I was talking with a gentleman from Iran the other day. His perspective was necessarily informed by his experiences in Iran. His take on the Arab Spring was that it was a coup for Al Qaeda. He said, “Al Qaeda will become the power in the Arab states now.” I disagreed with him and we entered in to a lively conversation. During our conversation he asked if I saw the election results from Tunisia where the moderate Islamist group, the Ennahada party, won.
It is true that at this juncture the more radicalized party won. But this is because democratic organizing has not been permitted in the region prior to this year. At this time, the more radicalized groups are organized and able to step in to the opening after the overthrow of the Ben Ali regime. Much is the same for Egypt where the Muslim Brotherhood is more organized at this time. It will take time and will require on-going support for the differing groups, many who were at the core of these historic revolutions, to gain cohesion and operational strategies.
A problem that exists in the region, and in many sectors of the U.S. as well, is the tendency, the trap, to interpret events through polarities. The view of the world through polarities is a carry-over from the Cold-War era when we lived in a bi-polar world. We are living through a time of unraveling in the post-Cold War and post-9/11 world. It is a very unsettling time and brings uncertainty to every continent. The new dynamics are creating overarching shifts in power, in global stability, and in how peoples around the world view themselves. But it is important to understand that polarities are not apt for this time. These times are highly complex, in part because human beings around the world have so much more information available. It is a time where the answer is: “D”. The answer is “D” in many instances; all of the above.