Nahla Abdel Moneim
The conflict between Moscow and Kiev is raging amid military preparations for the two sides and European and American fears of a war in the region. In this complex scene, the question arises about the active situation of the Brotherhood in Ukraine and what its institutions are doing about this existing confusion.
The Brotherhood has been able to extend its influence to Ukraine during the past few years through a group of institutions that have acquired a significant popular dependency, especially with official government acceptance of its activities in the country. But what about the Brotherhood’s institutions and their orientations towards the crisis of the military conflict between Russia and Ukraine?
Brotherhood institutions and media propaganda
The Brotherhood uses the websites of its institutions, as well as the pages of social networking sites, to promote its political ideology and its attitudes towards international events, whether directly or indirectly. For its part, the Brotherhood’s branch in Ukraine appears in support of the domestic government at the expense of the forces subordinate to Russia.
The Brotherhood’s positions do not imply a preference for those who own the country, but it is mostly a preference for the group’s stance towards Moscow, which has a tough orientation towards Islamist movements, in addition to supporting the positions of international powers that the group still counts on to support a new ruling experience that it aspires to when the opportunity arises in the Middle East.
The Brotherhood uses the media websites of its institutions in Ukraine as platforms for the government with the help of the country’s mufti, Said Ismagilov, as it publishes his data on the conflict between Moscow and Kiev and promotes his calls for the people to line up next to the Ukrainian government and help it in the war. Under the title “Muslims will defend Ukraine with weapons and prayers”, the mufti answered questions about the position of the country’s Muslims regarding the ongoing skirmishes.
The mufti’s statements are among the sites that advertise the mother institution of the Brotherhood in Ukraine, the Alraid Foundation, as among its spiritual and media partners in the country.
Crimean crisis and the Brotherhood’s methodology
The conflict between the Russian and Ukrainian governments has been increasing since Moscow announced its annexation of the Crimea in 2014, which Kiev and the international community considered an occupation of part of Ukraine, as Moscow could not completely abandon the state that was part of its Soviet legacy, along with the economic benefits that would accrue from that spot with its geopolitical importance.
Since Crimean nationalism remains a demographic dilemma in the crisis, the Brotherhood seeks to attract its Muslim population to the activities of its institutions, as the group entrusts the management of its associations to personalities of Crimean origin.
The Alraid Foundation, which represents the group’s most important institution, is headed by Siran Arifov, and his origins go back to the Crimea, where he lived and worked as an imam and teacher at the Islamic Cultural Center. Arifov also ran the Al-Radwan Center for Teaching the Holy Quran, and through these efforts, the group is trying to extend its ties with Crimean nationalists and open its influence at home.
The official acceptance of the Brotherhood has given the group an entrance to work more broadly in Ukraine, as it owns a group of operating institutions affiliated with the Alraid Foundation, such as the Al-Manar Center, which is interested in giving religious lessons to Russian-speaking people, in addition to spiritual lessons and seminars for young people.
The activities of the Brotherhood in the areas of Russian influence constitute an inconvenience to Moscow. In July 2018, the security forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic raided a center for the group known as the Al-Amal organization and arrested some of its officials, accusing them of receiving funds from the Brotherhood.
Brotherhood profits from international conflict market
The positions of the Brotherhood are characterized by utilitarianism, as the group seeks to profit from political conflicts in favor of its goals. Regarding this variable and the accompanying attempts to profit from the crisis of Ukraine and Russia, Hisham al-Najjar, a researcher in the affairs of extremist movements, said that the Brotherhood works according to its own interests, which entail taking international positions towards the forces that support the group.
Najjar pointed out in a statement to the Reference that the Brotherhood’s project has not been completely dissipated by the Western powers that were supporting it despite its weakness at the present time, but the group for its part is still working according to this sphere and wants to serve those forces for the gains it wants later. He added that the Brotherhood profits from conflicts by presenting itself as a supporter of one party at the expense of another party through the group’s social and media tools that it uses to serve this agenda.