Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 06/2013

The Muslim Brotherhood Prepares for a Comeback in Syria

Raphaël Lefèvre

May 2013

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


Active in rebel-held territory in northern Syria ever since the Syrian uprisings started in March 2011, the Muslim Brotherhood is about to rebuild its base in Syria after thirty years of absence. The Islamist organization was out-lawed after waging a bitter military struggle against the Baath regime of then Syrian president Hafez al-Assad from 1976 to 1982, but the head of the group recently declared that “the movement will go into action” across the country within months. The Brotherhood began publishing a newspaper in Syria mid-February. It will soon launch its own television channel broadcasting in the north of the country and open local offices in the liberated cities. And it plans to establish a political wing to compete in future elections and predicts that it could win as much as 25 percent of the vote.  Even the current regime seems to believe that the only real alternative to its rule would be a Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Syria. But, for all the Brotherhood’s history of opposition to the Baath Party, its prominent influence over the political opposition to Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and its optimistic electoral predictions, is the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood really ready to rule a post-Assad Syria?