The Economist: Challenges that prevented the success of the experiments of ruling Islamists in the Arab world

Amman Today

publish date 2021-08-28 16:39:37

magazine published “EconomistShe reported that many Arabs believed before 2011 that Islamists, given a fair chance, would be an unstoppable force in democratic politics.

The magazine said in the report, which was translated by “Arabi 21”, that this view was shared by supporters and opponents alike, as supporters saw in the Islamists that they are pure, not corrupted by power, skilled in providing social services, and in a good position to manage campaigns.

While opponents believed that they would use democracy to seize power and then abolish it: “One man, one vote, one time,” they said.

For decades, few were able to test this hypothesis, the hypothesis of testing Islamists’ intentions to rule. The Islamist orientation was the main ideological challenge to Arab nationalism, but it was suppressed throughout the region by Nasserist, Baathist and leftist regimes, and the Muslim Brotherhood, which was founded in Egypt In 1928, she was officially “banned but tolerated”, and she was allowed to do charitable work, but she was mostly kept out of politics.

Algeria suffered a brutal civil war in the 1990s after the government rejected an Islamist election victory, and Hafez al-Assad destroyed much of Hama in 1982, killing thousands, to crush what was said to be an Islamist insurgency.

These experiences greatly contributed to the formation of the Islamists who compete through the ballot box for power after the Arab Spring, which left a brutal repression against them.

When Egypt held its first free parliamentary elections between 2011 and 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood won several important electoral rounds, with its Freedom and Justice Party winning 44% of the seats, then winning the presidency.

After it is too late, some Brotherhood supporters hope that they will be able to reverse the decision to participate in the presidential elections, which brought Mohamed Morsi, the only freely elected late president in the history of Egypt, who was arrested and imprisoned and other leaders of the group, until his death after a coup led by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

In Syria, the Islamic character of many Syrian revolutionaries has helped push minorities to ally themselves with the Assad regime.

Tunisia’s Ennahda party was notorious for abdicating power in 2014 after a series of assassinations, rescuing (perhaps briefly) Tunisia’s fledgling democracy.

After a decade in which Islamists have sought influence across the Middle East, the only places they control are not states at all: Hamas in Gaza, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist group that controls part of northwest Syria, and elsewhere. Once again standing on the defensive, they may not re-emerge as the dominant force, while the Islamists’ brief experiences in governance suggest they have few ideas of what to do.

Turkish model

By 2011, Turkey had amassed a lot of soft power in the Arab world. It was a popular tourist destination and a source of beloved TV series dubbed into Arabic.

It had a moderate Islamist government with a thriving economy and a positive reputation—a model for what some Arab activists hoped to build. Turkey was one of the few countries to openly oppose the coup in Egypt. As the Arab counter-revolution grew, it became a safe haven for Islamists who were hunted by repressive regimes.

When the Islamists came to power, they apparently didn’t think about how to use it. In the fall of 2012, the Egyptian government led by the Brotherhood oversaw an attempt to draft a new constitution. One of the most controversial articles dealt with: the role of Sharia (Islamic law) in Egyptian courts.

The nuances of the debate then tended toward specialization, incomprehensible to anyone without a background in law and religion.

Liberals were angry that the Brotherhood’s proposal had gone too far, and hard-line Salafists were furious that it had not gone far enough. This question preoccupied the government for weeks, when it should have focused on more pressing issues, such as the economy.

Tunisian case

Ennahda provides a telling example, if only because Tunisia’s democratic transition has given it a decade to practice politics.

The party has mostly avoided trying to impose religion on a country with an influential secular population inspired by French notions of secularism.

His economic policies were often indistinguishable from those of the old regime. He struck a deal with the International Monetary Fund, imposed austerity and clashed with the country’s powerful labor unions.

Ghannouchi deserves to be commended for his 2014 resignation and partnership with Beji Caid Essebsi, head of the anti-Islamist coalition. “We placed all our bets on an alliance with yesterday’s opponents,” he said, but voters punished him: Ennahda’s vote share dropped from 28% in 2014 to 20% in 2019.

Then came Kais Saied, a political outsider who was elected president in 2019. In July, he staged a coup, expanding the constitution to activate emergency powers, dismissing the prime minister, and suspending parliament.

It was an undemocratic move but many Tunisians, tired of a decade of political paralysis and economic pain, either supported it or were indifferent.

At first, Ennahda described its move as a clear coup, a description unpopular even with some of its supporters: Young cadres urged the leadership to resign, and since then have toned down their language and accepted the need for “self-criticism.”

After decades of supposedly preparing for power, the Islamists find themselves unprepared for the task – and facing a wall of opposition from other Arab states, who see political Islam as a mortal threat.

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Source : ألدستور

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