Why Syria Isn't Likely to See an Islamist Takeover

(Jerusalem Post) Barry Rubin - Unlike in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood was allowed to operate, spread its propaganda, build a large membership, and control institutions, in Syria, there was a bloody suppression of the Brotherhood in the 1980s and the Islamists there are a lot less organized. Paradoxically, Islamists in Egypt opposed the regime but the Syrian government enjoyed their support. Indeed, the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood declared a few years ago that it was not permissible to oppose the Assad regime because of its strongly anti-American and anti-Israel policies. Some Syrian Islamists seem to be hesitating to support the protesters, both because they are suspicious of the anti-regime opposition and think Assad might well win. Roughly speaking, I would bet that while the level of support for Islamism in Egypt is at around 30% - and has a tremendous capacity for growth - the equivalent number for Syria is about 15% and is naturally limited by the size of the community. For the moment, the case for cheering on the Syrian revolution is stronger than that of Libya by far. But by the same token, its prospects are poorer than in Egypt or Tunisia precisely because those states were more moderate than the ruthless, radical Syrian regime.

2011-04-26 00:00:00

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