Misreading the Direction of History – Shimon Shamir
Last year, when Mohamed Morsi assumed the presidency of Egypt, the White House warmly embraced the Muslim Brotherhood regime, a policy decision that meant abandoning Washington’s veteran allies in Egypt and arousing concern among its allies in the Arab world. It also meant ignoring the anti-Western essence of the Brotherhood.
President Obama explained that “you have to be on the right side of history.” His argument was that everywhere in the region Islamic movements are on the rise, they express the will of the masses and therefore democratization means Islamization; the U.S. must compromise with this change because it reflects a one-way historical process.
It took only one year for the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt to collapse when confronted by a broad popular movement that won the support of the army. Islamic forces have been checked in other countries as well, such as Jordan and Tunisia.
It is definitely right to aspire “to be on the right side of history,” but only if you are aware of its complexity and acknowledge the limitations of reading it. The writer is a professor emeritus of Middle East history, and a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt and Jordan. (Ha’aretz)
How the Middle East Map Changed in 2013 – Jacques Neriah
Since the beginning of the “Arab Spring,” a number of striking changes have occurred in the Arab world. First and foremost, the Arab Spring represents the end of pan-Islamism championed by Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, and the beginning of an open war between Sunnis and Shias. The civil war in Syria triggered a negative reaction towards Iran, which became the enemy of the Sunni world and has been treated as such ever since.
In Arab eyes, the U.S. administration committed a major error when it “betrayed” a 30-year ally – Mubarak – and favored instead the Muslim Brotherhood. Another U.S. mistake in Arab eyes was to refrain from punishing Syria for its use of chemical weapons. The Arabs suspect that the U.S. did not attack because it wanted to mend fences with Iran. In the Arab perception, the old alliance between Iran from the time of the Shah’s regime and the U.S. was resurrected at the expense of the traditional alliance with the moderates of the Arab world.
Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)