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Iran, Hezbollah and Syria are also on the opposite side of the Muslim Brotherhood in Bahrain, a situation that may flare up as the one-year anniversary of the start of last year’s uprising approaches. The Shiite Islamists back the mostly-Shiite population demanding change. Sheikh Qaradawi, on the other hand, shows his selective support for democracy by endorsing the Bahraini Royal Family. “There is no people’s revolution in Bahrain but a sectarian one,” he pronounced. He accused “foreign forces,” meaning Iran and Hezbollah, of stoking the unrest.
There are other important inter-Islamist struggles in the Middle East. The biggest one is between Iran and Turkey as both compete to be the dominant power. Turkey is lashing out at Iran, accusing it of moving the region towards a “new Cold War.” Iran is threatening to attack Turkey if it is bombed by the West. Iran also criticizes Turkey for its “secularism” and argues that its model of governance does not belong in the Arab world.
In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists are clashing. The Salafists are enraged that the Brotherhood supported a Coptic Christian candidate over a Salafist. Turkey and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood also butted heads recently when Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan visited Cairo. He spoke in support of secularism, saying that it does not mean an “irreligious state.”
The deputy-leader of the Brotherhood, Essam el-Erian, told him to back off. “We do not think that he or his country alone should be leading the region or drawing up its future,” he responded. There is still an enormous amount of good will between Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood, though. Sheikh Qaradawi compliments Erdogan’s party as an “excellent” model that “won over secularism calmly.” The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood flatly says it is “impressed” with Turkey’s governance and does not want to follow in Iran’s footsteps.
In Sudan, the ruling dictator, Omar Bashir, supports Hamas and has pledged to turn his country into a full-fledged Sharia state. The Muslim Brotherhood leader in Sudan, Hasan al-Turabi, is talking about a revolution to overthrow him. In Yemen, the Iranian-backed Houthis and the Salafist militants are again fighting. On Thursday, four Salafists were killed. In Iraq, Iran’s proxies are competing against each other. A new rivalry has started between the Asaib al-Haq and Moqtada al-Sadr, both of which receive extensive Iranian support. Ironically, al-Sadr is ridiculing Asaib al-Haq for being an Iranian proxy, even though he has long acted as one.
This doesn’t mean that the West will be able to win one side over. Sheikh Qaradawi, though he declares Shiites to be “heretics,” calls on Muslims to fight on the side of Iran if it is attacked. The different Islamist forces may compete and even kill each other, but they’ll always be willing to come together against the infidel.
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