Between Exclusivism and Inclusivism: The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood’s Divided Reponses to the “Arab Spring”

In: Middle East Law and Governance
Joas Wagemakers Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands,

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This article focuses on how and why some Jordanian Muslim Brothers have engaged in relatively exclusive, Islamist ways of confronting the regime during the “Arab Spring,” while others adopted a more inclusive, national strategy in the same period. As such, this article not only contributes to our knowledge of divisions within the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, but also shows how this can impact Islamist-regime relations in the Arab world. It argues that the organization as a whole initially wanted to exploit the uprisings in the region through a relatively exclusive, Islamist approach to the regime, but that others within the organization disagreed with this method as the “Arab Spring” proved mostly unsuccessful. Aware of the dangers of provoking the state from a position of increased isolation, these members advocated a more inclusive attitude toward the regime and others. While both groups were ultimately unsuccessful, the latter at least survived as a legal entity, while the Muslim Brotherhood lost its official presence in the kingdom because the regime was able to exploit the existing divisions within the organization.

1 Introduction 1

Jordan is quite special when it comes to Islamism, since its main Islamist organization – the Muslim Brotherhood – long enjoyed a good relationship with the regime in the Hashemite Kingdom, unlike in other Arab states. Since 1989, however – and apart from the political parties that have acted as platforms of contention in Jordanian politics 2 – there have been many protests against the Jordanian government or the regime, including ones supported by the Muslim Brotherhood. 3 Although the country has been spared any attempts by Islamists to overthrow the regime in the so-called “Arab Spring,” during which rulers in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya were forced out, this series of uprisings in the early 2010s has not left Jordan completely untouched, as reports in the media, 4 studies by think tanks, 5 and articles in academic journals 6 have pointed out. Jordan has witnessed a huge increase in the number of protests since the start of the “Arab Spring,” 7 during which not only Islamists, 8 but also labor movements, 9 youth 10 (including Brotherhood-affiliated youth), 11 tribal groups, 12 and military veterans 13 have demonstrated in the streets. Several of these publications have focused on the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan during the “Arab Spring,” but they pay little attention to how the different trends within the divided Jordanian Brotherhood have responded to the uprisings in the Arab world, 14 which is what this article will concentrate on.

More specifically, this article shows how and why some Jordanian Muslim Brothers have engaged in relatively exclusive, Islamist ways of confronting the regime during the “Arab Spring,” while others adopted a more inclusive, national strategy in the same period. The sources for this article consist of secondary literature, newspaper articles that I have collected at the Newspaper Archive at the University of Jordan in Amman or downloaded from the internet, and interviews with leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood conducted in the period 2012–2014. Using these sources, I start with a theoretical section on Islamist dealings with Arab regimes, followed by a brief historical overview of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan. I then move on to how and why the different trends within the Brotherhood have used these means to deal with the Jordanian regime in an exclusive, Islamist or inclusive, national way during the “Arab Spring.” As such, this article not only contributes to our knowledge of divisions within the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, but also shows how this can impact Islamist-regime relations in the Arab world.

2 Islamist Dealings with Arab Regimes

Research on Islamist dealings with Arab regimes has often focused on the extent to which “moderate” groups like the Muslim Brotherhood can work within existing states. Much of this research has focused on the inclusion-moderation thesis: the idea that ideologically inspired groups moderate their views if they are included in political systems, which require accountability, compromise, and cooperation. This process, in turn, allows regimes to provide more space for such organizations to flourish, thereby indirectly taking the wind out of the sails of radicals. 15

Scholars of Islamist movements have widely tested the inclusion-moderation thesis. Academics have pointed to mixed results without a clear and unambiguous process of moderation 16 or have expressed doubts about the term “moderation” itself. 17 Some have confirmed the thesis’ validity (or have shown that repression leads to radicalization) in certain contexts, 18 while others doubt whether it holds up elsewhere, 19 and still others even discern its opposite (that repression and exclusion actually lead to ideological moderation) in countries across the Middle East and North Africa. 20 Although it may not be surprising for scholars to reach different conclusions when focusing on different countries, many equally disagree with regard to the thesis’ validity in Jordan.

Scholars such as Dalacoura and, most comprehensively, Schwedler have pointed out that the Jordanian regime’s inclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood has, indeed, led to the group’s moderation. 21 Yet others, like Clark and Rosefsky Wickham, have shown that while this moderation did take place, it was limited and did not apply to certain social issues related to women’s rights in Jordan. 22 Bondokji, moreover, has added that – besides inclusion – repression has also contributed to the Brotherhood’s moderation, 23 while Hamid had argued that repression, rather than inclusion, explains the organization’s moderation. 24 These very different conclusions about the same organization in the same country can partly be attributed to the fact that scholars look at different aspects of the Brotherhood (their political behavior or their ideology, for example). Yet, part of the reason for these divergent conclusions also lies in the Muslim Brotherhood’s dividedness, meaning that some parts of the organization have responded differently to certain developments than others. This suggests that multiple conclusions with regard to the inclusion-moderation thesis are possible, even when applied to the same organization. 25

The divisions within the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood have also been the subject of quite some research, with many scholars adopting the terminology used in the Jordanian media – “hawks” (suqur) and “doves” (hama’im) – to label the different trends in the organization. 26 While such labels are often used to indicate a generally confrontational or radical attitude (hawks) versus a more accommodationist or pragmatic one (doves), relatively few publications explain precisely what they mean by these terms. However, at least five different dimensions of this division can be discerned – ideology, character, identity, participation and openness – the last of which is dealt with in this article.

The first dimension of the Jordanian Brotherhood’s dividedness – ideology – is often described as the main or even the only dimension of the division between “hawks” and “doves.” More specifically, “hawks” are often associated with a greater focus on Islamist ideology and ideological rigidity, as opposed to the greater pragmatism of the “doves” in this respect 27 and are sometimes described as often having enjoyed a religious – rather than a profane – education. 28 They are sometimes also seen as closely aligned with the radical ideas of Egyptian Muslim Brother Sayyid Qutb (1906–1966), particularly his idea that modern-day Muslim societies live in a state of pre-Islamic ignorance ( jahiliyya) that should be countered by setting up an Islamic state, which may imply a reluctance (or even a refusal) to accept existing regimes. Doves, on the other hand, are seen as influenced by more “moderate” Islamist scholars, such as the Tunisian Rashid al-Ghannushi (b. 1941), the Egyptian Yusuf al-Qaradawi (b. 1926) and the Sudanese Hasan al-Turabi (1932–2016). 29

The second dimension of the “hawk”-“dove” division is the character of the Muslim Brotherhood. This pertains to the ethnic background of the organization’s members – Palestinian-Jordanian or East-Jordanian, respectively – and what the group should focus on first and foremost: the Palestinian question (sometimes advocated by Brothers of Palestinian descent) or internal Jordanian affairs (the preferred choice of many East-Jordanian members). This dimension should not be mistaken as pro- and anti-Palestinian; Muslim Brothers in Jordan are united in their dislike of Israel and their pro-Palestinian sentiment. They are divided, however, in their ethnic backgrounds and where the organization’s priorities should lie. This dimension has been noticed by several scholars, 30 but has recently been re-emphasized by Patel, who argues that divisions within the Brotherhood with regard to its attitude toward the regime largely fall along ethnic lines. 31

The third dimension of the internal divisions within the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood – identity – has to do with the choice between seeing the organization as primarily missionary in nature or as a political group. Some scholars have argued that missionary activities (da‘wa) are the backbone of the Muslim Brotherhood in general 32 and, indeed, this is an area of focus for some of its members in Jordan. 33 At the same time, the Islamic Action Front (iaf) party, which is strongly affiliated with the Jordanian Brotherhood, shows the political side of the organization and seems to concentrate far less on da‘wa. 34

The fourth dimension of the divisions between “hawks” and “doves” pertains to participation in the Jordanian political system. In practice, this refers to the willingness to boycott parliamentary elections and the government or to participate in them. This was initially a question strongly related to Islamist ideology – is it allowed to participate in “un-Islamic” parliaments and governments or not? 35 – but after this had been settled in favor of those wishing to participate, it mostly became a question of interests and political considerations. As such, the organization has become divided between those who do not deem participation worth the effort and those who do, but these considerations are mostly based on weighing the political pros and cons, not on strictly Islamist arguments. 36

While all of these dimensions exist, there is another aspect to the Muslim Brotherhood’s internal dividedness that deserves to be treated separately, namely the organization’s openness to others, particularly in cooperation with non-Islamists. With regard to its members’ willingness to cooperate with others in dealing with the regime, the Brotherhood can be divided into exclusivists and inclusivists, with the former representing the hawkish side of the equation and the latter the dovish one. This dimension of the Brotherhood’s divisions has not been dealt with in the literature so far, and this article partly seeks to fill this gap.

As mentioned in the introduction, the “Arab Spring” saw a huge increase in the number of protests against the Jordanian regime, including those in which the Brotherhood was involved. There had, of course, been protests in Jordan before, and the Brotherhood had long been divided. Still, the “Arab Spring” involved so many (and sometimes successful) broad-based demonstrations in various other countries that the fifth dimension of the organization’s dividedness (openness) became increasingly relevant; the protests would show to what extent “hawks” and “doves” in the Jordanian Brotherhood were willing to cooperate with others to achieve similar success in their own country during this period. As such, the “Arab Spring” provides us with an excellent case study to test the openness dimension of the Brotherhood’s “hawk”-“dove” divide: did the organization take an exclusive, Islamist approach to demand reforms at a time when the regime was perceived to be weak or did it seek to build an inclusive, national platform to achieve its goals?

In order to analyze this openness dimension of the Brotherhood’s dividedness, I build on Clark and Schwedler’s work on political coalitions, which is particularly useful here because coalitions necessarily involve a certain openness to and cooperation with others. Various Jordanian political actors – including the Muslim Brotherhood – joined coalitions to unify their efforts in dealing with the regime in the past. 37 Schwedler and Clark have divided such coalitions between 1) tactical ones, in which “groups engage in joint activities on an issue-by-issue and short-term basis”; 2) strategic coalitions, where “engagement is sustained and encompassing of multiple issues”; and 3) ideational ones, in which “groups remain distinct entities but strive to develop a collective vision for political, social, and economic reform.” 38 Exclusivists can be said to believe in tactical and strategic cooperation with others, but tend to look out for the Brotherhood’s Islamist interests first. Inclusivists, however, are more open to ideational cooperation and stress the organization’s reformism, which they share with others. In order to put these developments during the “Arab Spring” in context, a brief history of the Jordanian Brotherhood is in order.

3 Historical Overview of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan

The Muslim Brotherhood in (Trans)Jordan was founded in 1945 by a trader called ‘Abd al-Latif Abu Qura (c. 1906–1967) and was given an official license the next year. The Brotherhood was initially rather vague about its principles and mostly stuck to activities like religious education and charitable work. This apolitical attitude was due to several reasons, the most important of which was perhaps that Abu Qura enjoyed close ties with the royal family and did not want to jeopardize them by taking a more political (and potentially confrontational) stance. The Transjordanian King ‘Abdallah I (r. 1946–1951), meanwhile, had his own reasons not to seek confrontation with the Brotherhood; having come from Mecca without any local ties to Transjordan, the king wanted to shore up his Islamic credentials to cement his authority and probably believed that befriending an explicitly Muslim organization would help him do that. As such, the Muslim Brotherhood started out enjoying a rather good relationship with the Transjordanian regime. 39

Yet, the era of Abu Qura’s leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood quickly came to an end. A new generation of younger and more politicized leaders joined the ranks of the organization and wanted the Brotherhood to compete with secular organizations and appeal to the large number of Palestinian refugees who had entered the country after fleeing Palestine in 1948. For the Brotherhood to do this, a more activist approach was called for, something Abu Qura was loath to do. As a result, Muhammad ‘Abd al-Rahman Khalifa (1919–2006) became the organization’s new leader or General Controller (al-muraqib al-‘amm) in 1953 and intensified the expansion of the organization’s activities. 40

Despite this greater tendency towards politicization, the relationship between the Brotherhood and the regime remained good, including under King ‘Abdallah I’s grandson, King Husayn (r. 1953–1999). The reason for this could partly be found in the Brotherhood’s support for the king’s foreign policy. Although King Husayn was clearly more pro-Western and pro-British than the Brotherhood, he decided against joining the anti-Soviet Baghdad Pact founded in 1955, 41 refused to endorse the anti-communist Eisenhower Doctrine published in 1957, 42 and expelled the British General and Chief of Staff of the Jordanian army, John Bagot Glubb, from the country in 1956. 43 Despite the fact that the king most likely took these decisions because of popular pressure on him to do so (rather than out of conviction), the Brotherhood strongly supported him and his “anti-imperialist” policies. 44

Apart from international issues like those mentioned above, an important reason for the generally good ties between the Jordanian Brotherhood and the Hashemite regime was found in regional questions. Both had a common enemy, for example, in Egyptian President Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasir (Nasser; r. 1954–1970), who repressed the Egyptian Brotherhood and whose republican socialist rhetoric challenged King Husayn. When, in 1957, an alleged coup organized by supporters of Nasser threatened the Jordanian regime, the Muslim Brotherhood sided with the king, thereby strengthening a relationship that – despite occasional periods of repression – was strategic and generally strong. 45 This relationship was strengthened further when the Muslim Brotherhood implicitly supported 46 the regime’s decision to expel Palestinian militants from Jordanian soil during the so-called “Black September” in 1970. 47

During most of this, the Muslim Brotherhood had the benefit of parliamentary representation through regular elections. This came to an abrupt end, however, with Jordan’s loss of the West Bank to Israel in the war of 1967, when the regime decided to suspend elections. It was not until 1989 – a year after the regime had formally renounced its perceived rights to the West Bank – that national parliamentary elections were held again. In the two decades in between, the Muslim Brotherhood had grown bigger, but – because of the loss of enemies that it had in common with the regime (Western powers, British influence, and Nasserism) and the absence of Palestinian militants, it also started focusing on internal Jordanian issues and, as a result, became increasingly oppositional. When the Brotherhood and its Islamist allies participated in the elections of 1989, they were quite successful, winning 34 out of 80 seats. This was not to the liking of the regime, however, and through gerrymandering and changing the electoral law it ensured that the Muslim Brotherhood would not achieve a similar success in the future. In fact, the process of democratization after 1989 turned out to be inspired more by the regime’s wish to provide Jordanians with a controllable avenue to vent their frustrations over painful economic reforms than by a genuine desire to democratize the country. 48

As a result of the regime’s efforts to influence the electoral process, the Muslim Brotherhood’s parliamentary fortunes changed and – given the absence of any meaningful reform – the organization eventually decided to boycott the elections in 1997, a means they also resorted to in 2010 and again in 2013. Because the Brotherhood felt that the regime was unwilling to reform and because the latter wanted to confine any opposition to an ineffective and rather toothless parliament so as to avoid extra-parliamentary opposition (demonstrations, protests, sit-ins, et cetera), relations between the two deteriorated. This has particularly been the case under King ‘Abdallah ii, who succeeded his father as king in 1999 and still rules today. 49

Although it may seem as if the Muslim Brotherhood has acted as a united front since 1989, this is not the case. In fact, the divisions in the organization described above existed long before that year. The Brotherhood had always been ideologically diverse and also with regard to ethnic background, but divisions over loyalty to the king, participation in an “un-Islamic” government and whether to prioritize the Palestinian question or Jordan itself remained largely theoretical until 1989. They became very real, however, after parliamentary life was resumed in that year and more concrete choices had to be made. At multiple times throughout the group’s history, members have left the Brotherhood, most prominently in 2001, when several members resigned and set up the Islamic Center Party (Hizb al-Wasat al-Islami). There were two main reasons for this: firstly, the members who founded the new party felt that the Brotherhood had too much influence on the iaf, which was founded in 1992. Although the latter was meant to be independent of the Brotherhood, it was increasingly seen as the political wing of the organization; secondly, some Brotherhood-members did not agree with the decision to boycott the parliamentary elections in 1997 and left for this reason. 50

Divisions in the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood thus go back decades, and the terms “hawks” and “doves” have also been around for a long time. The dimension of openness to others, however, while relevant before the revolutions in the Middle East, became particularly important during the “Arab Spring,” with its broad-based coalitions of anti-regime protesters. In this period, the exclusivists, inspired by the Brotherhood’s success in Egypt in 2011–2012, wanted to focus on protests and a boycott of parliamentary elections to confront the regime, which they perceived to be vulnerable and susceptible to their Islamist demands in the wake of the regional uprisings. As such, they were unlikely to join anything more than strategic or even tactical coalitions. The inclusivists, on the other hand, did not entirely disagree, but were warier of the dangers of the “Arab Spring”. Partly for that reason, they sought to enter into an ideational coalition that would help them accommodate the regime’s wish for moderation, thereby avoiding the blowback the uprisings could create, such as the coup in Egypt in 2013. These disparate responses to the “Arab Spring” exacerbated the existing differences between the organization’s members and contributed to making the group more divided than ever.

4 “Hawkish” Closedness: Exclusivism

The “Arab Spring” proved a source of inspiration for Jordanians critical of the regime in Amman. It was not for nothing, therefore, that many Jordanians adopted the example of Tunisians, Egyptians, and Libyans and took to the streets to vent their frustration about corruption, a bad economy, and a lack of political reform, as we saw above. As Amis has pointed out, members of the Muslim Brotherhood – probably like many other Jordanians – felt that the uprisings showed the regimes’ weakness and that the Jordanian regime, in order to avoid a fate similar to that of other countries, would therefore be susceptible to their demands. It is tempting to ascribe such ideas solely to “hawks” in the Brotherhood, but initially these were, in fact, widely held beliefs across the organization, with prominent “doves” expressing similar views. 51

While most of the publications on protests mentioned above deal with the demonstrations and rallies in 2011 or up to late 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood – stimulated by the victory of fellow Muslim Brother Muhammad Mursi in the Egyptian presidential elections in June 2012 – continued to be involved in protests after that. By that time, however, the political atmosphere in Jordan had become increasingly tense. The protest on October 5, 2012, for example, was described by Hammam Sa‘id, the Brotherhood’s General Controller at the time, as “civilized” and “peaceful,” 52 and Salim al-Falahat, a leading figure in the organization, actively denied that the Brotherhood had an “army” with which they would cause danger to citizens. 53 Such remarks were not made because the Brotherhood’s rallies were usually violent, but because the organization had come under intense criticism from pro-regime media for its increasingly confrontational attitude.

Both immediately before and after the protest of October 5, 2012, the Brotherhood found its reformist motives questioned by pro-regime media, 54 who sometimes also accused them of being exclusivist and narrow-minded, 55 of wanting to confront and overthrow the regime, 56 and of having the establishment of a theocracy as their ultimate goal. 57 Accusations such as these were perhaps especially stinging at a time when the violent Islamic State (IS) organization rose to prominence in the region, maybe suggesting that the Brotherhood and IS were two sides of the same coin. Moreover, these accusations were particularly controversial because the slogan of so many other protesters in the region had been “al-sha‘b yuridu isqat al-nizam” (the people want the downfall of the regime), words that the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan rejected and had been careful to avoid in its own protests. Despite its increasingly confrontational stance, its preferred alternative was “al-sha‘b yuridu islah al-nizam” (the people want the reform of the regime). 58

Still, during a protest in November 2012, calls for the downfall of the Jordanian regime were heard among members of the Brotherhood for the first time, leading to condemnation from others. 59 Moreover, the organization – perhaps convinced that the “Arab Spring” called for rhetorical escalation – was not always unambiguous in its rejection of such slogans. Zaki Bani Irshid, for example, the Brotherhood’s Deputy General Controller at the time, stated that “Jordan faces three scenarios today: corruption, reform or the demand for the downfall of the regime.” 60 Although it was clear that Bani Irshid wanted reform (not either of the other two options), it was easy to interpret his words as a threat (reform, or else…). Such incidents, coupled with a widely perceived escalation of the Brotherhood’s methods (continued protests against, instead of broad-based dialogue with, the regime), fed the belief among some Jordanians that the organization had a hidden agenda and was on a collision course with the regime. One commentator even referred to this as the Brotherhood’s taqiyya, the word used to describe the originally Shiite practice of hiding one’s true beliefs when one’s life is in danger. “Although since the beginning of what has become known as the ‘Arab Spring’,” he stated, “they have raised the slogan ‘the reform of the regime’, they really want ‘the downfall of the regime’.” 61

The fact that the Brotherhood wanted to use the “Arab Spring” to confront the regime and demand reform but was criticized for doing so did not mean they were the only ones calling for an end to corruption, limits to the king’s powers, and a new electoral law, to name some of their most important demands. As we saw above, others were involved in protests and the Muslim Brotherhood often joined them. In fact, the organization even cooperated with other groups who (partly) shared their reformist agenda. As Clark and Ryan have shown, the Muslim Brotherhood and the iaf have joined reform coalitions several times throughout the past two decades. In Clark and Schwedler’s terms, these included tactical alliances against the Iraq war in 2003 or normalization with Israel, but also more strategic coalitions like the Higher Committee for the Coordination of National Opposition Parties in 1995, the Conference on National Reform in 1998, and the National Coalition for Reform in 2010. 62

The “Arab Spring” witnessed similar, relatively exclusivist Brotherhood tendencies in Jordan, with the organization allying itself with the National Front for Reform in 2011, but refusing to join the National Dialogue Committee, which had been set up by the regime to defuse tensions in the country. 63 The Brotherhood also – like in 2010 – boycotted the parliamentary elections in January 2013, which meant that it rejected the regime’s preferred avenue for political opposition. The organization similarly refused to join a new government in 2013 and insisted on real and meaningful reform prior to any governmental participation, thereby not only rejecting efforts to accommodate the regime’s wishes while continuing its confrontational approach, 64 but also taking an exclusivist stance by alienating allies who were more willing to compromise. 65

Instead of engaging with the regime, the Muslim Brotherhood continued to participate in protests in early 2013, 66 but because it took a relatively exclusive approach, its participation in coalitions was rarely more than tactical (and never more than strategic). This, in turn, led to a situation in which the Brotherhood grew increasingly isolated, also because the organization could expect little support from, say, Salafis in Jordan, who not only abhor the Brotherhood, but are also mostly apolitical or radically anti-regime. 67 As a result, the organization became a (though not the only) target of the regime’s efforts to blunt the effects of the “Arab Spring.” 68 This expressed itself in more violent measures by the security services during the Brotherhood’s protests, which then became a new reason for the organization to take to the streets. 69 The Brotherhood continued its relatively exclusive and confrontational approach even after it was becoming increasingly clear that the “Arab Spring” in general was not turning out to be what many people – including the Brotherhood itself – had hoped for. This became particularly obvious in Egypt, where a military coup removed the Muslim Brother Muhammad Mursi from the presidency in July 2013, an act that was widely condemned by members of the Jordanian Brotherhood. 70

The idea that the coup in Egypt would have a weakening effect on the Jordanian Brotherhood ran counter to the organization’s view that taking an exclusivist approach would eventually pay off and, as such, it was dismissed by prominent leaders like the aforementioned Zaki Bani Irshid and Hamza Mansur, the Secretary General of the iaf at the time. 71 The Brotherhood’s General Controller, Hammam Sa‘id, even explicitly stated that “the Brotherhood of Jordan has no need for revising its political views in light of the events in Egypt and the removal of President Muhammad Mursi from power.” 72 The Jordanian Brotherhood, in other words, was not backing down and continued its relatively exclusive and confrontational approach.

The Jordanian regime, in the meantime, not only took tougher measures against the Brotherhood during demonstrations, but was also said to have plans to use the regional turmoil against the organization and even ban it in order to avoid a situation like the one in Egypt. One anonymous source explained that “the position of the king may have changed [from tolerating the Brotherhood to taking action against it] after the latest escalation by the Brotherhood of Jordan,” adding that the king “does not want the scene of confrontation with the Brotherhood to move [from Egypt] to Jordan.” 73 Although dialogue between the Brotherhood and the regime was resumed in 2013 and the king stated his rejection of outlawing the organization, 74 the idea of banning the Muslim Brotherhood altogether was not entirely far-fetched. Egypt, Saudi-Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – at least partly as a response to the coup – all went on to ban the organization in 2013 or 2014 and some even labeled it a “terrorist organization,” a designation that the Jordanian Brotherhood obviously rejected. 75 By 2014, it thus seemed as if the regime’s net was slowly tightening around the Muslim Brotherhood. Although there were signs that the organization realized that the “Arab Spring” had only brought losses, 76 the Brotherhood as a whole was not ready to give up its relatively exclusive position of confrontation just yet.

5 “Dovish” Openness: Inclusivism

The existing division with regard to openness within the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood could, in light of the early successes of the “Arab Spring,” fairly easily be ignored since all of the organization’s members were united in supporting an end to dictatorship, corruption, and oppression. Yet when, in 2012–2013, it became clear that the revolutions in several countries were not going to succeed (Syria), were not going to be as positive as was first expected (Libya), or were even reversed (Egypt), perceptions of the “Arab Spring” changed. In this context – and supported by the idea that the regime appeared more and more willing to target the increasingly isolated Brotherhood – some members of the organization decided to take a more inclusive approach.

In November 2012, a prominent dovish member of the Brotherhood, Ruhayyil Gharayiba, revealed that he and some 60 other members of the organization had met with people from outside the Islamist movement at Hotel ZamZam in Amman to set up an initiative to reform the Jordanian state. 77 This “Jordanian Initiative for Building” – or “the ZamZam initiative,” as it quickly became known – was to be a “collective national initiative (mubadara wataniyya jami‘a) that accommodates all Jordanian abilities and energy dedicated to this country” and was committed to a “project of all-encompassing national reform.” This was to be achieved through “public, peaceful and civilized means, far from regional, Islamic legal (madhhabi) or religious violence, extremism and clannishness.” Its members included “personalities from the Islamic movement, from outside the Islamic movement and from all colors of the Jordanian spectrum (min kull alwan al-tayf al-Urdunni).” 78

The language of the press statement quoted above seemed to be aimed at addressing the very things that some Jordanians hold against the Muslim Brotherhood – such as its supposed disloyalty to Jordan and alleged willingness to use violence – and assuring people that the ZamZam initiative was not going to be like that. The text of the initiative itself similarly referred to “renewal,” “reform,” and a “peaceful method.” 79 The belief, however, that the Muslim Brotherhood would be against such views is based more on preconceived ideas about the organization than on its actual points of view as expressed in its statements. In my interview with prominent “hawk” Zaki Bani Irshid, for example, he did not really say anything that clashed with these words, 80 a point that was acknowledged by Gharayiba himself, who stated that none of the ideas expressed in the initiative’s text were at odds with the Brotherhood’s views. 81

Yet, there is a fundamental difference between the ZamZam initiative and the Brotherhood’s approach, namely the openness to others that both express. While the Muslim Brotherhood, as we saw above, was never involved in ideational coalitions and wanted to remain exclusively Islamist and confront the regime as such through extra-parliamentary means like protests during the “Arab Spring,” the inclusivist ZamZam initiative was entirely different. It stressed not only the “spreading of moderate thinking,” which the Brotherhood would probably agree with, but did so “on the basis of tolerance, mutual respect, cooperation and comprehension.” Moreover, the ZamZam initiative mentioned that its members wanted to “partake in the institutions of the state, the institutions of civil society and the strengthening of the values of cooperation and positive participation.” 82

The ZamZam initiative was, in other words, precisely the ideational coalition that the Brotherhood had never wanted to enter and, as such, constituted the inclusivist antithesis to the exclusivist approach of the organization as a whole. Not surprisingly, the Muslim Brotherhood was highly skeptical of the ZamZam initiative. Gharayiba himself stated that what accounted for the Brotherhood’s opposition to ZamZam was the fact that “there are some people [in the Muslim Brotherhood] whose thinking is narrow and small. They are not flexible in opening up Jordanian society or they fear opening up Jordanian society.” 83 To be sure, Gharayiba does have real ideological differences with the “hawks” in the Muslim Brotherhood (as do many of his fellow Brothers who are also part of the initiative, such as Nabil al-Kufahi and Jamil Duhaysat), but these differences were not expressed in the ZamZam initiative and were not the main reason the organization objected to it. Instead, their objection to “ZamZam” lay in the latter’s inclusivist approach outside the boundaries of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The ZamZam initiative should be seen in the context of the “Arab Spring” and the way its initiators interpreted this series of uprisings. While the Brotherhood leadership saw it as an encouragement to push for reform through exclusivism, the people who set up the ZamZam initiative were far more careful and wary of the outcome of the “Arab Spring,” even though they shared its reformist ideals. This became particularly clear after the coup in Egypt, which showed what the consequences could be if the Brotherhood actively sought to push its exclusivist agenda to the very end. 84 Around that time, the regime was also indirectly stimulating this line of thinking, with pro-regime commentators pointing to the lessons the Brotherhood should learn from the coup. One former minister, for example, stated that the Brotherhood “must adopt a new approach in dealing with the authorities in Jordan” and “give up confrontation with the establishment.” 85

The king himself also weighed in on this issue, stating in response to a question on banning the Muslim Brotherhood that the iaf was “capable of playing a positive and constructive role in the march of political reform.” The fact that the king only referred to the Brotherhood’s political party – not the organization itself – seemed to emphasize the fact that the regime has long wanted the country’s opposition to work through parliament, where it can be controlled and limited, not through extra-parliamentary organizations like the Brotherhood. This was underlined by his statement that “it would be preferable if the [Islamic] Action Front Party participated in the political process as represented by parliamentary and local elections.” 86

Beyond such statements, it is unclear to what extent the regime has supported the ZamZam initiative’s inclusivist approach to exploit the divisions within the Brotherhood, to limit the organization’s effectiveness, and to cut a deal with those willing to cooperate with the state, although it seems obvious that it would seize the opportunity if it arose. The belief that this inclusivist tendency was somehow supported by the regime was also something I regularly heard in informal talks with analysts and Brothers in Jordan, although this was dismissed by Ruhayyil Gharayiba, who stated that the initiative was financed by two major (and many minor) private donors. He also claimed that its contacts with the state were merely rooted in the belief that if one wanted to influence the regime, one had to engage with it. 87

Whatever the case may be, while the Brotherhood-leadership dismissed calls from the regime to change course, as we saw above, the people behind the ZamZam initiative – like other “doves” in the Brotherhood – were more inclined to take this advice 88 or to make changes as a result of the banning of the Brotherhood in several countries. 89 Gharayiba, for example, declared during the official announcement of the ZamZam initiative in 2014 that “we are witnessing a transitional period that is characterized by danger and we [therefore] need the utmost degree of collective wisdom and intelligence in order to benefit from what is happening in the surrounding states.” 90 To Gharayiba, this entailed “not insisting on [an exclusivist approach of] showing Islamic identity and the need to keep doctrinal, ideological discourse away from the language of [inclusivist] dialogue with all sides.” He also stated that Islamists should “distance themselves from the slogan of the application of Islamic law and imposing an Islamic system.” 91 More specifically, Gharayiba argued against differences of opinion with the state and in favor of differing with one another within the boundaries of the state and further wrote that such divisions should ideally be based on party manifestos, not doctrinal or ideological issues. 92

Gharayiba and his fellow Brothers supporting him in the ZamZam initiative thus argued not only for a far more inclusive way of interpreting the “Arab Spring” than the leadership of the Brotherhood, but also used that inclusive effort to present the regime with a much more accommodating alternative. While the Brotherhood as a whole sought confrontation through relatively exclusive protests, “ZamZam” wanted accommodation with the regime by handling conflicts inclusively and within the confines of the state’s institutions. They did so by entering into an ideational coalition with others and being far more willing to cooperate with the regime. By doing so, they realized that if (or when) the “Arab Spring” turned sour and the regime came after those who had opposed it, they would be safe from the regime’s repercussions. As such, Gharayiba’s words cited above represented a clear effort to compromise from an ideological point of view and thus to contribute to a truly ideational coalition with other, non-Islamist Jordanians. While the state did not object to ZamZam’s inclusivist coalition, the Muslim Brotherhood did. Through a lengthy process of discussions and mediations, the organization eventually decided to dismiss Gharayiba, al-Kufahi, and Duhaysat, the Brotherhood’s most prominent members of the ZamZam initiative. 93

The dismissal of three prominent members of the Muslim Brotherhood created a lot of tension within the organization and exacerbated the existing divisions. So much so, in fact, that it would require a separate publication to deal with all of them. Some members felt that ZamZam was an unwanted force intruding on Brotherhood-affairs, while others believed the three members who were dismissed had deserved a better fate, even if they personally disagreed with them. Partly because of these tensions, but also because of existing divisions and disagreements, hundreds of members submitted their resignation to the Brotherhood in 2015, while still others decided to set up a new Muslim Brotherhood altogether that was independent of ZamZam, but ideologically closely aligned with its dovish members. At this point, the regime also became actively involved in stimulating the organization’s divisions when it legalized the new Brotherhood, while declaring the old one illegal. This has led to a situation in which there are two Brotherhoods in Jordan today: one legal organization under the guidance of ‘Abd al-Majid Dhunaybat, a former General Controller of the old Muslim Brotherhood, and another illegal organization under a caretaker leadership. 94 As such, it became abundantly clear that the Brotherhood was not only divided, but also that the regime’s policies toward the organization and the latter’s response to these policies justify different answers to the question of whether inclusion leads to moderation or not, which helps explain the hugely different conclusions drawn by scholars on this issue.

The reason the regime clearly distinguished between the Muslim Brotherhood (which it outlawed), on the one hand, and the iaf (which it allowed), on the other, is three-fold: firstly, the former was an organization that had long been viewed with suspicion for its ties with the Egyptian Brotherhood (even though it cut those in February 2016), 95 while the iaf was an entirely Jordanian political party; secondly, the Muslim Brotherhood, as mentioned above, was an extra-parliamentary organization that could (and often did) function outside the regime’s preferred avenue of opposition (parliament), while the iaf was founded precisely to be in parliament; and thirdly, the Brotherhood was licensed in the 1940s and 1950s as a religious and charitable organization that had changed drastically over the years, while the iaf was founded under the 1992 political parties law without having changed its legal status.

ZamZam itself, meanwhile, has transformed into a political party that is now represented in parliament with five seats (out of a total of 130). The iaf, having realized that in order to stay relevant it had to make use of the only avenue of participation it could use (parliament), decided to participate in the 2016 parliamentary elections after boycotting the two previous election cycles. Although some reformist measures were taken to pave the way for the iaf’s return to parliament – the controversial electoral law, for example, was finally amended – it was hard to escape the conclusion that the original Muslim Brotherhood’s relatively exclusive and confrontational approach had yielded very few positive results. ZamZam’s inclusive and accommodationist approach had not brought it much success either, but at least it was still a legal entity, which is more than can be said about the original Muslim Brotherhood.

6 Conclusion

The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan has interpreted the “Arab Spring” in two highly divergent ways: the organization as a whole initially wanted to exploit the uprisings in the region to take a relatively exclusive, Islamist approach – so without deep and ideational coalitions with non-Islamists – to confront the regime with its demands for reform; others within the organization disagreed with this method as the “Arab Spring” turned out to be less successful. Aware of the dangers of provoking the state without achieving results, these members called for a more inclusive, national approach and a more accommodationist attitude toward the regime. Some of the latter group set up the Jordanian Initiative for Building – or the ZamZam initiative – which explicitly sought to build bridges with others and enter into an ideational coalition with them on a national basis.

Both approaches were less than fully successful; the Brotherhood as a whole was eventually banned and had to accept that a new version of the organization was set up in its stead, while ZamZam ended up with a small parliamentary presence, unable to seek the inclusivist societal and political reform it wanted through a toothless and ineffective parliament. The regime, in other words, had weathered the storm and been able to withstand both relatively exclusive confrontation and inclusive accommodation by returning the situation to one it could handle without adopting the reform measures that the Brotherhood – and others – had so often called for.

In analyzing the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood’s different approaches toward the “Arab Spring,” this article has shown that the organization’s openness toward others, as measured in Clark and Schwedler’s terms on coalition-building, is a clear dimension of the Brotherhood’s “hawk”-“dove” divisions. As such, it reaffirms and also sheds new light on the dividedness of the organization as a whole, which – in turn – helps explain why scholars can draw such different conclusions with regard to the inclusion-moderation thesis when applied to the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan. Thus, taking this dividedness – including on the dimension of openness – into account can perhaps help us understand the question of Islamist political participation in the Arab world a bit better.


I would like to thank the anonymous peer reviewers as well as Marc Lynch, Jillian Schwedler and the participants in the workshop on Islamist politics in the Middle East at George Washington University, Washington, DC, of January 26, 2018 for their useful comments on earlier versions of this article.


Ellen Lust-Okar, “The Decline of Jordanian Political Parties: Myth or Reality?” International Journal of Middle East Studies 33 (2001): 545–69.


Lamis Andoni and Jillian Schwedler, “Bread Riots in Jordan,” Middle East Report No. 201 (1996): 40–2; Curtis R. Ryan, “Peace, Bread and Riots: Jordan and the International Monetary Fund,” Middle East Policy 6, No. 2 (1998): 54–66; Jillian Schwedler, “Cop Rock: Protest, Identity, and Dancing Riot Police in Jordan,” Social Movement Studies 4, No. 2 (2005): 155–75; Jillian Schwedler, “More than a Mob: The Dynamics of Political Demonstrations in Jordan,” Middle East Report No. 226 (2003): 18–23; and Jillian Schwedler, “The Political Geography of Protest in Neoliberal Jordan,” Middle East Critique 21, No. 3 (2012): 259–70.


David Rohde, “In Jordan, the Arab Spring Isn’t Over,” The Atlantic, July 2013,; and Osama Al Sharif, “Is Jordan’s ‘Arab Spring’ Over?” Al Monitor, September 15, 2013,


Julien Barnes-Dacey, Europe and Jordan: Reform Before It’s Too Late, Policy Brief No. 54 (London: European Council on Foreign Relations, 2012); Shadi Hamid and Courtney Freer, How Stable Is Jordan? King Abdullah’s Half-Hearted Reforms and the Challenge of the Arab Spring, Policy Briefing (Doha: Brookings Doha Center, 2011); Marc Lynch, ed., Jordan, Forever on the Brink, Project on Middle East Political Science (pomeps) Briefing 11 (Washington, DC: Institute for Middle East Studies at George Washington University, 2012); and David Schenker, As Jordan Stumbles, the U.S. Response Is Crucial, Policy Watch 1984 (Washington, DC: Washington Institute of Near Eastern Affairs, 2012).


Sarah A. Tobin, “Jordan’s Arab Spring: The Middle Class and Anti-Revolution,” Middle East Policy 19, No. 1 (2012): 96–109; and Sean L. Yom, “Jordan in the Balance: Evaluating Regime Stability,” ctc Sentinel 6, No. 1 (2013): 5–7.


International Crisis Group (icg), Popular Protest in North Africa and the Middle East (ix): Dallying with Reform in a Divided Jordan, Middle East/North Africa Report No. 118 (Amman and Brussels: International Crisis Group, 2012).


David Siddhartha Patel, The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: Jordanian Islamist Responses in Spring and Fall, Working Paper Rethinking Political Islam Series (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2015).


Fida Adely, The Emergence of a New Labor Movement in Jordan (Middle East Research and Information Project (merip), 2012),


Sean Yom and Wael al-Khatib, “How a New Youth Movement Is Emerging in Jordan Ahead of Election,” The Washington Post, September 14, 2016,; and Sean L. Yom, “Tribal Politics in Contemporary Jordan: The Case of the Hirak Movement,” Middle East Journal 68, No. 2 (2014): 243–7.


icg, Popular, 16–17.


Yom, “Tribal,” 229–47.


Assaf David, “The Revolt of Jordan’s Military Veterans,” in Jordan, Forever on the Brink, Project on Middle East Political Science (pomeps) Briefing 11, ed. Marc Lynch (Washington, DC: Institute for Middle East Studies at George Washington University, 2012), 29–30.


Jacob Amis, “The Jordanian Brotherhood in the Arab Spring,” in Current Trends in Islamist Ideology 14, eds. Hillel Fradkin, Husain Haqqani, Eric Brown, and Hassan Mneimeh (Washington, DC: Hudson Institute, 2013), 38–57; and Nur Köprülü, “Jordan Since the Uprisings: Between Change and Stability,” Middle East Policy 21, No. 2 (2014): 111–26.


For an excellent, though somewhat dated, overview of the literature on the inclusion-moderation thesis, see Jillian Schwedler, Faith in Moderation: Islamist Parties in Jordan and Yemen (Cambridge, etc.: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 1–26.


Carrie Rosefsky Wickham, The Muslim Brotherhood: Evolution of an Islamist Movement (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013), 282–8.


Nathan J. Brown, When Victory Is Not an Option: Islamist Movements in Arab Politics (Ithaca, NY, and London: Cornell University Press, 2012), 3–5.


Khalil al-Anani, “Understanding Repression-Adaptation Nexus in Islamist Movements,” in Adaptation Strategies of Islamist Movements, pomeps Studies 26 (Washington, DC: Project on Middle East Political Science (pomeps), 2017), 4–7; Matt Buehler, “The Threat to ‘Un-Moderate’: Moroccan Islamists and the Arab Spring,” Middle East Law and Governance 5 (2013): 213–57; and Jillian Schwedler, “Why Exclusion and Repression of Moderate Islamists Will Be Counterproductive,” in Adaptation Strategies of Islamist Movements, pomeps Studies 26 (Washington, DC: Project on Middle East Political Science (pomeps), 2017), 8–11.


Janine A. Clark and Jillian Schwedler, “Who Opened the Window? Women’s Activism in Islamist Parties,” Comparative Politics 35, No. 3 (2003): 293–5; Katerina Dalacoura, Islamist Terrorism and Democracy in the Middle East (Cambridge, etc.: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 130–47; and Schwedler, Faith, 194–7.


Francesco Cavatorta and Fabio Merone, “Moderation Through Exclusion? The Journey of the Tunisian Ennahda from Fundamentalist to Conservative Party,” Democratization 20, No. 5 (2013): 857–75; and Courtney Freer, “Exclusion-Moderation in the Gulf Context: Tracing the Development of Pragmatic Islamism in Kuwait,” Middle Eastern Studies 54, No. 1 (2018): 1–21.


Dalacoura, Islamist, 124–30; and Schwedler, Faith.


Janine A. Clark, “The Conditions of Islamist Moderation: Unpacking Cross-Ideological Cooperation in Jordan,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 38, No. 4 (2006): 539–60, especially 547–55; and Rosefsky Wickham, Muslim, 209–14.


Neven Bondokji, “The Prospects of Islamic Movements and Parties in Jordan,” in The Prospects of Political Islam in a Troubled Region: Islamists and Post-Arab Spring Challenges, ed. Mohammed Abu Rumman (Amman: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, 2018), 164.


Shadi Hamid, Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East (Oxford, etc.: Oxford University Press, 2014), 38–60, especially 48–53.


Joas Wagemakers, The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan: Moderation Through Division (Cambridge, etc.: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).


Some authors also recognize a third trend of so-called “centrists,” who hold a middle position between the “hawks” and the “doves,” and even a fourth trend of pro-Hamas Brothers. Scholars overwhelmingly use the two categories of “hawks” and “doves,” however, which is what this article will build on. For more on the “centrists,” see Mohammad Suliman Abu Rumman, The Muslim Brotherhood in the 2007 Jordanian Parliamentary Elections: A Passing “Political Setback” or Diminished Popularity? (Amman: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, 2007), 38–40; Juan José Escobar Stemman, “The Crossroads of Muslim Brothers in Jordan,” in The Muslim Brotherhood: The Organization and Policies of a Global Islamist Movement, ed. Barry Rubin (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2010), 62; and Shadi Hamid, “The Islamic Action Front in Jordan,” in The Oxford Handbook of Islam and Politics, eds. John L. Esposito and Emad el-Din Shahin (Oxford, etc.: Oxford University Press, 2013), 551–2.


Brown, Victory, 102–3; Janine A. Clark, “Patronage, Prestige, and Power: The Islamic Center Charity Society’s Political Rule within the Muslim Brotherhood,” in Islamist Politics in the Middle East: Movements and Change, ed. Samer S. Shehata (London and New York: Routledge, 2012), 77; Egbert Harmsen, Islam, Civil Society and Social Work: Muslim Voluntary Welfare Associations in Jordan between Patronage and Empowerment (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2008), 145; Sabah El-Said, Between Pragmatism and Ideology: The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, 1989–1994, winep Policy Paper 39 (Washington, DC: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 1995), 12–13; and Nachman Tal, Radical Islam in Egypt and Jordan (Brighton, UK, and Portland, OR: Sussex Academic Press/Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, 2005), 191.


Muhammad Abu Rumman and Hasan Abu Haniyya, Al-Hall al-Islami: Al-Islamiyyun wa-l-Dawla wa-Rihanat al-Dimuqratiyya wa-l-Amn [The Islamic Solution: Islamists, the State, and the Bets of Democracy and Security] (Amman: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, 2012), 86; Abu Rumman, Muslim, 37; and Harmsen, Islam, 145.


Abu Rumman and Abu Haniyya, Al-Hall, 84; Abu Rumman, Muslim, 34–6; Muhammad Abu Rumman and Nivin Bunduqji, Min al-Khilafa al-Islamiyya ila l-Dawla al-Madaniyya [From the Islamic Caliphate to the Civil State] (Amman: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, 2018), 53–9; and Escobar Stemman, “Crossroads,” 61–2.


Abu Rumman and Abu Haniyya, Al-Hall, 86; Abu Rumman, Muslim, 37; Brown, Victory, 103; Hamid, “Islamic,” 552; Marc Lynch, State Interests and Public Spheres: The International Politics of Jordan’s Identity (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), 113, 129; and Jillian Schwedler, “Jordan’s Islamists Lose Faith in Moderation,” in Jordan, Forever on the Brink, Project on Middle East Political Science (pomeps) Briefing 11, ed. Marc Lynch (Washington, DC: Institute for Middle East Studies at George Washington University, 2012), 24.


David Siddhartha Patel, The Communal Fracturing of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, Middle East Brief No. 113 (Waltham, MA: Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University, 2018), 4–7.


Itzchak Weismann, “Framing a Modern Umma: The Muslim Brothers’ Evolving Project of Daʿwa,” Sociology of Islam 3 (2015): 146–69.


See, for example, a book written by a former leader of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, Hammam Sa‘id, Qawa‘id al-Da‘wa ila llah [The Principles of the Call to God] (Amman: Dar al-Furqan li-l-Nashr wa-l-Tawzi‘, 2011).


Bakr Muhammad al-Budur, Al-Tajriba al-Niyabiyya li-l-Haraka al-Islamiyya fi l-Urdunn, 1989–2007 [The Parliamentary Experience of the Islamic Movement in Jordan, 1989–2007] (Amman: Dar al-Ma’mun li-l-Nashr wa-l-Tawzi‘, 2011), 131–2.


Schwedler, Faith, 163–4.


Brown, Victory, 102; and Hamid, Temptations, 108–10, 131–5.


Clark, “Conditions,” 539–60; Janine A. Clark, “Threats, Structures, and Resources: Cross-Ideological Coalition Building in Jordan,” Comparative Politics 43, No. 1 (2010): 101–20; Curtis R. Ryan, “Political Opposition and Reform Coalitions in Jordan,” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 38, No. 3 (2011): 367–90; and Jillian Schwedler and Janine A. Clark, “Islamist-Leftist Cooperation in the Arab World,” isim Review, No. 18 (2006): 10–11.


Schwedler and Clark, “Islamist,” 10.


Marion Boulby, The Muslim Brotherhood and the Kings of Jordan, 1945–1993 (Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1999), 37–49.


Ibid., 50–8.


Naseer H. Aruri, Jordan: A Study in Political Development (1921–1965) (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1972), 120–8.


Uriel Dann, King Hussein and the Challenge of Arab Radicalism: Jordan, 1955–1967 (Oxford, etc.: Oxford University Press, 1989), 46–7.


Aruri, Jordan, 128–31; Dann, King, 31–3; and Joseph A. Massad, Colonial Effects: The Making of National Identity in Jordan (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001), 178–85.


Joas Wagemakers, “Foreign Policy as Protection: The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood as a Political Minority during the Cold War,” in Muted Minorities: Ethnic, Religious and Political Groups in (Trans) Jordan, 1921–2016, eds. Idir Ouahes and Paolo Maggiolini (London: Palgrave, forthcoming).


Boulby, Muslim, 58–65; and Wagemakers, “Foreign.”


Wagemakers, “Foreign.”


Yezid Sayigh, Armed Struggle and the Search for State: The Palestinian National Movement, 1949–1993 (Oxford, etc.: Oxford University Press, 1997), 255–67.


Kamel S. Abu Jaber and Schirin H. Fathi, “The 1989 Jordanian Parliamentary Elections,” Orient 31, No. 1 (1990): 67–86; Hanna Y. Freij and Leonard C. Robinson, “Liberalization, the Islamists, and the Stability of the Arab State: Jordan as a Case Study,” The Muslim World 86, No. 1 (1996): 8–16; Russell E. Lucas, “Deliberalization in Jordan,” Journal of Democracy 14, No. 1 (2003): 137–40; Katherine Rath, “The Process of Democratization in Jordan,” Middle Eastern Studies 30, No. 3 (1994): 538–40; Glenn E. Robinson, “Defensive Democratization in Jordan,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 30, No. 3 (1998): 390–3; Ryan, “Peace,” 55–7; Schwedler, Faith, 46–56; and Jillian Schwedler, “A Paradox of Democracy? Islamist Participation in Election,” Middle East Report No. 209 (1998): 27–8.


One example of this is King ‘Abdallah ii’s interview with the American magazine The Atlantic, in which he talked about the Brotherhood in a deeply skeptical way and which led to several negative reactions in the Islamist press in Jordan. See Jeffrey Goldberg, “Monarch in the Middle,” The Atlantic, March 20, 2017, For Islamist responses, see “‘Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin’ Tastahjinu l-Muqabala al-Sahafiyya al-Mansuba li-l-Malik” [‘The Muslim Brothers’ Condemn the Press Meeting Ascribed to the King], Al-Sabil, March 20, 2013, 2; ‘Ali al-‘Utum, “Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun fi Muqabalat Atlantik ma‘a l-Malik 1/2” [The Muslim Brothers on the Meeting of the Atlantic with the King], Al-Sabil, April 3, 2013, 15; and ‘Ali al-‘Utum, “Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun fi Muqabalat ‘Atlantik’ ma‘a l-Malik 2/2” [The Muslim Brothers on the Meeting of the Atlantic with the King], Al-Sabil, April 5, 2013, 11.


Abu Rumman and Abu Haniyya, Al-Hall, 36–7, 87–9; and Rosefsky Wickham, Muslim, 214–17.


Amis, “Jordanian,” 41–3.


“Al-Muraqib al-‘Amm li-l-Ikhwan al-Muslimin: Masiratuna Hadariyya wa-Silmiyya Tahdafu li-Islah Haqiqi fi Binyat al-Nizam” [The General Controller of the Muslim Brothers: Our Peaceful and Civilized March Aims at Real Reform in the Structure of the Regime], Al-Sabil, October 1, 2012, 1, 3.


“Al-Falahat: La Jaysh ladayna fa-Jaysh al-Hirak al-Sha‘bi Jayshuna” [Al-Falahat: We Do Not Have an Army Because the Army of the Popular Movement is Our Army], Shihan News, October 1, 2012,


Kayid al-Majali, “Hal ‘Adam ‘al-Ikhan’ al-Wasila Hatta Yusirruna ‘ala ‘al-Zahf’ al-Jum‘a?” [Is It Not ‘the Brothers’ Who Insist on the March Friday?], Al-Ra’y, October 2, 2012, 6; and Usama al-Rantisi, “Abadan Laysat Silmiyya” [It is Absolutely Not Peaceful], Al-‘Arab al-Yawm, October 1, 2012, 5.


Jawwad al-Bashiti, “Hatta Tattasi‘a ‘l-Dimuqratiyya’ li-‘l-Ikhwan’! (1–2)” [Democracy Even Extends to ‘the Brothers’! (1–2)], Al-‘Arab al-Yawm, October 2, 2012, 11; Muhammad Mahir al-Khatib, “Ayyuha l-Ikhwan al-Muslimun. I‘dilu Huwa Aqrab li-l-Taqwa” [Oh Muslim Brothers. Be Just. That is Closer to Piety], Al-Ra’y, October 8, 2012, opinion 1; and Mustafa al-Riyalat, “Tafasil ‘Khitab al-Harb ‘ala l-Dawla’ alladhi Asdarahu l-Muraqib al-‘Amm li-‘l-Ikhwan’ li-Kawadir al-Jama‘a” [The Details of the ‘Speech of War on the State’ that the General Controller of the Brothers Has Sent Out to the Group’s Cadres], Al-Dustur, October 8, 2012, 4.


Nusuh al-Majali, “Al-Masira al-Ikhwaniyya… Madha Haqqaqat?” [The Brotherhood March… What Has it Achieved?], Al-Ra’y, October 8, 2012, opinion 2.


Jawwad al-Bashiti, “Hatta Tattasi‘a ‘l-Dimuqratiyya’ li-‘l-Ikhwan’! (2–2)” [Democracy Even Extends to ‘the Brothers’! (2–2)],” Al-‘Arab al-Yawm, October 3, 2012, 11.


Raba Karasina, “‘Al-Ikhwan’: Ikhtarna Ma Ikhtarahu l-Sha‘b min Shi‘ar wa-Huwa ‘Islah al-Nizam’” [‘The Brothers’: We Have Chosen the Slogan that the People Have Chosen and that is ‘Reform of the Regime’], Al-‘Arab al-Yawm, November 20, 2012, 7; and “Al-Jazira: Ikhwan al-Urdunn Yarfuduna ‘Isqat al-Nizam’” [Al-Jazira: The Brothers of Jordan Reject ‘Downfall of the Regime’], Shihan News, November 26, 2012,


Bassam al-Badarin, “Hutaf ‘Isqat al-Nizam’ Yashghalu l-Urdunn al-Rasmi wa-l-Sha‘bi: Ri‘aya Rasmiyya li-Riwaya Mutadahraja Tattahimu l-Ikhwan al-Muslimin wa-Mu’ashshirat Tadlil ‘ala A‘la l-Mustawayat” [The Cry of ‘Downfall of the Regime’ Preoccupies the Officials and the People of Jordan: Official Attention for a Developing Story Accuses the Muslim Brothers and Indications of Deception at the Highest Level], Al-Quds al-‘Arabi, November 27, 2012, 6; and “‘Ikhwan’ al-Urdunn Yarfa‘una li-l-Marra al-Ula Shi‘ar ‘Isqat al-Nizam’” [‘The Brothers’ Raise the Slogan ‘Downfall of the Regime’ for the First Time], Al-Hayat, November 17, 2012,


“Istimrar al-Ihtijajat fi l-Urdunn wa-‘l-Ikhwan’ Yattahijuna Nahwa al-Tas‘id” [Continuation of Demonstrations in Jordan and ‘the Brothers’ are Moving Toward Escalation], Al-Hayat, November 20, 2012,


Jamal al-Rashid, “Taqiyyat al-Shi‘a wa-Taqiyyat al-Ikhwan” [The Dissimulation of the Shiites and the Dissimulation of the Brothers], Al-Ra’y, October 3, opinion 1.


Clark, “Threats,” 105–14; and Ryan, “Political,” 377–82.


Ryan, “Political,” 382–8.


Tamir al-Samadi, “‘Ikhwan al-Urdunn’ Yarfuduna Rasmiyyan al-Musharaka fi l-Hukuma wa-Yatlubuna Hiwar al-Qasr” [‘The Brothers of Jordan’ Officially Reject Participation in the Government and Request Dialogue with the Palace], Al-Hayat, February 7, 2013,


Taylor Luck, “Islamic Centrists Break Off Talks with Muslim Brotherhood,” Jordan Times, February 6, 2013,


Taylor Luck, “Muslim Brotherhood to Return to the Streets,” Jordan Times, February 21, 2013; and Tamir al-Samadi, “Al-Urdunn: ‘Awdat Tazahurat ‘al-Ikhwan’ wa-Sadamat ma‘a l-Shurta fi Ma‘an wa-Irbid” [Jordan: The Return of ‘the Brothers’ Demonstrations and Clashes with the Police in Ma‘an and Irbid], Al-Hayat, February 23, 2013.


See Joas Wagemakers, Salafism in Jordan: Political Islam in a Quietist Community (Cambridge, etc.: Cambridge University Press, 2016).


Tamir al-Samadi, “Al-Urdunn: Nahwa Tahalufat Jadida li-Muwajahat ‘al-Ikhwan’” [Jordan: Toward New Alliances to Confront ‘the Brothers’], Al-Hayat, December 13, 2012,


Agence France Presse (afp), “Al-Urdunn: Tazahurat li-‘l-Haraka al-Islamiyya’ Tutalibu bi-l-Islah” [Jordan: The Demonstrations of ‘the Islamic Movement’ Demand Reform], Al-Hayat, April 19, 2013,; and Taylor Luck, “Muslim Brotherhood Returns to Streets with ‘Military Parade’,” Jordan Times, April 20, 2013,


See, for example, Bassam al-‘Umush, “Suqut al-Dimuqratiyya bi-Isqat Mursi” [The Fall of Democracy Through the Fall of Mursi], Al-Busala, July 4, 2013,; “Al-Muraqib al-‘Amm li-Ikhwan al-Urdunn Yastankiru Jarimat al-Inqilab al-Nakra’ fi Misr” [The General Controller of the Brothers of Jordan Rejects the Reprehensible Crime of the Coup in Egypt], Al-Busala, July 4, 2013,; and “Shura Ikhwan al-Urdunn Yadinu l-Inqilab al-‘Askari fi Misr” [The Consultation of the Brothers in Jordan Condemns the Military Coup in Egypt], Al-Busala, July 4, 2013,


Musa Kara‘in, “Bani Irshid: Al-Hukuma La Turidu an Yakuna Ladayna Hirak Sha‘bi” [Bani Irshid: The Government Does Not Want Us to Have a Popular Movement], Al-Sabil, July 8, 2013, 3; Musa Kara‘in, “Mansur: Hamla I‘lamiyya li-Tashwih al-Haraka al-Islamiyya” [Mansur: Media Campaign to Defame the Islamic Movement], Al-Sabil, July 21, 2013, 4; and Musa Kara‘in, “Mansur: Man Yahlumu bi-Id‘af al-Islamiyyin Wahim” [Mansur: Whoever Dreams of Weakening the Islamists is Delusional], Al-Sabil, July 12, 2013, 2.


“Sa‘id: La Muraja‘a li-Ru’yat Ikhwan al-Urdunn” [Sa‘id: No Revisionism of the View of the Brothers of Jordan], Al-Ghad, July 22, 2013,


Muhammad al-Najjar, “Al-Urdunn Yulawwihu bi-Ijra’at Didda l-Ikhwan” [Jordan Alludes to Measures Against the Brothers], Al-Jazeera, July 29, 2013,; and Tamir al-Samadi, “Al-Urdunn: Talwih bi-Tahwil Milaff ‘Tajawuzat al-Ikhwan’ ‘ala l-Qada’” [Jordan: Allusion to Turning the File of ‘the Transgressions of the Brothers’ over to the Judiciary], Al-Hayat, July 29, 2013, The quotation is from al-Najjar’s article.


Muhammad al-Najjar, “Rasa’il Ijabiyya bayna l-Nizam al-Urdunni wa-l-Ikhwan” [Positive Messages Between the Jordanian Regime and the Brothers], Al-Jazeera, September 17, 2013,; and Tamir al-Samadi, “Al-Urdunn: Jihat Siyadiyya Tatlubu Liqa’ ‘al-Ikhwan’” [Jordan: Ruling Sides Request Meeting with ‘the Brothers’], Al-Hayat, September 17, 2013,


Musa Kara‘in, “‘Al-‘Amal al-Islami’ Yad‘u l-Sa‘udiyya wa-Misr wa-l-Imarat li-l-‘Awda ‘an Qararatihima bi-Haqq Hamas wa-l-Ikhwan” [‘Islamic Action’ Calls on Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Emirates to Reverse Their Decision with Regard to Hamas and the Brothers], Al-Sabil, March 10, 2014, 3; and “Hammam Sa‘id: Laysa Lada l-Ikhwan Ma Yakhsarunahu” [Hammam Sa‘id: It is Not the Brothers Who Are Suffering a Loss], ‘Ammun, March 11, 2014,


“‘Rabi ‘Ikhwan al-Urdunn’… Shuraka’ fi l-Khasa’ir Faqat” [‘The Spring of the Brothers of Jordan’… Only Partners in Losses], Al-Sabil, July 30, 2013, 1.


“Inqilab fi l-Ikhwan. Tafasil Ijtima ‘Funduq ZamZam” [Coup Inside the Brothers. Details of the Meeting of Hotel ZamZam], Shihan News, November 27, 2012,; and “Al-Duktur Gharayiba Yashifu ‘an Madamin al-Liqa’ fi Funduq ZamZam” [Doctor Gharayiba Reveals the Contents of the Meeting in Hotel ZamZam], Shihan News, November 27, 2012,


Press statement published by the Jordanian Initiative for Building, provided to me by its author, Ruhayyil Gharayiba.


Al-Mubadara al-Wataniyya li-l-Bina’ [National Building Initiative] (ZamZam), text of the Jordanian Initiative for Building provided to me by Ruhayyil Gharayiba, 1.


Zaki Bani Irshid, interview with the author, Amman, June 13, 2012.


Ruhayyil Gharayiba, interview with the author, Amman, January 17, 2013.


Al-Mubadara al-Wataniyya li-l-Bina’ (ZamZam), 1.


Ruhayyil Gharayiba, interview with the author, Amman, January 17, 2013.


This obviously does not mean that the Muslim Brotherhood does not have the right to pursue its own goals, but merely that – in the context of a state that is run by a highly skeptical military regime that is willing and able to crack down on alternative views – pursuing the highest number of seats in parliament may not always be the safest approach. On this very problem that Middle Eastern Islamists face, see Brown, Victory; and Shadi Hamid, “Arab Islamist Parties: Losing on Purpose?” Journal of Democracy 22, No. 1 (2011): 68–80.


Khetam Malkawi and Khaled Neimat, “‘Jordan Brotherhood Has Lessons to Learn from Egypt’,” Jordan Times, July 4, 2013,


Petra, “Al-Malik: Hizb Jabhat al-‘Amal [al-Islami] Juz’ min al-Tayf al-Siyasi wa-l-Nasij al-Ijtima‘I” [The King: The [Islamic] Action Front Party is Part of the Political Spectrum and the Social Fabric], Al-Sabil, September 16, 2013, 4; and Tamir al-Samadi, “‘Abdallah al-Thani Yu’akkidu Rafdahu Iqsa’ ‘al-Ikhwan’… Wa-l-Hukuma Tanfi Tawajjuhaha li-Hall al-Jama‘a” [‘Abdallah ii Confirms his Rejection of Removing ‘the Brothers’… While the Government Denies Its Move Toward Dissolving the Group], Al-Hayat, September 16, 2013,


Ruhayyil Gharayiba, interview with the author, Amman, June 15, 2014.


Tamir al-Samadi, “Khilafat ‘Ikhwan’ al-Urdunn Tashtaddu Min Jadid” [Conflicts of ‘Brothers’ of Jordan Become More Intense Again], Al-Hayat, August 6, 2013,


Bassam al-Badarin, “Islamiyyu l-Urdunn: Lasna ‘Ikhwan Misr’ wa-la Suriya wa-stiqrar al-Bilad Uluwiyya wa-“Ibada’… Wa-li-l-Hukuma Hawamish ‘inda l-Ta‘ati ma‘a l-Sa‘udiyya” [The Islamists of Jordan: We Are Not ‘the Brothers of Egypt’ Nor Syria and the Stability of the Country is a Priority and ‘Worship’… The Government Has Comments in the Dealings with Saudi Arabia], Al-Quds al-‘Arabi, April 15, 2014, 4; Ruhayyil Gharayiba, “Al-Islamiyyun al-Mu‘tadilun Hum al-Khasir al-Akbar” [The Moderate Islamists are the Biggest Loser], Al-Dustur, January 28, 2016, 16; and Sami Muhasina, “Mansur Yad‘u l-Ikhwan li-Muraja‘a wa-Taqwim Mawaqifihim al-Siyasiyya” [Mansur Calls on the Brothers to Revise and Rectify Their Political Positions], Al-‘Arab al-Yawm, March 17, 2014, 3.


Salah al-‘Abbadi, “Ishhar Mubadarat ZamZam li-l-Bana’” [The Declaration of the ZamZam Initiative for Building], Al-Ra’y, October 6, 2014


Ruhayyil Gharayiba, “Al-Islamiyyun bayna l-Dhuhul wa-l-Ifaqa” [The Islamists Between Perplexity and Recovery], ‘Ammun, August 28, 2013,


Ruhayyil Gharayiba, “Al-Waqi‘ al-Hizbi fi l-Urdunn” [The Party Reality in Jordan], Al-Dustur, December 2014, 16.


Muhammad al-Da‘ma, “Jama‘at al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin fi l-Urdunn Tafsilu Thalatha min Qiyadatiha bi-Sabab Intima’ihim ila Mubadarat ‘ZamZam’” [The Society of the Muslim Brothers in Jordan Fires Three of Its Leaders Because of Their Membership of the ‘ZamZam’ Initiative], Al-Sharq al-Awsat, April 22, 2014,,.


Beverley Milton-Edwards, The Muslim Brotherhood: The Arab Spring and its Future Face (London and New York: Routledge, 2016), 99–103; Curtis R. Ryan, “One Society of Muslim Brothers or Two?,” Middle East Research and Information Project, March 5, 2015,


Hadil Ghabbun, “‘Al-Ikhwan’ Tulghi l-Irtibat bi-l-Jama‘a fi Misr” [‘The Brothers’ Annul Tie with the Group in Egypt], Al-Ghad, February 14, 2016,; Raba Karasina, “Al-Khawalida: Ta‘dilat al-Shura Akkadat ‘ala stiqlaliyyat al-Jama‘a” [Al-Khawalida: The Shura’s Amendments Confirmed the Independence of the Group], Al-Busala, February 13, 2016,; and Khetam Malawi, “Muslim Brotherhood Ends Link with Egyptian Mother Group,” Jordan Times, February 14, 2016,

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