In the context of military and strategic analysis, this paper highlights the repercussions of the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence in liberated areas.
The paper proceeds to discusses a number of geographical and historical realities of the remaining “liberated” areas and then highlights their strategic importance and the aims of the MB in those areas, in addition to the stations, tools and approaches that have been used by the MB to reinforce its influence there. This paper also discusses the future of the region in the light of the MB influence and the current internal, regional and international balances of power.
Over the past ten years, and specifically since the end of 2011, the MB in Syria has sought, by all means, to gain political control over areas outside the influence of the Assad regime, through its presence as the strongest organized party in the Syrian opposition. The MB achieved part of that since the beginning of June 2013, through its political, military, and economic arms. Its military wing is “Protection of Civilians,” then “Shields of the Revolution,” and finally, “Faylaq al-Sham,” one of the components of the military factions operating on the ground that took control with the rest of military components over Idlib in
March 2015, and they were operating under the name of Jaysh al-Fateh, where they expelled the Assad regime forces and affiliated Iranian militias.
Besides, the MB opened regulatory offices in Syria, and its humanitarian organizations invaded the Syrian society.
The MB has adopted multiple ways to impose its influence on the Syrian regions revolting against the Assad regime, through unarmed expansion and proliferation, or what we might call “soft power.” Soft Power is a strategic plan that derived its legitimacy and dynamism from the history of their struggle with power since 1963. That struggle intensified during the era of Hafez al-Assad between (1979-1982).
The MB benefited from the state of the Assad regime’s collapse at all levels, and this context we can highlight the most important political powers that supported the Syrian Revolution, in which the MB were the main nerve in cooperation with other powers that works under its umbrella according to the MBs agenda and through penetrating into the organizations of the Syrian Revolution. Such as the Syrian National Council which was the largest and most important gathering of Syrian opposition in diaspora, and the main referral for countries that support the Syrian opposition.
On October 2, 2011, the formation of the Syrian National Council was announced in Istanbul. It includes a large Islamist component, including the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and a second Islamist bloc consisting of the “Group of 74”, most of whom are former members of the MB, including many businessmen.
With nearly a quarter of the 310 seats in the Syrian National Council, the MB is certainly the largest and most cohesive faction within the SNC, leading some critics to argue that it wields undue influence over its decision-making and policies. Although the creation of the National Coalition initially reduced the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in opposing exile, the group was not defeated. The MB enjoys wide influence in the coalition, which is made up of several opposition blocs, most notably the Syrian National Council.
In addition, the MB and its allies dominated the government of Ghassan Hito, which was appointed by the National Coalition in March 2013, as he was elected by the votes mobilized by the MB. After a harsh voting process, twelve members of the coalition’s General Assembly suspended their membership, in protest of the MB’s influence within the interim government.
To impose its influence, a group of young MB members linked to the Aleppo faction established a political movement called the National Action Group for Syria. The group was led by Ahmed Ramadan, a little-known businessman and pro-Palestinian activist. The list of founding members also included Al-Bayanouni’s close ally, Obeida Nahas. With the political developments, a soft arm of the MB appeared under the name of the “Waad” party in 2013, claiming that it is working to consolidate the principles of freedom and justice through democratic means, according to the founding statement.
Like all other national parties, the party adopted the concept of freedom, dignity, citizenship, equality in rights and duties, and the separation of powers. The party’s orientation appears by adopting the moderate approach of Islam in terms of respecting its ideological constants and rejecting what contradicts Islamic Sharia. Although it put forward these principles, this did not distance it from the MB who participated in its establishment.
Although the MB denied its relationship with the party, there was considerable confusion at the time that the party had always acted as a mere political arm of the MB.
After the events took a dramatic course, the indications of the events indicated that the MB, since late 2012, will work internally through their offices to infiltrate the military factions, and create the appropriate conditions for a resumption of their attempt to dominate the region. And that is because they don’t have organized base in Syria, so they continued with their secret approaches and worked backstage to recruit personnel and fund armed groups.
The MB relied heavily on their strategy of buying loyalty and trying to empower allies and relatives in Syria through targeted financial and political support. However, the rapid rise of radical and independent Salafist factions undermined the MB’s attempts to rebuild an activist base inside the country. In order to impose their influence on the Syrian scene, the MB has adopted a military strategy to achieve integration between its geopolitical goals in the context of its aspiration to become the most prominent force in the field. The group initially established the Commission for the Protection of Civilians, an effective humanitarian and military platform in Homs. Its organizers define it as “working with the Free Army and active in the service, relief and humanitarian field, with brigades and battalions from the Free affiliated to it. The MB in Syria has gone a long way to rebuilding their military influence.
This process reached its climax in September 2012, when the MB gathered all the “Commission for Protection of Civilians” groups under the official umbrella of what is known as the “Shields of the Revolution” commission, which began to function effectively and fully in January 2013. A large number of activists describe the Shields it as the new “militia” of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Syrian conflict.
The MB had repeated attempts to penetrate the system of Syrian society, this was accompanied by the emergence of what was known as the “Association of Muslim Scholars,” “affiliated with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in the Diaspora. Its arms, Watan Organization, registered in the United Kingdom, and serves as an umbrella for several NGOs, each of which specializes in a specific field, such as humanitarian aid, finance, and the media. During the ten years of the revolution, which began in 2011, the MB was involved in shifting loyalties between forces conflicting territoriality.
In this context, we can highlight the most important political forces supporting the MB, and the other forces operating under its umbrella, according to their own agendas, such as Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
As a result of many aforementioned factors, behind the agendas of the MB, the Syrian revolution faced serious challenges, as a result of the mess caused by the MB, their political and military battles have not added real gains so far, with the exception of the influence it gained in the Syrian National Council. Rather, on the margins of this gain, it lost Saudi Arabia, which laid its hand on the Syrian file, lost, in addition to for its classification of the Muslim Brotherhood organization as a “terrorist”, and the “Brotherhood” is still suffering continuous losses since 2015; Where they lost their military and political influence, due to the difference in their real goals, and the conflicting orientations between regional and international actors.