Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Palestine, Tunisia, Egypt – The Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan Al-Muslimun) groups are making steady progress; the election results show it is the people’s choice. Hamas won in Palestine, Nahda won in Tunisia, and now the Freedom and Justice Party led by Muhammad Morsi have been elected in Egypt, the largest Arab country, where the ideology and the movement of Ikhwan was formed by Sheikh Hasan Al-Banna in the 1920s. Under the Arab nationalist leader Jamal Abdul Nasser in the 1950s, the movement suffered as its activists were imprisoned, despite aiding Jamal Abdul Nasser to overthrow the old monarchy that had more or less mortgaged Egypt to the Western banks. Over successive years, the Ikhwan movement spread to most parts of the Islamic world.

Libya, Yemen, Morocco, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Algeria may also eventually elect a similar type of government in the future, provided there is political stability with a framework for a free and fair election. Until the election of Hamas in Gaza, Sudan was the one country were the Brotherhood was most successful in gaining power, its members making up a large part of the government for the last two decades. However, the Ikhwan based movements (Jamat-e-Islami) in the Indian subcontinent including Malaysia and Indonesia have not done well historically.

Therefore, why are the brotherhood groups succeeding now in the Arab world when they have been around since the 20s?

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Freedom for the Syrians - is it inevitable?

Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya fell; however, Syria and Bahrain seem to be defying that trend, where signs of regime change look remote; both nations are governed by the minority sect. Bahrain is dominated by the minority Sunni regime over the Shi’ite masses, and the situation is the reverse in Syria. In the case of Bahrain, the momentum for the protests is receding, whereas in Syria, the violence is escalating; to date it is estimated 15,000 people are dead.

With the systematic murder of 108 civilians including 49 children in Houla and subsequently 78 killed in the town of al-Qubair in a similar manner, the cycle of violence has escalated to new heights - naturally the peace negotiated earlier by Kofi Anan has been nullified. The harrowing pictures of children soaked in blood have been published in some of the Arabic newspapers; according to the UN the victims were summarily executed. In response, many countries have expelled Syrian diplomats. Note the contrast of response to the Israelis committing massacre of civilians in Gaza, and despite the overwhelming evidence, it was as usual, ‘defenceless’ Israel ‘defending’ itself with much greater firepower.