The Islamists And US: The Prospects Don't Seem Too Good

26 Dec 2011

By Khalid Amayreh

It is probably true that many within the American political establishment would like to have good relations with Islamist movements in the Arab world.

The reason for this unlikely propensity has nothing to do with any sudden, infatuation or love affair with political Islam on Washington's part.

The U.S. consistently viewed Islamist groups in the Middle East and beyond with sullen hostility and convulsive animosity, especially after the 9/11 events in the United States.

The real reason for the developing but still fledgling relations between Washington and Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, stems from considerations of pragmatism and real politik.

The Islamists are becoming the leading ideological and political force in several Arab countries. This fact can't be ignored as American geo-political interests in the Arab region would suffer immensely if Washington viewed the "Arab Spring" with indifference.

Needless to say, the United States has always been hostile to Islamic political movements that stand for freedom, human rights and civil liberties. In fact, the US has been especially inimical to some of the most democratic Islamist movements, such as Hamas, for daring to fight Israel.

The U.S. continues to consider Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Liberation movement, which was democratically elected in 2006, as a terrorist organization, mainly for exercising the inalienable legal and moral right of resisting the Nazi-like Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Now, it will be quite interesting to see how America's perceptions and attitudes toward the Islamist movements will evolve if these groups maintain a solid and uncompromising stance vis--vis Israel.

None the less, it is hard to be hopeful about the prospects of relations between Islamist-led Arab regimes and the U.S. whose politics and policies are controlled and determined to a large extent by an American Congress that accords Israeli interests much more importance than it does American interests.

There are many reasons for this pessimism. First of all, the U.S. government will not be free to show any significant amount of good will toward the Islamists. The powerful Jewish lobby would overrule any meaningful American effort to that effect.

Hence, it is unlikely that the U.S. government will be able, even if willing, to offer the Islamists any meaningful inducements that would lead to the creation of fruitful working relations with Islamist-led regimes. Besides, an arrogant Congress that is accustomed to issuing orders and ultimatums to rulers as well as states is unlikely to easily swallow the fact that a new breed of rulers has appeared in the Arab world, rulers who won't be intimidated by sticks or induced be carrots and who won't be at America's beck and call.

Apart from that, it is imperative to point out that the Islamists themselves, especially in Egypt, have their own pressing restraints. Any Islamist party, including the Muslim Brotherhood, would suffer immensely in terms of their popularity and public standing if they showed any slackness with regard to the principled Islamist stance on Israel.

A few days ago, the Egyptian Salafist Nour Party was forced to deny reports alleging that some of its members had met with Israeli representatives. A spokesperson of the conservative Islamist group emphasized that the party's position on Israel was very clear and well known, namely that the Zionist entity was and would remain an illegitimate state that wouldn't be recognized by Muslims.

The strong defensive reaction was prompted by the negative fallouts from the initial report about the alleged Salafist willingness to have contacts with the Israeli state.

In light, it is likely that any Islamist group, however popular it may be now, will suffer an ultimate political disaster if not suicide if it was seen edging toward any accommodation with Israel, even under American pressure.

Having said that, one ought to point out though that the Islamists are unlikely to refuse and reject out of hand any solicitations from the Washington.

Like Washington, the Islamists will have to accord the American factor a lot of attention, which they will have to do wisely and smartly.

However, the Islamists, who are answerable to the people, at least the people who have elected them, will make it abundantly clear to the Americans that America's relations with them won't be "business as usual" especially if America continues to embrace Israeli Nazism.

As we all know, the US succeeded for decades in maintaining its arguably criminal connections with Israel while preserving its vital geopolitical interests in the Arab world. Hence, Israel, with active American support and backing, pursued her Nazi-like policies against the Palestinians, including stealing their land and narrowing their horizons, with vital American interests throughout the Arab world remaining effectively intact.

This equation, which reflected America's hegemony on the one hand and the ignominious subservience of defunct Arab regimes on the other, will have to be rectified, possibly in a radical manner.

But since America won't be free to backtrack on its umbilical connection with Israel even one centimeter, thanks to the powerful Jewish lobby, it would be similarly hard for the Islamists to appear as submitting to American pressure or blackmail especially on Israel-related issues, thanks to the highly vigilant and politicized public which would send the Islamists home when elections are held next time..

There are those who might argue though that the right thing to do is to pursue a pragmatic approach toward Washington irrespective of the Palestinian issue. But this would be the most lethal advice that one could offer the Islamists.

Forgetting, ignoring or even not giving the Palestinian issue the paramount attention it deserves, would harm the Islamists' image for years to come. The irreparable damage would be too colossal to contain and too indelible to rectify.

Don't allow yourselves to fall into the trap.



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