Arab Spring or Islamist Surge?

(National Interest) 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.

2011-11-04 00:00:00

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