Middle East

Brotherhood figure quits Coalition after Jarba congratulates Sisi

File - Syrian Muslim Brotherhood secretary-general Ali Saad-al-din Bayanouni (L) and former Syrian Vice-President Abdel-Halim Khaddam hold a news conference in Brussels March 17, 2006. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BEIRUT: A senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood resigned from the Syrian National Coalition Tuesday to protest a letter of congratulations sent by its head to Egypt’s newly elected Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.

Ali Sadreddine Bayanouni, formerly the Supreme Guide of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, said the letter sent by Coalition President Ahmad Jarba – and a general climate of foreign political pressure – were responsible for his decision.

“I was surprised – like many others were – that the Coalition, represented by its president, sent a letter of congratulations to the counter-revolution in the fraternal Arab state of Egypt, giving its blessings to the putschists for their success in doing away with the revolution of the Egyptian people, which was an inspiration to the revolution of the Syrian people,” Bayanouni said in his resignation letter, which was widely circulated on pro-opposition and Islamist media outlets.

He said he saw “little difference” between congratulating Sisi and congratulating Syrian President Bashar Assad for his re-election win last week, in a controversial poll held only in regime-controlled areas.

Bayanouni said his decision also followed repeated attempts to “divert” the uprising against Assad from its original goals, as evidenced by pressure exerted by foreign countries on Coalition members.

“Recently I began to feel that the flood [of pressure] was stronger than the dam,” he wrote, complaining that Coalition officials were also taking decisions without considering the consequences of their actions.

“Every day we are surprised by someone’s political stance, or by a statement, which is quickly withdrawn, or corrected, or disavowed.”

In recent days the Coalition’s Haitham Maleh purportedly declared his intention to form a new opposition grouping to present an alternative to the Coalition, but quickly denied the remarks.

A pro-opposition source based in Turkey told The Daily Star that the Coalition was experiencing an uptick in tension as Jarba’s mandate comes to an end next month, and the battle over electing a successor heats up.

The Brotherhood, the source said, was proving itself unable to avoid seeking “revenge” for the group’s setback in Egypt, when President Mohammad Morsi was overthrown last year.

“This is politics, and you have to act like you represent a national, political organization and not a political party,” the source said.

“Moreover, there are thousands of ‘hostages’ in Egypt” he said, referring to Syrian nationals who have taken refuge there because of the war.

“You might not like Sisi, but you have to keep the reality on the ground in mind.”

Ironically, both Assad and the Coalition have saluted the former Egyptian army chief’s election.

For his part, Fahd Masri, a self-described “independent” opposition figure and former spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army, criticized the move by the Brotherhood figure.

“Bayanouni’s resignation only re-confirms that the [Brotherhood] follows its international organization and adheres to its decisions, not national, Syrian decisions,” Masri told Italy’s AKI news agency.

“I think the blow that Egyptians delivered to the Brotherhood will very much help the Syrian people and expose the truth of the Brotherhood in Syria,” Masri said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 11, 2014, on page 8.




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