Muslim Brotherhood scrambles to remain politically relevant in Jordan

by WorldTribune Staff, September 21, 2016

The Muslim Brotherhood has forged some unlikely political alliances in its bid to remain relevant in Jordan.

For the Sept. 20 parliamentary elections, the Brotherhood, which saw government security forces shut down its offices around the country in April, nominated 19 women and its political wing, Islamic Action Front, formed coalitions with Christian and Circassian nominees.

Islamic Action Front supporters at a rally in Amman. /Reuters
Islamic Action Front supporters at a rally in Amman. /Reuters

Jordan’s King Abdullah II in 2013 called the Muslim Brotherhood a “masonic cult… run by wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

Mohammad Ersan, editor-in-chief of Balad Radio, said in an interview that by forming coalitions with Christians and other non-Islamists, “the Brotherhood is sending a message to the government that it is interested in cooperating and not dominating the parliament.”

The Brotherhood is seen incorporating minorities and a relatively large number of women due to the parliamentary quota system. Fifteen women along with 10 Christians and Circassians are guaranteed seats in the next legislature (of 130 seats).

Sean Yom, professor of political science at Temple University and, called the Brotherhood’s more inclusive approach “very significant.”

“It reflects the Islamic Action Front’s realization that they need to be more pragmatic and less ideological in order to maintain their political influence in Jordan,” Yom told the Jerusalem Post.

During previous elections, the Brotherhood’s main slogans included “Islam is the solution” and “the Koran is our constitution.”

In a recent interview, spokesman Murad Adaileh acknowledged that these slogans would disappear and the Brotherhood would instead “emphasize issues that appeal to all elements of Jordanian society, such as political reform and restoring citizens’ trust in parliament.”

In February, Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood cut its ties with the Egyptian branch.

Oraib Rantawi, director of the Amman-based Quds Center for Political Studies, explained that for the Islamic Action Front, the elections are an excellent opportunity to “show that it is still the sole legitimate representative of the Islamist movement [in Jordan].”

Rantawi estimated that the Islamic Action Front would win 18 to 20 seats this year, three times the number it received in its poor 2007 performance, when the Islamist party secured only six parliamentary representatives.