July 9, 2013
In an interview with Syria Direct’s Ahmed Kwider, the spokesman for the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, Zuheir Salem, sheds light on the coup in Egypt, where he believes the Arab democratic project is “dead and buried.” Speaking from London, Salem expresses his pessimism about the Syrian National Coalition’s efforts to expand and restructure, suggesting that the Coalition’s members are out of touch with the revolution’s youth. He cautions the Brotherhood in Syria not to fall into the same trap as their Egyptian counterparts, who have been forcibly deprived of the opportunity to rule.
Q: Do you believe that what happened in Egypt will teach a lesson to the Muslim Brotherhood in the Coalition ahead the Coalition’s meeting?
[The coup in Egypt] ruined a national project, an Arab project, and not just an Egyptian project. Egypt is the Arab heavyweight, and now the democratic experiment is dead and buried in Egypt.
I am not following the news of the Coalition today because it does not matter to me what happens in the Coalition. The people are grasping for a way out for themselves. What are our options for the future, what can we do, because now [everyone is] banking on this project. Yet hey are banking on a national mirage.
Q: After what happened in Egypt, will we see any effect on the Muslim Brotherhood’s course of action?
The Coalition’s meetings come in the same circumstances as [Egypt’s] coup, and also coincide with the internal re-structuring of the Coalition, which has received another injection [of members]. Most of the people going to the meeting are desperate and dead in the water. They will sit on chairs and move [like robots] who are not tuned in to what goes on around them. They have a type of disconnect from reality.
Meanwhile, the youth of the Syrian revolution log on to Facebook and comment on the Egyptian situation more than they are talking about the situations in the besieged city of Homs, which is experiencing the most severe hardships. You see that the public opinion is on Facebook, and I am talking about the Syrian youth monitoring the situation in Egypt, because Egypt has clear weight in the Arab arena.
Q: What is the difference between the political programs of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria and the Brotherhood in Egypt?
Honestly, neither the Syrian Brotherhood until this point nor the Egyptian Brotherhood put forth their agenda in the pragmatic detail required of a political party. We have a political agenda for the Syrian Brotherhood and [one for] the Egyptian Brotherhood, they are two [separate] agendas. I say as a political analyst that these plans were drafted in a vacuum, outside the framework of a state. In the Mubarak era, the Brotherhood of Egypt were living on the margins of the state, which is the ruling political unit in society, whereas the Syrian Brotherhood were exiled outside the country.
When [Egypt’s Brotherhood] are in the favor of the state, when they possess the credentials that qualify them to implement practical political programs, they will implement policies for education, health, labor, agriculture, industry. But they are far away [from this]. It remains mere speechifying in Parliament that, in reality, does not amount to a practical political program.
We are on the threshold of arriving at such a situation. If only we had democratic experience, which those who betray us do not want to allow us. This is a lesson for the Syrian people.