One of the most remarkable features of the contemporary Yemeni political formula has been its capacity to deal with the various Islamist ideal-types through integration and cooptation rather than repression. Muslim Brothers, Salafists, violent “jihadi” fringes, Sufis, and Zaydi revivalists have all at some point collaborated with the state to a certain extent. Since the 1970s, such an equilibrium has proved rather functional, as it has reduced the level of political violence, allowed the participation of most, and maintained government stability. Yet due to internal developments and external pressures after September 11, this system has increasingly been placed in jeopardy with still unknown consequences.
The perceptions of international elites and publics, and the policies of these governments toward the Middle East have always been viewed as vital to events in the region. Perhaps such concepts are exaggerated, yet this subject is well worth examining. Thus, in the wake of the Gaza war, people from a number of countries were asked to look at trends in the places where they live. Three levels are examined: the policies of governments, the attitudes of intellectual-media-cultural-journalistic elites, and public opinion. Several countries from a number of geographical locations were chosen to get some sense of whether these factors are changing and their current status.
The perceptions of Western elites and publics, and the policies of Western governments toward the Middle East have always been viewed as vital to events in the region. Perhaps such concepts are exaggerated, yet this subject is well worth examining.