria in 1963 following the coup that brought the pan-Arab Ba'athist Party to power, along with President Assad's father, Hafez who was an Air Force Commander rising to the top of the chain of command at the time. After a series of bloody events between the Brotherhood and the Syrian government in 1979 and 1980, including an assassination attempt on then President Hafez Assad, being a Brotherhood member in Syria became a capital offense. In the
years following the declaration, the government of Hafez killed tens of thousands
in an effort to run the Brotherhood out of Syria.
Back the recent past, and an article from Hassan Hassan writing for Foreign Policy Magazine aptly titled, "How the Muslim Brotherhood hijacked Syria's Revolution". He goes on to say that
...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 Brotherhood nonetheless sent members to participate in the conference, including Molhem Droubi, who became a member of the conference’s executive bureau. Meanwhile, it took steps to form fighting groups inside Syria, recruiting potential fighters and calling on its relatively meager contacts on the ground in Homs, Hama, Idlib, and Aleppo.
The shyness has dried up a bit since with the Syrian Brotherhood’s generous 2012 plea
for everyone to trust them, it’ll be different this time: "In this Covenant and Charter, we do solemnly pledge to all our people to commit to the letter and spirit of this Covenant to protect all rights, dispel fears and inspire trust, confidence and peace". A ‘pledge and Charter’, “in which it stated its commitments for the future of post-Assad Syria, and vowed to establish pluralism and democracy in a civil constitutional State…”,… it
vows to establish; they
vow to establish... not to convene a committee of Syrians and a vote by the elected, the wise or even just the living but no, no, they
will establish representative utopia for the rest of a Syrian people; a people for whom the Brotherhood has often been a bane.
Unsurprisingly they were displeased with Syria’s current
leader and government asking Russia’s government
for help with problems that the Syrian Brotherhood was supposed to have been the solution for.
One can see why Russia’s help might send a shiver up the spine of every western, NATO-backed violent Islamist group if the Telegraph’s reports
are accurate, “Russian officials are also arguing that there’s little difference between Isil and any other rebel group anyway.” The report went on to site Alexei Pushkov, chair of the international affairs committee in the Russian parliament, "'The moderate opposition' is largely a myth invented by the United States. Its fighters are not fighting against Isil, join Al-Qaeda, and fired at the Russian embassy. Is that 'moderation'?”
In Mr. Oweis’ Reuters article mentioned earlier, he went on to say that,
Working quietly, the Brotherhood has been financing Free Syrian Army defectors based in Turkey and channeling money and supplies to Syria, reviving their base among small Sunni farmers and middle class Syrians, opposition sources say.
"We bicker while the Brotherhood works," said Fawaz al-Tello, a veteran opposition figure who is a pious Muslim while being on the liberal end of the Syrian political spectrum….
Tello, however, acknowledged that the Brotherhood has clawed back influence inside Syria, especially in the cities of Homs and Hama and the rural province of Idlib on the border with Turkey, hotbeds of the revolt against Assad.
The Telegraph reported earlier today
that Russia's defence ministry, "said on its YouTube page militant infrastructure in Hama as well as near Idlib was destroyed by the air strikes."