New Comptroller Addresses Perceptions of Jordanian MB

New Comptroller Addresses Perceptions of Jordanian MB

The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Jordan recently featured an interview with its new Comptroller General Dr. Hamam Sa’id. Sa’id, who spent a year studying at Temple University in the 1979, addresses a number of issues that have come to nag the organization over the past year. While Sa’id’s commentary should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt, his remarks do shed light on perceptions of the group that have troubled its political image domestically.

To provide a little background, the Jordanian MB suffered a significant setback this past November when the group’s political party face, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), lost a significant number of seats it held in parliament as a result of elections. After the defeat, the Jordanian MB decided to dissolve its Shura Council, electing a new one in its place. There have been varying explanations of why this occurred, ranging from the group’s internal politics to the group’s own claims that it was a move in protest of electoral irregularities demonstrated by the Jordanian regime. It’s worth noting that the IAF withdrew at the last minute from municipal elections earlier in 2007 for similar reasons.

When asked to comment to the perception that these events are indicative of internal division within the Brotherhood and of a decline in the organization’s popularity, Sa’id responds saying that any claims of the group’s declining presence in the ’street’ are truly a “grand illusion”. He then reiterates, as the Brotherhood did immediately after the elections, that alleged irregularities and restrictions by the government contributed to their loss.

While he doesn’t explicitly respond to the issue of internal differences in light of the Shura Council revamping, it is worth noting that Sa’id was elected to his position by a second round of voting by the council based on achieving a simple majority after the first, based on achieving 3/4’s of the vote, did not yield a winner. So perhaps there is some level of disagreement within the organization’s policymaking body over its direction?… but I digress.

Despite the parliamentary setback, Sa’id goes on to claim that the movement continues to have success in, what he terms as, more transparent trade union elections. He states that it is in these institutions where the “true weight” of the organization can be seen, indicating the Brotherhood’s continued importance in Jordan. In response to the long-held perception of the Brotherhood’s favoritism to Arab and Islamic agendas over a Jordanian one, he states that the group’s work through its social organizations demonstrates the primacy of its domestic agenda.

For those wishing to read more about the IAF, its relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, and the 2007 parliamentary elections, you can take a look at an article I wrote for Arab Media & Society at the following address.