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Salafists and The Arab Spring. The Clash Begins.

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Apparently a Tunisian Salafist leader has “escaped” arrest for protesting the world’s most crap anti-Islam movie.

But what’s really going on here? Nobody really knows, but here’s an idea. The “moderate” Islamists that are taking over their basket case economies after the Arab Spring are scared shitless of the Salafists that have been unleashed by the end of strongman driven dictatorships, and in Tunisia, they let this guy go for fear of what arresting him might do. When Salafists attacked an art gallery in Tunis for showing work that insulted the Prophet, the government suggested that it was actually “hooligans infiitrating” the peaceful Salafist demonstration that wrecked the gallery.

Ahah. Sure. That sounds feasible.

Ben-Ali, Gaddafi, and Mubarak are gone (and Assad seems sure to follow) and that means it’s open season for the previously underground Salafists to bring out their whipping sticks and start beating up on girls who show a little ankle.

But here’s the problem. These countries are damned if they go after the Salafists and damned if they don’t.

If the governments of these countries squirrel their way out of confronting the Salafist threat, then they can kiss Western Tourism good-bye as the Salafists start raiding Western beaches with their switches, and watch their countries go into an economic tailspin – which ultimately threatens their own survival unless they decide to forgo the whole democracy deal and declare a state of emergency for thirty years or so. If they do that, of course, it’s b-bye foreign aid too.

And if the Islamists in power do summon up the courage to seriously go after the Salafists, then they’ll have to deal with a fired up bunch of extremists who will see the moderate Islamists as agents of the infidel, go underground and start bombing up the place, which will have pretty much the same effect. These post-strongman countries simply don’t have the security apparatus in place in keep a lid on the Salafists, and if they get the apparatus, they’ll be inviting a strongman to take over when the time is right.

We’ve yet to reap the true rewards of the Arab Spring, but we’re about to. And within a year or two, as unpalatable as this sounds, we in the West may well be wishing for regional strongmen we can trust to reestablish a semblance of order. If that happens, we’ll have the Salafists to thank for the irony.

Written by coolrebel

September 18, 2012 at 7:53 am

Posted in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia

Egypt – So Where’s the Muslim Brotherhood?

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See you around, Hos.

Before we get carried away with the birth of democracy in Egypt, let’s ask ourselves why the United States has been plying the Mubarak regime with a couple of billion dollars worth of play money for the last God knows how long. Was it because he was such a great guy doing right by his peeps? Uhh, no. Could it have been because we needed him to keep the lid on the Muslim Brotherhood, that’s been threatening to give the West indigestion for the last eighty years? Way more likely.

So where exactly have the Muslim Brotherhood been during the riots in Cairo and other cities around the Nile Delta? Not in huge evidence that’s for sure. And that’s what worries Thereisnoplan. You see, it would seem like a smart move for the Brotherhood to stay on the sidelines. After all, if they were seen as stirring the pot, the US and others might be a little less likely to be pushing the Democratic agenda for Egypt, just in case Cairo went the way of Gaza after its Democratic experiment and ended up in the hands of the Islamists. It may be a genuine secular revolt, but – and this is just a wild guess – Thereisnoplan is betting that much of President Obama’s trip to the White House basement (otherwise known as the Situation Room) was spent chatting about just that eventuality.

Egypt is a very religious nation. Even the riots calling for the ouster of Mubarak had to wait until Friday prayers were done before the stones and molotovs could be tossed about. The Muslim Brotherhood has almost certainly learned the Hezbollah and Hamas playbook well. Promise and deliver ‘social services’ to the people and they’ll support you. (The mafia is run on broadly the same basis). In short, they’re well positioning to assume the mantle of power with a convenient one shot democratic moment and promise to help Egypt out of the trough that Mubarak’s cronyism got them dug into over the decades.

Now, it’s unlikely that Mubarak will lose the loyalty of the army and police forces (which would have nothing to gain under the Muslim Brotherhood) and therefore will stay in power, albeit in a weakened position. Maybe he’ll co-opt El-Baradei as the peacemaker he needs to bridge his credibility gap with the rioters, but it’s also possible the army will turn on him and wave him goodbye. Things are moving fast in the Middle East, and many predicted the turmoil in Tunisia would be an isolated moment. It wasn’t. So anything can happen.

And if one of those anythings – say a Muslim Brotherhood takeover – took place (under the guise of democracy, of course) we’d all be in for a helluva ride in the Middle East. Here are a few possibilities.

Egypt could overturn its peace treaty with Israel. That would mean more than the end of Israeli tourism in the Sinai. And while it’s highly unlikely that the militarily decrepit Egyptian forces would ever mount a full scale attack on Israel, it could prompt the reeopening of the Rafah crossing into Gaza and the arming of Hamas with more potent and longer range missiles than the jerried Qassams they’re lobbing these days.

If Mubarak folds his tent, it’ll be interesting to see how he could follow Ben Ali of Tunisia to a gated community in Riyadh or Jeddah. The House of Saud might just regard his arrival there with the same relish as a dose of the collective clap. Instead, they’d be more likely to be opening up the gun lockers for their own security forces in readiness for the distinct possibility that they might be in for the same treatment. And lurking just under the surface in Saudi Arabia is Al Qaeda, who must be watching events in Cairo unfold with glee.

Intifada part three. Could the Palestinians in the West Bank be next? Could they be thinking that hey, if it worked for the those Tunisian and Egyptian dudes maybe it’ll work for us? That would certainly deal a body blow to what’s left of Obama’s latest go at the “Mid East Peace Process”, a game that almost always leads to profound frustration and gloom for Washington. Could a hostile Egypt on Israel’s border embolden Iran? Could Tehran engineer a wholesale pan-Muslim alliance to try and defeat Israel?

Nobody knows, but it’s fun to conjecture, unless you’re in the Situation Room of course.

Written by coolrebel

January 28, 2011 at 11:06 am