The Editor of The Majalla, a Saudi-owned, London-based political journal published in Arabic and English, has written an article titled “UAE Brotherhood: Loyal to whom?” that provides a rare background for the Muslim Brotherhood in the UAE. The articlebegins:
The Muslim Brotherhood organization owes its proliferation in the Arab Gulf States – among others – to Egyptian millionaire Osman Ahmed Osman, Minister of Housing and Development during the reign of the late President Sadat. Osman was born to a wealthy family, and spent his youth in a pro-Brotherhood atmosphere. However, after graduating as an engineer from university he left the organization, and established a close relationship with some members of the Free Officers Movement, through which he was able to win the contract to help construct the Aswan High Dam. Over time, his “Arab Contractors” company became one of the largest construction companies in the Middle East. et Osman remained sympathetic to the Brotherhood, and so he suggested to Gamal Abdel Nasser’s intelligence services that it would be best for the Brotherhood to operate in the Gulf, because if they continued to remain idle [in Egypt] they would remain a problem for the regime. Over a few years, and with increasing numbers of Brotherhood members moving to the Gulf, a generation of Muslim Brotherhood disciples emerged and began supporting the organization financially. Osman Ahmed Osman was summoned by Abdel Nasser, chastised and threatened with imprisonment, but Osman pointed out that the Egyptian regime itself was the one that had allowed Brotherhood members to move to the Gulf. (“No God but God: Egypt and the Triumph of Islam”, Geneive Abdo, 2000) The story of Muslim Brotherhood expansion in the Gulf did not start with Osman; since the end of the 1930s the Brotherhood dreamed of exporting its ideology and approach to other Arab and Islamic countries, and the real intensification of this coincided with the Sadat era. At that point the organization was able to move and work without restriction to influence the centers of power and the currents opposed to the regime. Yet it is thanks to individuals like Osman that the Brotherhood was able to secure important positions in the industrial and commercial sectors, whilst forming religious associations at the same time – due to the prohibition of political parties in the Gulf – in each of Kuwait, the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar.
Earlier posts reported on allegations by the Dubai police chief that the Muslim Brotherhood is using social media to attack the UAE and his threat to arrest Qaradawi who criticized the UAE for revoking the visas of Syrians demonstrating against the regime in Damascus. Other posts have discussed commentsby Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood leader Tariq Al-Suwaidan who appeared to threaten the UAE with “disaster” if Qaradawi was arrested.
On Monday, Al-Arabiya reported that the head of the Arab League had called for calm in the wake of the dispute while criticizing an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood spokesman’s comments on the affair as “hostile.” According to the report:
The Arab League chief, Nabil al-Araby, has said comments made by a Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson in Egypt against the United Arab Emirates were “hostile,” in a statement issued by his office on Monday. The Brotherhood spokesman, Mahmoud Ghozlan, had threatened action against the UAE if the Gulf country would attempt to capture and prosecute prominent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi…… In response to the Muslim Brotherhood’s retaliated threat of action against the UAE, Egyptian media cited Araby as saying on Monday: “I call on all political forces to resort to wisdom and prudence and to avoid hostile attitudes and irresponsible statements that can be detrimental to relations between Arab countries, and that cause dissension and division.” The Arab League chief added: “We are about to prepare for the coming Arab summit in Baghdad, which we hope would restore the spirit of Arab solidarity and unify Arab positions on the challenges and major variables facing the region.” Meanwhile, Egyptian state-run news agency MENA quoted anonymous Egyptian diplomatic sources as saying that there is no problem between Egypt and the UAE, and that the Brotherhood spokesman’s comments reflect the opinion of his group and not the Egyptian government. “