Interview: Muslim Brotherhood Leader Walid

Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood leader warns of ISIS, Iran, calls for alliance with Gulf states

Dr. Mohammed Hikmat Walid, newly elected Comptroller-General of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, was seen by many as a surprise candidate for the role back in November 2014. But Walid disagrees the appointment was unexpected, saying: “I have been a member of the Muslim Brotherhood for years, a member of the Shoura (consultative) Council for many rounds, and I was the Deputy to the former Comptroller-General, to resign only two years ago when I formed the Waad Party”.

Walid disagrees the Muslim Brotherhood marginalizes youth from its leadership, proof of which comes in the appointment of Hosam al-Ghadban, the young deputy Comptroller-General.

Walid confirmed youth would continue to have their rights, along with the positions they deserve in the party during his leadership.

In regard to the Waad Party, the National Party for Justice and Constitution, the leader confesses that it has not grown or developed as planned, but continues its efforts on the ground with many new members and a headquarters in Gaziantep. He does not consider the Waad Party a copy of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Walid explains the Waad Party is for the middle class people of Syria, and is against any blocs, as all Syrians need to work together – religious or secular.

“We do not agree with the maxim: religion is the opiate of the masses, or on the opposite hand: Democracy is apostasy. We are happy to work together with seculars as long as they do not have any reservations against religion.”

The Comptroller-General told Zaman al-Wasl that he left the leadership of the Waad Party because he was chosen to head the the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

Walid denies the Muslim Brotherhood control the National Coalition and the Interim Government, asking: “How can that happen if only four out of 114 members of the Coalition are from the Muslim Brotherhood?”

The Comptroller-General rejects claims that the Muslim brotherhood prefers Muslims of any other nationality to Arab or Syrian Christians. “The Muslim Brotherhood are Muslims, Arabs and Syrians. We have common bounds with Muslims all over the world. We are Arab and we share the geography with all Syrians of all beliefs – there is no need for all those attributes to contradict one another”, he explains.

The Muslim Brotherhood leader confirms that the party is a protective and safe option for minorities in Syria, as it has accommodated them throughout history.

The Comptroller-General expressed that only Syrian people decide who would be president, via free and honest voting, and the party would respect the people’s choice even if the elected president were Alawite.

Walid believes ISIS is a temporary phenomenon and would fade away after the Assad regime is gone, as the regime is still the main enemy of the Syrian revolution. He explained that ISIS has deviated from the Syrian revolution’s track from fighting the regime and suppression, into fighting terrorism, which was the regime’s desire from the beginning.

 

Walid claims Tehran and Washington have managed a deal on stopping Iran’s nuclear program in return for keeping the Assad regime in power, along with other sectarian groups like Hezbollah and other militias in Iraq and Lebanon. “All that is being done to protect Israel from any threat, while Syrian, Iraqi and Yemeni people pay the heavy price”.

In regards to fighting ISIS, Walid revealed that deep ideological differences exist between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic State, but those differences would be sorted out via dialogue. “Although, If the Islamic State has not had the will to negotiate and are were attacked, we would defend ourselves”, he said.

The leader does not agree with any solution prolonging the regime’s ruling of Syria, like the option of Common Government for a transitional period under Bashar al-Assad’s leadership.

The leader does not see that deep differences exist between Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Syria, as they are both part of one global party, although minor differences do exist, especially after the Syrian branch relied on Shiekh Yusuf Qaradawi’s Sharia reviews. The leader considers the Syrian and Tunisian branches of the Muslim Brotherhood as closely reflecting each other.

Walid says he has four messages for the Gulf states: the Muslim Brotherhood has never been against any Gulf state, on the contrary, they protected the party’s members through difficult times, like that of Jamal Abdul Nasser and Assad’s suppression in the 1980s. His second message was gratitude for the Saudi Arabian and Qatari support to the Syrian revolution. In his third message, he explained Gulf security is connected to the Syrians', and if Syria fell, the Iranian threat would increase on Gulf states. His final message was his wish that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states would review their attitudes toward the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

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