More than Ten years ago, a revolution in Syria erupted against the dictator regime the rules Syria for decades. That revolution was an extension for the so-called Arabic Spring that started in Tunisia, then Egypt, and after that it reached Libya and Yemen.
During those ten years, Syria has suffered destruction in almost all its cities and countryside. Millions of Syrians have been displaced, and millions have sought refuge. Some went to Arabic neighboring countries and some to EU countries. All that coincided with political and military foreign intervention, and with importing foreign fighters to fight for sectarian reasons.
This led to the emergence of extremism and terrorism, represented by the Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State (IS). In parallel, over all the years, several opposition entities started to act politically, starting with the National Council and then the National Coalition of Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, which included many traditional streams in Syria, such as the leftist stream, the Muslim Brotherhood, and many independent liberal, secular figures and civil society organizations.
In this study, we try to read the performance of one of those opposing streams, the Islamic movement represented by the Muslim Brotherhood in pre-revolutionary Syria. Then we will try to examine the group’s performance, and how its representatives attempt to be strongly present on the opposition Syrian political scene and often be leading the scene.
The main reason for all that is to answer two controversial questions:
- Can dialogue with the MB take place in the light of its closed religious ideology?
- Has the performance of the Muslim Brotherhood over the past 10 years signified a change in their strategy towards the values of this era; the values of modernity, civilization, democracy, citizenship, etc..?
Through this study, I try to adopt a number of approaches, the most important of which is the investigative approach to the group’s stance, the historical narrative in some stations, the functional theory of discovering the stated functions, the content of the fraternal performance, the critical base of that performance and the attempt to understand its aims in accordance with the sensory facts of the situations, the information provided to the members and officials of the group and its published documents.
Since the establishment of the group’s branch in Syria in 1942, by Dr. Mustafa al-Sabbai, the MB started to appear in the political arena, where MB member became PM, then the group was banned, and finally, MB tried to reach out to the regime.
After that the ensuing bloody events in the Syrian city of Hama took place, leading to their attempt to reach out to opposition political forces inside Syria through what was called the Damascus Spring in 2005. The group then tried to ally with the dissident Syrian Vice-President Abdel Halim Khadam, they formed together what was then known as the National Salvation Front. That was widely disdained, as it was a sign of alliance with a prominent symbol of the former regime who accused of corruption in many files.
However, with its investment logic, the group was trying, through this alliance, to encourage others to dissent from the regime, and to try to invest the connections of Khaddam with prominent figures of the Alawite community. But the MB’s plan was not successful, so that alliance would fail and end after a very short time.
This was preceded, in 2004, by the announcement of the political project for a future Syria as the group saw it. It contained a number of pragmatic and problematic points, such as the group’s talk of political pluralism as a natural result of freedom of thought and belief. The group has never applied political pluralism after that. Perhaps placing the word “modern state” between brackets in the group’s vision of the future Syria indicates a reservation, and perhaps the group’s original objection to these contemporary concepts, in favor of governance as an ideological concept on which the group has built its literature.
In a pragmatic manner, the group tried to enter the political arena, especially after the transfer of power to Hafez al-Assad’s son Bashar, which many had wagered for a possible reform in his reign, but that did not happen until mid-March 2011 when Syrians revolted against the regime.
Back then, the group began to attempt to infiltrate the to the Syrian political body by attending conferences that tried to parallel the popular movement and express it politically, such as the Brussels Conference, and through the gate of the National Council at a later period, which was formed after the Revolution. The attempts that revealed in many joints and stations the desire of the group to produce the opposing scene, coupled with a past speech, did not change much with the formation of the National Coalition of the Forces of Revolution and Opposition, especially after the adoption of United.
The group’s performance in the post-2011 Syrian revolution phase can be classified by two levels:
One: Ideologically and in terms of the assets from which the Community has discarded its intellectual sources through the idea of the ruler, which many of the Community’s observers have spoken about in the past 10 years.
Second: Pragmatic attempts to reposition the facts of the field, to try to infiltrate the front of the opposing political landscape, sometimes in tandem with and access to a Big Zahd with power, and to try to manipulate a lot of terms to pass on a pre – prepared agenda in the group’s thinking.
On the basis of all of the above, it is possible to try to answer the two main questions from which I have asked about a number of factors on which dialogue with the Community must be initiated in a dialogue that cannot be excluded. Perhaps the most important ones are as follows:
First: Final agreement with the group on the diversity of Syrian society as a supranational principle, followed by clear constitutional articles guaranteeing the rights of all as citizens.
Second: To agree with the Community on the form of the incoming State and to remove its concerns through dialogue on the concept of a civic State, which sponsors and maintains the right of belief and religious observance for all its citizens.
Third: To grant the Community the right to exercise its advocacy without prejudice to previous constitutional principles and the right of its members as citizens to stand for public office.
Without those determinants, there will still be controversy with the MB, whose members cannot in any way be excluded from their rights and the exercise of those rights as citizens, given that the Syrian issue is becoming increasingly complex, and outside interventions by Syrians at home under the weight of poverty, hunger, suffering and abroad under the name of asylum, the unbridled desire to return and to contribute to the building of their diverse State on the basis of citizenship, freedom and justice.