By Pepe Escobar
"....Ten years later, one may finally say that Kepel’s analysis was spot on. Hardcore Islamism, al-Qaeda-style, is a Muslim box-office disaster. For all its myriad declinations - in Iraq, in the Maghreb, in the Arabian Peninsula - al-Qaeda is no more than a desperate sect, destined to the dustbin of history as much as those Western-backed dictators a la toppled Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak who used to be the pillars of the Western struggle against radical Islam.
Kepel today directs the program of studies on the Mediterranean and the Middle East at the legendary Political Sciences school in Paris. In an article for Italian daily La Repubblica, he seals for good the victory of Islam as democracy over Islam as "revolutionary" vanguard. The money quote:
"Today the Arab peoples have emerged from that dilemma - squeezed between Ben Ali or bin Laden. They have now re-entered a universal history that has seen the fall of dictatorships in Latin America, the communist regimes in Eastern Europe, and also the military regimes in non-Arab Muslim countries such as Indonesia and Turkey."
The local meets the universal
And this is the crucial point; Arab peoples are now starting to build their own, hesitant, modernity.......
The problem is that the diversity of methods employed by tyrants to smash these revolutions is being misread by hagiographers of empire - so they can better legitimize the aura of selected repressive "good guys". Thus we have Pentagon-linked Robert D Kaplan trying to con public opinion into believing there are enlightened despots (the al-Khalifa dynasty in Bahrain, both King Abdullahs, in Saudi Arabia and Jordan) as opposed to unredeemable evil dictators (Muammar Gaddafi).....
It’s a long and treacherous road - with so many Gaddafis and al-Khalifas and Abdullahs that must be chased away. The Arab world has been traumatized for too long - almost a century since colonial powers Britain and France betrayed the Arab nation and carved up its land. The real test of the West's self-appointed "civilizing mission" is now; to welcome, and to help, with all its heart, the Arab world to the realm of modernity. "