New York, September 1 – The Muslim Brotherhood, which dispatched fighters to defeat Soviet forces in Afghanistan and more recently has been accused of supporting Chechen militants against Moscow, is now considering developing ties with Russia in order to oppose Israel and the United States, according to a report on a Russian-language Israeli website.
On August 23, Mikhail Fal’kov reports, a confidential document that had been prepared by the Muslim Brotherhood concerning the possibility that that group would develop ties with Russia in order to combat Israel and the US appeared on the Ammon News portal site in Arabic (www.ammonnews.net/article.aspx?articleNO=43953).
In his article on the Russian-language Israel portal Izrus.co.il, Fal’kov not only describes the contents of the document but provides context for what would be a remarkable – he calls it a “180-degree” – change in the direction of one of the most radically anti-Russian groups in the Muslim world (izrus.co.il/dvuhstoronka/article/2009-08-30/6085.html).
Such a change would give Russia not only an additional lever in the Middle East and the Islamic world more generally, a lever Moscow may assume is its to command given American support for Israel, but also help Moscow deal with anti-Russian Islamic militants in the North Caucasus by depriving them of the support of a group that has long been on their side.
According to Fal’kov, a week ago, the Jordanian section of the Association of Muslim Brotherhoods was “practically paralyzed” as its leaders searched for “the traitor” who had leaked what he describes as “a secret document of extraordinary importance” that could cost the government its permitted status in Jordan because of its “anti-government character.”
The concerns of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership were all the greater because, as Fal’kov said a source in Israeli government had told him, the Jordanian intelligence service had been involved in the seizure of the document and had given it to the media for public dissemination and discussion.
The most interesting aspect of the document, Fal’kov continues, is its discussion of the possibility that the Muslim Brotherhood might decide to cooperate with rather than oppose Moscow, a shift that if it took place could have major consequences not only in the Middle East but in Russia’s North Caucasus.
“Russia is trying to establish its former international status,” the document says, “and to return to a situation in which it was a balancing force in the international arena, as a counterweight to the United States. This is being done,” it continues, “with the use of forces” as in Georgia intended to weaken Washington’s probes against it.
The Muslim Brotherhood document also notes that “Russia has achieved serious success by means of its agreement with Iran about the transfer to it of resources, information and technology, and all of this is taking place in parallel with efforts undertaken jointly with China not to allow the application of force against the Iranian nuclear program.”
But despite these successes, the document suggests, “Russia all the same has not yet achieved the necessary level in order to stand up to American force.” And consequently, the confidential Muslim Brotherhood document suggests, those who support the Brotherhood’s goals need to reflect on what to do.
Specifically, it says that “one must think through a project of interaction with Russia. From this arises the necessity of increasing the political ties between Russia and the Muslim Brotherhoods in order to stand up to the American-Zionist plan, which considers the Islamic world as a target” rather than as something with which it can cooperate.
As Fal’kov points out, there are two intriguing aspects to this document: On the one hand, it calls for a “180-degree change in the traditional policy of the Muslim Brotherhoods toward Moscow,” a change that Fal’kov highlights by considering the anti-Russian actions of the Brotherhoods over the last 40 years.
But on the other, the document’s reference to expanding rather than creating such ties suggests, Fal’kov continues, that in fact Russian and perhaps earlier Soviet intelligence operatives had been involved with the Muslim Brotherhoods, even when the two sides were ideologically at daggers drawn.
It is of course far from clear whether this document is genuine. All those involved in its revelation and discussion have their own reasons for putting it out now. But its content is not implausible, and consequently, the changes it points to in Moscow’s relations with a group the Russian government says its opposes should ought to attract the closest scrutiny.