What will 2016 bring for Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood?

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Article Summary
In light of the religious conflicts in the region, the phenomenon of political Islam, including the Muslim Brotherhood, will face major challenges that may bring it down in Jordan.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan is facing a set of legal and political challenges that could make the organization’s quiet disappearance from the political map possible and without any confrontation with the authority. It would either fade out or turn into a legacy to be shared by many conflicting parties.

After a large number of [Brotherhood] members left to join the Muslim Center Party, other members also left and formed the National Initiative for Building, known as Zamzam — the name of the hotel in which the meeting during which the initiative was launched was held.

A group from the Brotherhood, led by the organization’s former president, Majeed Thunaibat (1994-2006), then registered the Muslim Brotherhood Association, and considered themselves to be the legal organization, while deeming the nonregistered organization to be illegal. Through the support and coordination with the registered organization, Zamzam announced its intention to form a new political party.

Amid the crisis that emerged as a result of the registration or legal correction of the organization, a Brotherhood-affiliated movement was founded without actually belonging to either the old or the new Brotherhood. The press called this movement “the Scholars,” but it then declared itself al-Inqaz [The Salvation Movement] and announced at a founding meeting — attended by about 300 Brotherhood members and leaders — preparations for [the establishment of] a new political party.

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The Brotherhood's organizational elections are scheduled to take place no later than April 30, 2016. If these elections are not held in due time, then the group’s leadership — which was elected in 2012 — will be legally expired.

In this context, the question arises as to whether the government would agree to allow the Brotherhood to hold organizational elections on time or just turn a blind eye and pretend not to know. Would it prevent [the group] from holding the elections under the pretext of being illegal?

Under the current conditions, the group is not likely to hold these elections. However, the new situation gives the group the opportunity to register as a new Islamic association — that is fundamentally the Brotherhood — but under a different name after it lost its own.

The group can come up with a name close to the Muslim Brotherhood or one that reminds people of it, such as Al-Ikhwa Al-Islamiyya, the Call to Islam, the Islamic movement or the Solid Islamic Line-up.

However, this group would most certainly fail to get the unanimous consent of the remaining Muslim Brotherhood members as these would be divided into two groups: the newly licensed group and the “stable” group.

The new association would dominate the Islamic Action Front Party, as it would most certainly garner Hamas’ support, knowing that the movement’s ability to maintain its influence in the Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinian-Jordanian street depends on legally licensed bodies and groups that are not in a state of conflict or dispute with the government.

In all cases, the Brotherhood [members] who did not participate in the new organization and who lost their influence in the Islamic Action Front would find themselves in need of a new political party, which may indeed bear the denomination of Al-Thabat (stability) or a close or similar term. They would keep asserting that they will never change their beliefs.

These entities will surely take shape and strive to organize and develop themselves in the coming parliamentary elections expected to take place in November 2016. The results of these elections will show the weight of the new formations and the survivability of the Brotherhood under its previous denomination.

The survival of movements and their increase or decrease depend on a set of logical factors: the results of the upcoming parliamentary elections, the government’s inclination and its ideas for the Brotherhood and Islamic groups in general, funding and social support opportunities, Hamas’ inclination, positions and opportunities to influence the movements in the Palestinian street and to reach an understanding with the government, and the general popular and social inclinations toward the Brotherhood and various Islamic movements and Islamic trends in general.

It seems likely in light of this great division and sharp competition expected in the upcoming parliamentary elections between these currents that most of them, if not all, will not be confined to the political arena. If we add to this the assumption that political and religious trends in general will face objections and political pressure as a result of fierce religious conflicts in the region, then the phenomenon of political Islam, including the Muslim Brotherhood, will face major challenges that may bring it down.

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