As events become more tumultuous in Syria, questions must be posed as to who the driving forces behind the “rebellion” are. What began as a people’s movement for democracy has become clouded by an array of factions serving seemingly incompatible interests. The fracturing of the conflict ridden Syrian National Council (SNC) is just the most recent display of the disparate agendas at work.
Haitham al-Maleh, co-founder of the Syrian Human Rights Council and until recently part of the leadership of the SNC, cited that ”The leadership does not want to play as a group”, and it is expected that nearly 60 of the 270 member council will leave and create a new council.
The fight for democracy in Syria is by no means a secular movement, the majority of the population is Sunni, however it did not begin as an ideological struggle. As the year has progressed, religion has begun to play a more prevalent role. Many of the media outlets covering the uprising focused their attention on religious figures involved in the struggle, spending very little time on secular leaders or activists.
The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is one of the organizations that has benefited greatly from the events of the past year, and many of its members have acquired great influence by attaching themselves to the opposition in the uprisings throughout the middle east. Created in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna, the MB was focused on returning to the fundamentals of the Qu’ran, and rejected the idea that government and religion be separate. Al-Banna and others were able to spread the movement to more than 3,000 groups throughout the world in the first 20 years of its existence.
The MB’s role in Syria has been turbulent, the Syrian MB of the 60′s-7o’s were responsible for much of the violence that taints the name today. The Syrian MB went into exile shortly after the Hama massacre, where the Assad regime was responsible for the deaths of scores of Brotherhood members and civilians. Leaders of the MB have in recent years stepped back from the violent tactics used in the past, and have placed themselves on the forefront of the pro-democracy movement.
Although the MB had all but vanished from Syria, there has been a resurgence in recent years, with many members of the SNC bearing deep ties to the movement. This has caused much conflict within both the council and among many other opposition groups, who claim that the MB is not a movement representative of the majority of the people, and blame them for fomenting a lack of transparency in the council.
This has been just the beginning of our look into the events and movements attached to the Syrian uprising. A deeper look at the Brotherhood’s relationship with the FSA and the Syrian people is upcoming.