Why Islamists Won’t Win (Even If They Do)

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This is the dominant story now – Islamists are winning all over the Arab world. It is not being mentioned that there are many factors working in their favor. They have been organized for decades while some leftists and liberals have just started. It is not mentioned that Islamists have been benefiting from Gulf money and have utilized that external funding effectively. It is also not being mentioned that they have been striking deals under the table with the US and European governments to reassure them not only regarding the pro-capitalist (neoliberal) policies that they would pursue, but also regarding not antagonizing Israel.

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood forgot about its past objection to the Egyptian-Israeli treaty, while the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood dispatched its former leader to reassure Israelis on Israeli TV. An-Nahda’s Ghannushi wanted to preserve all the key financial appointments of Bin `Ali and had dispatched the secretary general of his party to reassure Zionists in Washington think tanks. In Morocco, Bin Kiran (head of the Justice and Development Party) is a different story altogether because he has been a loyal royal Islamist who would not challenge the pro-Israeli and neoliberal policies of his master. But the story of Islamist victories may be overblown.

Islamists have not been winning more than half of the votes. It should be impossible now to reduce all Arab public opinion to religious ideologies. In Tunisia, the Islamists won some 41 percent of the vote, while their share in Morocco is around a quarter. There are other tendencies and Arabs are showing a diversity of views and choices. Once new parties emerge and make themselves known in a new political climate, the political map will change rather gradually (or maybe quickly).

But the Islamists are in a bind. The demise is rather inevitable. They can’t fulfill their promises and win. They have been striking deals with GCC countries and Western powers in contradiction with their own ideology and earlier promises. On the “morality” front, the Islamists know that they can’t push for a religious agenda as extreme as the one promised by the unelected NATO government in Libya (`Adbul-NATO could not wait before announcing this desire for the return of polygamy). They know that a morality agenda would alienate many voters (as already happened in Tunisia regarding the issue of niqab on campus) and for that they would veil their true intentions, at least for a while.

If they continue to postpone their agenda, their rank-and-file will accuse them of abandoning their principles, and if they push ahead with their agendas, they will alienate voters and also alienate their new friends and sponsors in Western capitals. In some cases as in Egypt, the Islamists may have struck secret deals with the military, which can often act as the enforcer of Western agendas during the time of transition (or even during the time of democracy).

The Islamists are stuck. They will most likely be accused by their supporters of deviating from their principles. That accusation will stick and sting: nothing has damaged the fortunes of Arab nationalists parties than the perception that those parties, like the Ba`th, have contradicted all of their principles in power. Instead of unity, they gave fragmentation; instead of freedom, they produced new torture techniques; instead of liberation of Palestine, they presided over wars that gave Israel more Arab lands. People would expect the new victors to account for their promises. Those promises are not likely to be fulfilled. Thus, they will be swept aside, either by more extreme (and principled) Islamists or by secular alternatives.


If what As'ad was saying was true, the there wouldn't be tens of thousands of anti-American "Islamists" in the dungeons of the Arab tawagheet and the Arab people aren't interested in As'ad's liberalism where there will be gay pride parades, gay adoption, and gay marriage. As'ad, because of his anti-Islamic biases, doesn't want to talk about the many "Islamists" who oppose the treachery of the Arab regimes, especially in Saudi Arabia, where there are thousands of "Wahabis" and dozens of "Wahabi" clerics jailed because they oppose the Saudi regime, especially it's treachery. Enough with the lying As'ad.

This is not true. He respect shia Islamist while hate sunnis in general. He lives in this Lebanon super sectarian World and in the wrong Time. Namely in the 60`s and 70`s. There are no leftist left since there Pimp UDSSR collapsed.

kh not for the first time shows his sectarianism, while slandering non-sectarian people. As'ad is a secular leftist, he could support religious-based resistance against imperialism/Zionism, no matter of what religion or sect. He sure supports Palestinian resistance including religious one, while there is no shia in Palestine.

On the other hand, As'ad never minces words regarding what he sees as reactionary sides of resistance, be it shia, sunni or any other.

kh is speaking not in good faith and it just shows how bad his case it. A supporter of right case has no need in lie and slander, the truth, even the bitter truth is a weapon in the fight for the just case.

And don`t forget the forgotten tens of thousands Islamist in Algerian Desert Prisons and in Mass Graves all over North Africa. There are no Documentaries nor Books about them. They are not mentioned in Human Rights Lists either since they are nothing worth in the eyes of World Secularists or Arab Dictatorships.They are forgotten by everyone.. I remember how in the early 1990`s secular liberals and leftist cheered the crackdown of the Islamist Party by algerian and french Secret Services. They welcomed every lie coming from the mouth algerian Regime and western french media back then. Regardless of logic. How can one believe that Islamists kill and slaughter the people that voted for them.

If what As'ad was saying was true, the there wouldn't be tens of thousands of anti-American "Islamists" in the dungeons of the Arab tawagheet and the Arab people aren't interested in As'ad's liberalism where there will be gay pride parades, gay adoption, and gay marriage. As'ad, because of his anti-Islamic biases, doesn't want to talk about the many "Islamists" who oppose the treachery of the Arab regimes, especially in Saudi Arabia, where there are thousands of "Wahabis" and dozens of "Wahabi" clerics jailed because they oppose the Saudi regime, especially it's treachery. Enough with the lying As'ad.

1) Some of Islamists ARE anti-American. But it does not mean all of them are.
2) As'ad is NOT a liberal, he is an anarchist
3) I envy you if one of the most urgent problems for you is "gay adoption" :) For me it is more about imperialism, Zionism and their local lackeys - including some islamists.
4) As'ad is an atheist, but he always defends Islam against bigotry.

Protest by "Islamists" in Tunisia for the criminalisation of normalisation with the zionist entity angry arab will never tell you about:


Start growing your beards o' Arabs. Or move to America where you can trash America freely without the beards.

1) It is USA which has been supporting for long time the most reactionary kind of Islamism - Saudi, for ex..
2) In USA a lot of Arabs (Muslims) suffered greatly without even being guilty of openly criticizing USA, but for giving to charities which were helping victims of USA imperialism/Zionism. Not mentioning sting black-ops when FBI concocted some "terrorist" plot and trapped poor people into it just to show how FBI is fighting "terrorism".

Professor Asad is right provided Islamists did struck the deals with the western countries thereby forfeiting their promises. I would rather prefer rigid but principled Islamists than the those who will compromise their principles just to get power.

partys that are supported by religions do not respect freedom and true democracy , not talking obout american style democracy .
we all know that outcome of this , nothing but sectarian conflicts and death.

The eternal dilemma of staying true to your principles or being pragmatic when coming to power is something that all political forces, regardless of who they are, have to confront. The Islamic forces will need to find an equilibrium between principle & pragmatism in order to govern successfully & stay in power for the foreseeable future. With common-sense & wisdom, this is not impossible

" They have been organized for decades while some leftists and liberals have just started. " Are you kidding me As'ad?, you and I know that leftists have been decimated by the brutal Arab regimes and up to this moment.

while the Islamist are cheered and helped, like in Algeria 1992, Syria 1982, Egypt 1952, Turkey, Tunisia. What is the Baarh Party anyway if not a socialist Party. Socialism brought nothing to the Arabs. You sitting in your western Universities for decades in safety while the Islamist got haunted and killed everywhere. Even in Saudi Arabia.


Interesting analsyis which (unwittingly) highlights one of the major ills of the Middle East and North Africa: the hysterical loathing and fetishization of Zionism and the State of Israel. Islamists are poised to effect radical transfomations to the regions politics and economy and you make the fight against Israel the one principle by which to assess the Islamist agenda? How about making social justice and the rights of minorities your criteria of judgment instead of focussing obsessively on the "enemy" as it were Iblis in the form of a state? Neo-liberalism is a global trend - by identifying totally with "Zionists" (the Jew as quintessential capitalist is classic trope of Jew-hatred, you must know that) you pull the wool over your own eyes. China, a nation of over 1.3 billion, is singlehandedly re-shaping the global power dynamic and you're railing against a state of 7 million? Get a grip!

Nice try hasbara troll.

If one call "ill" and "hysterical" hate for something that is murdering, robbing, torturing and humiliating you, MF sure would agree that Jews' hate of Nazis was (and is, even though Nazis is no more) "ill" and "hysterical".

But, of course, being a Zionist, MF is able with serious mien call for "social justice and the rights of minorities" while defending poor little Israel, who, of course, does NOTHING against the rights of Palestinians. Of course, Palestinians do not matter for Zionists, no do anyone but Zionists themselves.

Now, to address non-Zionist readers- I suppose everybody knows about Zionism and its "civilized" supporters (NATO) are doing their best to keep the ME people under rule that does not let them end the Zionist colonialism on their land. So, NATO/Zionists support every ruler, not matter how dictatorial if only they submit to Zionism. So, As'ad is right - if Islamists agree to suppress anti-Zionist inspirations of masses, NATO/Zionists are happy with them (see Saudis).

There is a swift and changing discourse regarding the Islamists in Tunisia and Egypt in particular, with a more open and accepted tone in western media, which makes my alarm ring. Suddenly they are now 'moderate' and not to be feared - as much. (Anything the west approves of now makes me jumpy). Unfortunately, not much is written or said about their roles during the uprisings or why they are not to be trusted. What would really be good, is an article of their history, especially in Egypt, in order to see them in better perspective today.
One more thing, the Islamists in Egypt capitalise mainly on the votes of the poor - who are plentiful there unfortunately - this says a lot about their outdated support amongst the youth of the revolution many of whom campaign for equal opportunities for Copts as well. With the brotherhood's support for the military council, it's becoming clearer to the politically disabled, to finally see the links to their agenda.

Because the west wants to confront china. The only true Beneficiary of "the war on terror" and Globalization. They can`t win on two fronts at the same time.

تحليل وقراءة غاية في الروعة..والاقرب الى ما يحدث.... واضيف ان الفشل السريع ربما سنوات
معدودة سيكون بانتظارهم

"If they continue to postpone their agenda, their rank-and-file will accuse them of abandoning their principles, and if they push ahead with their agendas, they will alienate voters and also alienate their new friends and sponsors in Western capitals"

1) Why are you assuming they will abandon their agenda? they do whatever deals necessary to get to power, where they will try to change the rules to ensure their sustainability. It's an irreversible process. At that stage, they won't need the backing and the deal you are talking about; they can release them.

2) Alienate voters? I thought the voters are already polarized, and whoever is voting for them is a 'core voter' that will stick with them no matter what they say later.

Assalamou alykoum, Hello to all.

I am Muslim Arab and Tunisian, I consider myself an Islamist and I support all Islamists party as long they dont compromise on the word of God and on the Palestinian (and other Islamic occupied lands).

If they do compromise,we will choose another path than democracy anyway.

When we win we win ,when we loose we win.


By the way, Islamists in Egypt will win more than 70% of the votes.

In Tunisia Ennahdha represent 55% of the votes in the asembly ,with more than 100 lists and a proportional electoral system it was impossible to have a majority.

In Morrocco it's a ridiculous dictatorship so it doesnt count.
A royal Islamist is not an Islamist.

In Libya you can be sure that Islamists forces will secure more than 70% of the votes(if non Islamists parties dare to compete).

In Palestine despite world pressure an,d threats against them Hamas received 44% of the votes.

In Algeria the Islamic front received 70% of the votes and we know what happened after that.

So this statement is totally false:

"Islamists have not been winning more than half of the votes."

So, you admit that in NATO-bombed Libya islamists are going to rule, never mind anyone even trying at least compete with them. The best proof how much those islamists are NATO/Zionist lackeys now.

Hamas is another matter - its victory was NOT a result of NATO/Zionist support, on the contrary. Anyway, they won not just because they were islamists, but because Fateh turned to be Zionist tool. So I suppose pro-Zionist islamists would not fare better providing NATO would not bomb their secular opponents to bits.

I love how leftist living in the west, dress like westerners, believe in fact in western hypocritical values, live and propagate western lifestyles and then talking about NATO and western backing in one case while accepting chinese and russian interference. If we would live in the medieval Times where manpower counts, there would be no Bashar anymore and no Zionists too. There was no western military intervention in Egypt nor in Tunisia. Please immigrate at least to Russia, china or Syria so I can take you seriously. Tell me please what leftist arabs have to offer for Arabs practically. You can not fight wars. Thats for sure. You talk often about the importance of science while you haven't build a single bicycle. Is there any leftist guerrilla Army fighting Zionists. No. Of course not since you enjoy your living in the West. Do you really think that Asaad if he had Islamist tendencies could live and write so freely. He would be in Guantamo or in some secret prison in Algeria, Egypt or Syria. Stop making social experiments on arabs. They are fed up with Ideologie since it`s the only thing you offer to arabs. And this is not enough.

Assalamou alykoum,Hello,

You used the term NATO 7 times in 3 comments,I think you should go an see a doctor my dear.

Who I am to admit anything? I just said that Muslims in Libya will surely rules and atheist secular will not even win 5% of the votes.

Believe me I am hating israel since I am a child and my hate for israel grew with me growing and watching zionists crimes against the Arabs and Muslims.

Just a question, what do you think of Al Shabab "Islamists" in Somalia?

They are fighting the American (through Kenya and AMISOM) they are fighting Ethiopia under US command.
We now know that the zionist state will assist Kenya to attack the "Islamists" Shabab.

Do you support anti NATO anti zionist shabab?

forget about her. She is a syrian Baathist Hasbara troll. I bet she is sitting in a western university right now and living on handouts of some western Progress Fund for backward Muslims. Or from her corrupt syrian fathers that stole huge farmlands after the Baath took power and study about the italian Renaissance or the negative impact of religion or the Prostitutes in Cairo in the 1820`s. Yeah. This is what arab needs while chinese studying the "real deal" in the west.

It is funny that some of my detractors call me a Lebanese (a Zionist one not in this place) just because I reminded them about Zionist crimes against Lebanon.

Now the sectarian anti-shia kh calls me a Syiran :) Not that I mind to be seen as an Arab, but I have NO links whatsoever to any Baath or non-Baath propaganda body. I get it that for kh to be against NATO/Saudi assault against Syria means to be payed, but some of us do it for free :) kh is also seems to be unduly mindful of my livelihood, while I never called him a Saudi agent, for ex. :)

Meanwhile so-called leader of so-called SNC is publicly promising to make up to Zionists, while kh cannot see father than his sectarian nose, as we say in Russian.

If you hate Zionists you have very odd support for such pro-Zionist bodies as NATO/Saudis. Yes, my citing of NATO could be unpleasant to you exactly because it points to truth you do not like - i.e. a lot of Islamists, from Libya to Egypt are NATO lackeys, while NATO is the best defender of Zionism.

Not ALL of Islamists are pro-Zionists, and Al Shabab are sure not. The same is true about Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. But I mentioned Hamas before, specially. So you cannot pretend that I do not know difference between Hamas and Libya's islamists. I DO know. But you sure prefer to pretend that there is only ONE kind of islamists, and this kind has nothing to do with NATO/Zionism. It is NOT true.

Ok,first I want to tell you that I dislike the S'aoud family and regime more than the zionist entity, the sa'oud regime responsable for almost all the evil in the Muslim World from Pakistan to Morocco they are acting as a lackey to the Americans and the jews.

The Lybians rebels have leaders who were fighting NATO and who were tortured by the CIA before the CIA give them to "anti imperialist socialist" Ghaddafi.

I really hope and pray that during next elections a Lybian party that do not have anything to do with nato and the Americans come to power.

And there is already good signs of that,while the ivorian gave Gbagbo to the Haye , Lybians kept their criminals resisting huge pressures from the West,you said before that you really like as'aad abu Khalil,then you should know that he said" these fundamentalists rebels in Libya will be worst for the west than the Taliban in Afghanistan in the long term".

I hope he's right.

The day the Big Palace of Ghaddafi (socialist close to the poor leader) felt , the thouwar started chanting " we're coming Palestine". But this you dont want to see.

As for the sa'oud they'll never change they are drinker fornicator killer and slaves of the americans and the zionists.
The only thing that will remove them is a war or an epidemy of AIDS in the royal palace of Riyadh.

1) I get it - you hate Saudis and Zionists. me too. What about NATO? because without NATO neither Saudis no Zionists still would be around.
2)yes, Libyan Islamists first were serving NATO/Saudis (in Afghanistan). Then they turned against NATO. Now they are with NATO again. Sorry, but it does not look to me as something good or even serious.
3)"I really hope and pray that during next elections a Lybian party that do not have anything to do with nato and the Americans come to power." being an atheist I am not going to pray, but I doubt very much that even your prayers could change the reality, and reality is such - NATO/Saudis are masters of Libyan "rebels". Of course, they still could turn their coats forth time :) But I doubt very much it would bring something good to Libyans or Palestinians, just as it brings no good to Afghans..
4) I will "see" those NATO rebels "coming to Palestine" when they DO it. Now they are still good little NATO rebels. And only very naive person could believe that NATO want one more Hague disaster like with Milosevic. Sa'if knows TOO much about NATO dirty laundry, and could choose to tell it. So, NATO could pretend "to request" and then turn a blind eye.

I understand that you want NATO rebels not be such, and that you want "pure" islamism, and an anti-Zionist one. Alas, in Libya, Egypt and several other places it is not so. One needs to face the truth, even if the truth is painful, or one is not too brave, sorry.

Honestly, I think Dr. As'ad Abukhalil is currently one of the most prolific writers on the region. Also, his wit and humor are remarkable, for example, "Mustafa Abdul-Nato." I swear sometimes I read him for amusement more than anything else.

Anyway, does the "victory" of Islamists mean they will rule? In Egypt they are happy to be mere tools of generals (as generals are tools of USA/Saudis).

So, reactionary Islamism is just an obstacle to the main goal - the overthrowing the NATO/GCC lackeys.

This is such a great article one of the best I read

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