Splits continue in the Muslim Brotherhood: latest developments
After Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi took power in Egypt in 2014, leading figures in the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood fled to Middle Eastern countries – especially Qatar and Turkey – as well as to several Western nations. It should be remembered that Egypt is the country where the Muslim Brotherhood was established in 1928, and therefore the ‘mother movement’ is still highly regarded within the global ranks affiliated with the Ikhwan.
Since 2017 the pressure by Gulf countries and Egypt on Qatar and Turkey to deport or extradite Muslim Brotherhood exiles has led many to leave. According to a Sky News Arabic report, 90 Muslim Brotherhood members recently moved from Turkey to various countries in east Asia. Back in March this year, Al-Arabiya named two Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood figures residing in Britain as those who deal with Turkish issues – Mahmoud Al-Ibiary and Mohamed Soudan; the report also raised the possibility that more would leave Turkey to come to Britain. In the run-up to the COP26 summit which took place in Glasgow in November, a letter was sent to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, calling on him to withdraw the invitation to Al-Sisi to participate in the conference. The letter was signed by 40 Egyptian refugees, who protested that they had been forced to flee for their lives by the regime.
Over the past few months, amidst the overall decline of the Muslim Brotherhood across the Middle East, there have been ongoing reports about disputes within the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood as well. Many of these reports focus on the division between the London-based group, headed by Ibrahim Mounir, who in September 2020 was appointed acting General Guide of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and the Turkey based group, said to be led by Mahmoud Hussein, who has acted as the Egyptian MB’s Secretary-General. Recently, Al-Arabiya reported about a third group – which comprises of youth close to a former Muslim Brotherhood figure, Mohammed Kamal.
The prominent British Muslim activist Azzam Tamimi — who is considered close to the Muslim Brotherhood — has interviewed Suhaib Abdul Maqsoud, the new media spokesman working with Ibrahim Mounir. The interview was aired by the London based Al-Hiwar TV Channel which Tamimi co-founded. Abdul Maqsoud referred to the launch of a new website (https://ikhwan.site), and to an initiative with other trends in Egypt to call for the release of Muslim Brotherhood detainees. It seems that Ibrahim Mounir is also maintaining his control over the Muslim Brotherhood’s global weekly bulletin Risalat Al-Ikhwan, which for many years has been based in London. The London-based pro-Islamist news website Middle East Monitor (MEMO) has reported that the Scholars Committee of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood called for support for Mounir; in a statement, the Committee “reiterated the importance of Cooperation with Mounir, who is the acting supreme guide, in order to peacefully overcome the current crises.”
Dr Paul Stott is the Head of Security and Extremism at Policy Exchange.