RSSSvi unosi označeni: "izbori"

EGYPT’S MUSLIM BROTHERS: CONFRONTATION OR INTEGRATION?

Research

The Society of Muslim Brothers’ success in the November-December 2005 elections for the People’s Assembly sent shockwaves through Egypt’s political system. In response, the regime cracked down on the movement, harassed other potential rivals and reversed its fledging reform process. This is dangerously short-sighted. There is reason to be concerned about the Muslim Brothers’ political program, and they owe the people genuine clarifications about several of its aspects. But the ruling National Democratic
Party’s (NDP) refusal to loosen its grip risks exacerbating tensions at a time of both political uncertainty surrounding the presidential succession and serious socio-economic unrest. Though this likely will be a prolonged, gradual process, the regime should take preliminary steps to normalise the Muslim Brothers’ participation in political life. The Muslim Brothers, whose social activities have long been tolerated but whose role in formal politics is strictly limited, won an unprecedented 20 per cent of parliamentary seats in the 2005 izbori. They did so despite competing for only a third of available seats and notwithstanding considerable obstacles, including police repression and electoral fraud. This success confirmed their position as an extremely wellorganised and deeply rooted political force. At the same time, it underscored the weaknesses of both the legal opposition and ruling party. The regime might well have wagered that a modest increase in the Muslim Brothers’ parliamentary representation could be used to stoke fears of an Islamist takeover and thereby serve as a reason to stall reform. If so, the strategy is at heavy risk of backfiring.

Islamic Political Culture, Demokracija, and Human Rights

Daniele. Cijena

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, however, is based primarily

on the analysis of texts, Islamic political theory, and ad hoc studies

of individual countries, which do not consider other factors. It is my contention

that the texts and traditions of Islam, like those of other religions,

can be used to support a variety of political systems and policies. Country

specific and descriptive studies do not help us to find patterns that will help

us explain the varying relationships between Islam and politics across the

countries of the Muslim world. Hence, a new approach to the study of the

connection between Islam and politics is called for.
I suggest, through rigorous evaluation of the relationship between Islam,

democracy, and human rights at the cross-national level, that too much

emphasis is being placed on the power of Islam as a political force. I first

use comparative case studies, 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.

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, the U.S. has generally been unwilling to open a dialogue with these movements. Similarly, 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. NAS. 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, supporting Middle East democracy has assumed a greater importance for Western policymakers, who see a link between lack of democracy and political violence. Greater attention has been devoted to understanding the variations within political Islam. The new American administration is more open to broadening communication with the Muslim world. Meanwhile, the vast majority of mainstream Islamist organizations – including the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Jordan’s Islamic Action Front (IAF), Morocco’s Justice and Development Party (PJD), the Islamic Constitutional Movement of Kuwait, and the Yemeni Islah Party – have increasingly made support for political reform and democracy a central component in their political platforms. In addition, many have signaled strong interest in opening dialogue with U.S. and EU governments.
The future of relations between Western nations and the Middle East may be largely determined by the degree to which the former engage nonviolent Islamist parties in a broad dialogue about shared interests and objectives. There has been a recent proliferation of studies on engagement with Islamists, but few clearly address what it might entail in practice. As Zoé Nautré, visiting fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations, puts it, “the EU is thinking about engagement but doesn’t really know how.”1 In the hope of clarifying the discussion, we distinguish between three levels of “engagement,” each with varying means and ends: low-level contacts, strategic dialogue, and partnership.

Islamističke stranke : sudjelovanje bez moći

Malika Zeghal

Over the last two decades, social and political movements grounding their ideologies in references to Islam have sought to become legal political parties in many countries of the Middle East and North Africa. Some of these Islamist movements have been authorized to take part lawfully in electoral competition. Among the best known is Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), which won a parliamentary majority in 2002 and has led the government ever since. Morocco’s own Party of Justice and Development (PJD) has been legal since the mid- 1990s and commands a significant bloc of seats in Parliament. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has never been authorized to form a political party, but in spite of state repression it has successfully run candidates as nominal independents in both national and local elections.
Since the early 1990s, this trend has gone hand-in-hand with official policies of limited political liberalization. Together, the two trends have occasioned a debate about whether these movements are committed to “democracy.” A vast literature has sprung up to underline the paradoxes as well as the possible risks and benefits of including Islamist parties in the electoral process. The main paradigm found in this body of writing focuses on the consequences that might ensue when Islamists use democratic instruments, and seeks to divine the “true” intentions that Islamists will manifest if they come to power.

Demokracija, Terrorism and American Policy in the Arab World

F. Gregory Gause

The United States has embarked upon what President Bush and Secretary of State Rice has called a “generational challenge” to encourage political reform and democracy in the Arab world. The Bush Administration and other defenders of the democracy campaign contend that the push for Arab democracy is not only about spreading American values, but also about insuring American security. They hypothesize that as democracy grows in the Arab world, anti-American terrorism from the Arab world will decline. Therefore, the promotion of democracy inthe Arab world is not only consistent with American security goals in the area, but necessary to achieve those goals.
Two questions present themselves in considering this element of the “Bush Doctrine” in the Arab world: 1) Is there a relationship between terrorism and democracy such that the more democratic a country becomes, the less likely it is to produce terrorists and terrorist groups? In other words, is the security rationale for democracy promotion in the Arab world based on a sound premise?; and 2) What kind of governments would likely be generated by democratic elections in Arab countries? Would they be willing to cooperate with the United States on important policy objectives in the Middle East, not only in maintaining democracy but also on
Arab-Israeli, Gulf security and oil issues?
This paper will consider these two questions. It finds that there is little empirical evidence linking democracy with an absence of or reduction in terrorism. It questions whether democracy would reduce the motives and opportunities of groups like al-Qa’ida, which oppose democracy on both religious and practical grounds. It examines recent trends in Arab public opinion and elections, concluding that while Arab publics are very supportive of democracy, democratic elections in Arab states are likely to produce Islamist governments which would be much less likely to cooperate with the United States than their authoritarian predecessors.

Hamas can set an example

Khader Khader

Perhaps the single most important aspect of Hamasoverwhelming victory in Palestinian Legislative Council elections last month is that it was the first time in the contemporary history of the Middle East that democracy was exercised for real without any direct external or internal interference. The ramifications of such free elections may well reverberate around the region for years to come and might mark a new phase in the geopolitical map of the Middle East.
This, however, was not the first time an Islamic political party showed its popularity at the ballot box. Algeria’s Islamic Front appeared headed to certain victory in elections in the mid-1990s before external intervention on the part of the “demokratski” West and its allies in Algiers nipped that experience in the bud. In Algeria, the result of burying democracy has been an extremely bloody conflict that still drags on, much to the embarrassment of western countries, which prefer not to comment. For the ordinary citizen in the Arab world, it was an experience that only added to the sense of oppression and frustration felt in every corner of the region.
Thus Hamaselectoral victory has sparked widespread hope among the Arab masses that they have another chance to find out if an Islamic party can rule better than the current regimes in the Arab world. Hamas, in this sense, carries the hopes of millions of Arabs and Muslims all over the world.
But with such expectations comes a time fraught with danger. Hamas and the way it runs matters in the Palestinian territories can set a very interesting example: if it succeeds; if it proves it can run Palestinian affairs more transparently and to the benefit of more ordinary Palestinians than previously, while at the same time managing tough negotiations with Israel, the experience will encourage other Islamic movements in the Arab world to use it as an example to convince their citizens that Islamic political movements are a viable alternative.
But if Hamas fails in its difficult and challenging task, the setback will strike a devastating blow to all Islamic movements and parties in the region. A Hamas failure could perhaps send the entire region into another period of political wilderness akin to the era after the failure of the pan-Arabists.
Thus, Hamas in power is an interesting and illuminating phenomenon, and one that will be followed closely by all concerned parties. According to a leading Hamas figure in Khan Yunis, Dr. Younis al-Astal, the International Muslim Brotherhood has already expressed its readiness to assist Hamas with all the needed expertise to make it succeed in its mission. The Brotherhood will of course be the principal benefactor of any Hamas success.
By the same token, however, the West may feel itself forced now to exert all possible efforts to make Hamas fail even if the movement proves successful in meeting the needs of the people. The issue in question here is not how efficient a government is but how loyal a government shows itself to be to the West. This is the measure the West has generally used to assess the Middle East, where billions of US dollars have been spent on keeping Arab regimesmoderate and realistic”, especially in relation to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
There is a curious parallel to the Cold War now in the dynamic that is developing between the West and the Muslim world. During the Cold War, the West was confident that democracy would bring the Eastern Bloc to its knees and forcefully spread the message that individual freedom and the right to vote were human rights par excellence.
Sada, however, that same message is likely to backfire on the West. If real elections were held in Egypt and Jordan, it is highly likely that Muslim Brotherhood movements would come to power and cast into doubt the peace treaties between those countries and Israel, in which the West has invested so much effort.
Everyone knows that democracy comes at a cost in the Middle East. Is the world ready to engage in this game? The key is likely to be the success or otherwise of Hamas, which is operating under extremely adverse conditions. Arabs and Muslims across the region, so often let down by political promise from various quarters, may well be disappointed again. But in the meantime their hopes are with a political movement that is posing the first serious challenge in decades to Arab regimes everywhere.

2005 PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION ASSESSMENT IN EGYPT

INTERNATIONAL REPUBLICAN INSTITUTE

With President Hosni Mubarak’s surprise announcement to amend the constitution and to hold the first direct, multi-candidate presidential elections in September of this year, it appeared that the Egyptian government had made political reform a priority
and was committed to opening the door to greater political competition. The presidential election initially held symbolic significance and the promise of setting the stage for further reform and greater citizen participation. However, whether this symbolic step toward expanded democratic participation can be characterized as the start of a genuine democratic transition leading to a sustained system of democracy
remains in doubt. The 2005 parliamentary election process suggests otherwise.
The three rounds of parliamentary elections in November and December 2005 appear to have been deeply flawed and will be most remembered for escalating tension over each successive round and outright violence resulting in 12 deaths. Overt intimidation cast a menacing shadow over the second and third phases of elections in particular, and low voter turnout—as with the presidential election—was a notable feature that underscored continued citizen apathy in the political process. Vote buying
was also rampant. Yet despite this, it must be noted that open campaigning for opposition candidates was permitted and that some important procedural changes were made as a result of complaints emerging from the presidential election. Overall, the parliamentary elections seem to indicate that government policies have left the secular opposition extremely weak. Although Egypt does provide for political party engagement—a positive attribute in a region where political parties are not always allowed—the lack of genuine political competition is a pervasive problem that constitutes a major impediment to sustained democratic change.
The most notable features that shaped the electoral environment for parliamentary elections were the fracture and competition between official National Democratic Party-endorsed candidates and those not selected who ran as independents; the inevitable weakness of the secular opposition parties as a result of emergency laws that limited development; and the ability of the Muslim Brotherhood to campaign
freely and demonstrate its strength on the ground despite its status as an illegal
organization.
The new parliament, comprised of a majority of NDP members, the near absence of opposition party members, and a solid minority bloc of independents affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood will present a new challenge for the regime and leave democratic reformers uncertain as to their future.

The Hamas Victory in the Palestinian Elections

Riaz Hassan

The parliamentary election triumph of Hamas surprised almost everybody, including the Hamas leadership, if the press reported correctly. The Bush Administration is blaming its intelligence services for failing to predict Hamas’ victory. Most observers forecast that Fatah would win theelections because of its political dominance in Palestinian affairs. Why, then, did most politicalobservers in the West get it so wrong? This political miscalculation will be the subject of much analysis and commentary in the coming months.A number of specific local issues delivered Hamas its historic electoral victory. Credit must goto the Palestinian people, who turned out to be astute voters. A significant number of Palestinians were simply unable to accept the corruption and cronyism that allegedly flourished under the Palestinian Authority led by Fatah. While most Palestinians remember well and admire the sacrifices made by Fatah leaders in the past, they were simply deterred by their in ability to institute political and economic reforms to better the lives of ordinary people. Hamashad a much better reading of the Palestinian political pulse. It was not difficult for Hamas to doso: Hamas delivers health, educational and social services to large numbers of Palestinians,making daily life bearable.Unlike Fatah, which had several candidates contesting the same constituency, resulting in asplitting of Fatah’s votes, Hamas ran an extremely disciplined political campaign. Hamas alsomade use of its female supporters, sending them door-to-door to canvass voters and to pollingstations to campaign for Hamas’ candidates. These election strategies obviously worked in Hamas’ favor. Hamas has also amassed political capital through its resistance and military campaigns against the Israeli occupation. It was these actions which led to Hamas’ being labelled and treated as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union andseveral other western countries. In a political environment in which ordinary Palestinians feelcompletely powerless, Hamas’ acts of resistance and tough rhetoric gave Palestinians a senseof empowerment that may well be the reason for its electoral victory over its opponents.

Egypt’s Local Elections Farce Causes and Consequences

Mohammed Herzallah

Amr Hamzawy

Egypt’s local elections of April 8, 2008 were a confirmation of a backwardslide in Egyptian politics. They were plagued by social unrest and politicaldiscord. In the weeks prior to the elections, labor protests escalated,precipitating a harsh crackdown that resulted in at least two fatalities and many injuries.The country’s largest opposition force, the Muslim Brotherhood, decided at the last minute to boycott the elections. Voter turn out did not exceed 5 percent and the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP),facing virtually no competition, landed a sweeping victory—winning roughly95 percent of the seats at stake.These developments bring to light a broader deterioration in Egyptian politics.Three elements of this process stand out and deserve careful attention:

First, the burgeoning social crisis caused by out of control inflation, acrippled welfare system, and persistent unemployment;

• Second, a return to the old authoritarian practices of the rulingestablishment; and

• Third, worrying signs that call into question the very existence of aviable opposition capable of advancing reform through the political process.

Egypt in Prophecy

Brad Macdonald

The Muslim Brotherhood, though officially banned, is now Egypt’s largest and most influential opposition party. This signals a stunning shift within one of America’s few remaining Middle Eastern allies.December 2005 was a water shedmonth in the history of Egyptian politics. Thanks to elections thatwere closer to being democratic than any in Egypt’s history, the Islamic party of the Muslim Brotherhood (mb)won 88 parliamentary seats (the organization is officially out lawed, but it ran its candidates as independents)—a more than six-fold increase over its previous representation.Considering that Egypt’s parliament is comprised of 454seats, the mb’s capture of 88 seats—fewer than a quarter of the total—may not seem like much to write home about.Despite the gains,the Islamic partywill remain out numbered by the majority rule of autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak’sN a t i o n a lDemocratic Party.Some argue that as long as Mubarak controls parliament—as he hasfor the past 24years—the mb can never play a more significant role in Egyptian politics.But politics can be messy business—especially in the Middle East.Death, incitement, revolution—all can turn a governmenT on its head in a matter of days. The rise of an openly Islamist party in Egypt is no small matter. The political success Of this long-established Islamic group represents a major step toward a fundamental shift in Egyptian politics, made possible by an electorate with a growing affinity for Islamic leadership and law, and mounting disdain for the Mubarak government.Political Shift Banned from government in 1954, the Muslim Brotherhood is an organization of staunch Islamic conservatives with a strong desire to install Islamic law as the foundation of Egyptian government.In the run up to the elections,the Brotherhood’s ominously vague campaign motto was “Islam is the solution.”Thu s , the Brotherhood ’s rising popularity unmistakably signalsthe growingdesire of many foran Islamic governmentin Egypt—which makes itssuccess nothingshort of profound.“Considering thatthe mb won almosthalf of the seatsit is contesting,despite reportedly wide spread

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Success in the Legislative Elections in Egypt 2005

Noha Antar


In the context of an unprecedented opening of the political system in Egypt in 2004/2005, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) scored an impressive success in the 2005 legislative elections that showed that the mainstream non-violent Islamist movement, despite the legal ban of the movement itself and of its political activities, is the only influential and organised political opposition in the face of the veteran National Democratic Party (NDP).Reasons for the Muslim Brotherhood’s electoral success in 2005The first set of reasons for the MB’s success is related to the changes that occurred in the political context. Above all, the first presidential elections that took place in September 2005 had a direct impact on the legislative elections in November the same year: By opening up competition for the post of the president, the election signalled the unprecedented impasse of the regime seeking to patch up its legitimacy. In addition, civic protest movements had emerged that rejected the political system much more fundamentally and called for comprehensive reform. The most important of these has been the dynamic protest movement called the Egyptian Movement for Change, Kifaja. However, as a second set of factors, the regime itself can also be considered a factor in the MB’s rising influence: The NDP and government officials have relied heavily on religious arguments; they have oppressed secular or liberal opponents; they have nourished obscurantist religious trends in Al-Azhar and among religious groups; and they have let the MB take charge of welfare services in order to save on the state budget. Also, the regime has allowed Islamist activists to enter trade unions, while reserving the leadership positions for the NDP. There is a third set of reasons for the MB’s success which is related to the movement’s long term strategy to build a societal base: The MB’s strategic approach has been to invest in welfare services so as to build a large power base among the population that they are able to mobilize politically. And indeed, not only have many MB candidates gained credibility and respect through their daily contacts with the people, the movement has been investing in the social sphere for more than 30 years. In a society in which 40 percent of the population lives under the poverty line and the political participation rate is only 25 percent, providing services in all vital sectors – education, health, and employment – has proved to be the fastest and most successful way to gain supporters. Fourth, using the religious sphere as a place for political mobilisation has been a successful strategy of the MB. Those affiliated with the MB, members and sympathizers, often saw it as a religious duty to vote for a candidate of the movement. Despite the doubts the slogan “Islam is the solution” raised among many, the MB continued to use it because it wanted to focus on religion as the determining factor for the vote, and because it had gained the trust of the people as being the movement representing Islamic identity. On top of this, the movement was able to make use of the unprecedented coincidence of growing internal and external pressures on the regime, by starting open and direct political activity in the name of the movement. The MB has also understood the importance of rallying with other opposition forces, and it has sought coordination with these forces for creating more pressure on the regime. Related to this is another important factor for the MB’s success: its organisational capacity.Has the MB changed its agenda and priorities?While the MB has opted to participate peacefully in the political process in Egypt, it remains unclear as to whether it represents a genuine democratic force or if it will use the democratic opening to pursue an authoritarian agenda. Still, participation in the political system has already transformed the movement. During the 2005 election campaign the concepts of “democracy” and “political participation” found their way into the MB’s rhetoric and, most importantly, into its political strategies of creating grassroot networks for popular support. The experience of elaborating a political programme for the legislative elections pushed the movement to publicly clarify its positions on concepts such as party pluralism – something that had previously been refused in some trends of Islamic thought as “al-tahazzub” (partisanship) with the argument that Islam calls for unity of the nation rather than its fragmentation. The MB can be considered to be part of Egypt’s reform forces, but that is primarily so because it agrees with other political reformers on the tools for bringing about reforms: rule of law, good governance and free elections. The MB’s activities in Parliament have so far demonstrated their devotion to serving their voters and retaining credibility. They have been more efficient in dealing with public needs, in revealing corruption cases and in rapidly interacting with victims of injustice than other deputies. As has been discussed above, political change in Egypt until now has not meant a significant move toward democracy. First, this has reflected on the MB’s organisation, strategy and agenda. The “mutual fear reflex” as an outcome of the relationship between the illegal MB and the regime has required the movement to adopt a strategy of secrecy which prevents them from being transparent for security reasons. Also, maintaining ambiguous positions is a defence mechanism used by both Islamist and non-Islamist opposition forces in Egypt.