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Brotherhood talks break down as ‘Zamzam’ crisis widens

By Taylor Luck - May 27,2014 - Last updated at May 27,2014

AMMAN — A negotiation team tasked by the Muslim Brotherhood’s leadership last month to reach out to three recently expelled prominent liberal members has abruptly suspended talks due to rising differences between delegation members, according to Islamist sources.

Sources close to the proceedings say former senator Abdul Latif Arabiyat abruptly suspended talks between the team and liberal members Rheil Gharaibeh, Ahmad Dheisat and Nabil Kofahi due to rising personal differences with members of his negotiation team “hand-picked” by the movement’s conservative leadership.

Arabiyat had clashed with his team members, who pushed for larger concessions from the trio in exchange for their return.

The three Islamists’ membership in the movement was suspended in late March for their involvement in the founding of the National Building Initiative (Zamzam) — a political reform initiative some fear may serve as a rival to the Islamist movement.

“The other members in the task force were pushed upon him by the leadership and they are placing impossible conditions for the return of the three ousted members,” said the source, who preferred to remain unnamed due to the sensitivity of the issue.

According to insiders, conservative-leaning members of the negotiation team are pushing the Brotherhood to offer the three men a full return to the movement provided they sever all ties with the Zamzam initiative.

Another one of the conditions being pushed by conservative factions, according to sources, is a ban on the three men from returning to leadership positions within the Brotherhood, or its political arm, the Islamic Action Front. 

Amid the breakdown in talks, dissenting members of Jordan’s largest opposition group say they are set to hold a general conference designed at “overhauling the Brotherhood’s leadership”.

According to Zaki Bashayreh, head of the Brotherhood’s northern region division, over 400 members of the Islamist movement are set to go ahead with a general conference next Saturday aimed at “reforming” the movement’s conservative-dominated leadership and dissolving its executive office.

If the conference is held, it will be the largest public showing of dissent within the Brotherhood in over four decades. 

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