Arab political analysts attributed Riyadh's recent designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a "terrorist" organization to the kingdom's mounting concern about the group's continued resistance to Egypt's army-backed authorities.
"The decision to add the Brotherhood to Saudi's terrorist list reflects [Saudi] intolerance of continued Brotherhood activity in Egypt against what the Brotherhood considers a military coup," Abdel-Khaliq Abdullah, a political science professor at United Arab Emirates (UAE) University, told Anadolu Agency.
Abdullah said Riyadh's decision last week designating the Brotherhood and eight other groups "terrorist" organizations was aimed at pressuring Qatar – the Brotherhood's main regional supporter – following a surprise move earlier this month by Saudi, the UAE and Bahrain recalling their respective ambassadors from Doha.
"The decision was also a message to Qatar, as the Brotherhood's main political and financial backer, that they are now supporting a terrorist group," he said.
Anwar Majed, head of the Middle Easter Center for Strategic and Legal Studies, a Riyadh-based NGO, agreed with Abdullah.
"There's a clear message to Qatar as a sister country that it shouldn't support violence," Majed told AA. "But the question remains: does Saudi have proof that the Brotherhood was responsible for past terrorist attacks in the kingdom?"
Egypt has remained in the throes of political turmoil since last summer's ouster by the army of Mohamed Morsi – the country's first freely elected president and a Brotherhood leader – following demonstrations against his administration.
The military-backed interim government, which Saudi Arabia and the UAE were the first to support, has launched a heavy-handed crackdown against continued demonstrations by Morsi's supporters.
Last December, the Egyptian government listed the Brotherhood as a "terrorist" organization, blaming it for a string of bombings targeting security forces – an accusation the Islamist group has continuously denied.
Arab Spring woes
Some analysts tend to believe that Saudi's decision to criminalize the Brotherhood is partly derived from fear that continued opposition to Egypt's military-backed government would galvanize a fresh wave of Arab Spring uprisings that would this time spread to the kingdom.
"I believe the decision is closely linked to unfolding events in the region for the past two years with regards to the Arab Spring," Talal al-Atrissi, head of the Lebanon-based Center for Strategic Studies, told AA.
"Saudi fears any potential change in the Gulf that could be fueled by what's happening in Egypt," he added.
Jawad al-Hamad, head of the Jordan-based Middle East Studies Center, agreed with al-Atrissi.
"Saudi Arabia remains perplexed by the ramifications of the Arab Spring," al-Atrissi said. "It fears that some could start to think of the Brotherhood as an alternative to the rulers of the kingdom."
Therefore, Abdullah believes the Saudi move against the Brotherhood is meant to convey its own domestic message.
"Saudi's move against the Brotherhood also carried a warning to Saudi preachers and Brotherhood supporters against expressing this support in public speeches or social media," Abdullah said.
Former Kuwaiti Salafist leader and expert on Islamist movements Hamed al-Ali believes Saudi's dramatic decision signals the "failure of the military coup" that it had supported in Egypt.
"It was a hurried, sloppy move," al-Ali said in reference to Saudi's terrorist designation. "A move taken in response to the failure of [Egypt's] military coup."
Al-Ali voiced concern that criminalizing Egypt's Brotherhood would prove to be a step towards outlawing its Palestinian offshoot Hamas, which has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007 and is considered a "terrorist group" by Israel.
"The Saudi decision also aims to end Hamas' rule in Gaza in order to strangle the Palestinian cause," al-Ali argued, going on to describe it as "a move sure to backfire eventually."
Along with the Brotherhood, Saudi's terrorism blacklist currently includes the Al-Qaeda network, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Al-Qaeda in Yemen, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Al-Nusra Front, "Hezbollah in the kingdom," and the Houthis in Yemen.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 10 Mart 2014, 13:30