US embassy cable - 98AMMAN3050

POLITICAL ISLAM IN JORDAN: STRUGGLING FOR THE SOUL OF THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD

Identifier: 98AMMAN3050
Wikileaks: View 98AMMAN3050 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Amman
Created: 1998-04-02 13:45:00
Classification: SECRET
Tags: PGOV PINR KISL PHUM JO
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 021345Z APR 98
FM AMEMBASSY AMMAN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6874
INFO ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 05 AMMAN 003050 
 
 
LONDON FOR TUELLER, PARIS FOR LEAF 
 
E.O. 12958:  DECL:  03/20/08 
TAGS: PGOV, PINR, KISL, PHUM, JO 
SUBJECT: POLITICAL ISLAM IN JORDAN:  STRUGGLING FOR THE SOUL 
OF THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD 
 
REF: A) AMMAN 2812   B) AMMAN 2906 
 
 
1.  (U)  CLASSIFIED BY DCM JANET A. SANDERSON; REASONS: 
1.5(B) AND (D). 
 
------------------------ 
SUMMARY AND INTRODUCTION 
------------------------ 
 
2.  (C)  THE NOVEMBER 1997 BOYCOTT OF PARLIAMENTARY 
ELECTIONS BY THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD AND ITS POLITICAL WING, 
THE ISLAMIC ACTION FRONT, EXPOSED INTERNAL DIVISIONS WHICH 
WILL HAVE A PROFOUND EFFECT ON THE ISLAMIST MOVEMENT'S 
POLICIES AND TACTICS.  THE ISLAMIST LEADERSHIP IS DIVIDED 
INTO THREE COMPETING CAMPS, ALL WITH A DIFFERENT VISION OF 
WHERE THE MOVEMENT SHOULD BE HEADED.  THE "MODERATES" 
INCLUDE THE LEADERS OF BOTH THE IAF AND THE MB AND A HANDFUL 
OF OTHERS WHO FAVOR CONTINUING THE MB'S LONGSTANDING 
ACCOMODATIONIST STRATEGY.  HOWEVER, THEY LACK A LARGE 
FOLLOWING IN THE RANKS OF THE MB/IAF OR IN THE SHURA 
COUNCILS.  RATHER, THEY ARE "COMPROMISE" LEADERS CHOSEN FOR 
THEIR PROMINENCE AND PUBLIC RELATIONS SKILLS, BUT HAVE BEEN 
INEFFECTIVE IN SHAPING OPINIONS WITHIN THE MOVEMENT.  A 
SECOND FACTION, THE MOST POWERFUL OF THE THREE, IS A GROUP 
OF "POLITICAL ACTIVISTS" WHO REPRESENT A YOUNG, WELL- 
EDUCATED GENERATION OF MB MEMBERS SEEKING TO PROMOTE A MORE 
AGGRESSIVE, ACTIVIST ROLE FOR THE ISLAMIST MOVEMENT.  THIS 
GROUP, LED BY A 41 YEAR OLD U.S.-EDUCATED ENGINEER NAMED 
IMAD ABU DIYAH, ENJOYS A LARGE BLOCK OF SUPPORT IN THE SHURA 
COUNCILS OF THE MB AND IAF, AND A BROAD BASE OF 
ORGANIZATIONAL SUPPORT IN THE MB RANK AND FILE.  WHILE THEIR 
SUBSTANTIVE VIEWS, WHICH EMPHASIZE DOMESTIC POLITICAL 
REFORMS, ANTI-NORMALIZATION, AND INTERNATIONAL MUSLIM 
SOLIDARITY, DIFFER LITTLE FROM THE MODERATE LEADERSHIP, THEY 
PUSH FOR A MORE CONFRONTATIONAL APPROACH WITH THE GOVERNMENT 
AS A MEANS TO THAT END.  A THIRD FACTION, WHICH ALSO ENJOYS 
STRONG SUPPORT IN THE SHURA COUNCILS AND AMONG THE RANK AND 
FILE, ARE THE "RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVES".  THIS GROUP HAS NOT 
BEEN COMFORTABLE WITH THE NOTION OF WORKING WITH THE 
GOVERNMENT ON ANY TERMS.  THEY WOULD HAVE THE MB FOCUS MORE 
NARROWLY ON AN AGENDA OF SHARIA LAW REFORMS, RELIGIOUS 
EDUCATION, AND SPIRITUAL MATTERS.  THEY ARE MORE STRICTLY 
REJECTIONIST IN FOREIGN POLICY MATTERS THAN THE OTHER TWO 
GROUPS AS WELL.  CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS, INCLUDING A YOUNGER 
AND MORE ETHNICALLY PALESTINIAN MEMBERSHIP, ARE IN PART 
BEHIND THE SHIFTING AGENDAS WITHIN THE ISLAMIC MOVEMENT.  A 
NUMBER OF THE MODERATES AND POLITICAL ACTIVISTS HAVE 
EXPRESSED CONCERN ABOUT A RISING TIDE OF EXTREMISM WITHIN 
THE MB RANK AND FILE, WHICH THEY FEEL WILL BE EXACERBATED BY 
GOVERNMENT ATTEMPTS TO SUPPRESS THE MOVEMENT. 
 
3.  (U)  THIS IS THE THIRD IN A SERIES OF REPORTS EXAMINING 
THE STATE OF ISLAMIST POLITICS IN JORDAN.  REF A CONSIDERED 
THE ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE AND STRENGTH OF THE MOVEMENT. 
REF B LOOKED AT THE CHANGING RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE 
ISLAMISTS AND THE GOVERNMENT.  WHILE OTHER ISLAMIST 
MOVEMENTS EXIST IN JORDAN, THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD, INCLUDING 
ITS POLITICAL ARM, THE ISLAMIC ACTION FRONT PARTY, SO 
DOMINATES ISLAMIST POLITICS IN JORDAN THAT "ISLAMIST" AND 
"MB" WILL BE USED INTERCHANGEABLY.  THE INFORMATION IN THESE 
REPORTS WAS COLLECTED FROM MEETINGS OVER THE PAST SEVERAL 
MONTHS WITH MB AND IAF LEADERS FROM ACROSS THE ISLAMIST 
POLITICAL SPECTRUM, AS WELL AS CONTACTS FORM ACADEMIA, 
JOURNALISM, AND THE GOVERNMENT.  END SUMMARY AND 
INTRODUCTION. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------------ 
BOYCOTT HIGHLIGHTS DIVISIONS WITHIN THE ISLAMIST MOVEMENT 
--------------------------------------------- ------------ 
 
4.  (C)  THE NOVEMBER 1997 BOYCOTT OF PARLIAMENTARY 
ELECTIONS BY THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD AND ITS POLITICAL WING 
THE ISLAMIC ACTION FRONT (IAF) EXPOSED DIVISIONS WHICH WILL 
HAVE A PROFOUND EFFECT ON THE ISLAMIST MOVEMENT'S POLICIES 
AND TACTICS.  HOWEVER, WHILE THE MEDIA AND SOME ANALYSTS 
TROTTED OUT SHOPWORN CLICHES REGARDING "HAWKS" AND "DOVES" 
IN THE MB RANKS, THE REAL DIVISIONS ARE MORE COMPLEX, AND 
WERE ONLY PARTIALLY CONCERNED WITH THE QUESTION OF 
BOYCOTTING ELECTIONS.  IN FACT, THE ISLAMIST LEADERSHIP IS 
DIVIDED INTO THREE COMPETING CAMPS, ALL WITH DIFFERENT 
VISIONS OF WHERE THE MOVEMENT SHOULD BE HEADED.  THE 
CONFLICTING VISIONS ARE NOT NEW, AND IN FACT HAVE BEEN 
PRESENT IN VARIOUS FORMS SINCE THE MB'S ESTABLISHMENT IN 
JORDAN IN THE 1940'S.  HOWEVER, THE WADI ARABA PEACE TREATY 
WITH ISRAEL, DETERIORATING ECONOMIC CONDITIONS FOR MANY 
JORDANIANS, AND STALLED PROGRESS ON JORDANIAN 
DEMOCRATIZATION HAVE COME TOGETHER MAKE THE DIVIDING LINES 
BRIGHTER. 
 
5.  (C)  BRIEFLY, THE THREE MAJOR DIVISIONS WITHIN THE MB 
TODAY ARE:  FIRST, A SMALL GROUP OF MODERATE LEADERS WHO 
HOLD TOP LEADERSHIP POSITIONS AND SEEK TO CONTINUE A LOW- 
KEY, NON-CONFRONTATIONAL APPROACH TOWARD WORKING WITH THE 
GOVERNMENT ("MODERATES"); SECOND, A GROUP OF YOUNG MB 
LEADERS, WELL-REPRESENTED IN THE SHURA AND EXECUTIVE 
COUNCILS, WHO SEEK A MORE CONFRONTATIONAL, ACTIVIST APPROACH 
TO THE GOJ, ESPECIALLY ON KEY ISSUES SUCH AS DEMOCRATIZATION 
AND THE PEACE PROCESS ("POLTICAL ACTIVISTS"); AND THIRD, A 
GROUP OF RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVES WHO SEEK STRONGER EMPHASIS 
ON SOCIAL AND CULTURAL ISSUES AND HAVE EMERGED OVER THE LAST 
FIVE YEARS AS A POWERFUL POLITICAL FACTION WITHIN THE PARTY 
("RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVES").  A MORE DETAILED EXAMINATION OF 
THESE DIVISIONS FOLLOWS. 
 
 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
THE MODERATE LEADERSHIP:  HOLDING A TIGER BY THE TAIL 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
 
6.  (C)  THE MOST VISIBLE GROUPING WITHIN THE ISLAMIST 
MOVEMENT CONSISTS OF MANY OF THE TOP MB/IAF LEADERS, 
INCLUDING MB CONTROLLER GENERAL ABDEL MAJEED THUNAYBAT, IAF 
SECRETARY GENERAL ABDEL LATIF ARRABIYAT, AND IAF SHURA 
COUNCIL CHIEF ISHAQ FARHAN.  THESE MEN AND A HANDFUL OF 
OTHERS HAVE HELD TOP POSITIONS IN THE MOVEMENT FOR THE PAST 
DECADE, AND SEEK TO CONTINUE THE MB'S LONGSTANDING 
ACCOMODATIONIST POLICY TOWARD THE GOVERNMENT.  WORKING FROM 
AN ASSUMPTION OF LOYALTY TO THE HASHEMITE REGIME, ALL HAVE 
LONG HISTORIES OF ADVOCATING AND PRACTICING COOPERATION WITH 
THE GOVERNMENT.  FOR EXAMPLE, FARHAN WAS FOR A TIME IN THE 
EARLY 1970'S EXPELLED FROM THE MB FOR AGREEING TO SERVE AS 
EDUCATION MINISTER.  THEY ARE CAPABLE LEADERS, INTELLIGENT, 
AND WELL-RESPECTED.  FARHAN AND ARRABIYAT HOLD DOCTORATES 
FROM U.S. UNIVERSITIES.  THEY CAME TO PROMINENCE IN 1989 AS 
JORDAN MOVED TO OPEN ITS POLITICAL PROCESS, AND THE MB FOUND 
ITSELF LACKING IN EXPERIENCED LEADERSHIP READY TO TAKE ON A 
MORE PUBLIC ROLE. 
 
7.  (C)  THE STRENGTH OF THESE LEADERS - THAT THEY WERE 
CHOSEN ON MERIT WITH LITTLE REGARD FOR THEIR PERSONAL 
POLITICAL FOLLOWINGS - IS ALSO A WEAKNESS.  FARHAN, 
ARRABIYAT, AND TO A LESSER EXTENT THUNAYBAT, LACK A STRONG 
POLITICAL BASE WITHIN THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD.  MORE 
PARTICULARLY, THEY HAVE NEVER BEEN GRASS ROOTS ORGANIZERS 
AND THEREFORE LACK THE STRONG CONNECTIONS TO THE RANK AND 
FILE ENJOYED BY THEIR IDEOLOGICAL COMPETITORS WITHIN THE 
MOVEMENT.  THE MB HAS, SINCE THE LATE 70'S, ABSORBED A LARGE 
NUMBER OF NEW MEMBERS WHO MAKE UP THE MAJORITY OF THE 
ISLAMIST MOVEMENT TODAY.  THIS YOUNGER GENERATION IS FAR 
MORE INCLINED TO ALLY ITSELF TO THE RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVE 
OR POLITICAL ACTIVIST LEADERS WHO RECRUITED IT. 
 
8.  (C)  THE POLITICAL WEAKNESS OF THE MODERATES WAS MADE 
CLEAR WHEN THE PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION BOYCOTT DECISION WAS 
ANNOUNCED LAST SUMMER.  FARHAN, ARRABIYAT, AND THUNAYBAT ALL 
THREATENED TO RESIGN IN PROTEST IF THE ISLAMISTS VOTED TO 
BOYCOTT OVER THEIR STRONG AND PUBLICLY EXPRESSED OBJECTIONS. 
WHEN THE PRO-BOYCOTT MEASURE PASSED EASILY (MB SOURCES SAY 
ABOUT 85 PERCENT VOTED IN FAVOR IN BOTH THE MB AND IAF SHURA 
COUNCILS), ALL WERE FORCED TO RETRACT THEIR RESIGNATIONS AND 
HEW TO THE PARTY LINE.  OTHER MODERATES, SUCH AS 
PARLIAMENTARY DEPUTIES ABDULLAH AKAILEH AND BASSAM EMMOUSH, 
WHO PUBLICLY REPUDIATED THE BOYCOTT DECISION, WERE EXPELLED 
FROM THE MB AND SUSPENDED FROM THE IAF.  THUS, THE COMBINED 
MB/IAF LEADERSHIP AND SEVERAL OF THE MOST PROMINENT 
ISLAMISTS IN JORDAN HAD NO VISIBLE EFFECT ON THE ISLAMIST 
BOYCOTT DECISION.  EVEN THE GOJ MAY HAVE BEEN SURPRISED BY 
THE POLITICAL WEAKNESS OF THE MODERATE LEADERSHIP.  AS AN MB 
JOURNALIST (AND MEMBER OF THE POLITICAL ACTIVIST CAMP) 
EXPLAINED:  "THE GOVERNMENT HAS NEVER UNDERSTOOD THE MB. 
THEY SAW ONLY THE EXTREME RIGHT (RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVES) 
AND THE EXTREME LEFT (MODERATE LEADERSHIP).  THEY WOULD ONLY 
TALK TO FARHAN, AKAILEH, AND EMMOUSH (WELL-KNOWN MODERATES). 
THEY NEVER REALIZED THAT A THIRD FORCE (POLITICAL ACTIVISTS) 
WAS READY TO TAKE POWER." 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
THE POLITICAL ACTIVISTS:  A NEW GENERATION PREPARES FOR 
POWER 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
9.  (C)  AT STREET LEVEL, AND IN THE SHURA COUNCILS, A GROUP 
OF POLITICAL ACTIVISTS IMPATIENT WITH THE ACCOMODATIONIST 
APPROACH OF THE MODERATE LEADERSHIP HAS EMERGED AS THE MOST 
POWERFUL AND EFFECTIVE POLITICAL FORCE WITHIN THE MB.  THE 
LEADERS OF THIS GROUP WERE GRASS ROOTS ORGANIZERS OF THE 
1980'S AND 90'S, WHO RECRUITED AND INDOCTRINATED THE NEW 
GENERATION OF MB MEMBERS WHICH NOW MAKES UP A NUMERICAL 
MAJORITY OF THE PARTY, ACCORDING TO MB SOURCES.  IMAD ABU 
DIYAH, A CHARISMATIC 41 YEAR-OLD U.S.-EDUCATED COMPUTER 
PROGRAMMER AND MEMBER OF THE MB EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE, HAS 
EMERGED AS THE LEADER OF THIS GROUP, WHICH ALSO INCLUDES MB 
SPOKESMAN JAMIL ABU BAKER, EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBER SALIM 
FALAHAT, AND OTHERS. 
 
10.  (S)  BY ALL ACCOUNTS, ABU DIYAH WAS THE POLITICAL FORCE 
BEHIND THE ELECTION BOYCOTT LAST YEAR, A CONTEST WHERE HE 
WENT HEAD TO HEAD WITH MB LEADER THUNAYBAT.  HIS SUPPORTERS 
SPEAK OF HIM IN HIGHLY DEFERENTIAL AND ADMIRING TERMS.  THE 
EDITOR OF MB NEWSPAPER AL-SABEEL, SAUD ABU MAHFOUZ (PLEASE 
PROTECT), TOLD POLOFF RECENTLY:  "HAMMAM SAEED (LEADER OF 
THE RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVES IN THE MB) IS MY SHAYKH, BUT 
IMAD ABU DIYAH IS MY LEADER."  ABU MAHFOUZ, 10 YEARS OLDER 
THAN ABU DIYAH AND A MEMBER OF THE IAF EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE, 
IS REPRESENTATIVE OF A NUMBER OF SENIOR MB POLITICAL AND 
INTELLECTUAL LEADERS WHO SPEAK OF ABU DIYAH IN THE SAME 
MANNER.  A MEMBER OF THE MB POLICY PLANNING COMMITTEE TOLD 
POLOFF THAT ABU DIYAH "HAS BEEN ONE OF THE MB'S BEST GRASS 
ROOTS ORGANIZERS - HE HAS AN ENORMOUS FOLLOWING ON THE MB 
STREET."    EVEN HIS POLITICAL ENEMIES ACKNOWLEDGE HIS 
EFFECTIVENESS AS A POLITICIAN.  FORMER IAF DEPUTY BASSAM 
EMMOUSH (PLEASE PROTECT), WHO WAS EJECTED FROM THE MB FOR 
HIS PUBLIC REJECTION OF THE ELECTION BOYCOTT (AND WAS 
REWARDED BY THE GOJ BY BEING NAMED MINISTER FOR 
ADMINISTRATIVE DEVELOPMENT), RECENTLY TOLD POLOFF THAT ABU 
DIYAH IS A "DANGEROUS" LEADER WHO "WILL LEAD THE BROTHERHOOD 
TO PRISON." 
 
11.  (C)  POLOFF MET WITH ABU DIYAH AT MB HEADQUARTERS 
RECENTLY.  A 1984 GRADUATE OF UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAVEN (MS - 
COMPUTER SCIENCE), ABU DIYAH SPEAKS FLUENT ENGLISH.  IN 
CONTRAST TO OTHER MB AND IAF LEADERS, WHO CITED THE JUNE, 
1997 PRESS AND PUBLICATIONS LAW AMENDMENTS AND JORDAN'S 
ELECTORAL LAW AS THE IMMEDIATE REASONS FOR THE BOYCOTT, ABU 
DIYAH CITED "JORDANIAN FOREIGN POLICIES" (READ THE PEACE 
PROCESS) AS THE FIRST REASON FOR THE BOYCOTT, ONLY FOLLOWED 
BY THE LACK OF MEANINGFUL POLITICAL PARTICIPATION FOR THE 
LEGISLATURE.  IMPLICITLY CRITICIZING MB LEADERS WHO HAVE 
ARGUED THAT CONFRONTATION WITH THE GOVERNMENT WILL LEAD TO A 
HARSH GOJ RESPONSE, ABU DIYAH SAID:  "THE JORDANIAN PEOPLE 
ARE ANGRY, HUNGRY, AND SUFFERING GREATLY.  IT'S TIME WE 
BEGAN REPRESENTING THE INTERESTS OF THE PEOPLE RATHER THAN 
OURSELVES." 
 
12.  (C)  SUPPORTERS OF ABU DIYAH SAY THAT HIS PRIMARY 
POLITICAL GOAL IS TO PUSH FOR A MORE OPEN POLITICAL SYSTEM 
WHERE THE MB WILL HAVE A OPPORTUNITY FOR MEANINGFUL 
PARTICIPATION IN POLICY-MAKING.  IN PURSUIT OF THIS GOAL, HE 
IS WILLING TO USE CONFRONTATIONAL (BUT NOT VIOLENT) 
TACTICS - SUCH AS BOYCOTTS, DEMONSTRATIONS, AND STRIKES - 
WHICH HAVE TRADITIONALLY BEEN AVOIDED BY ISLAMISTS IN 
JORDAN.  IT IS THIS ISSUE OF STRATEGY WHICH DIVIDES ABU 
DIYAH AND HIS SUPPORTERQE MODERATE LEADERSHIP.  THE 
POLITICAL ACTIVISTS ARE PROFOUNDLY PESSIMISTIC ABOUT THE 
EFFICACY OF WORKING WITH THE JORDANIAN GOVERNMENT (REF B). 
INSTEAD, THEY LOOK FOR WAYS TO CONSOLIDATE THEIR POPULAR 
STRENGTH AND AFFECT CHANGE THROUGH DIRECT GRASS ROOTS 
ORGANIZING, A PROGRAM THEY REFER TO AS "BEYOND POLITICS." 
 
13.  (C)  IN FACT, THE SUBSTANTIVE AGENDA OF THE POLITICAL 
ACTIVISTS DIFFERS LITTLE FROM THAT OF THE MODERATE 
LEADERSHIP.  BOTH ESPOUSE A VAGUE PAN-ARAB/ISLAMIC 
SOLIDARITY, AN END TO NORMALIZATION WITH ISRAEL, AND REFORMS 
TO ADDRESS JORDAN'S POVERTY, INEQUALITIES OF WEALTH, AND 
GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION.  HOWEVER, ABU DIYAH IS MORE OUTSPOKEN 
IN HIS WILLINGNESS TO CALL FOR CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS WHICH 
WILL OBVIOUSLY AFFECT THE HASHEMITE REGIME'S MONOPOLY ON 
POWER.  EVEN ON THE LIGHTNING ROD ISSUE OF THE PEACE 
PROCESS, ABU DIYAH, IN A CONVERSATION WITH POLOFF, DISPLAYED 
SURPRISING FLEXIBILITY.  WHEN POLOFF ASKED ABU DIYAH WHETHER 
THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD IN JORDAN COULD LIVE WITH THE STATE 
OF ISRAEL UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, ABU DIYAH REPLIED "IF WE 
CAN FIND A FORMULA WHICH WOULD SATISFY THE NATIONAL 
ASPIRATIONS AND PERSONAL AMBITIONS OF THE PALESTINIAN 
PEOPLE, WE WILL HAVE ATTAINED OUR GOAL." 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
THE RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVES:  A NEW ASSERTIVENESS 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
14.  (C)  A THIRD FACTION WHICH COMMANDS CONSIDERABLE 
INFLUENCE WITHIN THE MB TODAY ARE THE "RELIGIOUS 
CONSERVATIVES."  THESE ARE A GROUP OF RELIGIOUSLY-ORIENTED 
MUSLIM BROTHERS WHO FOCUS ON A TRADITIONAL ISLAMIC SOCIAL 
AND SPIRITUAL MESSAGE.  THEY ARE LED BY A 54 YEAR OLD AL- 
AZHAR-EDUCATED SHAYKH NAMED HAMMAM SAEED.  THE RELIGIOUS 
CONSERVATIVES, AS PART OF A COMPROMISE WITH IAF MODERATES 
DIRECTED AGAINST ABU DIYAH'S MORE POWERFUL POLITICAL 
CONSERVATIVE FACTION, RECENTLY ENGINEERED SAEED'S ELECTION 
AS DEPUTY SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE IAF.  SAEED, MB EXECUTIVE 
COMMITTEE MEMBER MOHAMMED ABU FARES, AND SEVERAL OTHER 
LEADERS OF THIS GROUP CONTROL, ACCORDING TO MB SOURCES, 
ABOUT 30 PERCENT OF THE MB AND IAF SHURA COUNCILS.  THEY 
HAVE A STRONG AND PARTICULARLY LOYAL BASE IN THE MB RANK AND 
FILE, WHERE, LIKE ABU DIYAH AND HIS SUPPORTERS, THEY HAVE 
BEEN ACTIVE AND SUCCESSFUL RECRUITERS AND ORGANIZERS. 
 
15.  (C)  THE RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVES HAVE A LONG HISTORY IN 
THE MB.  UNLIKE THE MODERATES OR THE POLITICAL ACTIVISTS, 
THEY FOCUS THEIR MESSAGE ON SOCIAL ISSUES SUCH AS 
IMPLEMENTATION OF SHARIA LAWS, SEGREGATION OF THE SEXES, AND 
THE CORRUPTING INFLUENCE OF WESTERN CULTURE.  TRADITIONALLY, 
THEY HAVE BEEN LESS INTERESTED IN DIRECT POLITICAL 
PARTICIPATION THAN OTHERS IN THE MB, BELIEVING THAT WORKING 
WITH WHAT THEY DEEM AN ILLEGITIMATE (I.E. NON-ISLAMIC) 
GOVERNMENT WOULD INEVITABLY CORRUPT THE MOVEMENT.  FOR THIS 
REASON THEY HAD BEEN PARTICULARLY WEAK IN THE IAF.  HOWEVER, 
MOST MB OBSERVERS SEE THESE ATTITUDES CHANGING UNDER THE 
INFLUENCE OF THE AMBITIOUS SAEED. 
 
16.  (C)  THE RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVES HAVE EMERGED OVER THE 
PAST FIVE YEARS AS THE FASTEST GROWING FACTION WITHIN THE 
MB.  ACCORDING TO A MEMBER OF THE MB POLICY PLANNING 
COMMITTEE, THE RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVES "SURPRISED EVERYBODY" 
WITH A POWERFUL SHOWING IN THE 1994 SECTION (LOCAL CHAPTERS) 
AND SHURA COUNCIL ELECTIONS, AND HAVE BEEN ON THE ASCENDENT 
SINCE THEN.  THE POTENTIAL EFFECTS OF AN ACTIVE RELIGIOUS 
CONSERVATIVE BLOC UNDER SAEED WORRY EVEN THE POLITICAL 
ACTIVISTS, SEVERAL OF WHOM REFERRED TO SAEED AS AN 
"EXTREMIST."  INDEED, SAEED AND HIS SUPPORTERS, IN ADDITION 
TO THEIR CALL FOR STRICTER APPLICATION OF ISLAMIC LAW (WHICH 
MANY MB LEADERS SEE AS A COUNTERPRODUCTIVE STRATEGY FOR THE 
ISLAMISTS), TAKE HIGHLY UNCOMPROMISING POSITIONS ON SUCH 
THINGS AS THE PEACE PROCESS AND THE EXISTENCE OF ISRAEL, 
IRAQ SANCTIONS, AND FOREIGN INVESTMENT OR OTHER FOREIGN 
PRESENCE IN THE JORDANIAN ECONOMY.  THOUGH SAEED IS CAREFUL 
IN PUBLIC, MANY IN HIS FACTION GO SO FAR AS TO QUESTION THE 
(ISLAMIC) LEGITIMACY OF THE HASHEMITE REGIME. 
 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
"YOUTH AND ETHNICITY" BEHIND CHANGING ATTITUDES 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
17.  (C)  THE POLITICAL ACTIVISTS AND THE RELIGIOUS 
CONSERVATIVES TOGETHER PROBABLY ACCOUNT FOR AT LEAST 80 
PERCENT OF THE MB MEMBERSHIP.  MB SOURCES ATTRIBUTE THEIR 
STRENGTH TO DEMOGRAPHIC SHIFTS WHICH HAVE SIGNIFICANTLY 
ALTERED THE MB'S MEMBERSHIP PROFILE SINCE THE LATE 
SEVENTIES.   ONCE DOMINATED BY RURAL AND PROVINCIAL EAST 
BANKERS, THE MB NOW HAS A NEAR EVENLY-DIVIDED 
PALESTINIAN/EAST BANK MEMBERSHIP WITH A MAJORITY OF ITS 
MEMBERS UNDER 40.   THE YOUNGER MEMBERS ARE LESS LIKELY TO 
HAVE ESTABLISHED TRIBAL TIES OR OTHER VESTED INTERESTS WHICH 
THE GOJ CAN MANIPULATE.  THEY ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE WELL- 
EDUCATED AND UNDEREMPLOYED.  THOUGH THEY ARE PARTICULARLY 
WELL REPRESENTED IN THE ABU DIYAH'S POLITICAL ACTIVIST WING, 
THEY ALSO HAVE A STRONG PRESENCE IN AMONG THE RELIGIOUS 
CONSERVATIVES.  MB LEADER ABDEL MAJEED THUNAYBAT TOLD POLOFF 
IN A RECENT CONVERSATION THAT "YOUTH AND ETHNICITY (I.E. 
PALESTINIANS)" ARE BEHIND THE MB'S MORE CONFRONTATIONAL 
APPROACH IN GENERAL AND THE BOYCOTT IN PARTICULAR - A VIEW 
ECHOED BY EVERY MB CONTACT CONSULTED. 
 
------------------------- 
FEARS OF RISING EXTREMISM 
------------------------- 
 
18.  (S)  SEVERAL ISLAMIST LEADERS EXPRESSED TO POLOFF THEIR 
CONCERN ABOUT A RISING TIDE OF EXTREMIST SENTIMENT AMONG THE 
MB RANK AND FILE.  THEY FEEL THAT CURRENT AND ANTICIPATED 
GOJ MEASURES TO SUPPRESS THE MB WILL WEAKEN THEIR ABILITY TO 
CONTROL EXTREMIST ELEMENTS WITHIN THE MOVEMENT.  MB 
CONTROLLER GENERAL THUNAYBAT (PLEASE PROTECT), TOLD POLOFF 
THAT "I WORRY ABOUT THE FUTURE OF OUR MOVEMENT - THE MB WILL 
NOT TAKE UP MILITARY ACTIVITY.  HOWEVER, THE GOVERNMENT CAN 
ONLY PRESS US SO FAR.  THERE IS A VERY REAL DANGER THAT 
UNDER PRESSURE, GROUPS WILL ARISE OUT OF THE MB RANKS WHO DO 
CHOOSE THE PATH OF VIOLENCE."  IAF LEADER ABDEL LATIF 
ARRABIYAT (PLEASE PROTECT), A WELL-SPOKEN, THOUGHTFUL 
MODERATE TOLD POLOFF THAT "WITHIN THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD 
NOW, WE ARE NOT SEEING EXTREMIST VIEWS OF THE KIND THAT 
PRODUCED THE ATROCITIES IN LUXOR OR ALGERIA - WE ARE NOT AT 
THAT POINT.  HOWEVER, I DO FEAR THAT SOMETHING OF THE SORT 
COULD ARISE."  ARRABIYAT THEN DESCRIBED HOW AT A RECENT 
PARTY MEETING A YOUNG MB DELEGATE DEMANDED THAT HE 
ACKNOWLEDGE THAT GAMAL ABDEL NASSER WAS A "KAFFIR" 
(INFIDEL).  WHEN ARRABIYAT REFUSED, HIS QUESTIONER LOOKED 
THE DISTINGUISHED 68 YEAR OLD PARTY LEADER IN THE EYE AND 
ANNOUNCED "THEN YOU ARE A KAFFIR YOURSELF."  ARRABIYAT SHOOK 
HIS HEAD IN DISMAY AS HE RELATED THE STORY. (NOTE: 
DENOUNCING ARAB LEADERS AS INFIDELS IS THE HALLMARK OF 
EXTREMIST MB OFFSHOOTS.) 
 
19.  (S)  BOTH ARRABIYAT AND FORMER MB DEPUTY (NOW MINISTER 
FOR ADMINISTRATIVE DEVELOPMENT) BASSAM EMMOUSH (PROTECT), IN 
CONVERSATIONS WITH POLOFF, APPEALED TO THE USG TO COUNSEL 
THE GOJ THAT THEIR UNCOMPROMISING POLICIES TOWARD THE MB ARE 
MAKING IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR THE MB TO COMBAT EXTREMISM 
WITHIN ITS RANKS.  EMMOUSH SAID "CLINTON CAME TO SHARM AL- 
SHEIK AND TOLD ARAB GOVERNMENTS THAT THE WAY TO FIGHT 
EXTREMISM IS MORE JAILS, MORE POLICE.  THIS IS WRONG.  TO 
FIGHT EXTREMISTS WITHIN A POPULAR MOVEMENT LIKE THE 
ISLAMISTS, YOU MUST SUPPORT THE MODERATES.  WHEN YOU PUNISH 
THE MODERATES, YOU END UP WITH SITUATIONS LIKE ALGERIA AND 
EGYPT.  WE HAVE NOT HAD THAT PROBLEM UNTIL NOW.  THE KING 
CAN STILL WALK DOWN THE STREET WITHOUT FEAR OF BEING 
ASSASSINATED.  BUT THAT WILL CHANGE - WE ARE HEADING IN THAT 
DIRECTION." 
 
 
---------- 
CONCLUSION 
---------- 
 
20.  (S)  THE FUTURE OF THE ISLAMIST MOVEMENT IN JORDAN IS 
WITH IMAD ABU DIYAH'S POLITICAL ACTIVISTS AND HAMMAM SAEED'S 
RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVES.  IN SOME COMBINATION, THEY WILL 
SEEK OUT A MORE CONFRONTATIONAL, ACTIVIST APPROACH TOWARD 
THE GOJ ON MANY ISSUES.  HAVING DEMONSTRATED THE CAPACITY TO 
MAINTAIN A UNITED PUBLIC FRONT THROUGH DIFFICULT INTERNAL 
DEBATES, THE DIVISIONS THEY REPRESENT SHOULD NOT BE 
OVEREMPHASIZED.  RATHER, THEIR GROWING CONFIDENCE WILL DRIVE 
THEM TO PUSH THEIR RESPECTIVE AGENDAS ON THE MODERATE 
LEADERSHIP.  THEY HAVE ALREADY BEGUN TO MAKE THE POLITICAL 
STATEMENTS OF THE MB AND IAF MORE FORCEFUL AND DIRECT.  IT 
REMAINS TO BE SEEN WHETHER THE GOJ WILL LOOK FOR CREATIVE 
WAYS TO ADAPT TO A CHANGING ISLAMIST POLITICAL LANDSCAPE. 
FOR NOW, THE GOJ'S INSTINCTS SEEM TO BE TO PUSH BACK HARD. 
IN THIS REGARD, IT IS WORRISOME THAT THE GOJ'S TOUGH 
APPROACH TO THE MB OF LATE IS SEEN BY ITS MODERATE LEADERS 
AS UNDERMINING THEIR ABILITY TO CONTROL EXTREMIST ELEMENTS 
IN THE RANK AND FILE. 
 
EGAN 

Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04