Friday, November 4, 2011


The Arab World

Arab Spring or Islamist Surge? - Benny Morris
The main result of the "Arab Spring" will be - at least in the short and medium terms, and, I fear, in the long-term as well - an accelerated Islamization of the Arab world. In Tunisia the Islamist al-Nahda Party won a clear victory in the country's first free elections, winning some 90 out of 217 seats. Speculation about whether the party is genuinely "moderate" Islamist or fundamentally intent on imposing sharia religious law over Tunisia is immaterial. The Islamists won, hands down and against all initial expectations, in a country that was thought to be the most secular and "Western" in the Arab world.
In the tribal wreckage that is Libya, the Islamist factions appear to be the major force emerging from the demise of the Gaddafi regime. And much the same appears to be emerging from Egypt - the demographic, cultural and political center of the Arab world. All opinion polls predict that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood - which has long sought the imposition of strict sharia law and Israel's destruction - will emerge from next month's parliamentary elections as the country's strongest political party.
The Sinai Peninsula bordering Israel and Gaza has become, following Mubarak's fall, a lawless, Islamist-dominated territory. Smugglers have collaborated with Islamists to plunder Gaddafi's armories, and Israeli intelligence says that many Grad rockets and sophisticated shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles have recently made their way into Gaza via Sinai. One anti-aircraft missile was fired at an Israeli helicopter in a recent skirmish on the Sinai-Israel border. The writer is a professor of history in the Middle East Studies Department of Ben-Gurion University. (National Interest)
A Dawning "Muslim Brotherhood Crescent" - Lee Smith
An Islamist alliance drawn from the region's Sunni majority spells a kind of long-term trouble for U.S. and Israeli interests that may be equally or even more dangerous than a Shia crescent. The Muslim Brotherhood crescent is powerful because it both draws on the political aspirations of the regional Sunni majority and is deeply rooted in national sympathies. Given a choice in free and fair elections, Arab electorates will invariably put Islamists in power.
"Moderate" is a word that gets thrown around recklessly when it comes to the Islamist groups that comprise the new Muslim Brotherhood crescent. Consider the leader of al-Nahda, Rashid Ghannoushi, who may well be Tunisia's next prime minister. He is routinely described as a moderate, even though he has praised the mothers of suicide bombers and believes that the "region will get rid of the germ of Israel." (Tablet)

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