...Because The Muslim Brotherhood Is The Antithesis Of Tyranny
20 March 2014
By Khalid Amayreh
In a seemingly spasmodic move which observers argue
reflects a growing "legitimacy crisis" facing some
Arab Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United
Arab Emirates (UAE) have declared the Muslim
Brotherhood a terrorist group.
And in a subsequent step, the three absolute
monarchies also withdrew their respective ambassadors
from Qatar for allegedly supporting the same Islamic
group and also for refusing to rein in the pan-Arab
Conservative Gulf states and other authoritarian
regimes in the Arab world blamed the Qatar-based al-Jazeera
TV for inciting Arab masses to revolt against them in
what became to be known as the "Arab spring."
The three Gulf entities didn't give any convincing
reason for outlawing the MB. However, the main reason
behind the rash decision seems to center on the threat
posed by the MB ideology to the dynastic, patriarchal
order throughout the region.
The MB is probably the most authentic and also most
moderate Sunni Islamic movement in the world today. It
rejects violence and terror and is considered, along
with some Salafist groups, the main line of defense
against a perceived Shiite onslaught aimed at
spreading Shiism in the Arab world. The MB also
spearheaded the cultural-intellectual fight against
the strong socialist and communist propaganda in the
Arab world in 1950s and 1960s.
But the MB also rejects the dynastic hereditary order
upon which Gulf regimes are generally based. It
preaches a type of Islamic polity based on Shura or
consultative democracy that is consistent with the
rules of the Quran.
Interestingly, the three Gulf States, especially Saudi
Arabia, claim to be conducting their affairs in
accordance with Islam. However, most Muslims don't
take this claim seriously. Indeed, independent-minded
Muslim scholars leave no doubt as to the
incompatibility and utter contradiction between Islam,
which is by no means a family affair, and the dynastic
despotism practiced in these quasi-feudalistic states.
In Islam, every Muslim has the right to contest the
leadership of the Muslim community if freely and
fairly chosen by the people. However, according to the
hereditary system in these states, the ruler has to
come from the "ruling family." Moreover, his decisions
can't be challenged or even criticized neither by the
masses nor by an elected parliament. Democracy,
whether Islamic or otherwise, is anathema for the
Saudi, Emirati and Bahraini rulers.
The regimes' lack of Islamic credentials doesn't stop
there. In Saudi Arabia, many of the policies and
practices of the Saudi state have been quite
anti-Islamic. Even today, filthy-rich Saudi Emirs
control large swathes of land in the vast kingdom,
with each emir having his own fief. The Emirs receive
hefty salaries from cradle to grave.
Needless to say, these privileges have absolutely
nothing to do with the religion of Islam.
Saudi Arabia, which has a religious police apparatus
tasked with upholding Islamic morality, is often
criticized for its hypocrisy and moral duplicity.
For example, King Abdullah's nephew Prince al-Walid
ibn Talal owns a network of satellite TV stations that
actively promote permissiveness and moral laxities.
Some of these stations openly encourage promiscuity
while discouraging Islamic commitment.
When Saudi officials are reminded of these facts, they
often resort to silence or try to change the subject.
Islam, true Islam, rejects corruption, nepotism,
favoritism, and tyranny as well as excessive
consumerism as well as despotism. But these vices
whether we like it or not, constitute the essence of
the political polity in Saudi Arabia.
The UAE fares even worse. It is said that that Dubai,
for example, has effectively become the capital of
prostitution in western Asia. This happens in a state
which also claims to be adopting Sharia as the Law of
In truth, corruption and decadence permeate every
aspect of public life in these Emirates.
The Gulf regimes, probably with the lone exception of
Qatar, were overwhelmed with nervousness and anxiety
when political turbulence started in Tunisia in 2011
followed by Egypt, Libya and Yemen. The monarchs and
sheikhs of these states reasoned that "Today is Husni
Mubarak and Zeinul Abedin bin Ali…tomorrow it will be
This explains the hasty (and costly) embrace by SA and
UAE of the military coup in Egypt, a manifestly
thuggish regime that lacks any true Islamic
But the Saudi and Emirati embrace of the Sisi junta is
not based on mutual love. The Sisi regime, along with
its liberal, secular and Christian Coptic supporters,
hate Saudi conservatism with utter contempt. Indeed,
for the anti-Islamist camp in Egypt, Saudi Arabia
spells backwardness, primitiveness and even darkness.
The Saudis know this too well. However, the Saudis
also know that no other political or religious
ideology, apart from the Islamic ideology of the MB,
poses a greater threat to the longevity and continuity
in power of the House of Saud. This means the House of
Saud can have an amicable modus vivendi with every
conceivable foe, including the secularists, the
liberals, and even the Shiites, but not with true
Sunni Islamists determined to implement "the Sharia of
These people are unlikely to be bought with money or
co-opted with the promise of inclusion to the circle
of power, as is often the case with the secular and
liberal opponents of the regimes.
Hence, the Saudi embrace of the Sisi regime.
It is well known that the raison d'ętre of the MB is
to reinstitute the political authority of Islam, in
the form of reviving the Islamic caliphate.
But the appearance of an Islamic caliphate, however
symbolic unstable that entity might be, would likely
expose the utter "illegitimacy" and "bankruptcy" of
these dynastic entities.
This is what the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the United
Arab Emirates dread most.
In the final analysis, a true Islamic authority would
compel the often ignorant emirs and kings of these
countries not only to give up arrogated power, but
would also hold them accountable for every penny they
have stolen from the masses. That is the ultimate
nightmarish scenario for Saudi and Emirati rulers.
The MB wants to revive the Islamic Umma whereas the
tribal chiefs of these Gulf States want to maintain
the glory of the tribe at all costs. Needless to say,
the two tasks are irreconcilable.
Khalid Amayreh is an
American-educated journalist living in the Hebron
region of the West Bank.