Officials in Jordan's Brotherhood Seek to Back Off Boycott Threat

Article Summary
Some officials within Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood are pushing to shake up the organization’s command structure in a bid to back away from threats to boycott next year's  elections so its members can run for office. Tamer al-Samadi reports on the planned “coup,” as well as the Brotherhood’s call for continued popular protests.

Informed sources within the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood revealed to Al-Hayat yesterday [Oct. 8] details regarding an unreported initiative advanced by a group known as the "Brotherhood elders."

This initiative includes a practical "coup" against the current leadership of the group, seeking to "improve the conditions of negotiations with the state and [ensure the group’s] participation in the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for early next year.”

Al-Hayat learned that the initiative submitted to the current leadership a few days ago also includes a call to convene an emergency session of the Shura Council, which is the highest executive body of the Brotherhood, in order to formulate a series of new demands which would enable the group to back down on its decision to boycott the elections.

Rami Melhem, an active Brotherhood leader, told Al-Hayat, "This initiative aims to manage the next phase, both at the internal and external levels. It also calls for developing leadership positions within the group so that they can include all currents and reach a higher level of harmony with the latest developments.

“The initiative advanced by a group of elders enjoys the support of the majority of the members of the Shura Council. It aims to unify the internal row and develop a road map to get out of the current impasse," he added.

Melhem explained that he and a group of Brotherhood leaders have made an internal proposal under the name of "the third path," whereby demonstrators would remain in the streets until all the group’s demands had been realized. Chief among these are constitutional amendments and participation in parliamentary elections through a wide popular coalition which includes Islamists, their allies and 100 national figures.

In a bid to learn the details of the initiative, Al-Hayat tried to reach one of its promoters, former minister Abdul Latif Arabiyat, who is historically known for supporting the moderate movement within the group. However, Arabiyat preferred not to discuss the issue, calling it “an internal affair.”

When asked about the possibility of modifying the group's conditions for participating in the elections, Arabiyat spoke of what he called "the Brotherhood's willingness to schedule its reform demands and postpone them for specific periods of time."

However, he asked the state to amend the election law “by any means possible.”

Al-Hayat also learned details regarding another political initiative ​​by young Brotherhood leaders who represent youth members in an internal department within the Brotherhood. This initiative includes the call to amend the election law and satisfy a set of reform demands, such as releasing prisoners and ensuring the integrity of elections in order for the Brotherhood and its allies to change their decision to boycott.

Zaki Bani Irsheid, deputy leader of the group, denied in a brief statement to Al-Hayat that the Brotherhood was aware of any internal initiatives in this regard.

In the context of these initiatives, the new trends of the group's current leadership reveal the emergence of two temporary tracks. The first is the deployment of demonstrations, which were recently started by the group as a bargaining chip during dialogue with the state.

The second is heading toward an inevitable showdown with the authorities. This can be achieved by returning to organize massive demonstrations which include all political and tribal groups in order to "reduce voter turnout in the elections, and go so far as to challenge the legitimacy of the new parliament before it is even formed.”

As a well-known Brotherhood leader rushed in the past 48 hours to emphasize that "the door to dialogue is still open," Bani Irsheid went so far as to say that the “National Front for Reform [led by former Prime Minister and General Intelligence Directorate head Ahmad Obeidat] is preparing for large demonstrations during the coming period,” stressing that the Brotherhood will participate in these demonstrations under the front’s banner.

These remarks prompted a prominent politician interviewed by Al-Hayat to say that "the Brotherhood has two eyes — one that is on the dialogue, and one that is on the street.”

Politicians and analysts have been following Bani Irsheid's statements yesterday [Oct. 8], published on the group's website. These included clear evidence of escalation, as Irsheid noted the presence of "internal discussions” regarding the possibility of organizing large demonstrations of about 100,000 demonstrators at the end of each week.

The Islamist leader even threatened to resort to an open sit-in at one of Amman's largest squares.

This comes as the current Brotherhood leadership eagerly awaits the disclosure of the identity of the new prime minister, which is due to be announced soon.

Jordanians feel that choosing a prime minister who garners popular support may represent a "key to the solution," all the while ending the growing polarization that has been ongoing between the state and the group for months now.

Found in: political reform in jordan, jordanian muslim brotherhood, jordan

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