Academic journal article Middle East Review of International Affairs (Online)

The Impact of the Arab Spring on the Political Future of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East: Jordan as a Case Study

Academic journal article Middle East Review of International Affairs (Online)

The Impact of the Arab Spring on the Political Future of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East: Jordan as a Case Study

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Beginning in 2011, the Arab world faced a wave of uprisings leading to the overthrow of four Arab regimes, in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen; and creating conflict and civil wars in Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Iraq-with less impact on Jordan, Morocco, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, and other Arab countries. The Arab Spring has paved the way for some more moderate Islamists to establish political parties, run in and win parliamentary elections, and even form governments in Tunisia and Egypt. It has also led to the appearance of new radical Islamist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State (IS, formerly called ISIS) in Syria, Iraq, and Libya, and Ansar Allah (the Houthis) in Yemen.

In Jordan, however, the impact of the Arab Spring was less dramatic, as the Jordanian leadership took several political steps to meet the people's demands and used soft power to manage and control the uprising. Yet the Islamist movement in Jordan-inspired by the empowerment of the Muslim Brotherhood in Tunisia and Egypt-rejected all of the government's efforts, including its proposal to participate in the political process. Instead, it chose to boycott the 2010 and 2013 parliamentary elections. In mid-2014, the fortunes of the Muslim Brotherhood in both Egypt and Tunisia were reversed, with both movements losing political power. The Brotherhood was banned in Egypt and declared a terrorist organization in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.

The chaos and civil wars in Syria, Yemen, and Libya; the appearance of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq; and the burning of the Jordanian pilot by IS in February 2015 has changed Jordanians' attitudes toward the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups. The Muslim Brothers' uncompromising position toward political participation, insisting on their extreme demands of fixing the political system and boycotting the parliamentary elections, has created serious internal conflict among its leadership and damaged its relationship with the regime. The Brotherhood first witnessed the appearance of the Zamzam Initiative and later the establishment of the Society of Muslim Brothers in Jordan, which was immediately licensed by the government in April 2015. This was in addition to rivalries from other Islamic political parties and groups such as al-Wasat Party and other Salafi and jihadi groups. These internal and external factors raised serious questions about the political future of the Muslim Brotherhood. This article's focus is the impact of the Arab Spring on the political future of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood (JMB). It also analyzes the extent to which the JMB's position and actions have weakened its support among the Jordanian people and how this has affected their relationship with the regime. The impact of Arab Spring on Islamists in Jordan provides an excellent case study to explore the future role of Islamist politics in Jordan and beyond.

IMPORTANCE OF THE STUDY AND OBJECTIVES

The Muslim Brotherhood's radical stance during the Arab Spring, especially its refusal to all of the Jordanian government's proposals to participate in the political process, has damaged its traditionally good relationship with the regime in Jordan and created internal conflict among the Brotherhood leadership, which resulted in the movement's split into two rival groups-the old Muslim Brotherhood and the Society of Muslim Brothers in Jordan. The government's proposal was interpreted by the old Muslim Brotherhood as an attempt to weaken the Brotherhood's political and societal role. Today, it faces serious challenges not only to its legal existence but also to its political future. This article thus deals with the very important issue of Arab Spring's impact on the political future of the Muslim Brothers, which has far-reaching consequences not only for the security and stability of Jordan but also for the entire region. The article addresses the dynamics of the Arab Spring and its impact on the Middle East, the Jordanian regime's responses to the Arab Spring; how the Arab Spring has affected the Muslim Brotherhood; the relationship between the regime and Muslim Brotherhood; and the impact of the Arab Spring on the Muslim Brotherhood's political future in Jordan. …

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