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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, one of the army trucks halted directly in front of the reviewing stand just as six Mirage jets roared overhead in an acrobatic performance, painting the sky with long trails of red, yellow, purple,and green smoke. Sadat stood up, apparently preparing to exchange salutes with yet another contingent of Egyptian troops. He made himself a perfect target for four Islamist assassins who jumped from the truck, stormed the podium, and riddled his body with bullets.As the killers continued for what seemed an eternity to spray the stand with their deadly fire, I considered for an instant whether to hit the ground and risk being trampled to death by panicked spectators or remain afoot and risk taking a stray bullet. Instinct told me to stay on my feet, and my sense of journalistic duty impelled me to go find out whether Sadat was alive or dead.

Islam, Political Islam and America

Insight àrab

Is “Brotherhood” with America Possible?

khalil al-anani

“there is no chance of communicating with any U.S. administration so long as the United States maintains its long-standing view of Islam as a real danger, a view that puts the United States in the same boat as the Zionist enemy. We have no pre-conceived notions concerning the American people or the U.S. society and its civic organizations and think tanks. We have no problem communicating with the American people but no adequate efforts are being made to bring us closer,” said Dr. Issam al-Iryan, chief of the political department of the Muslim Brotherhood in a phone interview.
Al-Iryan’s words sum up the Muslim Brotherhood’s views of the American people and the U.S. government. Other members of the Muslim Brotherhood would agree, as would the late Hassan al-Banna, who founded the group in 1928. Al- Banna viewed the West mostly as a symbol of moral decay. Other Salafis – an Islamic school of thought that relies on ancestors as exemplary models – have taken the same view of the United States, but lack the ideological flexibility espoused by the Muslim Brotherhood. While the Muslim Brotherhood believes in engaging the Americans in civil dialogue, other extremist groups see no point in dialogue and maintain that force is the only way of dealing with the United States.

US Hamas policy blocks Middle East peace

Henry Siegman


Failed bilateral talks over these past 16 years have shown that a Middle East peace accord can never be reached by the parties themselves. Israeli governments believe they can defy international condemnation of their illegal colonial project in the West Bank because they can count on the US to oppose international sanctions. Bilateral talks that are not framed by US-formulated parameters (based on Security Council resolutions, the Oslo accords, the Arab Peace Initiative, the “road map” and other previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements) cannot succeed. Israel’s government believes that the US Congress will not permit an American president to issue such parameters and demand their acceptance. What hope there is for the bilateral talks that resume in Washington DC on September 2 depends entirely on President Obama proving that belief to be wrong, and on whether the “bridging proposals” he has promised, should the talks reach an impasse, are a euphemism for the submission of American parameters. Such a US initiative must offer Israel iron-clad assurances for its security within its pre-1967 borders, but at the same time must make it clear these assurances are not available if Israel insists on denying Palestinians a viable and sovereign state in the West Bank and Gaza. This paper focuses on the other major obstacle to a permanent status agreement: the absence of an effective Palestinian interlocutor. Addressing Hamas’ legitimate grievances – and as noted in a recent CENTCOM report, Hamas has legitimate grievances – could lead to its return to a Palestinian coalition government that would provide Israel with a credible peace partner. If that outreach fails because of Hamas’ rejectionism, the organization’s ability to prevent a reasonable accord negotiated by other Palestinian political parties will have been significantly impeded. If the Obama administration will not lead an international initiative to define the parameters of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement and actively promote Palestinian political reconciliation, Europe must do so, and hope America will follow. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet that can guarantee the goal of “two states living side by side in peace and security.”
But President Obama’s present course absolutely precludes it.

Egypt at the Tipping Point ?

David B. Ottaway
A principis de la dècada de 1980, 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 per 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.

Islamic Political Culture, democràcia, and Human Rights

Daniel I. preu

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, malgrat això, 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.

Political Islam in the Middle East

són 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 ECOM

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. nosaltres. 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. A més, 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.

ISLAMIST MOVEMENTS AND THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS IN THE ARAB WORLD: Exploring the Gray Zones

Nathan J. marró, Amr Hamzawy,

Marina Ottaway

During the last decade, Islamist movements have established themselves as major political players in the Middle East. Together with the governments, Islamist movements, moderate as well as radical, will determine how the politics of the region unfold in the foreseeable future. Th ey have shown the ability not only to craft messages with widespread popular appeal but also, and most importantly, to create organizations with genuine social bases and develop coherent political strategies. Other parties,
by and large, have failed on all accounts.
Th e public in the West and, in particular, the United States, has only become aware of the importance of Islamist movements after dramatic events, such as the revolution in Iran and the assassination of President Anwar al-Sadat in Egypt. Attention has been far more sustained since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Com a resultat, Islamist movements are widely regarded as dangerous and hostile. While such a characterization is accurate regarding organizations at the radical end of the Islamist spectrum, which are dangerous because of their willingness to resort to indiscriminate violence in pursuing their goals, it is not an accurate characterization of the many groups that have renounced or avoided violence. Because terrorist organizations pose an immediate
threat, malgrat això, policy makers in all countries have paid disproportionate attention to the violent organizations.
It is the mainstream Islamist organizations, not the radical ones, that will have the greatest impact on the future political evolution of the Middle East. Th e radicals’ grandiose goals of re-establishing a caliphate uniting the entire Arab world, or even of imposing on individual Arab countries laws and social customs inspired by a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam are simply too far removed from today’s reality to be realized. Th is does not mean that terrorist groups are not dangerous—they could cause great loss of life even in the pursuit of impossible goals—but that they are unlikely to change the face of the Middle East. Mainstream Islamist organizations are generally a diff erent matter. Th ey already have had a powerful impact on social customs in many countries, halting and reversing secularist trends and changing the way many Arabs dress and behave. And their immediate political goal, to become a powerful force by participating in the normal politics of their country, is not an impossible one. It is already being realized in countries such as Morocco, Jordània, and even Egypt, which still bans all Islamist political organizations but now has eighty-eight Muslim Brothers in the Parliament. política, not violence, is what gives mainstream Islamists their infl uence.

ISLAMIST RADICALISATION

PREFACE
RICHARD YOUNGS
MICHAEL EMERSON

Issues relating to political Islam continue to present challenges to European foreign policies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). As EU policy has sought to come to terms with such challenges during the last decade or so political Islam itself has evolved. Experts point to the growing complexity and variety of trends within political Islam. Some Islamist organisations have strengthened their commitment to democratic norms and engaged fully in peaceable, mainstream national politics. Others remain wedded to violent means. And still others have drifted towards a more quietist form of Islam, disengaged from political activity. Political Islam in the MENA region presents no uniform trend to European policymakers. Analytical debate has grown around the concept of ‘radicalisation’. This in turn has spawned research on the factors driving ‘de-radicalisation’, and conversely, ‘re-radicalisation’. Much of the complexity derives from the widely held view that all three of these phenomena are occurring at the same time. Even the terms themselves are contested. It has often been pointed out that the moderate–radical dichotomy fails fully to capture the nuances of trends within political Islam. Some analysts also complain that talk of ‘radicalism’ is ideologically loaded. At the level of terminology, we understand radicalisation to be associated with extremism, but views differ over the centrality of its religious–fundamentalist versus political content, and over whether the willingness to resort to violence is implied or not.

Such differences are reflected in the views held by the Islamists themselves, as well as in the perceptions of outsiders.

Political Islam and European Foreign Policy

POLITICAL ISLAM AND THE EUROPEAN NEIGHBOURHOOD POLICY

MICHAEL EMERSON

RICHARD YOUNGS

Since 2001 and the international events that ensued the nature of the relationship between the West and political Islam has become a definingissue for foreign policy. In recent years a considerable amount of research and analysis has been undertaken on the issue of political Islam. This has helped to correct some of the simplistic and alarmist assumptions previously held in the West about the nature of Islamist values and intentions. Parallel to this, the European Union (EU) has developed a number of policy initiatives primarily the European Neighbourhood Policy(ENP) that in principle commit to dialogue and deeper engagement all(non-violent) political actors and civil society organisations within Arab countries. Yet many analysts and policy-makers now complain of a certain a trophy in both conceptual debate and policy development. It has been established that political Islam is a changing landscape, deeply affected bya range of circumstances, but debate often seems to have stuck on the simplistic question of ‘are Islamists democratic?’ Many independent analysts have nevertheless advocated engagement with Islamists, but theactual rapprochement between Western governments and Islamist organisations remains limited .

The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood

Robert S. aspecte

Steven Brooke

The Muslim Brotherhood is the world’s oldest, largest, and most influential Islamist organization. It is also the most controversial,
condemned by both conventional opinion in the West and radical opinion in the Middle East. American commentators have called the Muslim Brothers “radical Islamists” and “a vital component of the enemy’s assault forcedeeply hostile to the United States.” Al Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri sneers at them for “lur[ing] thousands of young Muslim men into lines for electionsinstead of into the lines of jihad.” Jihadists loathe the Muslim Brotherhood (known in Arabic as al-Ikhwan al-Muslimeen) for rejecting global jihad and embracing democracy. These positions seem to make them moderates, the very thing the United States, short on allies in the Muslim world, seeks.
But the Ikhwan also assails U.S. política exterior, especially Washington’s support for Israel, and questions linger about its actual commitment to the democratic process. Over the past year, we have met with dozens of Brotherhood leaders and activists from Egypt, França, Jordània, Espanya, Síria,Tunísia, and the United Kingdom.

Energizing US-Syria Relations: Leveraging Ancillary Diplomatic Vehicles

Benjamin I. poder,

Andrew Akhlaghi,

Steven Rotchtin

The prospect for greater stability in the Middle East largely hinges on the ability to bring Syria into diplomatic and security discussions as a productive stakeholder, necessitating a thaw in the less than normal state of U.S. – Syrian relations. While Syria’s
importance as a keystone state to a Middle East peace process was acknowledged in the 2006 Iraq Study Group Report,1 which called for a shift from disincentives to incentives in seeking constructive results, only in the past few months has there been a demonstrable shift in Washington’s disposition. Recent meetings between high-ranking U.S. officials and their counterparts in Damascus, and even the announcement of reinstating a U.S. ambassador to Syria, have led to widespread speculation in policy circles that a diplomatic thaw is afoot.
This report analyzes key trends in Syria’s domestic and regional socio-political situation that currently function to make Syria a natural ally of the United States.

democràcia, 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?; i 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.

Claiming the Center: Political Islam in Transition

John L. Esposito

In the 1990s political Islam, what some callIslamic fundamentalism,” remains a major presence in government and in oppositional politics from North Africa to Southeast Asia. Political Islam in power and in politics has raised many issues and questions: “Is Islam antithetical to modernization?,” “Are Islam and democracy incompatible?,” “What are the implications of an Islamic government for pluralism, minority and women’s rights,” “How representative are Islamists,” “Are there Islamic moderates?,” “Should the West fear a transnational Islamic threat or clash of civilizations?” Contemporary Islamic Revivalism The landscape of the Muslim world today reveals the emergence of new Islamic republics (Iran, Sudan, Afganistan), the proliferation of Islamic movements that function as major political and social actors within existing systems, and the confrontational politics of radical violent extremists._ In contrast to the 1980s when political Islam was simply equated with revolutionary Iran or clandestine groups with names like Islamic jihad or the Army of God, the Muslim world in the 1990s is one in which Islamists have participated in the electoral process and are visible as prime ministers, cabinet officers, speakers of national assemblies, parliamentarians, and mayors in countries as diverse as Egypt, Sudan, Turquia, Iran, Líban, Kuwait, Iemen, Jordània, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malàisia, Indonèsia, and Israel/Palestine. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, political Islam continues to be a major force for order and disorder in global politics, one that participates in the political process but also in acts of terrorism, a challenge to the Muslim world and to the West. Understanding the nature of political Islam today, and in particular the issues and questions that have emerged from the experience of the recent past, remains critical for governments, policymakers, and students of international politics alike.

The Syrian Opposition

Joshua Landis

Joe Pace


For decades, nosaltres. policy toward Syria has been single-mindedly focused on Syria’s president, Hafiz al-Asad, de 1970 per 2000, followed by his son Bashar. Because they perceived the Syrian opposition to be too weak and anti-American, nosaltres. officials preferred to work with the Asad regime. Washington thus had no relations with the Syrian opposition until its invasion of Iraq in 2003. Even then, the Bush administration reached out only to Washington-based opponents of the Syrian regime. They were looking for a Syrian counterpart to Ahmad Chalabi, the pro-U.S. Iraqi opposition leader who helped build the case for invading Iraq.
Washington was not interested in engaging Islamists, whom it considered the only opposition with a demonstrated popular base in Syria. As for the secular opposition in Syria, nosaltres. embassy officials in Damascus considered them to “have a weak back bench,” without a popular constituency or connection to Syrian youth.2 Moreover, contact between opposition members and embassy officials could be dangerous for opponents of the regime and leave them open to accusations of treason. For these reasons, the difficult terrain of opposition figures within Syria remained terra incognita.

Radical Islam in the Maghreb

Carlos Echeverría Jesús

The development of a radical Islamist movement has been a major featureof Algerian political life since the mid-1970s, especially after the death of PresidentHouari Boumediène, the Republic’s first president, in December 1978.1 Boumediènehad adopted a policy of Arabization that included phasing out the French language.French professors were replaced by Arabic speakers from Egypt, Líban, andSyria, many of them members of the Muslim Brotherhood.The troubles began in 1985, when the Mouvement islamique algérien (MIA),founded to protest the single-party socialist regime, began attacking police stations.Escalating tensions amid declining oil prices culminated in the Semoule revolt inOctober 1988. More than 500 people were killed in the streets of Algiers in thatrevolt, and the government was finally forced to undertake reforms. a 1989 itlegalized political parties, including the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), and over thenext two years the Islamists were able to impose their will in many parts of thecountry, targeting symbols of Western “corruption” such as satellite TV dishes thatbrought in European channels, alcohol, and women who didn’t wear the hiyab (theIslam veil). FIS victories in the June 1990 municipal elections and in the first roundof the parliamentary elections held in December 1991 generated fears of animpending Islamist dictatorship and led to a preemptive interruption of the electoralprocess in January 1992. The next year saw an increase in the violence that hadbegun in 1991 with the FIS’s rhetoric in support of Saddam Hussein in the GulfWar, the growing presence of Algerian “Afghans”—Algerian volunteer fightersreturning from the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan—and the November 1991massacre of border guards at Guemmar, on the border between Algeria andTunisia.2Until mid-1993, victims of MIA, Islamic Salvation Army–AIS (the FIS’sarmed wing), and Islamic Armed Group (GIA) violence were mostly policemen,soldats, and terrorists. Later that year the violence expanded to claim both foreignand Algerian civilians. In September 1993, the bodies of seven foreigners werefound in various locations around the country.3 Dozens of judges, doctors,intellectuals, and journalists were also murdered that year. In October 1993 Islamistsvowed to kill any foreigner remaining in Algeria after December 1; more than 4,000foreigners left in November 1993.