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Digital Archive International History Declassified

1947

THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD

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    Account of the Muslim Brotherhood's division in Syria and tension with communists and the Syrian government.
    "The Muslim Brotherhood," 1947, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Emir Farid Chehab Collection, GB165-0384, Box 2, File 8E/2, Middle East Centre Archive, St Antony’s College, Oxford. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/176159
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8/2E

The Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood divided into two fronts; in Syria, the first front includes upper-class people who hold university degrees, like Dr Mostapha al-Seba'i and others. It considers Russia as a friend of the Arabs and a country with which a political alliance could be concluded, confines its opposition to Karl Marx's communist principles, and tends to favour a truce with Nasser and supporting him against the West.

The second front is made up of religious sheikhs who work mainly as imams at Damascus' mosques and are led by Sheikh Abdel-Hakim al-Muthayar, one of the imams who delivers sermons and teaches at the Omayyad Mosque. He delivered a sermon last Friday in which he accused a Syrian Ministry of being communist and agnostic, and called upon the people to rise against it. He was arrested, jailed, referred to the courts, and released after a 24 hour detention.

Besides rousing the enmity of these sheiks towards the Government, the front is waging a strong campaign in support of King Saud's call, regarding the fight against communism in Arab countries, which he launched during his meeting in Dammam with Presidents Shukri al-Kouatly and Nasser. It is also sending delegations, from various quarters, to the Saudi Embassy in Damascus to lend it support and propagate the call. The whole existence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria is now under threat because their political line runs contrary to that of the Syrian leadership.

One of the results of this disagreement was the ban imposed this week on their newspapers, which could possibly be extended for a longer period of time.

What fuels this campaign against the communists among the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria is the entrenched enmity between the Brotherhood and leftist parties in Jordan and Northern Syria. The Jordanian parliamentary elections are gradually revealing the extent to which the competition has increased between the leftists and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria is strongly supported by members of the PPS and indirectly by supporters of the Iraqi political line, feudal lords, and businessmen.

In their opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood, the communists and their supporters brandish the banner of the patriotic nationalist Arabs, speak in their name, and arm themselves with Russia's support for Arab causes in international conferences and its constant readiness to supply them with weapons, in contrast with the anti-Arab position of Western countries. They also attack their local opponents the sheikhs, Syrian Nationalists, Iraq's supporters, and feudal lords which they accuse of being agents of Western embassies, and in particular the American Embassy which they claim is supplying them with money.

They seize upon the enmity of the Syrian Socialist Party towards these groups towards these groups to launch a campaign in the name of Hizb al-Baath through the Party's newspapers and others that support Syria.

In response to this dangerous rift within Syrian public opinion, the Government adopts a left-leaning position under pressure from the Egyptian Government which aligned its foreign policy with Russia's. A friendship has developed between socialist party leaders in Syria and President Nasser who now pursue a common political line towards Arab countries.

For the time being, the leftists maintain a truce with King Saud after he retreated at the Dammam Conference from his insistence on implementing his agreement with Iraq regarding the fight against communism; however, this truce is contingent upon development in Saudi policies.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which opposes all that relates to Russia and communism, intends to launch a strong campaign in Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon, with the help of Syrian Nationalists and Iraq's friend s in these countries, against the Syrian communist parliamentarian and head of Middle Eastern communists, Khaled Beikdache. The mainstay of this campaign is the latter's attendance at the Communist Conference in China alongside the Israeli Communist Party, the omission from his speech of references to the Palestinian cause, and his being an ally of Israel. It accuses parliamentarian Beikdache, and behind him all communists, of failing to differentiate between one communist and another and of considering every communist, regardless of colour or race, a comrade even if he were Israeli. In short, they accuse him of treason against the nation.

In return, communists and their allies will respond to this campaign by accusing their opponents of supporting the Baghdad Pact and working to further colonial and Israeli interests, which ultimately means that they are at Israel's service.

In the final analysis, both parties accuse each other of the same things.

The Syrian Government's position is becoming more embarrassing with each passing day which prompted the Prime Minister, as a result of Egyptian pressure on the Syrian President, to go along with Egyptian policies and attack the supporters of Baghdad's line. This policy, as well as his government, is under threat of collapse under pressure from Hizb al-Shaab that holds the majority in parliament. Furthermore, the influence of the Syrian Army on the government is no longer as strong as before because its current leaders prefer to stay out of government politics and have ousted partisan elements from sensitive military positions.

This emboldens Hizb al-Shaab and its supporters in Parliament and popular circles, as well as enemies of the communists, to continue their attacks on the current government until they bring it down.

The crisis is escalating day by day. Leftist party leaders are confident that their victory over the Government and their attempts to bring it down will encourage leftist army officers to stage a military coup d’état and establish a revolutionary command council similar to the one in Egypt.

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