Why is Egypt’s Brotherhood backing Assad and Iran?

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

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Former Kuwaiti MP Walid al-Tabtbani was pretty much the only person who condemned the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and its cabinet’s stance towards the Syrian revolution. He also criticized the rapprochement with Iran, a country “whose hands are stained with the blood of the Syrian people,” according to Tabtani.

Egypt’s Brotherhood is in need of reprimands, stated the MP, “due to its weakness towards the Syrian revolution and its rapprochement with Iran on the political and tourism level, [despite knowing that the latter’s] hands are stained with the blood of the Syrian people.”

Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced officially that an agreement had been reached with the cabinet of Dr. Mohammed Mursi stating that a political solution should be adopted in Syria. It added that it has also been agreed that national reconciliation is the only means to end the bloodshed in Syria.

Angering Arab public opinion

The issue is not worth the effort of a dignified response because the Arab public opinion is so angry to the point where equality between the Syrian regime and the slain Syrian people will not be accepted. Arab opinion will not forgive anyone who imposes a reconciliation between the murderer and the victim.

Mursi’s cabinet is testing the waters by taking Russia and Iran’s side. By speaking of a national reconciliation, Mursi’s cabinet is also taking a public stance that stands in line with the Syrian regime’s rhetoric

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Mursi’s cabinet is testing the waters by taking Russia and Iran’s side. By speaking of a national reconciliation, Mursi’s cabinet is also taking a public stance that stands in line with the Syrian regime’s rhetoric.

However, Egypt is not being forced to involve itself in Syria’s bloodshed nor is it being forced to take Iran’s side. It could have maintained its policy of mysterious silence. For about a year now, we have known that the Brotherhood in Egypt views events in Syria suspiciously, as if they are being orchestrated by America. This stance harmonized with that of the Hamas Movement’s, which was forced to flee Damascus after violence worsened in Syria. Hamas, however, has preferred silence over publicly making stances. Losing Iran’s support would be the price Hamas pays if it joins parties that oppose Assad. Two weeks ago, the movement had to deny that it was involved in battles in Syria.

The Brotherhood’s mysterious stance

The Brotherhood’s stance on the Syrian revolution has been mysterious ever since Mursi became president. The Brotherhood’s silence, along with President Mursi’s few condemning statements, hinted that the Brotherhood in Egypt sided with Iran. When Mursi announced the quartet initiative – involving Iran, Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia- the move was considered an attempt to save Assad. The committee failed due to Saudi’s repetitive absences. And the suggestion to send Arab peace troops to Syria was met by mockery by both the Syrian regime and the opposition, thus the suggestion died in its cradle.

Whether Egypt announces or conceals whom it supports, the question is; why does Egypt’s Brotherhood support the triangle of evil, Syria, Russia and Iran? And why does it ignore its Muslim Brotherhood fellows in Syria who are on the other side of the war?

The answer lies in the old solid alliance with Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution, which the Brotherhood in Egypt has been linked to for 30 continuous years. I think that this revolution had the greatest impact on its intellectual ideology and organization. The Muslim Brotherhood owes this revolution for its survival during its confrontation with Mubarak’s regime. This was the major reason behind the unresolved dispute between Mubarak and the Iranians. According to the Brotherhood’s extremists, Khomeini’s Iran is the ally that can be relied upon internally and externally to confront what they consider conspiracies aiming to topple their governance in Egypt. Therefore, they think that the massacres committed by Assad’s regime in Syria are a minor issue and that the dispute with the Shiites is a problem that concerns the Salafists and not the Brotherhood.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on April 30, 2013.


Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

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