Articles > > A LIKELY DECISION

Articles - Addostour - Date: 2019-05-02
By: Oraib Al Rantawi

According to U.S. sources, Washington is moving towards declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization and blacklisting it, with all the implications that this would entail.
 
No decision has been made yet, but the subject has provoked controversy within the U.S. administration. Most estimates suggest that this decision will be passed, perhaps sooner than we and many others may believe, in line with this U.S.'s administration's modus operandi ever since it assumed power in one of the world's most powerful countries. 
 
Why make this decision? And why now? What has prompted this? What are its broader implications? Will it affect Jordan?
There is no doubt that the Muslim Brotherhood groups have long been the subject of scrutiny by Western security agencies, especially after 9/11 and even more so after the Egyptian Brotherhood government's collapse in 2013. But these agencies have so far seemed reluctant to add the group to their blacklists, and have managed to turn their back to requests from within the Arab [Gulf] world to do precisely that, for the following reasons:
 
There is no concrete evidence of the Brotherhood's involvement in terrorist activity. Some of its branches in some countries may have been implicated in certain actions here and there, and some branches have may have formed special/covert units to act as an armed security organization, and some jihadist movements may have arisen or broken off from the Brotherhood, but the organization as a whole, which is the broadest, oldest, and most popular political Islam organization in the Arab and Muslim worlds, has not been involved in terrorism. These were the conclusions reached by British, French, and German investigations, as cited by opponents to President Trump's new position from within his administration.
 
--Putting the Brotherhood on the terror list would create many problems for some countries' foreign policies towards the region. The Brotherhood maintains alliances with a number of countries across the world (including but not limited to Pakistan, Turkey, and Qatar). Moreover, in its various strains it runs or participates in governments in Morocco, Tunisia, and the Gaza Strip, and it fights alongside Washington in Yemen, is involved in a number of Syrian opposition groups that have been sponsored by Washington and supported by the latter's allies, is part of the legitimate government in Tripoli, and is represented in the parliaments of various nations with friendly ties or alliances with the U.S. (Jordan, Bahrain, and others). On top of all that, the Brotherhood still enjoys a strong presence on the Arab and Muslim street. Placing it on the terror list would deny U.S. diplomacy from pursuing many different policies, and may impede its role on several arenas and in crisis countries. 
 
Adding the Brotherhood to the terror list would entail, inter alia, the Western countries losing communication and political or security coordination channels with a giant organization that has hundreds of affiliates in the West, including advocacy, social, educational, financial, and economic institutions. In the service of maintaining its presence there, the Brotherhood cooperates with Western intelligence agencies to provide information on terror networks. Since its inception almost a century ago, the West has viewed the Brotherhood as one of its options for confronting the nationalist, leftist, and communist tide of earlier eras, or to confront the Iranian/Shiite threat in later eras, or as a possible alternative to replace illegitimate, worn-out regimes in the case of the Arab Spring. Designating the Brotherhood as a terror group would deprive the West of these capacities.
 
The question of 'why', then, is the same as the question of 'what prompted Washington to come to this'. Some of Washington's closest state allies are known to have already declared the Brotherhood a terror group, viewing it as a serious threat to their future and placing it at the forefront of their political targets. Trump appears to have become convinced of the need to please these allies, but what we do not know what he will pay in exchange, or whether tit will come as part of the [U.S. sponsored Palestinian/Israeli] 'deal of the century' or some 'astronomical financial deals.
 
As far as we here in Jordan are concerned, this U.S. decision comes at an incredibly inconvenient time. Jordan succeeded in withstanding the [Saudi/Emirati/Egyptian] pressure to list the Brotherhood as a terror group, which left a positive impact on the Jordanian Islamic movement and prompted it to offer greater conciliatory initiatives and statements. Tomorrow, our 'strategic ally' [the U.S.] will begin to pressure us, as if we do not already have our hands full with the threats and challenges raining down on us from his 'deal of the century.