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The Arab Tomorrow

DAVID B. OTTAWAY

October 6, 1981, was meant to be a day of celebration in Egypt. It marked the anniversary of Egypt’s grandest moment of victory in three Arab-Israeli conflicts, when the country’s underdog army thrust across the Suez Canal in the opening days ofthe 1973 Yom Kippur War and sent Israeli troops reeling in retreat. On a cool, cloudless morning, the Cairo stadium was packed with Egyptian families that had come to see the military strut its hardware.On the reviewing stand, President Anwar el-Sadat,the war’s architect, watched with satisfaction as men and machines paraded before him. I was nearby, a newly arrived foreign correspondent.Suddenly, en av arméns lastbilar stannade direkt framför granskningsläktaren precis när sex Mirage-jetplan vrålade ovanför i en akrobatisk föreställning, måla himlen med långa spår av rött, gul, lila,och grön rök. Sadat reste sig, uppenbarligen förbereder sig för att utbyta hälsningar med ännu en kontingent av egyptiska trupper. Han gjorde sig själv till ett perfekt mål för fyra islamistiska mördare som hoppade från lastbilen, stormade pallen, och fyllde sin kropp med kulor. När mördarna fortsatte under vad som verkade vara en evighet att spraya stativet med sin dödliga eld, Jag funderade ett ögonblick på om jag skulle slå i marken och riskera att bli trampad ihjäl av panikslagna åskådare eller stanna kvar och riskera att ta en lös kula. Instinkten sa åt mig att hålla mig på benen, och min känsla av journalistisk plikt fick mig att gå och ta reda på om Sadat levde eller var död.

Islam, Politisk islam och Amerika

Arab Insight

Är "Broderskap" med Amerika möjligt?

khalil al-anani

"det finns ingen chans att kommunicera med någon U.S. administration så länge som USA behåller sin långvariga syn på islam som en verklig fara, en syn som sätter USA i samma båt som den sionistiska fienden. Vi har inga förutfattade meningar om det amerikanska folket eller USA. samhället och dess medborgerliga organisationer och tankesmedjor. Vi har inga problem med att kommunicera med det amerikanska folket men inga tillräckliga ansträngningar görs för att föra oss närmare," sa Dr. Issam al-Iryan, chef för Muslimska brödraskapets politiska avdelning i en telefonintervju.
Al-Iryans ord sammanfattar Muslimska brödraskapets syn på det amerikanska folket och USA. regering. Andra medlemmar av Muslimska brödraskapet skulle hålla med, liksom den bortgångne Hassan al-Banna, som grundade gruppen i 1928. Al- Banna såg västvärlden mest som en symbol för moraliskt förfall. Andra salafister – en islamisk tankeskola som förlitar sig på förfäder som exemplariska modeller – har antagit samma syn på USA, men saknar den ideologiska flexibilitet som det Muslimska brödraskapet förespråkar. Medan Muslimska brödraskapet tror på att engagera amerikanerna i civil dialog, andra extremistgrupper ser ingen mening med dialog och hävdar att våld är det enda sättet att hantera USA.

Islamismen återupptogs

MAHA Azzam

Det råder en politisk och säkerhetsmässig kris kring det som kallas islamism, en kris vars föregångare länge föregår 9/11. Under de senaste 25 år, det har funnits olika betoningar på hur man förklarar och bekämpar islamism. Analytiker och beslutsfattare
på 1980- och 1990-talen talade om grundorsakerna till islamisk militans som ekonomisk sjukdomskänsla och marginalisering. På senare tid har det varit fokus på politiska reformer som ett sätt att undergräva radikalismens dragningskraft. Alltmer idag, the ideological and religious aspects of Islamism need to be addressed because they have become features of a wider political and security debate. Whether in connection with Al-Qaeda terrorism, political reform in the Muslim world, the nuclear issue in Iran or areas of crisis such as Palestine or Lebanon, it has become commonplace to fi nd that ideology and religion are used by opposing parties as sources of legitimization, inspiration and enmity.
The situation is further complicated today by the growing antagonism towards and fear of Islam in the West because of terrorist attacks which in turn impinge on attitudes towards immigration, religion and culture. The boundaries of the umma or community of the faithful have stretched beyond Muslim states to European cities. Umman existerar potentiellt varhelst det finns muslimska samhällen. Den gemensamma känslan av att tillhöra en gemensam tro ökar i en miljö där känslan av integration i det omgivande samhället är oklar och där diskriminering kan vara uppenbar. Desto större förkastande av samhällets värderingar,
oavsett om det är i väst eller till och med i en muslimsk stat, desto större konsolidering av islams moraliska kraft som kulturell identitet och värdesystem.
Efter bombningarna i London på 7 juli 2005 det blev mer uppenbart att vissa ungdomar hävdade religiöst engagemang som ett sätt att uttrycka etnicitet. The links between Muslims across the globe and their perception that Muslims are vulnerable have led many in very diff erent parts of the world to merge their own local predicaments into the wider Muslim one, having identifi ed culturally, either primarily or partially, with a broadly defi ned Islam.

ISLAM AND THE RULE OF LAW

Birgit Krawietz
Helmut Reifeld

In our modern Western society, state-organised legal sys-tems normally draw a distinctive line that separates religion and the law. Conversely, there are a number of Islamic re-gional societies where religion and the laws are as closely interlinked and intertwined today as they were before the onset of the modern age. At the same time, the proportion in which religious law (shariah in Arabic) and public law (qanun) are blended varies from one country to the next. What is more, the status of Islam and consequently that of Islamic law differs as well. According to information provided by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), there are currently 57 Islamic states worldwide, defined as countries in which Islam is the religion of (1) the state, (2) the majority of the population, eller (3) a large minority. All this affects the development and the form of Islamic law.

Islamic Political Culture, Demokrati, and Human Rights

Daniel E. Pris

It has been argued that Islam facilitates authoritarianism, contradicts the values of Western societies, and significantly affects important political outcomes in Muslim nations. Consequently, scholars, commentators, and government officials frequently point to ‘‘Islamic fundamentalism’’ as the next ideological threat to liberal democracies. This view, dock, is based primarily on the analysis of texts, Islamic political theory, och ad hoc-studier av enskilda länder, som inte tar hänsyn till andra faktorer. Det är min påstående att islams texter och traditioner, som andra religioner, kan användas för att stödja en mängd olika politiska system och politik. Landsspecifika och beskrivande studier hjälper oss inte att hitta mönster som hjälper oss att förklara de olika relationerna mellan islam och politik i länderna i den muslimska världen. Därmed, ett nytt tillvägagångssätt för att studera
koppling mellan islam och politik efterfrågas.
jag föreslår, genom en rigorös utvärdering av relationen mellan islam, demokrati, och mänskliga rättigheter på gränsöverskridande nivå, att alltför stor vikt läggs på islams makt som politisk kraft. Jag använder först jämförande fallstudier, which focus on factors relating to the interplay between Islamic groups and regimes, economic influences, ethnic cleavages, and societal development, to explain the variance in the influence of Islam on politics across eight nations. I argue that much of the power
attributed to Islam as the driving force behind policies and political systems in Muslim nations can be better explained by the previously mentioned factors. I also find, contrary to common belief, that the increasing strength of Islamic political groups has often been associated with modest pluralization of political systems.
I have constructed an index of Islamic political culture, based on the extent to which Islamic law is utilized and whether and, if so, how,Western ideas, institutions, and technologies are implemented, to test the nature of the relationship between Islam and democracy and Islam and human rights. This indicator is used in statistical analysis, which includes a sample of twenty-three predominantly Muslim countries and a control group of twenty-three non-Muslim developing nations. In addition to comparing
Islamic nations to non-Islamic developing nations, statistical analysis allows me to control for the influence of other variables that have been found to affect levels of democracy and the protection of individual rights. The result should be a more realistic and accurate picture of the influence of Islam on politics and policies.

Islam and Democracy

ITAC

If one reads the press or listens to commentators on international affairs, it is often said – and even more often implied but not said – that Islam is not compatible with democracy. In the nineties, Samuel Huntington set off an intellectual firestorm when he published The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, in which he presents his forecasts for the world – writ large. In the political realm, he notes that while Turkey and Pakistan might have some small claim to “democratic legitimacy” all other “… Muslim countries were overwhelmingly non-democratic: monarchies, one-party systems, military regimes, personal dictatorships or some combination of these, usually resting on a limited family, clan, or tribal base”. The premise on which his argument is founded is that they are not only ‘not like us’, they are actually opposed to our essential democratic values. He believes, as do others, that while the idea of Western democratization is being resisted in other parts of the world, the confrontation is most notable in those regions where Islam is the dominant faith.
The argument has also been made from the other side as well. An Iranian religious scholar, reflecting on an early twentieth-century constitutional crisis in his country, declared that Islam and democracy are not compatible because people are not equal and a legislative body is unnecessary because of the inclusive nature of Islamic religious law. A similar position was taken more recently by Ali Belhadj, an Algerian high school teacher, preacher and (in this context) leader of the FIS, when he declared “democracy was not an Islamic concept”. Perhaps the most dramatic statement to this effect was that of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of the Sunni insurgents in Iraq who, when faced with the prospect of an election, denounced democracy as “an evil principle”.
But according to some Muslim scholars, democracy remains an important ideal in Islam, with the caveat that it is always subject to the religious law. The emphasis on the paramount place of the shari’a is an element of almost every Islamic comment on governance, moderate or extremist. Only if the ruler, who receives his authority from God, limits his actions to the “supervision of the administration of the shari’a” is he to be obeyed. If he does other than this, he is a non-believer and committed Muslims are to rebel against him. Herein lies the justification for much of the violence that has plagued the Muslim world in such struggles as that prevailing in Algeria during the 90s

Challenging Authoritarianism, Kolonialism, and Disunity: The Islamic Political Reform Movements of al-Afghani and Rida

Ahmed Ali Salem

The decline of the Muslim world preceded European colonization of most

Muslim lands in the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the first
quarter of the twentieth century. In particular, the Ottoman Empire’s
power and world status had been deteriorating since the seventeenth century.
But, more important for Muslim scholars, it had ceased to meet

some basic requirements of its position as the caliphate, the supreme and
sovereign political entity to which all Muslims should be loyal.
Därför, some of the empire’s Muslim scholars and intellectuals called
for political reform even before the European encroachment upon
Muslim lands. The reforms that they envisaged were not only Islamic, but
also Ottomanic – from within the Ottoman framework.

These reformers perceived the decline of the Muslim world in general,

and of the Ottoman Empire in particular, to be the result of an increasing

disregard for implementing the Shari`ah (Islamic law). However, since the

late eighteenth century, an increasing number of reformers, sometimes supported

by the Ottoman sultans, began to call for reforming the empire along

modern European lines. The empire’s failure to defend its lands and to

respond successfully to the West’s challenges only further fueled this call

for “modernizing” reform, which reached its peak in the Tanzimat movement

in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Other Muslim reformers called for a middle course. On the one hand,

they admitted that the caliphate should be modeled according to the Islamic

sources of guidance, especially the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad’s

teachings (Sunnah), and that the ummah’s (the world Muslim community)

unity is one of Islam’s political pillars. On the other hand, they realized the

need to rejuvenate the empire or replace it with a more viable one. Verkligen,

their creative ideas on future models included, but were not limited to, the

following: replacing the Turkish-led Ottoman Empire with an Arab-led

caliphate, building a federal or confederate Muslim caliphate, establishing

a commonwealth of Muslim or oriental nations, and strengthening solidarity

and cooperation among independent Muslim countries without creating

a fixed structure. These and similar ideas were later referred to as the

Muslim league model, which was an umbrella thesis for the various proposals

related to the future caliphate.

Two advocates of such reform were Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and

Muhammad `Abduh, both of whom played key roles in the modern

Islamic political reform movement.1 Their response to the dual challenge

facing the Muslim world in the late nineteenth century – European colonization

and Muslim decline – was balanced. Their ultimate goal was to

revive the ummah by observing the Islamic revelation and benefiting

from Europe’s achievements. However, they disagreed on certain aspects

and methods, as well as the immediate goals and strategies, of reform.

While al-Afghani called and struggled mainly for political reform,

`Abduh, once one of his close disciples, developed his own ideas, which

emphasized education and undermined politics.




Egypten vid tipppunkten ?

David B. Ottaway
In the early 1980s, I lived in Cairo as bureau chief of The Washington Post covering such historic events as the withdrawal of the last
Israeli forces from Egyptian territory occupied during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war and the assassination of President
Anwar Sadat by Islamic fanatics in October 1981.
The latter national drama, which I witnessed personally, had proven to be a wrenching milestone. It forced Sadat’s successor, Hosni Mubarak, to turn inwards to deal with an Islamist challenge of unknown proportions and effectively ended Egypt’s leadership role in the Arab world.
Mubarak immediately showed himself to be a highly cautious, unimaginative leader, maddeningly reactive rather than pro-active in dealing with the social and economic problems overwhelming his nation like its explosive population growth (1.2 million more Egyptians a year) and economic decline.
In a four-part Washington Post series written as I was departing in early 1985, I noted the new Egyptian leader was still pretty much
a total enigma to his own people, offering no vision and commanding what seemed a rudderless ship of state. The socialist economy
inherited from the era of President Gamal Abdel Nasser (1952 till 1970) was a mess. The country’s currency, the pound, was operating
on eight different exchange rates; its state-run factories were unproductive, uncompetitive and deep in debt; and the government was heading for bankruptcy partly because subsidies for food, electricity and gasoline were consuming one-third ($7 billion) of its budget. Cairo had sunk into a hopeless morass of gridlocked traffic and teeming humanity—12 million people squeezed into a narrow band of land bordering the Nile River, most living cheek by jowl in ramshackle tenements in the city’s ever-expanding slums.

Organizational Continuity in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

Tess Lee Eisenhart

As Egypt’s oldest and most prominent opposition movement, the Society of

Muslim Brothers, al-ikhwan al-muslimeen, has long posed a challenge to successive secular
regimes by offering a comprehensive vision of an Islamic state and extensive social
welfare services. Since its founding in 1928, the Brotherhood (bror) has thrived in a
parallel religious and social services sector, generally avoiding direct confrontation with
ruling regimes.1 More recently over the past two decades, dock, the Brotherhood has
dabbled with partisanship in the formal political realm. This experiment culminated in
the election of the eighty-eight Brothers to the People’s Assembly in 2005—the largest
oppositional bloc in modern Egyptian history—and the subsequent arrests of nearly
1,000 Brothers.2 The electoral advance into mainstream politics provides ample fodder
for scholars to test theories and make predictions about the future of the Egyptian
regimen: will it fall to the Islamist opposition or remain a beacon of secularism in the
Arab world?
This thesis shies away from making such broad speculations. Instead, it explores

the extent to which the Muslim Brotherhood has adapted as an organization in the past
decade.

A Muslim Archipelago

max L. Brutto

This book has been many years in the making, as the author explains in his Preface, though he wrote most of the actual text during his year as senior Research Fellow with the Center for Strategic Intelligence Research. The author was for many years Dean of the School of Intelligence Studies at the Joint Military Intelligence College. Even though it may appear that the book could have been written by any good historian or Southeast Asia regional specialist, this work is illuminated by the author’s more than three decades of service within the national Intelligence Community. His regional expertise often has been applied to special assessments for the Community. With a knowledge of Islam unparalleled among his peers and an unquenchable thirst for determining how the goals of this religion might play out in areas far from the focus of most policymakers’ current attention, the author has made the most of this opportunity to acquaint the Intelligence Community and a broader readership with a strategic appreciation of a region in the throes of reconciling secular and religious forces.
This publication has been approved for unrestricted distribution by the Office of Security Review, Department of Defense.

Democracy in Islamic Political Thought

Azzam S. Tamimi

Democracy has preoccupied Arab political thinkers since the dawn of the modern Arab renaissance about two centuries ago. Since then, the concept of democracy has changed and developed under the influence of a variety of social and political developments.The discussion of democracy in Arab Islamic literature can be traced back to Rifa’a Tahtawi, the father of Egyptian democracy according to Lewis Awad,[3] who shortly after his return to Cairo from Paris published his first book, Takhlis Al-Ibriz Ila Talkhis Bariz, in 1834. The book summarized his observations of the manners and customs of the modern French,[4] and praised the concept of democracy as he saw it in France and as he witnessed its defence and reassertion through the 1830 Revolution against King Charles X.[5] Tahtawi tried to show that the democratic concept he was explaining to his readers was compatible with the law of Islam. He compared political pluralism to forms of ideological and jurisprudential pluralism that existed in the Islamic experience:
Religious freedom is the freedom of belief, of opinion and of sect, provided it does not contradict the fundamentals of religion . . . The same would apply to the freedom of political practice and opinion by leading administrators, who endeavour to interpret and apply rules and provisions in accordance with the laws of their own countries. Kings and ministers are licensed in the realm of politics to pursue various routes that in the end serve one purpose: good administration and justice.[6] One important landmark in this regard was the contribution of Khairuddin At-Tunisi (1810- 99), leader of the 19th-century reform movement in Tunisia, who, in 1867, formulated a general plan for reform in a book entitled Aqwam Al-Masalik Fi Taqwim Al- Mamalik (The Straight Path to Reforming Governments). The main preoccupation of the book was in tackling the question of political reform in the Arab world. While appealing to politicians and scholars of his time to seek all possible means in order to improve the status of the
community and develop its civility, he warned the general Muslim public against shunning the experiences of other nations on the basis of the misconception that all the writings, inventions, experiences or attitudes of non-Muslims should be rejected or disregarded.
Khairuddin further called for an end to absolutist rule, which he blamed for the oppression of nations and the destruction of civilizations.

Islamic Political Culture, Demokrati, and Human Rights

Daniel E. Pris

It has been argued that Islam facilitates authoritarianism, contradicts the

values of Western societies, and significantly affects important political outcomes

in Muslim nations. Consequently, scholars, commentators, and government

tjänstemän pekar ofta på "islamisk fundamentalism" som nästa

ideologiskt hot mot liberala demokratier. This view, dock, baseras i första hand

om analys av texter, Islamic political theory, och ad hoc-studier

enskilda länder, som inte tar hänsyn till andra faktorer. Det är mitt påstående

att islams texter och traditioner, som andra religioner,

kan användas för att stödja en mängd olika politiska system och politik. Land

specifika och beskrivande studier hjälper oss inte att hitta mönster som hjälper

vi förklarar de olika relationerna mellan islam och politik över hela världen

länder i den muslimska världen. Därmed, ett nytt tillvägagångssätt för att studera

koppling mellan islam och politik efterfrågas.
jag föreslår, genom en rigorös utvärdering av relationen mellan islam,

demokrati, och mänskliga rättigheter på gränsöverskridande nivå, det för mycket

betoning läggs på islams makt som politisk kraft. jag först

använda jämförande fallstudier, som fokuserar på faktorer relaterade till samspelet

mellan islamiska grupper och regimer, economic influences, ethnic cleavages,

and societal development, att förklara variansen i påverkan av

Islam om politik i åtta nationer.

Islamic Political Culture, Demokrati, and Human Rights

Daniel E. Pris

It has been argued that Islam facilitates authoritarianism, contradicts the

values of Western societies, and significantly affects important political outcomes
in Muslim nations. Consequently, scholars, commentators, and government
tjänstemän pekar ofta på "islamisk fundamentalism" som nästa
ideologiskt hot mot liberala demokratier. This view, dock, baseras i första hand
om analys av texter, Islamic political theory, och ad hoc-studier
enskilda länder, som inte tar hänsyn till andra faktorer. Det är mitt påstående
att islams texter och traditioner, som andra religioner,
kan användas för att stödja en mängd olika politiska system och politik. Land
specifika och beskrivande studier hjälper oss inte att hitta mönster som hjälper
vi förklarar de olika relationerna mellan islam och politik över hela världen
länder i den muslimska världen. Därmed, ett nytt tillvägagångssätt för att studera
koppling mellan islam och politik efterfrågas.
jag föreslår, genom en rigorös utvärdering av relationen mellan islam,
demokrati, och mänskliga rättigheter på gränsöverskridande nivå, det för mycket
betoning läggs på islams makt som politisk kraft. jag först
använda jämförande fallstudier, som fokuserar på faktorer relaterade till samspelet
mellan islamiska grupper och regimer, economic influences, ethnic cleavages,

and societal development, att förklara variansen i påverkan av

Islam om politik i åtta nationer.

Islamistiska oppositionspartier och potentialen för EU-engagemang

Toby Archer

Heidi Huuhtanen

I ljuset av den ökande betydelsen av islamistiska rörelser i den muslimska världen och

hur radikaliseringen har påverkat globala händelser sedan sekelskiftet, Det

är viktigt för EU att utvärdera sin politik gentemot aktörer inom vad som kan vara löst

kallad den "islamiska världen". Det är särskilt viktigt att fråga sig om och hur man ska engagera sig

med de olika islamistiska grupperna.

Detta är fortfarande kontroversiellt även inom EU. Vissa känner att islam värdesätter det

ligga bakom islamistiska partier är helt enkelt oförenliga med västerländska ideal om demokrati och

mänskliga rättigheter, medan andra ser engagemang som en realistisk nödvändighet på grund av den växande

domestic importance of Islamist parties and their increasing involvement in international

affairs. Another perspective is that democratisation in the Muslim world would increase

European security. The validity of these and other arguments over whether and how the

EU should engage can only be tested by studying the different Islamist movements and

their political circumstances, country by country.

Democratisation is a central theme of the EU’s common foreign policy actions, as laid

out in Article 11 of the Treaty on European Union. Many of the states considered in this

report are not democratic, or not fully democratic. In most of these countries, Islamist

parties and movements constitute a significant opposition to the prevailing regimes, och

in some they form the largest opposition bloc. European democracies have long had to

ta itu med styrande regimer som är auktoritära, men det är ett nytt fenomen att trycka på

för demokratiska reformer i stater där de mest sannolika förmånstagarna kan ha, från

EU:s synvinkel, olika och ibland problematiska synsätt på demokrati och dess

relaterade värden, såsom minoriteter och kvinnors rättigheter och rättsstatsprincipen. Dessa avgifter är

ofta mot islamistiska rörelser, så det är viktigt för europeiska beslutsfattare att göra det

ha en korrekt bild av potentiella partners politik och filosofi.

Erfarenheter från olika länder tenderar att tyda på att desto mer frihet islamistiska

fester är tillåtna, desto mer moderata är de i sina handlingar och idéer. I många

islamistiska partier och grupper har sedan länge flyttat från sitt ursprungliga syfte

of establishing an Islamic state governed by Islamic law, and have come to accept basic

democratic principles of electoral competition for power, the existence of other political

competitors, and political pluralism.

Political Islam in the Middle East

är Knudsen

This report provides an introduction to selected aspects of the phenomenon commonly

referred to as “political Islam”. The report gives special emphasis to the Middle East, in

particular the Levantine countries, and outlines two aspects of the Islamist movement that may

be considered polar opposites: democracy and political violence. In the third section the report

reviews some of the main theories used to explain the Islamic resurgence in the Middle East

(Figure 1). In brief, the report shows that Islam need not be incompatible with democracy and

that there is a tendency to neglect the fact that many Middle Eastern countries have been

engaged in a brutal suppression of Islamist movements, causing them, some argue, to take up

arms against the state, and more rarely, foreign countries. The use of political violence is

widespread in the Middle East, but is neither illogical nor irrational. In many cases even

Islamist groups known for their use of violence have been transformed into peaceful political

parties successfully contesting municipal and national elections. Nonetheless, the Islamist

revival in the Middle East remains in part unexplained despite a number of theories seeking to

account for its growth and popular appeal. In general, most theories hold that Islamism is a

reaction to relative deprivation, especially social inequality and political oppression. Alternative

theories seek the answer to the Islamist revival within the confines of religion itself and the

powerful, evocative potential of religious symbolism.

The conclusion argues in favour of moving beyond the “gloom and doom” approach that

portrays Islamism as an illegitimate political expression and a potential threat to the West (“Old

Islamism”), and of a more nuanced understanding of the current democratisation of the Islamist

movement that is now taking place throughout the Middle East (“New Islamism”). This

importance of understanding the ideological roots of the “New Islamism” is foregrounded

along with the need for thorough first-hand knowledge of Islamist movements and their

adherents. As social movements, its is argued that more emphasis needs to be placed on

understanding the ways in which they have been capable of harnessing the aspirations not only

of the poorer sections of society but also of the middle class.

STRATEGIES FOR ENGAGING POLITICAL ISLAM

SHADI HAMID

AMANDA Kadlec

Political Islam is the single most active political force in the Middle East today. Its future is intimately tied to that of the region. If the United States and the European Union are committed to supporting political reform in the region, they will need to devise concrete, coherent strategies for engaging Islamist groups. Yet, USA. has generally been unwilling to open a dialogue with these movements. Liknande, EU engagement with Islamists has been the exception, not the rule. Where low-level contacts exist, they mainly serve information-gathering purposes, not strategic objectives. The U.S. and EU have a number of programs that address economic and political development in the region – among them the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), the Union for the Mediterranean, and the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) – yet they have little to say about how the challenge of Islamist political opposition fits within broader regional objectives. US. and EU democracy assistance and programming are directed almost entirely to either authoritarian governments themselves or secular civil society groups with minimal support in their own societies.
The time is ripe for a reassessment of current policies. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Att stödja demokrati i Mellanöstern har fått en större betydelse för västerländska beslutsfattare, som ser ett samband mellan brist på demokrati och politiskt våld. Större uppmärksamhet har ägnats åt att förstå variationerna inom politisk islam. Den nya amerikanska administrationen är mer öppen för att bredda kommunikationen med den muslimska världen. Under tiden, den stora majoriteten av mainstream islamistiska organisationer – inklusive Muslimska brödraskapet i Egypten, Jordans islamiska aktionsfront (IAF), Marockos parti för rättvisa och utveckling (PJD), den islamiska konstitutionella rörelsen i Kuwait, och Yemeni Islah Party – har alltmer gjort stöd för politiska reformer och demokrati till en central komponent i sina politiska plattformar. För övrigt, många har signalerat ett starkt intresse för att inleda en dialog med U.S. och EU:s regeringar.
Framtiden för förbindelserna mellan västerländska nationer och Mellanöstern kan till stor del bestämmas av i vilken grad de tidigare engagerar ickevåldsliga islamistiska partier i en bred dialog om gemensamma intressen och mål. Det har nyligen skett en ökning av studier om engagemang med islamister, men få tar tydligt upp vad det kan innebära i praktiken. Som Zoe Nautre, gäststipendiat vid German Council on Foreign Relations, sätter det, "EU funderar på engagemang men vet inte riktigt hur."1 I hopp om att förtydliga diskussionen, vi skiljer mellan tre nivåer av ”engagemang,” var och en med olika medel och mål: lågnivåkontakter, strategisk dialog, och partnerskap.