Friday, October 26, 2012

Jordan's Next Leader?

Mudar Zahran

Al-Rantisi claims in his article that "The US government and its intelligence services will support the Muslim Brotherhood goals of coming to power." The Muslim Brotherhood dismissed Al-Rantisi's claims and sued him for damages. Nonetheless, Al-Rantisi stick by the claims he had made when questioned by Al Arabiyya.
It might be helpful now to start wondering what sort of ideas Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood, and its leader, Controller General Sheikh Hamam Sai'd, will advance if they seize power in Jordan -- possibly with the blessing and encouragement of the United States.
Sheikh Sai'd, of Palestinian origin, was elected to the leadership if Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood in 2008 by its hardline faction. They support a partnership with Hamas and the overthrow of Middle Eastern leaders who side with the United States.
The prominent Jordanian journalist, Osama Al-Rantisi, published an article on July 14, 2011, in the Jordanian daily newspaper, Al-ghad, in which he alleged that Sai'd had held a meeting in Turkey with "recently-retired officers from the CIA and the internal counter-intelligence and security agency, the MI5."

This was followed by Al-Arabiya TV Network, which also ran an article on its website on May 22, 2012, detailing allegations made by Al-Rantisi that: "Dr. Hammam Sai'd and former Egyptian Brotherhood leader Dr. Kamal Halbawi had met last June [of 2011] in Istanbul, Turkey with former CIA deputy director Steven Kappes, and former MI5 chief Eliza Manningham-Buller."
Al-Rantisi goes on to say that both Kappes and Manningham-Buller pledged in the meeting that, "The US government and its intelligence services will support the Muslim brotherhood goals of coming to power," and "urging them [Muslim Brotherhood members] to fight terrorism and to establish peace with Israel".
Presumably, each side thinks it will co-opt the other, and neither side will budge. After all, if the US has tolerated the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, why not also in Jordan?
Not surprisingly, the Muslim Brotherhood dismissed Al-Rantisi's claims and sued him for damages. Nonethless, Al-Rantisi stuck by the claims he had made when questioned by Al-Arabiya, alleging his information was based on "unofficial minutes of that alleged meeting" between Hamam Sai'd and the officers mentioned above.
Sheikh Sai'd's son, Anes Sai'd. recently released a video on YouTube speaking of his woes with his father and with the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood. The video provides a nightmarish glimpse of the Muslim Brotherhood's top man in Jordan, and only intensifies the fears of the liberal and secular Jordanians of an Egyptian-like Muslim Brotherhood takeover.
In the video, Anes describes his father as "an unfair, licentious and corrupt person;" he also details cruelties to which his father allegedly subjected him. He goes on to describe the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan as "trading in religion."
Anes starts by affirming his identity and exhibiting his academic qualifications: "Peace on all, my name is Anes Hammam Sai'd, an architect. I graduated top of my class from the University of Jordan in 1996; I run a design office with a partner and I have passed the qualifications exam of the Union [of Jordanian Engineers]." Anes then describes himself as a Baathist – from the secular pan-Arab nationalist movement, which shares the Islamists' hatred for Israel, but opposes the establishment of an Islamist state.
Shortly after that, Anes starts criticizing the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization his father in Jordan controls. "The Muslim Brotherhood movement in Jordan is political child's play; in Egypt they [the Muslim Brotherhood] were tortured, executed, beaten and imprisoned; here the Jordanian Muslim brotherhood uses the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and the Jordanian regime's tolerance for them, to gain popularity…In Egypt, the basic thing to do is either to stay at home or do something useful that changes things for the best. But here, joining a protest or a march to say, 'I am the Muslim Brotherhood, I am the opposition,' this is the utmost stupidity, nonsense and children's play; it is trading with religion, they [the Muslim Brotherhood] are trading with religion, they have not been elected, they were appointed."
Anes concludes by affirming that he thinks he would be hurt by the Muslim Brotherhood: "All that I said here, they [the Muslim Brotherhood] know is true. I swear to God if I am to say this in public I would be hanged, they would hang me in downtown Amman; all the harsh conditions I have endured and the hard days I have been through have made me cling more to life, and God is my witness that I forgive the Muslim Brotherhood in this life and the afterlife."
To verify the video, the author contacted one of Hamam Sai'd's family friends, who now resides in the United Kingdom, and who went to school with Anes. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, he confirmed that the person in the video was actually Hamam Sai'd's son, Anes, and added that he was not shocked at all by the video: "His father has always been harsh and crude to him and everyone else who enters his circle, and he is indeed a very manipulative man who plays well on words."
While Anes might seem as if he is just a son angry at his father, it is important to bear in mind that his father head Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood, and that his father is deeply radical.
Hamam Sai'd also recently headed the Muslim Brotherhood-Jordanian delegation to Cairo to discuss the possibility of Egypt's resuming the supply of natural gas to Jordan – a supply that had been interrupted after Mubarak was toppled. Jordan's Foreign Minister, Nasser Jodeh, described the visit as the result of a "discussion" between the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood and the Jordanian government.
A US Embassy Amman cable, made public by Wikileaks, reported that Hamam Sa'id, "in a posting on the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood website, wrote, "[The Muslim Brotherhood] has become an is no longer just a movement or group. No legislation will succeed in eliminating or abolishing it. Those who imagine that laws can curb the Brotherhood's activity are deluding themselves."
Another US Embassy Amman cable from March 2008, made public by Wikileaks, shows that the US Embassy in Amman has been in touch with Hammam Sa'id's close ally, Saud Abu Mahfouz, who—according to the leaked cable—told the US Embassy Amman political officers that Hammam Sai'd was "his Shaykh," as well as other senior members of Hamam Sai'd's associates.
The cable also affirms that, "The future of the Islamist movement in Jordan" is with Hammam Sai'd's religious conservatives, in addition to other conservative Islamist political activists; at the same time the cable highlights the admiration Hammam Sai'd's Islamist followers have for him.
It would be illuminating to know what further communication there has been, and is today, between the U.S. administration and the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood.
If the US administration continues to tolerate the Muslim Brotherhood's hijacking of the Arab Spring revolution, it appears that Hammam Sai'd holds serious political weight with the Islamists in Jordan, and seemingly knows how to attract followers, despite failing to impress his son.
With a US administration that has such a pronounced record of appeasing Islamists, it is not unlikely that Hamam Sai'd will be accepted and tolerated by the US establishment -- at the expense of moderate Jordanians and the secular Jordanian opposition.

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