The gap between dominant Western perceptions of the Middle East and the region’s reality is dangerously wide. While the “Arab Spring” is celebrated as an advance for moderation and democracy, in fact the advance is going to revolutionary Islamists. Developments in Turkey and Egypt especially threaten to plunge the Middle East back into an […]
As former allies of the monarchy, the Muslim Brothers have played a key role in Jordanian political life at times when the regime has engaged in political openness. However, their moderation in domestic politics has been accompanied by a growing radicalization on foreign policy issues, as a result of their refusal to accept the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan and their staunch opposition to the military intervention in Iraq. Hamas’s victory in the Palestinian elections have prompted a change of attitude on the part of the government, which has opted to restrict the Brotherhood’s social activities and lessen its capacity for mobilization.
For a half-century, Middle East politics were dominated by Arab nationalist regimes and movements, defined by the struggle among them for regional hegemony. Now the area has moved into a new era in which the central feature is the struggle between Arab nationalist regimes and revolutionary Islamist forces. Yet many Western policymakers have failed to understand this transformation. This article discusses the nature of the central conflict, including the identity of the Islamist side and the balance of forces.
The compatibility between Islam and democracy has been a controversial topic. While empirical studies since 2000 confirm the prevailing notion that Muslim majority states offer fewer political rights than non-Muslim countries, the question as to why such a phenomenon exists remains unsatisfactorily answered. One key element is how the interpretation of Islam itself has been so effectively used by Arab regimes to indoctrinate subjects into believing that blind obedience to their absolute rule is a form of Islamic piety. This article will also argue that Islam, combined with the security forces and the poverty of the masses render the majority of Arabs politically quietist.
This article examines the current state of Turkish politics and the positions of the two main opposition parties – the Republican People’s Party and Nationalist Action Party – on the major issues. The article argues that rather than formulating alternative sociopolitical and economic policies, both opposition parties partake in a merely partisan debate. This in turn partly discredits them as engaging in unconstructive criticism for their own political gain.
This article is based on a paper presented at the June 8-9, 2009, conference, “Israel and the Arab States: Parallel Interests, Relations, and Strategies,” jointly held in Jerusalem by the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. While many Israelis once felt Lebanon would be the second Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel, today, it is assumed that Lebanon will be the last Arab state to take this step. While Hizballah didn’t obtain a majority in the June 7, 2009, parliamentary elections, the results showed its continuing power. Any chance of advancing an Israeli-Lebanese understanding, which would also help to stabilize Lebanon’s internal political situation, depends on broader regional results. Meanwhile, Israel must ensure preservation of its deterrence vis-a-vis Hizballah to try to preserve calm on the Israeli-Lebanese border.