Egypt Coup Causes Rift Inside Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood

Following the coup in Egypt, a dispute has erupted inside Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood between the doves who wish to stay on the regime’s good side, and the hawks, who don't.

al-monitor Islamists and members of the Egyptian community in Jordan shout slogans protesting the ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi during a demonstration in Amman, July 27, 2013. Photo by REUTERS/Majed Jaber.

Topics covered

political conflict, internal

Aug 7, 2013

Internal differences in Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood have re-erupted following remarks against government institutions made by figures close to the hawkish current, which controls the Brotherhood’s reins of power. Meanwhile, figures in the dovish current called for getting rid of what they described as “crises-causing elements” in that strong organization. Others considered the statements made by some Brotherhood leaders to be “worthless.”

During the past few days, the threat of discord loomed on the horizon after Hamza Mansour, the secretary-general of the Islamic Action Front, the Brotherhood’s political arm, sent the government stern letters regarding the Egyptian issue. Jordanian decision-making circles received those letters positively, contrary to the harsh letters sent by the Brotherhood’s hawkish comptroller, Hammam Saeed, and his strong ally Zaki Bani Arshid, who is very influential within the organization. The Brotherhood has accused pillars of the state of supporting the June 3 coup against Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the womb of the mother organization.

Over the past months, some pro-government Jordanian political elites have watched with concern and trepidation the gains made by Islamist parties in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, and considered their ascent as a prelude to the rise of Jordanian Islamists in the future.

But the dispute inside the Brotherhood re-erupted. The Brotherhood is mobilizing its supporters through the mosques after prominent dovish leader Nabil Kofahi, the son of the group’s historic leader Ahmed Kofahi, announced his candidacy for the local elections scheduled for the end of August, despite the Brotherhood’s announcement that it was boycotting the elections.

A few hours ago, Kofahi suddenly withdrew his candidacy for supposed “health reasons.” It was learned that his withdrawal came after leaders of the hardline current decided to try him internally then expel him from the organization.

Interestingly, yesterday [Aug. 5] prominent dovish leader Rahil Gharaibeh presented a vision regarding Egypt and called for learning the lessons from Egypt’s Brotherhood. He said that Jordan’s Brotherhood should “develop its discourse, change its mechanisms of action, address its mistakes and get rid of the ‘crises-causing elements’ by removing them from leadership posts in order to have the ability to gain the confidence of their societies, in all their components.”

Those comments were in contrast to those by the group’s leader, Saeed. He said that Jordan’s Brotherhood “doesn’t need to revise its political vision in light of the Egyptian events and the coup against President Morsi.”

It is noteworthy that statements that provoked the hawkish current were made yesterday by one of the group’s historic leaders, Abdul Latif Arabiyat. He is a distinguished person who is close to the Jordanian palace. His comments worsened the dispute. He said that statements made by some Brotherhood leaders regarding Egypt “are nothing more than individual statements that do not represent the Islamist movement’s institutions and [internal] rules.” He said, “There is nothing new in the Brotherhood. Their policy is to reform the regime, not change it. And with regard to supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, it is moral support,” pointing out that “some of the statements that were made are worthless.”

Last week, the Jordanian government threatened to refer the Brotherhood’s excesses to the judiciary.

Some experts in the Islamist movement think that the dispute within the Brotherhood will end in one of two scenarios: Either the group will resort to its Shura institutions to restructure its leadership, or one wing will be expelled, in reference to some dovish leaders who fueled the discord in the past few months by announcing a political initiative called Zamzam and sought to move closer to the government and participate in parliamentary and local elections, in addition to respecting “the prestige of the state.”

Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood has had several internal crises, most notably in 1997, when prominent Brotherhood leaders resigned in protest of the decision to boycott the parliamentary elections.

In 2007, the group’s leadership dissolved itself after huge losses in the elections. In the years 2009 and 2010, there were sharp differences about organizational issues, including demands to separate the so-called “external administrative office,” which is organizationally linked to Jordan’s Brotherhood and the Palestinian Hamas movement.

Continue reading this article by registering at no cost and get unlimited access to:
  • Al-Monitor Archives
  • The Week in Review
  • Exclusive Events
  • Invitation-only Briefings

More from  Tamer al-Samadi