Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cabaran Politik Bagi Parti Islam

Islamisation and the future of the Islamic world
When Islamic groups command the legislative and executive powers in a country, the Islamisation of society takes centre stage

Tarek Osman , Saturday 15 Dec 2012

When Islamic groups command the legislative and executive powers in a country, the Islamisation of society takes centre stage. Young, enthusiastic, and ideologically driven members want rapid moves: clear legislations, conspicuous political positions, and social policies to reflect what they consider to be their ‘victory’.

After a sojourn of circa two centuries, socio-political Islam is coming back to dominate a rapidly increasing number of societies. Almost all elections, that could credibly be described as free, that took place in the Arab world since the onset of ‘the Arab Spring’, resulted in impressive showings by political parties or groups with conspicuous Islamic backgrounds. In Iran, Pakistan, and to some extent, Indonesia, political Islam has been the dominant force in local politics for decades. Political Islam has also been on the ascendancy in the past decade in Turkey, Nigeria, as well as in the large Muslim communities in Europe and the US.

The intensity of passion - and violence - that the world saw last month across different parts of the Islamic word compel observers to reflect on how this current wave of Islamisation will shape the future of the Islamic world.

The ascent of political Islam was a function of different variables, of which the swelling and deepening ‘Islamisation’ of many Arab and non-Arab societies in the past three decades has been a crucial factor. From Casablanca, Algiers, Cairo, Khartoum, Damascus, Baghdad, Istanbul, Tehran, Jakarta, to Islamabad, the number of mosques mushroomed; Islamic groups regularly led universities’ student unions, municipalities, professional syndicates, and labour associations; Islamic symbols became increasingly manifest in most walks of life; groups that define themselves as “Islamic” (though with varying interpretations of what “Islamic” actually connotes) significantly expanded their presence, typically moving from preaching and proselytising to building economic infrastructures, in many cases crisscrossing different countries.

And gradually the swelling Islamisation cascaded over how vast segments of these societies identified themselves – not abruptly moving from the traditional national distinctiveness to broader Islamic identities, but merging the national with the Islamic. I use the plural in ‘identities’ because these Islamic characterisations neither conformed to a specific set of values nor converged round a unique and distinct body of morals. And yet, they all revolved around affinity with old, early Islamic communities, a shared loyalty to a vague sense of ‘a nation’, and, at heart, certainty in the Islamic belief system that sets apart Muslims from all non-Muslims, including those who share one nationality.

Four reasons underpin the current rise of political Islam. First: the major political Islamic movements have evolved their narrative over the past fifteen years. They have moved beyond the rejectionist positioning that had characterised the period from the 1960s to the 1990s; discarded the exclusive loyalty to the Islamic Ummah (nation); and adopted progressive positions: their social narrative became more tolerant (especially to the new fads dominating young Muslims’ social lives), and they developed multiple loyalties – accepting allegiance to nation states (and not only to the Ummah), recognising the notion of ‘citizenry’, and agreeing to work through national elections – as opposed to theological hierarchies. Second: most political Islamic movements built bottom up socio-economic infrastructures that proved extremely effective at entrenching their presence in electoral constituencies; this has been very conspicuous in Egypt and Morocco, but the same phenomenon, under different guises, took place in Turkey, Indonesia, and in different Muslim communities in Europe. Third: they faced very limited competition; with the sole exception of Turkish nationalism, not a single alternative ideology tried to take religion out of public life – even in relatively liberal societies such as those of Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, and Lebanon. In addition, their competitors – the secular regimes that ruled many parts of the Islamic world in the past seven decades had descended into scandalous levels of corruption and a blur between power and wealth that has significantly diluted their legitimacy. The fourth factor was economics. The gradual withdrawal of many governments in the Islamic world from the provisioning of services and their replacement with unorganised social infrastructures, many of which were funded and controlled by different Islamic movements; and the immigration of tens of millions of Muslims to the Gulf and the corresponding changes in the composition of the middle classes in the societies that these immigrants had left - led to the strengthening of the Islamic narrative in general and the weakening of ‘nationalism’. These reasons gradually shifted the loyalty of these countries’ middle (and lower middle) classes from the traditionally ruling secular power elites to the Islamic movements. Today, to varying degrees across the largest Islamic societies, the social base of political Islamism extends widely beyond the poor and the disfranchised.

But socio-political Islamism is not a homogenous entity. Over the past decade, the leaders of Islamist movements in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Kuwait, and elsewhere published manifestos that accept the principles of political pluralism and the notion of ‘a modern state’ that does not correspond directly to Islamic jurisprudence. The Islamic movements in Turkey and Pakistan were pioneers in enshrining secular principles, though differed widely in applying them. But two qualifications are paramount. The first is that in all of the key political Islamic groups there are conspicuous divisions between, on one hand, savvy leaderships that are keen to widen their constituents and not to alarm the huge middle classes of these societies, that are pious and conservative, but not necessarily in favour of religious states, and, on the other, ideologically-driven ground workers that are bent on the Islamisation of their societies. The second qualification is that different types of Salafist movements (which are much more conservative and less politicised than the mainstream Islamic groups) are increasingly prominent in the Islamic world. They advocate strict interpretations of Islam, modelled on the early Islamic communities, views that do not correspond to the inherited cultures of countries such as Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, and others. To a large extent, the Salafist ideology retracts the intellectual progress that the mainstream Islamic movement has achieved in the past two decades. These divisions are starting to bring to light vigorous debates (and the beginnings of confrontations) within factions of the Islamic movements on the degree to which religious texts, theological schools of thought, or medieval religious interpretations should guide the Islamist parties’ way of governing and the basis of the social contract between these movements and their societies.

The overarching objective of almost all political Islamic groups is not to attain parliamentary majorities or control presidencies, but to gradually Islamise their states – and their societies. It was relatively easy to consign this objective to the long term when these groups were - in most cases - illegal oppositions focusing on maximising their social and political presence in systems dominated by secular regimes. But when Islamic groups command the legislative and executive powers in a country, the Islamisation of society takes centre stage. Young, enthusiastic, and ideologically driven members in many groups, especially those that believe they lent decisive support in revolutions that transformed their countries’ political landscapes, want rapid moves: clear legislations, conspicuous political positions, and social policies to reflect what they consider to be their ‘victory’. Today in Egypt, the most strategic Arab country and one of the most culturally influential in the Islamic world, many leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood invoke a ‘historical imperative’: a century of struggle since the founding of the Brotherhood is now starting to bear fruit; the group takes hold of Egypt and is to start an “Islamic enlightenment” project emanating out of Egypt and reaching the entire Islamic world.

The Islamisation of society will also fly against entrenched notions of nationalism. It is one thing to identify religiously with a certain faith; it is quite another to accept it as a social, political, and economic frame of reference. Political Islam, building on Islam itself, was based on opposing all ethnic, racial, hereditary, and national differentia. Belonging (or not) to the religion was – and remains – the key distinction in any “Islamic society”, as well as a patent differentiation between Islam’s abode (the land of the Islamic nation, which in itself supersedes any nationality) and the rest of the world. In this worldview, political rights are directly linked to individuals’ religions, not the notion of citizenry.

This is especially contentious in nations with illustrious national heritages, long histories, and a sophisticated sense of identity such as Morocco, Tunisia, Syria, and Egypt. The rise to power of political Islam compels these societies to confront major questions regarding the nature of the state, the shape of the governing system, the social frames of reference, and the tenets of international positioning: should these countries’ foreign policies be guided by the general principles of the Islamic Ummah or by the narrow interests of national countries? These questions were dismissed during revolutionary effervescence and amidst severe economic problems, but they become highly important as new power systems take shape. These questions are also coming to the fore in countries where political Islam has been in power for decades, most notably in Iran, and in a different context, in Pakistan. Different socio-political players will have divergent answers to these questions; the variations of views will enrich the discussions. But all eyes – internally and externally – will be on the leading Islamist parties in the parliaments and the governments and whether they would genuinely reach out beyond their comfort zones to their countries’ wider social constituencies, or will gradually return to their ideological roots, sacrificing the secular at the altar of the sacred.
Transparency is also an issue. There is a worry that the elected leaders representing Islamist parties are part of wider decision-making machinations in the groups that created and continue to sponsor these parties. This is especially true in the Arab world. In many cases, the decision-making machinations of Islamist parties fall outside the purview of the electorate and extend beyond the institutional checks and balances that the recent revolutions are trying to build or resuscitate. In different Islamic countries, as the processes of drafting new constitutions, forming governments, and negotiating international positions progress, the roles of unelected theological authorities will come into question: where does real power reside and who actually controls decision-making?
Violence is also a concern. Force has always been a fundamental aspect of modern political Islamism. The Muslim Brotherhood has had a secret apparatus for decades; in Algeria, Yemen, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, and Sudan, Islamist groups have fought the ruling regimes militarily; the Islamic resistance to Gaddafi in Libya and Assad in Syria were (and continue to be) armed. And though jihadist political Islam (that aimed to invoke religious rule and law over Islamic societies that failed to impose Islamic Sharia) has been marginalised, the assertion that Islamic Sharia should be the sole guide to legislation and Islam the ultimate frame of reference for societies remains highly potent. It was the perception of some Islamist groups, in the 1970s and 1980s, that some states, mainly in the Arab world, were un-Islamic that incentivised them to resort to violence. And there remain within the global Islamist movement influential voices that have not denounced “fiqh al-unf” (the jurisprudence of violence). Many observers, especially inside the Islamic world, find this history worrisome.
It is quite safe to assume that a major part of the success of political Islamic groups was a result of - justifiably - positioning themselves as fresh alternatives to failed political systems. But the political situations in Iran, Turkey, and Sudan, where different forms of political Islam have ruled for years, prove that that momentum is limited in scale and time. The same will happen in many Arab spring countries. The more the political Islamic groups rule and take the helm in the turbulent waters of economics, the more their populations – and especially the constituents that voted them into power – will hold them accountable. Arab political Islamism, especially, will prove lacking. Most Arab political Islamic groups have decades of experience in survival under brutal regimes, organising underground operations, building and sustaining limited service provisioning structures, and managing electoral campaigns, but very limited experience in governing and in addressing very challenging macro socio-economic problems. These pressures will almost certainly cost them political capital, appeal, and votes.

This wave of Islamisation at a moment of historical transformation could incentivise secular parties and wide segments of young Muslims, especially in the liberal, secular camp, to come together, muster considerable resources, and advance realistic programmes that can have serious chances of resonating with the expanding and ambitious middle classes in the large Islamic societies. This is starting to happen in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, and - in different circumstances - in parts of the Gulf, where secular political parties that performed quite badly in recent elections are experimenting with new ideas, coalitions, and ways of broadening their support. And whilst most political Islamist groups rely on discipline and structured social and economic networks in their political operations, the young groups employ new forms of activism from cyber protest to haphazard street mobilisations, tactics that have already proved their efficacy. It is difficult to envisage the scattered young liberal parties rapidly coalescing into cohesive structures that are able, in the short term, to erode the dominant positions of the large Islamist groups. But with time, the awe of the rise of political Islam will gradually fade as viable alternatives emerge.

Most Islamic movements are still evolving and will take different forms. Some parties will try to invoke the Turkish “AKP model”: economic liberalism, sidelining of the structures of the deep state (especially the military) and catering to the middle and lower middle classes through a mixture of piousness, pragmatism, and populism. This is already starting to emerge as the modus operandi of some new Islamist parties in North Africa, though, unlike in Turkey, many of these Arab societies have not undergone strict secularisation and as such there is limited support for the secular parties that are aiming to place legal and political restrictions on the Islamists. Other Islamist parties might reinvent the models upon which their founding groups were created: an attempt to return to the ideals of the early Islamic communities. The ‘historical moment’ that many Arab Islamic groups currently witness could give rise to pragmatism, or, with the hubris of power, rigidity and antagonism.
This historical moment – with its potential and peril – induces highly secular Muslims and non-Muslims to put forward their views of the future of their societies, as well as their concerns about their presence and role in that future. Some perceive the gradual Islamisation of their societies over the past few decades, of which the recent rise of political Islam is but a symptom, as a threat to the national identity; they assert an irreconcilability between the Islamic identity and the local nationality. Over the past decade, art has been the most compelling medium for presenting these concerns. In Cairo, Tehran, and Istanbul, traditionally the most influential cultural centres in the Islamic world, young artists create literature, music, film, theatre, and new digital artistic formats that in many ways question how these societies have conventionally viewed themselves. Some of the most enthralling work challenges deeply held conservative views. And whereas similar ideas created almost a century ago in the same capitals (and others) were mainly targeted at the cultural elites of these societies (and the regions’ privileged who were drawn to these cultural and educational hubs), the current work addresses the large masses. Some of the new creative work here roots for what it means to be a non Muslim in these societies and in turn addresses Islam as a social force through others’ eyes. Muslim women are also contributing to these debates. Whereas in the first few decades of the twentieth century, few female luminaries - almost all hailed from the upper social strata of their societies - led their feminist movements, today a significant percentage of business leaders, media and art stars, and prominent commentators in large – and in some cases highly conservative - Islamic societies are women. Many of them leverage on their economic power and prominence to empower women in the lower middle classes and poor social segments. These developments gain immense momentum because of the exponential growth in female education (especially at university level) across the entire Islamic world, the rapidly rising percentages of families whose breadwinner is the mother or the daughter, and because of the momentum that digital and social media give to these ideas.
Islamic history does not have a macro social movement comparable to the English, French, or American revolutions – one that triggered a bottom up transformation of the socio-political structure of societies, discarded old ruling entities, and laid the foundations of new systems based on genuine representation and checks and balances between political powers. In most of the largest Islamic countries, old systems mutated and evolved, sometimes because of domestic causes, sometimes as a result of foreign interventions. But the fundamental building blocks of power remained the same. And as such Islam, a key pillar of all the overarching social structures that have ruled over these societies, retained its place at the centre of – or close to – political decision-making.

The French thinker Tocqueville once remarked that the Church is the most powerful party in the US. This remark could be made, about the mosque, across the Islamic world. At the moment, socio-political Islamism appears invincible. But the Islamic – and especially Arab - world has seen the rise of ideologies that came to dominate these societies (and imagination), from Islamic liberalism in the late nineteenth century, to the golden age of modern Arab culture in the 1930s and 1940s, to Arab nationalism from the 1950s to the 1970s. All failed. And socio-political Islam confronts relatively more difficult circumstances today: extremely young demographics with high expectations and limited patience, free media that makes it impossible to conceal blunders or doctor realities, and a heritage of macro failures, one after the other, that young Muslims inherited but did not contribute to. The hope must be that the new powers dominating this new era have learned from the mistakes of the past.

The writer is an Egyptian political economist, author of Egypt on the Brink

Catitan Sut:

Artikel ini sepatutnya dibaca bersekali dengan artikel (entry) yang sebelum ini "Is Islamism Dead?". 

Persoalan kepada kepimpinan parti politik Islam serta sikap mereka dalam sesuatu isu telah diberi perhatian. Adakah sikap kepimpinan, slogan dan arah tuju pari itu akan berubah, dengan perubahan peranannya; dari parti pembangkang bertukar menjadi parti pemerentah. Sebelum mereka berjaya menjadi parti pemerentah, mereka bayangkan banyak perkara yang mereka dapat lakukan dan dapat mereka capai sekiranya mereka menang pilihanraya. Selepas mereka mendapat kemenangan , mereka menyedari sebenarnya terdapat banyak hambatan dan rintangan yang di luar jangkaan mereka sebelum ini.

Mereka juga akan semakin lena dalam buaian kekuasaan, kekuasaan datang bersama  penghormatan serta sanjungan dari orang awam. Bersama juga godaan dalam belbagai bentuk dari golongan dari luar dan juga golongan orang dalam sendiri.

Umpamanya sebelum berkuasa, kisah Saiyyidina Umar bin Abdul Aziz memadam pelita di bilik pentadbirannya apabila berbicara tentang soal-soal berkaitan peribadi, kisah baginda meninggalkan 10 anak lelaki tanpa sebarang harta pusaka untuk mereka. Cerita tentang pakaian Saiyyidina Umar bin al-Khattab yang bertampung dan cerita baginda bergilir menuntun keldai dengan hambanya dalam perjalanan baginda ke Palestine. Tetapi cerita-cerita sebegini akan semakin sunyi semakin kita meniti naik kekuasaan. Rupa-rupanya kekuasaan itu kerap berkembar dengan kemewahan. Cerita generasi awal itu tidak  begitu sesuai diperingatkan setelah kita memegang kuasa, ianya telalu 'ideal'

Pentadbiran memerlukan perancangan dan penelitian fakta semada dalam bentuk naratif walaupun bentuk angka-angka. Pentadbiran memerlukan kemahiran mengadun matlamat dengan kaedah praktikal.yang dapat dilaksanakan. Pentadbiran memerlukan 'iradah serta kudrat memberi arahan kepada executives. Keupayaan kita berpidato walau sejauh mana dapat memukaupun tidak dapat membantu kita sebagaimana ianya telah membantu menaikkan kita sebelum kita berkuasa. Rupanya upaya untuk merebut pemerentahan berbeza daripada mengurus sebuah pemerentahan.

Apabila kita berada di atas kekuasaan, kita akan dinilai secara teliti sebagaimana kita telah menilai pihak-pihak yang sebelum ini berada di atas kekuasaan.  Bezanya kita kita berada di bawah, tukang kipas tidak begitu bersungguih mengipas kitas, maka ini membantu kita berfikir secara kritikal. Tetapi kita kita berada di atas, maka ramailah yang secara sukarela berkhidmat sebagai tukang kipas kepada kita, sehingga kita tidak diberi ruang yang cukup untuk berfikir secara kritikal dan melebihi daripada kotak pemikiran yang lazim.

Kita juga mulai sedar, kuasa politik yang kita miliki bukanlah merangkumi semua kuasa-kuasa dalam pemerentahan,  masih ada kuasa esekutif, kuasa mahkamah, kuasa raja, kuasa tentera, kuasa media. Sekiranya kita tidak dapat mengkoordinasi kuasa-kuasa ini secara harmoni, banyak usaha-usaha kita terganggu. Sekiranya kita terlalu memberi muka kepada kuasa-kuasa ini, mereka pula  akan naik toncang . Perimbangan antara kuasa-kuasa ini sehingga kesemuanya terjurus kepada usaha merealisasikan matlamat kita memerlukan seni dan kemahiran yang tinggi sekali. 

Semua ini mungkin dapat dicapai sekiranya pemimpin parti Islam tidak mempunyai agenda peribadi. Sekiranya mereka tidak di 'remote-control' oleh ahli keluarga dan rakan-taulan. Semua ini mungkin dicapai sekiranya pemimpin parti Islam sedia mendengar nasihat tanpa kepentingan peribadi , tanpa merasa mereka telah memiliki kedudukan yang mengatasi krtikan. Semua ini mungkin dicapai sekiranya pemimpin parti Islam sedia berkorban untuk matlamat yang luhur dan tidak takut menghadapi resiko dalam memperjuangkan kebenaran dan kebajikan rakyat. Semua ini mungkin dapat dicapai sekiranya pemimpin parti Islam melazami masjid, terus menyantuni golongan du'afa' dan masih mempunyai sikap zuhud. Semua ini mungkin tercapai sekiranya pemimpin parti Islam secara sedar mengetahui batasan demokrasi , serta menggunakan kuasa yang ada untuk memperkukuhkan dakwah. Semua ini mungkin tercapai sekiranya pemimpin parti Islam tahu sejarah ummah dan menolak golongan yang memandang rendah kepada peribadi-peribadi awal ummah ini. Semua ini akan tercapai sekiranya pemimpin parti Islam mengurangkan istilah-istilah berbunyi agama, bahkan mengamalkan ajaran agama secara praktikal walaupun tanpa jenama. Semua ini mungkin akan tercapai sekiranya pemimpin Islam mempunyai akhlaq yang mulia dan bersungguh-sungguh memperjuangkan kebajikan rakyat


Islamist vs. Secularists The Post-Revolution Struggle for the Arab Soul

Photo Gallery: Islamists and the Arab Spring
The rise of political Islam following the Arab Spring has many worried that the democratic achievements of the revolution could be lost. In Egypt and Tunisia alike, citizens are once again taking to the streets. But this time they are opposing Islamism. Does secularism still stand a chance?
Egypt's strongman was sitting in the first row of the mosque. "Anyone who criticizes the president is worse than the heretics who attacked the Prophet in Mecca," the imam preached in his sermon. Then he handed the microphone to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, saying that he should address the faithful himself. But he never got a chance.
"Down with Morsi! Down with the Muslim Brotherhood!" chanted hundreds of men who were now pushing their way to the front. "Enough is enough!" they shouted. "No to tyranny!" For them, it was intolerable to hear the president being compared with the Prophet Muhammad. Morsi, surrounded by bodyguards, had to leave the mosque on Friday. It was both a scandal and a first for Egypt. But it was only the beginning. Later, more than 100,000 people gathered on Tahrir Square again to protest the actions of their president.
There are no signs that tensions will ease in Egypt, and it is difficult to predict the outcome of the current power struggle. The president, who gave himself dictatorial special powers, seems unimpressed by the storm he has unleashed among secular Egyptians. In rushed proceedings, he also held a vote on a new constitution, in which the Constituent Assembly, dominated by Islamists, clearly voted in favor of Sharia law. The draft constitution will soon be put to a referendum. But the opposition will not accept this, because it is determined to stop the Muslim Brotherhood's Morsi.
This says a lot about the most important country in the Arab world, which is only at the beginning of its democratization. It also says a lot about the emotional state of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, which came to power as a result of a revolution that it had only halfheartedly supported. The Islamist movement has decades of experience in dealing with authoritarian rulers, but it knows nothing about freedom and pluralism.
Islamists Met with Resistance
It wants to demonstrate strength, especially in Egypt, the country where it was founded, because it knows that a fierce struggle is underway over the role of political Islam, especially in the Arab countries that drove out their dictators only recently: Tunisia, Libya and Yemen. In Syria, where the war is still raging, the question remains as to whether the secular state will be jeopardized if more radical forces within the opposition prevail.
Two years after the beginning of unrest in North Africa and the Middle East, the Islamists seem to have emerged as the clear winners. Many are now claiming that the Arab Spring has been followed by an Islamist winter.
In 2011, the world was euphoric over the fight for freedom being waged by protestors in Tahrir Square. But a shadow fell over the revolution when Libyan militias put the bloodied corpse of former dictator Moammar Gadhafi on display. And the daily bloodshed in Syria comes as a terrible climax to a development that has spun out of control.
The Arab world has once again become a greater source of worry than hope to the Western world. Islamists are winning elections and putting together governments, and even ultraconservative Salafists, shady characters who promise to eliminate democracy as soon as they can, are suddenly playing a role. They also want to take away the freedoms Arab women have achieved, ban bikinis on tourist beaches and turn the administration of justice over to Islamic scholars. Is the revolution over? Not quite.
The struggle for the Arab soul hasn't been decided yet. Wherever movements backed by political Islam begin to gain strength, they encounter broad resistance. It's worthwhile to take a closer look at the countries involved in the Arab Spring.
Exporting Islamism to Libya
In early November, an Egyptian imam who had gone to Libya to preach had an experience similar to Morsi's. He was forced to interrupt his sermon when the audience decided to stop listening to him and left the mosque.
Shortly after the collapse of the Gadhafi regime, in the summer of 2011, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt felt that the moment had come to export radical imams to neighboring Libya. They established a branch of the Brotherhood in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, as well as a book publishing company and a television station. They prepared for the first free parliamentary elections in the country, ran a morally charged campaign, but then lost handily to the liberal "National Forces Alliance."
"The Libyans are already good Muslims. They don't understand what more Islam is supposed to be good for," says Abdurrahman Sewehli, a member of the Libyan parliament, commenting on the defeat of the Muslim Brotherhood. "They are interested in rebuilding the country, and in development, schools and infrastructure."
Libya has a religiously homogeneous society, with Sunni Muslims making up almost 100 percent of the population. The dividing lines in Libya run primarily between clans. The disputes in the desert nation are not about the true practice of Islam, but about tribal interests and the distribution of oil revenues.
And it isn't the only country that is bristling against the deliberate immigration of radical groups.
Contradictions in Yemen and Tunisia
Even before the beginning of the year, the two most important tribal federations in Yemen, the Bakil and the Hashid, had severed all contact with jihadist cells in the country. Yemeni tribal warriors and extremists occasionally cooperated, but it was hardly for ideological reasons. Instead, their interests coincided over money, smuggling and the arms trade. But then the jihadists offended the tribes when they violated their traditions. The American drone war against the al-Qaida cells in the country also made it more difficult for the tribal groups to cooperate with the extremists.
Yemeni society is clannish and deeply traditional. Both Islam and Islamism are firmly established in the country. To secure his power, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in office from 1990 until he stepped down this February, made a pact with the Islamist Islah Party, and for years he promoted the radical imam and friend of al-Qaida Abdul Majeed al-Zindani. Today liberal ideas are much more widespread in the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula than in Saleh's time. Nevertheless, and this is one of the contradictions in archaic Yemen, no politician would even think of questioning Sharia law, which is in effect in the country.
The political antipode of Yemen is 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) to the northwest, in Tunisia, the most secular country in the Arab world. This didn't change after Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali took office in late 2011. His Ennahda Party, a branch of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, had repeatedly assured Tunisians that it did not intend to introduce Islamic law or curtail the rights of women. Tunisia's Islamists have distanced themselves from that position since summer, and yet they are still behaving more reasonably than their counterparts in other countries in the region, as they observe from a safe distance the game President Morsi is currently playing in Egypt.
The independent Cairo daily Al-Fagr wrote that the president had undertaken an "abortion in the fifth month," a reference to the five months Morsi had been in office before stifling democracy. What happens next? Although the Muslim Brotherhood is the best-organized political entity, says political scientist Paul Salim, pluralistic Egyptian society is setting limits to its progress.
Uncertainty in Syria
And what happens to Syria if the regime falls? The demise of the government in Damascus seemed yet another step closer last week, when rebels, allegedly for the first time, shot down two army helicopters with surface-to-air missiles. The incident suggests that the regime of President Bashar Assad, whose air force had long given him military superiority, is now seriously threatened. Until now, the United States and other Western countries had vehemently refused to provide the opposition with weapons of the kind used to down the helicopters.
No one knows exactly how many foreign jihadists currently support the rebellion in Syria, but they do exist. When the governor of Homs Province and fighters with rebel militias tied to the Free Syrian Army sought to reach an agreement last week, foreign fighters frustrated the effort at rapprochement, reports a military observer. "The extremists, who are loosely associated with al-Qaida, have their own agenda," says an intelligence agent. "They don't want a ceasefire; they want to exterminate the Baath regime and establish an Islamist state." If Syria sees a transition process similar to what took place in Tunisia and Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood will likely be among the first groups to position themselves in Damascus.
"Bread, freedom and Islamic Sharia!" thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters chanted on Alexandria's central Al-Qaed Ibrahim Square 10 days ago, as they waved Egyptian flags and held up pictures of President Morsi. "Bread, freedom and social justice!" their opponents, who had turned out in even greater numbers and included secular Egyptians, leftists and liberals, shouted in return. It was a rude awakening for the Islamists in Alexandria, which had been considered one of their strongholds.
When the two sides, standing only a few meters apart, tried to shout each other down, an eyewitness says he felt that the situation could soon spin out of control. "The air was filled with hate and the feeling of civil war."

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan:




1 comment:

  1. UMNO dan BN sudah memerintah Terengganu hampir 50 tahun..... Tapi Kenapa Pemuda UMNO, Puteri UMNO, Wanita UMNO dan Pemimpin2 UMNO Terengganu tetap memilih jadi bodoh?

    2013 - Tahun Paling Malang Rakyat Terengganu........ Lihat sendiri bukti kalau tak percaya...

    ~ BUKTI 1 ~

    ~ BUKTI 2 ~

    ~ BUKTI 3 ~

    ~ BUKTI 4 ~

    Saya mohon sangat2 agar semua anak2 muda mengundi PR pada PRU ke-13. Mesti undi PAS, PKR dan DAP. Kita mesti ambil serius soal ekonomi dan perpaduan kaum. BN telah meninggalkan banyak hutang di setiap negeri. Ini akan membebankan kita.. Percayalah. Lihat sendiri selangor, bila PR memerintah kurang 5 tahun, hutang berkurang. Bandingkan dengan Terengganu yang diperintah BN sejak 50 tahun dulu... Kat mana hebatnya Pemimpin UMNO yang menafikan kewibawaan Pemimpin Pakatan Rakyat? Mereka pun tahu tapi tetap mahu menafikannya.. sememangnya betul.. ( Buktikan kalau saya bercakap bohong)

    Terang2 tak wujud perpaduan dalam BN. MCA dan MIC terang2 menolak BN.

    Pastikan anda memberitahu rakan2, emak ayah dan saudara yang kurang tahu soal ekonomi dan perpaduan kaum.... Walaupun terpaksa berada dlm kem BN dan UMNO, pastikan undi anda tetap kpd PR....

    ~ (( Budaya Samseng )) - Ahli2 Mahu Lari Dari UMNO ~

    Biarkan UMNO bersendirian... Mereka tidak mahu bersatu, kita boleh bersatu sesama kita... Mereka pentingkan perpecahan... Biarkan mereka... Mereka lebih mengutamakan keganasan untuk mengekalkan kuasa... Biarkan mereka..... Mereka hanya mahu jadi samseng... Biarkan mereka samseng selamanya....

    Biarkan pemimpin2 UMNO memperbodohkan ahli2 mereka selamanya...