Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Arab Spring and the Rise of Islamism

What is the Arab Spring?

The Arab Spring is a term used to describe the wave of revolutions, demonstrations and uprisings that took place throughout the Middle East since December 2010. The Arab Springs started through the self-immolation of a Tunisian man who was protesting against the impoverished conditions of Tunisian society. This symbolic act spiralled uprisings in countries such as Libya, Egypt and Syria where rulers and their regimes were overthrown and have now been replaced by political Islamist groups such as President Morsi in Egypt, where currently uprising are again taking place against the new regime’s constitutional changes.

The Arab Spring and Nationalism

The extent to which the ‘Arab Spring’ spread throughout the Middle East as well as the discontent of the ‘Arab Street’ is astonishing. Here, the recognisable power of nationalism and religious identity cannot be dismissed and the use of ‘democracy’ as mechanism for politics is also apparent.

The Muslim Brotherhood

Today in many countries such as Egypt and Tunisia Islamism and the Muslim Brotherhood is now the dominant political force advocating change and democracy, filling the political void left by the Arab Springs. The Muslim Brotherhood visible in Egypt and Tunisia, however ‘democratic’ it may seem, is now implementing contradicting legislation that curtails concepts of Human and Rights and Freedoms, whilst supporting Hamas in Palestine.

Nevertheless Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi, through his Muslim Brotherhood connections is seen as holding close ties to Hamas in the Gaza. Thus Morsi and the International Community still hold power for diplomatic action in this continued conflict, as the recent Egypt-brokered ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian territories illustrates. However many still remain sceptical of Morsi’s agenda.

The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

Many recognise the gains to be made by Egypt remaining open to Israel and vice versa, because of the strategic geo-politics of the Sinai Peninsular with high rates of human and arms trafficking and the global threat of terrorism in that area. Israel is fearful of rising Salafism and Jihadism in the Palestinian territories, especially the Gaza strip and will use all means to maintain useful Egyptian relations.

It is for this reason that Israel may have decided to strike against Gaza to destabilise the region that little bit further on 14th November, in order to counter Palestinian request for statehood at the UN. But to no avail since Thursday 29th November as the situation of the Palestinian Nation, the number of casualties in the recent conflict and perpetual lack of resources led the world to stand behind the Palestinians and defy Israeli wishes.

Despite this, Israel continues to defy International Law and builds illegal settlements in the West Bank, perpetrating numerous civilian human rights violations in the name of self-defence. Tottering on a cliff that is once more, balancing precariously between terrorism, international pressure and Israeli domination.

If you want to defend me – then please: Don’t send the Israel Defense Forces for us in order to "win." Start thinking about the long term and not just about the next election. Try to negotiate until white smoke comes up through the chimney. Hold out a hand to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Stop with the “pinpoint assassinations” and look into the civilians’ eyes on the other side as well[1] (a resident of the Kibbutz Kfar Aza, in Israel).

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