All those supporting the Syrian Revolution rejected the recent heavy Russian intervention, which they clearly called a Russian “occupation.” Extremist groups considered it such as well—only adding thereto their own declaration of jihad against it, alongside other clerics who also declared jihad. And while it may be perfectly understandable for sectarian, jihadi, and religious forces to consider it jihad; it is quite surprising for a political force—one supposedly belonging to the realm of modern politics to also consider this a jihad. Such consideration squarely transforms it into a sectarian group, par excellence.
Both the Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood], their Damascus Declaration liberal supporters, and their adherents, all attempted to whitewash their image in front of Syrians and the world. They attempted to convince them the war which they had fought in the 1980s was merely an act perpetrated by the fighting vanguard, to which they supposedly have no connection; that they are seeking a “civil, participatory, deliberative” state; or an "Islamic state—but through the ballot box." Whomsoever reads this objective would be deluded into believing that [to the Ikhwan] issues of religion are merely cultural references, and faith a personal issue and that, therefore, the Ikhwan truly seek an inclusive state. There are also those who delude themselves of [the Ikhwan] having conducted personal reviews of their history, and of having become liberals.
To employ jihad requires the fatwa of an Imam—or of an Emir, if that proves impossible. It requires the exclusion of women, as well as the rest of popular classes. The latest Ikhwan statement, calling upon the rest of the people to join them in jihad and war against Russia becomes, therefore, nothing more than political gibberish. That is not to mention that it ends any talk about their purported democracy, thus placing them under the authority of an Emir or Imam. The fatwa statement also reveals the Ikhwan’s true thought—that of a sectarian group employing religion, and manipulating it according to their interests. These interests include religious discrimination between classes of the people, not on the basis of versus non-Muslim communities; but between those with the Ikhwan—and the other jihadis, of course—and the rest of the people, Muslims and otherwise, who reject the notion of sectarianization, and the use of jihad as a catalyst for the struggle against occupation.
To understand the Ikhwan’s thought, it would be quite difficult to overlook their policy since the Damascus Declaration in 2005, and their tireless efforts to dominate the Syrian political scene. They first allied themselves to the Declaration’s creators; only to later distance themselves from the, to ally themselves with [former Vice President] Abdul-Halim Khaddam, the notorious burier of toxic nuclear waste in Syria. Their glorious “struggle” against the regime—the true nature of which no one can define—then suddenly came to a halt, when the latter— paid lip service in support of Gaza in the face of the Israeli aggression of the year 2008. The Ikhwan, of course, at the time subjugated themselves to [then Turkish Prime Minister] Erdogan’s will; he was mediating between them and the regime, in an attempt to turn the page on the 1980s, and discuss political representation. This, in turn, was against the opposition’s objectives then.
With the onset of the Revolution, the Ikhwan re-activated their role. They reinvested the erstwhile money they had received in the past from countries that had supported them while they fought the totalitarian Syrian regime in the 1980s. They invested these monies in the creation of an audience for themselves, as well as armed brigades, and relief organizations; all of which were presented under the name of the Ikhwan. On the political side, they toyed around with the National Council—and later the National Coalition; with their quest, as it always had been, merely to gain power for themselves. While that is arguably the right of any political force; the employment of religion in the service of jihadi issues, actually wrests any political description in the modern sense. Or, one might rather say, that they distort politics in service if their authoritarian and totalitarian objectives.
The Ikhwan played some of the worst roles in the Syrian Revolution, part of which they never have been at any point in time. It as they who supported all parties to follow the paths of Islamization and militarization; and of seeking external interference and attempt to eliminate the Free Syrian Army [FSA] and of its basic objective—i.e. to protect peaceful demonstrators. It was such trends—in addition to the regime’s attempts to push the Revolution towards it—that played a significant role in distorting the Revolution; in the creation of jihadism; in the Revolution lacking any military vision that is subject to the Revolution’s objectives and, far worse; in creating the illusion of a coming [external] intervention. Here indeed it comes—not to fight the regime; but to rehabilitate it, under the title of the war on Daesh. This concerns the international coalition against Daesh; not merely the last Russian occupation only—which has also ostensibly come for the same objective!
Declaring Jihad, is an additional distortion of the Revolution; a transference thereof into to a sectarian Revolution par excellence. The aforementioned statement does not forget to call upon all Muslims and Islamic countries to come to stand up against this “occupation.” It is, then, no longer a popular Revolution; no one other than the Islamists is taking part therein; and the rest of the people—including Sunnis—will have to support their Islamist “brethren” to repel the “occupation.”
The regime is extremely weak. The Russians will not be able to be rehabilitate it. They will manage to destroy a lot of that which it [the regime] was unable to destroy, and will kill a great many. That much the Ikhwan know only too well; yet their call is designed to ingratiate themselves to the people as much as possible, in an attempt to kidnap any coming victory; or simply to reserve themselves a major role in the subsequent negotiation process.
The [Syrian] Ikhwan as presented above are, therefore, no different than the other international Ikhwan branches. They only talk of the civil state and participatory politics to win power and Ikhwanize the state; thereby destroying the concepts of the citizen state; the secular state, wherein all religions are neutralized, respected, and any attempt to thrust them into politics and education is rejected.
The Syrians embarked upon their Revolution without any declaration of jihad. Their Revolution was only distorted when first the Ikhwan—and, subsequently, jihadi groups, the mercenaries of global jihad, and the calls for external intervention—entered it. Syrians now need a vision that repudiates all forms of occupation, as well as the Ikhwan and jihad groups; in order for their Revolution against the regime to be victorious.
* Opinion articles published do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Rozana.