On March 9, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization along with several Islamic militias fighting the Syrian regime. Both the Brotherhood and the kingdom espouse conservative Sunni interpretations of Islam. But Riyadh has long opposed the Brotherhood for its condemnation of monarchical rule.
The move is likely to deepen the divide between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Just days before the Interior Ministry’s announcement, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates recalled their ambassadors from Qatar, claiming that Doha had interfered in their internal affairs. Qatar has reportedly funded Islamist parties, including the Brotherhood, since uprising s toppled regimes in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. Qatar’s hosting of influential Egyptian cleric Yusuf Qaradawi— widely regarded as an unofficial spiritual guide of the Brotherhood— has been a sticking point between Riyadh and Doha for more than a decade.
Riyadh also designated the Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, Islamist militias that are fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces. The kingdom also gave its citizens fighting in Syria 15 days to “rethink their position and return immediately home, hoping that they will heed reason and come to their better senses.”
The Houthi movement in northern Yemen also appeared in the list of terrorist groups. The Shiite rebels have fought against the central government intermittently since 2004. In 2009, they claimed Saudi Arabia was helping the Yemeni government in attacks against them. The following is a translation of the Interior Ministry’s announcement by the Saudi Press Agency.
The Ministry of Interior notes that these recommendations have been endorsed by Royal Order 16820 dated 5, Jumadi Alawla, 1435H and will be enforced, effective Sunday 8, Jumadi Alawla, 1435H (March 9, 2014). Whoever violates these will be held accountable for one’s all former and later violations. The King has further ordered that those who took part in any way in the fighting outside the Kingdom be given an extra extension period of 15 days as of the issuance of this statement to rethink their position and return immediately home, hoping that they will heed reason and come to their better senses.
Along with this, the Ministry of Interior attaches here the first list of parties, groups and factions addressed by this statement:
Al-Qaida Organization- Al-Qaida Organization in the Arabian Peninsula - Al-Qaida Organization in Yemen- Al-Qaida Organization in Iraq- Da’ish- Alnusra Front- Hezbollah in the Kingdom- the Muslim Brotherhood - Alhuthi Group.