The Islamist’s Road to Failure
By: Muhammad Dibo
Published Friday, October 26, 2012
Observing the actions of the Islamist movement as represented by its more moderate wing, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), who have gained power in several countries following the Arab Spring revolts, reveals that it is headed down the path to failure.
The Islamists are repeating the same mistakes as their nationalist, Marxist, and liberal predecessors (whether they succeeded in gaining power or not) on the ideological, intellectual and political levels.
First, what is striking about the Arab Islamist movement’s approach, particularly after the outbreak of the Arab Spring, is its endeavor to become part of the Turkish Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) regional and political order, which is now considered the key source of reference for Arab Islamists.
It is true that since taking power in 2002, the AKP has been successful on both the internal economic and external regional fronts. The problem, however, is not in the Islamist movements’ adoption of an approach that has in fact succeeded in some areas, but in blindly mimicking its methods without regard for the particular historical circumstances in which each movement operates.
Cloning the Turkish model points to a shortsightedness on the part of the rising Islamist parties, who have failed to take into account the failure of nationalist, liberal, and Marxist projects that tried to replicate the methods of others and remained loyal to the foreign capitals from which those ideologies emerged.
The Marxist/Leninist/Stalinist experiments in the Arab world are the best example of the shortcomings of such an approach. If we look back at the history of these movements, we find that Lenin, Stalin and Moscow took a more prominent role in their political programs than internal matters that concern their particular countries.
Political Islam differs from these Western ideologies in that it is native to the Arab region, which has now abandoned its traditional ownership of such thought, ceding the Political Islam leadership to Turkey instead. The success of the latter has led to a situation where Turkey, which adopted the Islamist model from the Arabs, has become the source of emulation, in a reversal of what the secular movements went through.
The Islamist movements in the Arab world are repeating the mistakes of their secular predecessors by attempting to duplicate the Turkish experience, even when it comes to naming the new Islamist political parties. If the Arab Islamists cannot come up with original names for their parties, then what can we expect of them in practice?
For example, in Egypt, the birthplace of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamists named their newly established political party “Freedom and Justice;” in Libya, “Justice and Reconstruction;” and in Morocco, “Justice and Development.” This bodes ill for what we can expect in the actual practice of these parties and the extent to which they will continue cloning the Turkish Justice and Development Party.
This is already happening in the economic arena as these parties have taken the liberal path led by Washington, following the prescriptions of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB), thus relying on economic aid in return for political concessions. Ironically, they are adopting the same policies of the fallen regimes.
The policies of Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi up to this point in time are an excellent example. He is seeking loans from the IMF with US support after receiving loans from Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in return for becoming part of their front that seeks the downfall of the Syrian regime.
A more important indication of how far these Islamists are willing to go down the road of failure is their stance towards Israel, particularly as all the Islamist parties are united in their enmity toward the Zionist state. Much like the Islamists today, the previous ruling parties used to raise the banner of Palestine before coming to power, only to reduce it to an empty slogan during their reign.
Mursi has already reassured the West that he will not abandon the Camp David Accords with Israel. This is in order to gain the support of Washington, which, in turn, seeks to inflate Egypt’s regional role to fill the vacuum being left behind by Syria and to confront Iranian attempts to promote Iraq as an alternative to Damascus.
Mursi also granted the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat the country’s highest medals on the anniversary of the 1973 war, despite the Brotherhood’s differences with the late leader on the question of “peace” with Israel. This is a clear indication of the road the Brotherhood plans to take, and a message to the US that “we are up to the assignment.”
This is in addition to the normalization with Israel that the Brotherhood has already begun, according to Saad al-Din Ibrahim, who said members of the Brotherhood participated in a conference on August 31 in Prague on security and regional cooperation in the Middle East, which included researchers and academics from Europe, the US, Israel, Egypt and other Arab countries.
In Tunis, it was the Islamist al-Nahda party that, until recently, raised slogans against normalization with Israel, only to abandon them once in power. This, despite the fact that the party’s ninth congress agreed on the necessity of “criminalizing normalization with the Zionist entity” while maintaining that the Palestinian question “remains the central cause of the Islamic nation.”
The al-Nahda party is now refusing to include an article in the new constitution that criminalizes normalization. The justification, according to al-Nahda official Lahabib Khother, is that “there is no need to stipulate the criminalization of normalization, because Tunisia’s constitution will outlast the state of Israel.”
This is but one example of the growing hypocrisy in the Islamists’ discourse, much like that of many of the Arab world’s ruling parties. In Syria, for example, one of the ruling Baath Party’s main slogans was freedom, but in practice the regime ruled with an iron fist.
This confirms what many suspect – that a deal was struck between the Muslim Brotherhood and Washington, giving the Islamists international legitimacy in return for a process of normalization with Israel to help it gain acceptance as a natural state in the region.
Muhammad Dibo is a Syrian poet and writer.
The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect al-Akhbar's editorial policy.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.