Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood has become one big mess

Raed Omari
Raed Omari
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It would be no exaggeration to say that Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood is perishing. Given the widening cracks within the long-established group, which led to hundreds of leaders recently submitting their mass resignation, the kingdom's Islamist movement is now as fragmented and weak as leftist powers. In other words, the dispute-plagued movement is no longer Jordan's largest opposition force.

Over the past year, the Muslim Brotherhood’s prominent leaders have been jumping overboard, mostly for being fed up with the totalitarian attitude of the group's 'hawkish' leadership. Last week's mass resignation of 400 leaders and founding members of the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the Muslim Brotherhood's political arm, was the most recent manifestation of fierce disputes within the group which, for decades, was well-known for being in harmony and having a solid structure.

One of the Islamist leaders whose membership in the Brotherhood was previously terminated by an internal tribunal, professor and columnist Rheil al-Gharaibeh, has founded Zamzam, a reform-oriented initiative which has been gaining ground and attracting conservative statesmen who long-opposed the Islamist movement. Zamzam is now a licensed body in Jordan with moderate socio-political tendencies and is highly expected to participate in the upcoming parliamentary election, expected in January 2017. This will definitely strike a big blow to the Brotherhood’s trend of boycotting elections.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan was licensed in 1946 as a charity affiliated with the mother group in Egypt and relicensed in 1953 as an Islamic society.

Raed Omari


The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan was licensed in 1946 as a charity affiliated with the mother group in Egypt and relicensed in 1953 as an Islamic society. Probably the strongest rift in the Jordanian Brotherhood happened when a group of prominent “dovish” leaders recently walked out of the organization, severing affiliations with the Egyptian mother group, with the intention to form an offshoot group. Many political observers now believe that the Brotherhood's hawkish leader Hammam Said has been putting the group at the disposal of Hamas member and Egypt's Brotherhood, thus depriving the Jordanian group of its national distinctiveness and pushing it to become embroiled in the troubling politics of Gaza and Egypt.

Each of the two offshoots and the original Brotherhood in Jordan is claiming to be the authentic and legitimate heir of the Brotherhood movement. The 400 resigned members had gathered in a group dubbed the “Group of Elders” with an aim being to reform the Brotherhood and restore its allure which, they said, has had been damaged by the hawkish camp. Zamzam founders also say they are still Muslim Brotherhood members, announcing that their initiative's aim is also centered on rescuing the old group.

We also have a newly-established, licensed Muslim Brotherhood– named the Muslim Brotherhood Society – and the old group, which is unlicensed but not outlawed. There has even been a court ruling obliging the old group to transfer all assets to the new licensed Muslim Brotherhood Society. The new group is claiming to be the legitimate successor of the Brotherhood while the old movement has repeatedly charged that the establishment of the new Brotherhood society is a “government conspiracy” against the Islamists.

In a bid to contain the growing crisis, the old, unlicensed Islamist movement is nowadays calling for dialogue, saying the mass resignations have not yet been accepted. But those who have resigned say their decision is irreversible and that they will move ahead with their reformist endeavor. The IAF, or again Said's movement, is claiming that the resignations are not affecting the group's popular base which, it said has been seeing a rise in the number of subscribers and branches across the kingdom.

But this is all such a mess. Even in terms of terminology and phrases – the old group, Zamzam, the licensed group, the unlicensed one, the IAF, the mother movement, the Group of Elders, the Muslim Brotherhood Society. This is the current frayed state of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood. No matter what comes from their efforts to resolve the growing crisis, what is indisputable is that the Jordanian Islamist movement is no longer cohesive and influential.

Raed Omari is a Jordanian journalist, political analyst, parliamentary affairs expert, and commentator on local and regional political affairs. His writing focuses on the Arab Spring, press freedoms, Islamist groups, emerging economies, climate change, natural disasters, agriculture, the environment and social media. He is a writer for The Jordan Times, and contributes to Al Arabiya English. He can be reached via [email protected], or on Twitter @RaedAlOmari2

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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