Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Iranian Brotherhood! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Should we be surprised by the partiality of the Muslim Brotherhood’s (MB) Supreme Guide Mahdi Akif towards the Shia Lebanese Hezbollah with regards to the latest crisis in Lebanon?

Did the Jordanian Islamic Action Front, the MB’s political wing, present anything new as it supported Hezbollah’s actions in Beirut and Mount Lebanon since this party is considered a symbol of resistance and the force that disciplines Arab Zionists?

It might seem odd to the average observer that an Islamic Sunni group, described as fundamentalist, supported a Shia group over Sunnis, i.e. the inhabitants of west Beirut.

Is this because of a position that transcends all differences whether color, creed or doctrine? Or are matters not so innocent?

If the MB’s position stems from tolerance and fraternity then why did the brotherhood devote so many pages of its history books to conflicts with those who disagreed with it but belonged to the same sect or were even part of the brotherhood itself?

Where has this ideological and doctrinal tolerance, which has been bestowed so generously upon Khomeini’s Hezbollah and Iran, disappeared to?

The truth is that there is a spiritual relation between the Muslim Brotherhood and Shia Islam that follows the Khomeini system based on the pretext that is always used; to confront the foreign enemy, whether it is Britain, Israel or America.

Both sanctify politics and elevate it to the status of religion in exactly the same way that Iranian Hezbollah deals with foreign policy, as though it were a matter related to faith in God and a decree from the heavens above.

This is exactly the approach that is followed by the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood: the escalation of politics, the focus of activity towards resistance, the antagonizing of others and the marginalizing of all other aspects of politics, including internal development policies. Moreover, this is precisely the way in which modern politicized Shia fundamentalism was created. The most prominent group in this field was the Iraqi Islamic Dawa Party that was formed in the 1950s. Some of the party leaders were active members of the Iraqi Hizb ut-Tahrir [Party of Liberation], which was founded by Taqiuddin al Nabhani, a Sunni Palestinian who broke away from the Muslim Brotherhood.

The reasons behind this easy transition from Hizb ut-Tahrir or the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood to the Shia Dawa Party are shared ideas and ideological political dreams.

Sheikh Aref al Basri, who was one of the key founders of the Dawa Party and a fundamentalist Shia activist, left the Sunni Hizb ut-Tahrir organization for the Dawa Party.

Mansour al Jamri, a writer in Bahrain, wrote that Iraqi Shia figures joined the Dawa Party after having worked under the auspices of the MB in Iraq, as mentioned in his article entitled ‘History of Bahraini Islamic Movements: From Dawa to Ahrar al Bahrain to al Wefaq’ that was published in ‘Al-Wasat’ newspaper.

The Syrian Sheikh Ali al Tantawi, who is close to the MB, recounts in his memoirs how the Syrian MB welcomed the Iranian fundamentalist and revolutionary activist Navvab Safavi, the leader of the Fadayan-e Islam movement, upon his arrival in Syria.

Safavi was Khomeini’s ideological and political predecessor and was mentioned on numerous occasions during Khomeini’s speeches after he returned to Tehran victorious.

The idea behind this all is that there is a kind of political ‘kinship’ between the Sunni MB, its affiliates and the writers and journalists who support it and introduce themselves as independent Islamists or ‘nationalists’, and the Khomeini Shia movement and its various branches.

What links these two sides is the significant involvement in politicizing classical Islam for the benefit of a political agenda and their specific visions of a solution for the state and society.

There is hardly any methodological difference between the literature of the MB and a group like Hezbollah. One is reminded from time to time that one group is Shia whilst the other is Sunni by historical references or symbolic figures or the pure notion of Islam which is sometimes referred to as “Caliphate” or the state of “Sahib al-Zaman” [the master of time; a reference to the awaited Mahdi]. Amongst the Shia there are references to al Hussein, Al Abbas Ibn Ali and Zainab and Shia titles such as “Haidara” and “al Karrar”. Amongst the Sunnis [there are references to] Omar Ibn al Khattab, Salahuddin Ayoubi, Nour ad-Din [ruler of Damascus during the Zengid Dynasty] and so on and so forth.

Based on this, it was not strange to hear the MB guide in Egypt, Mahdi Akif, vehemently defending the Iranian fundamentalist revolutionary trend to the extent that one would think he was born in Qom or in Jabal Amil [in southern Lebanon]!

In an interview published in ‘Al Watan Al Arabi’ magazine in August 2006, in reference to the nature of the alliance between the MB and Hezbollah, Akif stated, “It is solidarity, alliance, support…everything.”

When asked about the existence of an Iranian agenda to control the Arab region and expand Iranian influence, Akif stated, “Let leave this aside; talk of an Iranian agenda comes from the enemies of the Ummah [Islamic nation].” He expressed admiration for Iran’s argumentative discourse, and in reference to Tehran’s mullahs, he said: “When you speak to the Iranians, you find that their words are balanced by logic and evidence; they never speak about a desire to control and establish a global state.”

These comments were made two years ago by the Muslim Brotherhood guide, yet nowadays, after the recent raid that was carried out by the divine party in Beirut, Akif pledges his support once again for the Khomeini party, brushing aside any talk about Iranian interference in Arab issues because only the sacred cause, confronting America and Zionism, is pure even if it means the destruction of all countries. In response to a warning about Hezbollah’s weapons being directed towards the inhabitants of Beirut and Mount Lebanon, Hezbollah’s representative at the recent Doha talks, Mohamed Raad, said, “Our weapons are sacred.”

Why is there such tension within the Sunni and Shia Muslim Brotherhood or the Sunni and Shia Hezbollah towards peace, coexistence, life and development?

Why is there such a stubborn and narrow-minded escalation towards politics? Are the intentions pure or do the popular speeches aim to win over the frustrated masses through emotion? Are matters more complicated and can they be attributed to an unremitting conflict between a trend that calls for internal development and economic and educational reform, and another that focuses on confronting foreign parties and the postponement or marginalization of everything else for the sake of this confrontation?

The Muslim Brotherhood’s position towards Hezbollah’s raid is a grave one. What is strange is that despite Akif’s pragmatism and the MB’s usual political slyness, he gave up on word play this time and explicitly offered his support to Hezbollah’s actions. Moreover, a number of Egyptian Islamic voices that are considered moderate also chanted their support for Hezbollah on Al Manar television channel.

Beyond the similarity between political fundamentalist thought, and beyond the exasperation towards the Egyptian ruling regime, it seems to me that the MB’s ‘Sayyed’ is keen to win over the ‘Sayyed’ of the resistance. And the master of both is Iran, which supports the Hamas Brotherhood, the first Brotherhood organization in the Arab world to establish authority despite its isolation and besieging. And in the end; it is an authority born of reality on the ground, with its ministries and agencies, and its supporter is none other than Iran and its disciple Hezbollah, the secretary-general of which repeats the name ‘Hamas’ almost as much as he uses the term ‘treason’ against all his opponents!

The MB’s position is indicative of the depth of the crisis that it is experiencing as part of the Arab political system, and with which it is in a constant state of hostility. And perhaps it views, and rightfully so, that it has a wide support base and wonders why it hasn’t reached power like its offshoot Hamas.

If the brotherhood has not considered that, and it most certainly has, then who else but the Safavid mullahs in Tehran can place it in power in what would be one of history’s greatest paradoxes…

The MB and Hezbollah are two sides of the same coin; they reduce religion to a political authoritarian project and the pretext is always about the foreign enemy, turning a blind eye to any other kind of enemy whether it is ignorance, poverty, backwardness or scientific stagnancy.

Iran remains in the distance whilst ingeniously and masterfully managing the game from afar. However, no matter how long this game lasts, it is certainly only a temporary one that will end as soon as the clouds of ignorance and delusion have cleared – just Hezbollah’s summer cloud has evaporated.