“Most importantly, the Brotherhood has successfully opposed attempts to outline how the transitional period will be managed — an ambiguity the group no doubt hopes it will be able to exploit to seize a leadership role after Assad’s fall,” he writes in Foreign Policy:
In June 2011, a major meeting was organized in Istanbul by the Arab League to restructure the Syrian National Council, and U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford told the opposition that the council must subject itself to an independent committee that would lay out internal reforms if it hoped to win greater American support. The committee met in Cairo in July 2011 and presented draft documents that outlined the transitional period, laying out the duties of opposition forces and detailing the fate of armed factions. They also included an important article criminalizing the use of political money to buy loyalty.
The documents, which were eventually signed by the bulk of opposition forces, dealt a heavy blow to the Brotherhood’s monopoly on power. The Islamist group moved quickly to prevent any restrictions on its ability to shape the post-Assad political order. …..The Brotherhood dealt a final blow to the plan when it succeeded in having the plan excluded from the founding statements of the Syrian National Coalition, established in Doha in November 2012.
The Islamist group has also benefited from its allies and sponsors in Turkey, Qatar, and Egypt, Hassan writes:
Al Jazeera, the Qatari-owned satellite behemoth, has polished the image of anti-regime Islamists in its coverage. The Brotherhood also carefully selected leaders who can be easily controlled or who have minimal leadership skills. According to a member of the opposition coalition, it supported the appointment of the Syrian National Coalition’s current leader, Moaz al-Khatib (above), because it thought he could be easily steered as he was a “good-hearted mosque preacher.”
Khatib has proved that the Brotherhood underestimated him by unshackling himself from its control, unilaterally announcing a brave initiative for dialogue with the regime. For his defiance, he has since been subject to fierce attacks from the Brotherhood and its allies: The SNC criticized Khatib for “taking personal decisions,” while the Brotherhood itself rejected the initiative as “undisciplined and inadequate.”
“The Muslim Brotherhood knows it has a long way to go before taking control of Syria,” Hassan concludes. “But its power grabs have already played a major role in perpetuating the current crisis, and they bode ill for its role in the new Syria.”
Hassan Hassan is an editorial writer for the United Arab Emirates-based National. Follow him on Twitter:@hhassan140.