Egyptian Islamists’ views differ on Yemeni conflict

Adham Youssef
5 Min Read

After the Saudi led airstrikes on Yemeni capital Sanaa and military sites of the Houthi militias Friday and Saturday, Egypt’s once united Islamist movement shared different opinions on the attacks.

The Anti-Coup Alliance said they refuse all “coups”, adding that the “Iranian-engineered Houthi coup…is no less dangerous than the military coup in Egypt”.

It added that the Arab region does not need wars where “the impoverished pay the heavier price, and does not need an Iranian Shi’a intervention, but needs respect for its people and its sovereignty”.

“The region needs a quick end to the coups in Egypt and Yemen, the fall of Bashar Al-Assad regime and the support of Syrian revolution…and remain alert to the Shi’a danger,” the alliance said.

The Muslim Brotherhood echoed the same vision of the conflict blaming “the coup against the legitimacy” for the turmoil in Yemen.

The outlawed group called for a “constructive dialogue” based on the Gulf initiative, to “respect the will of the Yemeni people”.

However, leading Muslim Brotherhood member Amr Darrag said: “We should not trust Al-Sisi as a partner in a coalition to restore legitimacy in Yemen, while he staged a similar coup like the Houthis.”

Saudi Arabia announced last Wednesday that it will begin airstrikes against the Houthis in Yemen. Since then, the country, backed by rest of the GCC and ten other countries, has bombed Sanaa’s International Airport, as well as other locations in the capital.

Al-Gama‘a Al-Islamiya group welcomed the Saudi strikes, hoping it will “stop the movements of the Houthis in Yemen and to defend the demands of Yemeni people”.

However, the group demanded that Iran should revise its “expansionist policies where it should stop its Shi’a expansion in the area and aiming to gain more Sunni territories”.

“Although we refuse the inciting of sectarian strife in the area, this should not affect the rights of the Sunni population,” the group said.

Tarek AlZomor, head of the Building and Development Party, the political arm of the group, said it is normal to stand by the Yemeni people against the “Houthis militias”.

“However it is also important to stand by the Egyptian people to restore their well,” AlZomor added.

Taking a more international analysis, the Salafi Front viewed the situation in Yemen as “a conflict between the West and Islam” where “Arab regimes supporting the Zionist American cause are aborting all uprisings by the Arab populations”.

The Front rejected the Saudi led strikes, adding that the conflicting sides favour their personal interests and not the “interest of the [Islamic] nation”.

Although the “Iranian plot”, the group said, has been violating the lives of Muslims in Syria and Iraq for years, no coalitions or airplanes have moved to save them.

It also condemned the Houthi “Iranian supported” attack in Yemen, describing it as similar to the “American plot for hegemony to end our Islamic identity”.

Similarly, Al-Tahrir Salafist Party said that the conflict is “international between world powers where the Arab armies are the tools of war”.

Sherif Zayed, the party spokesperson told Daily News Egypt that the military intervention is refused, therefore we “don’t see the conflict as a sectarian between the Shi’a and the Sunni”.

“Why wasn’t this carefully planned military intervention done Palestine or In Syria where thousands of Muslims are being killed?” Zayed added.

Vice President of Al-Istiqlal Party told Daily News Egypt that he “warns against repeating the mistakes of the past and sending Egyptian troops to fight in Yemen”.

The movements’ differing opinions comes amid solid support of the strikes by the government-controlled religious institutions, Al-Azhar and the Ministry of Religious Endowments. Both institutions praised unity of the Arab nations, warning of an escalating sectarian conflict, as well as asserting “the right of Yemeni people to determine their fate”.

While Al-Azhar praised the strikes as “a quick response to the legitimate government in Yemen to defend its security”, the Ministry of Religious Endowments published its weekly Friday sermon citing religious texts calling for unity and cooperation.

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