After 30 years of persecution in Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood has now come back to be one of most influential parties in the country's 14-month revolution, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
Brotherhood members hold the most seats in the Syrian National Council, the main opposition group against Assad, and lead its relief committee, which distributes aid and money to Syrians participating in the revolt.
The group was nearly wiped out during Syria's last revolution, during which government forces killed as many as 25,000 people in Hama in 1982.
The Brotherhood's comeback in Syria is creating concern in neighboring countries and the wider international community, the newspaper said. Other countries fear that if the minority Alawite regime in Damascus falls, it would be followed by the rise of a Sunni Islamist government.
Brotherhood officials have reached out to Syria's neighbors, including Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon, as well as to U.S. and European diplomats, to assure them they have no intention of taking over a future Syrian political system or establishing any form of Islamist government.
"These concerns are not legitimate when it comes to Syria, for many reasons," said Molham al-Drobi, who is a member of the Brotherhood's leadership and sits on the Syrian National Council's foreign affairs committee.
"First, we are a really moderate Islamic movement compared to others worldwide. We are open-minded," al-Drobi said. "And I personally do not believe we could dominate politics in Syria even if we wanted to. We don't have the will, and we don't have the means."