SIDON, Lebanon: The Future Movement and the Lebanese branch of the Muslim Brotherhood are in the process of re-examining ties in a bid to keep Lebanon at bay from a regional campaign against the Islamist group, sources told The Daily Star.
An upcoming Future Movement report will recommend maintaining ties with Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya and distancing Lebanon from a decision by Egypt and Saudi Arabia labeling the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, a source involved in the drafting of the report told The Daily Star.
The Brotherhood was named a terrorist group by Egypt and Saudi Arabia months after the overthrow of Egypt’s President Mohammad Morsi.
The report, which will be debated within the Future Movement before being referred to the party’s General Secretariat, will recommend that the Future Movement not end its links with Jamaa.
The report will detail the close relations between Future and Jamaa, particularly the electoral alliances in a range of locales around Lebanon, and the support furnished by the Jamaa to the Future Movement’s MPs in Tripoli, Beirut, the Bekaa Valley, Sidon and Iqlim al-Kharroub as well as in syndicate elections.
The source said that central leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood had given the freedom and autonomy to its affiliates around the world to pursue alliances and relations with local actors in a manner that served the joint interests of the Brotherhood regardless of events in Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia.
A senior source at Jamaa told The Daily Star that a top official from the Future Movement met recently with Jamaa’s leadership and informed them that the Saudi decision would not affect the relationship here in Lebanon.
The source said that retaining relations with the Future Movement was necessary because the two factions had shared goals, including the interests of the Sunni community and the success of the uprising in Syria in removing President Bashar Assad, as well as providing assistance to Syrian refugees.
Bassam Hammoud, the Jamaa politburo chief in south Lebanon, said his party was not allied with the Future Movement but dealt with it in the same manner as other parties.
In an interview with The Daily Star, Hammoud said Jamaa shared the Brotherhood’s ideology but was a “Lebanese political party” and not subject to decisions taken in Egypt or Saudi Arabia, adding that they were politically motivated.
“We are a Lebanese political party with an Islamic background, and we have a history of resisting the Zionist occupation,” he said. “We have a history in political and social work, and we are widespread throughout Lebanon.”
When asked about the Saudi decision labeling the Brotherhood a terrorist organization, Hammoud said that Future Movement leaders told Jamaa that decision would not affect their relationship.
But he expressed a lack of concern if the Future Movement decided to sever relations.
Hammoud said his group was independent and dealt with other parties in Lebanon on the basis of shared interests, adding that the party worked with Hezbollah during the Israeli occupation but that relations have been frozen as a result of its involvement in Syria.