The Middle East is slowly becoming a very volatile and chaotic spots in the world.Islamists’ Rise Imperils Mideast’s Order
By MICHAEL SLACKMAN
Published: September 18, 2006
New York Times
CAIRO, Sept. 17 — President Bashar al-Assad has allowed Hamas safe haven in Syria. He has provided support to Hezbollah and castigated Arab leaders as “half men” for failing to press for a quick end to the war in Lebanon.
But even Syria has been unable to avoid being pulled into the struggle taking place in the Middle East between the traditional centers of power, like Damascus and Cairo, and opposition forces, particularly radical Islamists, that increasingly challenge them and try to force them to adopt more anti-Western, pro-Islamist policies.
The foiled terrorist attacks last week were directed against the United States Embassy in Damascus, but the very presence of armed Islamist terror groups within Syria — a country governed by Alawites, a minority sect of Islam — was troubling to the authorities there. And it followed a similarly foiled attack against a government building three months earlier.
“The fact that the Syrian regime is perceived as anti the United States does not save Syria from becoming a target of the jihadists,” said Adnan Abu-Odeh, a former political adviser to King Hussein of Jordan, “because the jihadists in principle are against these regimes for ideological reasons.”
The signs of the dynamic are piling up. In Egypt, the authorities said recently that they broke up a terrorist cell, detaining about 100 people suspected of adopting Al Qaeda’s ideology. In Jordan, 15 Islamists who are members of Parliament recently threatened to resign. On Friday, four terrorists were killed as they tried to attack an oil plant in Yemen.
From Cairo, to Rabat, Morocco, to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the order that emerged after World War II — long accustomed to encouraging domestic anger against Israel — has seen its influence and grip on power challenged in the wave of instability washing across the Middle East. That has roughly coincided with the rise of the insurgency in Iraq.
This region has long been defined by conflict, and leaders are unafraid to use force to crush opposition. But the current level of instability has unnerved them. They are not about to be toppled, not as long as they retain firm control over their security operations. But they find themselves fighting to maintain stability and credibility, political analysts said.
“The ruling regimes cannot disregard or dismiss the influence of Islamist movements in their countries,” said Gamal Abdel-Gawwad, who runs the International Relations unit at the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo.
The empowerment of the Islamists has been propelled by events large and small — the occupation of Iraq, Israel’s war with Hezbollah, the United States’ support for Israel in that war, Danish cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad, and most recently comments about Islam made by Pope Benedict XVI.
The pope issued an apology on Sunday, but the angry initial response served to highlight a dynamic years in the making that many political analysts say helped to lay the groundwork for the current rise of support for Islamic groups and radicalism.
Struggling to strip credibility from Islamic groups, Middle Eastern governments long tried to take the lead in defending what are perceived as Islamic values, while simultaneously trying to crush organizations that defined themselves as Islamic, like the Muslim Brotherhood. That, analysts said, created societies that are more religious — and more distrustful of their nonreligious governments.
“Progressive people like us, we were closed down,” said the feminist Egyptian author Nawal al-Sadawi in an interview last fall. “My books were censored. Men and women who were secular and progressive were silenced, and they gave space more and more to religious people. They were competing. They were saying, ‘We know God more than you,’ and this is a very dangerous game.”
The pressures on Arab governments — those close to the West and those opposing it — are increasingly clear. In July and August, the Egyptian government arrested about 100 people it said had formed a Qaeda-inspired cell, mostly in the northern city of Alexandria, said Mamdouh Ismail, an Islamist and lawyer who said he was working with many of those now in custody. He said the suspects had not been charged, and he insisted they were not guilty.
But he added that events like the attempted attack on the embassy in Damascus were unsurprising. “The people embrace their Arab-Muslim identity and feel an injustice is done upon them in more than one place — Iraq, Palestine, Darfur, Afghanistan, Lebanon,” he said. “And that’s why there are these kinds of reactions. There has to be a reaction. And there are exaggerations in the reactions because there is an excess of weakness on the part of the regimes.”
In Jordan, the government recently sentenced two members of Parliament to prison for attending a mourning ceremony for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq who was killed by an American bomb. The 15 members of the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, all threatened to resign — which could have caused a political crisis for King Abdullah II.
The members backed down from their threat, in part to preserve the organization’s “ability to influence society,” said Rohile Gharaibeh, the deputy secretary General of the Islamic Action Front in Jordan.
The attacks in Damascus were also evidence that Syria has been unable to neutralize the growing radicalism within its own borders. Muhammad Habbash, a member of the Syrian Parliament who is director of the reformist Islamic Studies Center in Damascus, said that part of the reason Syria had taken such a tough line toward Washington was to help head off the influence of radical currents in Syria.
“So Syria’s objecting position is not only to challenge but to avoid problems inside,” he said. But it has not worked. “It still happened,” he said of the recent attacks.
The Arab League, which is the institutional face of the status quo, representing 22 Arab states, has decided to try to re-establish stability by trying to renew the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians.
“There is increased instability in the region, you see it all around you,” said a senior Arab League diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The core issue is the Palestinian issue in our opinion. Frustration is building upon frustration, from what’s happening in Palestine, Iraq, and what happened in Lebanon.”
Mona el-Naggar contributed reporting.
Apparently, organised states and their administration is slowly getting demolished by non state actors, who are slowly ascending in deciding the fate of the countries and holding the government at ransom!
Ever since the War on Terror has been launched it has slowly thorough militant Islamist activism and disinformation, has being transformed into an Islamic self pity platform and declared to be a War on Islam. This is a very attractive slogan for those living in the past of Islamic glory in all spheres, be in learning, spreading the spark of discovery, philosophy, arts or letter and even warfare! The dreams of the Caliphate also is a powerful lodestone to the disheartened and disgraced and near defeated Islamists.
Thus, the terror mongers have usurped the pristine position as the guiding stars of despondent Islam.
It is time to tarry and give a boost to formalised governments of the Middle East, before the terrorist take over the reins.
"Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."
I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.
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