In an article for Sada on October 8, 2008, POMED Research Director Shadi Hamid analyzes the shifting relations between the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood and King Abdullah’s regime.

The fortunes of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood may be shifting after three difficult years that saw the group’s worst electoral result in history, reports of diminished influence, and sustained government repression. After hitting an unprecedented low, the relationship between the Jordanian regime and the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest opposition grouping, has improved recently. This is the opposite of what many observers, including this author, expected. Hammam Sa’id, known as a hardliner, was elected General Guide of the organization in May 2008, leading many to predict heightened confrontation between regime and opposition. Analysts Matthew Levitt and David Schenker wrote, for instance, that the leadership change suggested the Brotherhood “can no longer be considered ‘loyal’ to the kingdom.” During Sa’id’s tenure, however, events have moved in an unexpected direction. Since being elected, he has toned down his abrasive rhetoric, emphasized domestic priorities, and made an effort to reach understandings with the government of Prime Minister Nader al-Dahabi on key issues of contention.

The question of the Palestinian Resistance Movement (Hamas) is one area where Islamists and the regime have moved closer to each other. After nine years of severed ties, Jordan has opened a dialogue with Hamas, recognizing the group’s growing influence and its strong position in Gaza. With its close ties to Hamas leaders, the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), played a critical role in facilitating the resumption of contacts.

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