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Riyadh, Muslim Brotherhood in 'marriage of convenience'

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BEIRUT, Lebanon – Continued skepticism by Saudi Arabia over the Muslim Brotherhood could be giving way to a “marriage of convenience” when it comes to the Syrian civil war, as Riyadh considers linking up with this Sunni group in an effort to topple the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

Until recently, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has kept a low profile, siding with an opposition it finds so increasingly fragmented, the group now wants to go its own way.

This increasing division was evidenced recently when opposition members of the National Coalition backed away from the election of Ghassan Hitto as prime minister to head a transitional government running the rebel zones. He is an Islamist with close ties to the Brotherhood.

Until now, the Brotherhood in Syria has been providing its own militants and arms to the opposition, but informed sources say that it has decided to change its association with the opposition.

Because the Brotherhood wants to go its own way, it is in the process of reconstructing its own base. And, because of the militias it is providing to the opposition, the Brotherhood wants to be more open in its military role.

It is perhaps one of the most organized opposition groups in the country, comprising some 30 percent of the Syrian population. It also is attracting and engaging younger followers who are energizing the Brotherhood’s base.

Now that the Brotherhood is the single-largest organized opposition in Syria, and after seeing how splintered the opposition has become, Saudi Arabia wants to team up with the Brotherhood to oust al-Assad.

This decision comes despite the Brotherhood’s inherent opposition to monarchies such as those in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the other Gulf Arab states.

The Brotherhood has become the center of an Islamist coalition after it was outlawed for waging a bitter military struggle against the Baathist regime of then-Syrian president Hafez al-Assad – father of the current president — from 1976 to 1982.

Over time, however, it has begun to spring back to life.

Elements of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood who were in exile in Hamburg, Germany, had direct contact with the Islamist radicals who later hijacked aircraft in the U.S. and crashed them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

The Brotherhood in Hamburg also was in contact with Saudis who helped finance it and its activities.

Consequently, the interest of the Saudis to reunite at least with the Syrian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood would not be unprecedented.

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