Unmasking the Brotherhood: Syria, Egypt, and Beyond

December 13, 2012 (Stop Imperialism) – The complexities of the Arab Spring and
the struggle for political freedom throughout the Arab world should not
obscure what has now become an absolutely essential understanding for
all anti-imperialists: the Muslim Brotherhood is one of the most
powerful weapons of the Western ruling class in the Muslim world.  While
that may be a difficult pill for some to swallow for emotional or
psychological reasons, one need look no further than the insidious role
the organization is playing in Syria and the abuses of power and human
rights of the government of Egypt.  In the US-NATO sponsored war against
the Assad government, the Muslim Brotherhood has emerged as the leading
western-sanctioned force, the avant-garde of the imperialist assault. 
While, in Egypt, President Morsi and the Brotherhood government seek to
destroy what had been, little more than a year ago, the promise of the

Muslim Brotherhood in Syria

This week’s establishment of the Supreme
Military Command, in charge of all military aid and coordination to the
rebels, demonstrates unequivocally the leadership role of the Muslim
Brotherhood in the drive for regime change in Syria.  As Reuters reported,
“The unified command includes many with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood
and to Salafists…it excludes the most senior officers who have
defected from Assad’s military.”[1] This command structure, formed at
the behest and under the sponsorship of the US, UK, France, Saudi
Arabia, Qatar and Turkey among others, does not simply include members
of the Muslim Brotherhood, it is, in fact, dominated by them.  Is it
possible that the Western imperial powers simply did not notice that the
group they were forming was comprised of these elements?  To suggest so
would be to accuse some of the leading “statesmen” of the world
(Hillary Clinton, William Hague, Laurent Fabius, Ahmet Davutoglu, etc.)
of being stupid.  Alas, they are not so.  Instead, these individuals
have collaborated to create a Muslim Brotherhood proxy force in Syria,
one that can be controlled and depended on to do the bidding of the

However, it is not enough to say that
the Muslim Brotherhood is heading this new military structure, for that
would be to imply that they have not been playing a critical role all
along.  Rather, the organization has been central to the destabilization
of Syria since the beginning of the armed conflict.  The Syrian
National Council, originally the face of the Western-backed “opposition”
was itself dominated behind the scenes by the Muslim Brotherhood. As former Muslim Brotherhood leader Ali Sadreddine stated
regarding the SNC, “We chose this face, accepted by the West…We
nominated [former SNC head Burhan] Ghalioun as a front for national
action. We are not moving now as the Brotherhood but as part of a front
that includes all currents.”[2] Essentially then, we see that the
organization has, from the very beginning, maintained a large degree of
control of the foreign-based opposition, as distinctly different from
the indigenous opposition of the National Coordinating Councils and
other groups.  The Muslim Brotherhood, an international political and
paramilitary machine, has come to lead the battle against Assad

In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood has
provided many forms of leadership and assistance to the foreign-based,
foreign-backed opposition beyond simply direct leadership. From
providing diplomatic and political cover, to on-the-ground tactical
support such as weapons smuggling, fighter recruitment, and other
necessary responsibilities, the organization has come to permeate every
aspect of what we in the West conveniently refer to as the “rebels”.

As early as May 2012, the Muslim
Brotherhood in Egypt, the center of the organization, was already
providing the political and diplomatic support the rebels needed to
topple the Assad regime.  As they were poised to win the Egyptian
elections, the Brotherhood was busy making public comments about the
need for Western military intervention in Syria.  The organization’s spokesman, Mahmoud Ghozlan stated,
“The Muslim Brotherhood calls on Arab, Islamic, and international
governments to intervene…to bring down the [Assad] regime.”[3] This
brazen public statement flies in the face of all arguments which claim
that the Muslim Brotherhood is somehow anti-imperialist, that they stand
in opposition to Western dominance of the Arab world.  On the contrary,
though they may posture themselves as opposing the West, they are, in
fact, tools of the imperial powers used to destroy independent nations
which stand in opposition to US hegemony in the Middle East.

Image: In the US-NATO sponsored war against
the Assad government, the Muslim Brotherhood has emerged as the leading
western-sanctioned force, the avant-garde of the imperialist assault. 
While, in Egypt, President Morsi and the Brotherhood government seek to
destroy what had been, little more than a year ago, the promise of the


This political and diplomatic backing is
merely one aspect of the Brotherhood’s involvement in the destruction
of Syria.  As the New York Times reported
in June of 2012, “CIA officers are operating secretly in Southern
Turkey helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the
border will receive arms…by way of a shadowy network of
intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood.”[4] The use of the
Muslim Brotherhood to smuggle arms to the rebels in Syria should come as
no surprise considering the fact that it is the Sunni monarchies of the
region (Saudi Arabia and Qatar primarily) who have been the most
vociferous voices championing regime change in Syria by any means
necessary.  The relationship between these monarchies and the Muslim
Brotherhood is self-evident: they share similar religious convictions
and are avowed enemies of all forms of Shiism.  Moreover, they have been
part and parcel of the system of US hegemony that has kept the entire
region under its vice grip for decades.

Many have argued in the past that,
though they share identical ideologies and “brand”, the Syrian branch of
the Muslim Brotherhood is somehow independent of the Muslim Brotherhood
proper.  This preposterous claim is countered by the simple fact that
every public position the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has taken has been
in direct alignment with the public statements from Cairo.  As the Carnegie Middle East Center’s article The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria demonstrates,
Since the beginning of the revolution, the Brotherhood has maintained
that foreign intervention is the only possible solution to the crisis in
Syria. In October 2011, it also called on Turkey to intervene and
establish protected humanitarian zones in Turkish territory.”[5] When
two entities bear the same name, have the same sponsors, and take the
same positions, it is an exercise in willful ignorance to argue that
they are somehow not the same entity or, as is more accurate, taking
orders from the same masters. But who are these masters?


The Powers Behind the Muslim Brotherhood

In examining the utterly insidious role
that the Muslim Brotherhood is playing in Syria, one must begin with an
understanding of the historical relationship between the Muslim
Brotherhood and Western imperialism.  The organization was founded by Hassan al-Banna
in 1928 with the intention of reestablishing a purer form of Islam as
had existed centuries before.  However, this was merely the religious
veneer that was created to mask the political intentions of the
organization.  As explained in the Mother Jones article entitled What is the Muslim Brotherhood and Will It Take Over Egypt?,
the author explains that, “The Muslim Brotherhood served as a battering
ram against nationalists and communists, despite the Brothers’
Islam-based anti-imperialism, the group often ended up making common
cause with the colonial British.  It functioned as an intelligence
agency, infiltrating left-wing and nationalist groups.”[6] This
indisputable fact, that the Muslim Brotherhood functioned, even its
early days, as a de facto arm of Western intelligence, is critical to
understanding its development and current political power.

However, there are those who argue that,
despite this “coincidence” of objectives and agendas, the Muslim
Brotherhood could never be tied directly to the intelligence community. 
However, as Robert Dreyfuss, author of the Mother Jones article clearly
points out, there is ample evidence tying the leadership of the Muslim
Brotherhood directly to the CIA:

By then [1954], the group’s chief international organizer and best-known official was Said Ramadan,
the son-in-law of Hassan al-Banna. Ramadan had come to the attention of
both the CIA and MI-6, the British intelligence service. In researching
my book … I came across an unusual photograph that showed Ramadan
with President Eisenhower in the Oval Office. By then, or soon after,
Ramadan had likely been recruited as a CIA agent. Wall Street Journal reporter Ian Johnson has since documented the close ties between Ramadan and various Western intelligence services … Johnson writes: ‘By the end of the decade, the CIA was overtly backing Ramadan.'”[7]

The fact that the central figure in
the international organization was a known CIA agent corroborates the
assertions made by countless analysts and investigators that the
Brotherhood was used as a weapon against Nasser and, in fact, all Arab
socialist leaders who at that time were part of a rising tide of Arab
nationalism which sought, as its ultimate goal, independence from
Western imperial domination.

In order to fully grasp just how the
Brotherhood developed into the organization we know today, one must
understand the relationship between it and the royal family of Saudi
Arabia.  In fact, the Saudis have been the key financiers of the
Brotherhood for decades for the same reasons that the United States and
the Western powers needed them: opposition to Arab nationalism and the
growing “insolence” of Shiite states.  Dreyfuss writes, “From its early
days, the Brotherhood was financed generously by the Kingdom of Saudi
Arabia, which appreciated its ultra-conservative politics and its
virulent hatred of Arab communists.”[8] Essentially, as the United
States began to exert its post-war might throughout the region, the
Muslim Brotherhood was there to be a willing beneficiary and humble
servant sowing the seeds of hatred between Sunni and Shia, espousing a
hate-filled Salafist ideology that preached conflict and inescapable war
between the branches of Islam.  Naturally, all to the benefit of
Western powers who cared little for the ideology and more about the
money and resources.

A Tool of the Western Powers Today?

It is often argued that, though the
historical record unequivocally shows the Brotherhood as intimately
connected to Western intelligence, somehow the organization has changed,
that it has become a peaceful force for political progress in the Arab
world.  As recent events in Egypt have shown, nothing could be further
from the truth.  With the undemocratic attempted power grab by Egyptian
President Morsi, the scaling back of civil liberties, the rights of
women, and religious and ethnic minorities, the Muslim Brotherhood has
shown itself to be little more than a reactionary political force
parading itself as a form of “progress”.

If one had any doubts as to the true
intentions and motivations of the Muslim Brotherhood once in power in
Egypt, one needed look no further than its position on the institutions
of global finance capital, particularly the International Monetary
Fund.  In one of the first decisions taken by Morsi and the Muslim
Brotherhood government, Cairo established that it would, in fact, welcome conditional loans from the IMF[9] to
rescue itself from the prospect of a continued economic crisis. 
However, as part of the conditions of the loan, Morsi’s government would
have to drastically reduce subsidies, regulations, and other “market
restrictions” while increasing taxes on the middle class.  Essentially,
this meant that the Brotherhood consented to the usual cocktail of
austerity medicine that had been administered by the agents of finance
capital so many times all over the world.  This, naturally, begged the
question: Was this the end of the revolution? Indeed, many in the
streets of Cairo are asking themselves this same question.  Or, to put
it more accurately, they already know the answer.

In Egypt, as in Syria, the Muslim
Brotherhood has made itself into an appendage of the Western imperialist
ruling class.  It has dutifully served these interests over the course
of decades, though the names, faces, and propaganda have changed over
the years.  As we watch the tragic images coming from Syria or the tens
of thousands in the streets of Cairo, we must question why it has taken
so long for this perfidious organization to be exposed or even
understood. The answer is, as usual, because it serves the interests of
global capital to keep the rest of the world confused as to who the
enemies of progress really are.  By revealing their true nature, the
real forces of peace and progress around the world can reject the Muslim
Brotherhood and the imperial system in all its overt and covert forms.

Eric Draitser is the founder of StopImperialism.com.  He is an
independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City.  He is a
regular contributor to Russia Today, Press TV, GlobalResearch.ca, and
other media outlets. You can reach him at ericdraitser@gmail.com.

[1] http://news.yahoo.com/rebels-circle-damascus-airport-russia-u-downbeat-013515100.html
[2] http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/06/us-syria-brotherhood-idUSBRE84504R20120506

[3] http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/egypts-brotherhood-calls-intervention-syria


[5] http://carnegie-mec.org/publications/?fa=48370

[6] http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/02/what-is-the-muslim-brotherhood

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] http://www.albawaba.com/business/morsi-egypt-imf-loan-432065