The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the South Sudan question: reconsidering moderation

Yaniv Voller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) movement's stand on the South Sudan question. The aim here is to contribute to the ongoing debate over the MB's moderation. Throughout the civil war in Sudan, the MB consistently objected to South Sudanese secession. Yet, while it had traditionally framed its objection in religious terms, describing the South Sudanese struggle as a Christian conspiracy against Islam, in the decade preceding South Sudan's declaration of independence it moved to base its opposition on more practical grounds, revolving around issues such the absence of democracy, stability and infrastructure in South Sudan. This correlated with wider shifts in the MB. Since the 1990s, the movement has claimed to have undergone a transformation, adopting a moderate, pro-democratic stance. These statements persuaded many scholars that the MB has come to represent political moderation in both its domestic and international agenda. More recent works on the movement, however, have come to question the MB's moderation hypothesis, suggesting that even though the movement has changed its discourse and some aspects of its activism, this could not be seen as a linear process of moderation. This article uses the South Sudan case to further support this critique from a foreign policy perspective. It demonstrates that even though the MB changed its tactics and discourse, its goals remained unchanged— even when the circumstances and the normative environment changed dramatically. Moreover, it shows that at times of crisis, the liberal discourse gave way to the old-fashioned radical discourse of previous decades.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)665-682
JournalInternational affairs
Issue number3
Early online date6 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2016


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