Thursday, March 1, 2012

Why Islamists will just keep winning

By Rami G. Khouri
The Daily Star

"A persistent question we have heard during each Arab uprising across the Arab world in the past year has been, “What happens after the regime falls? Who takes over power?” This is usually asked with a tone of foreboding, with concern that bad or unknown political forces will assume power. Most worry revolves around the prospect of the Muslim Brotherhood or other Islamists assuming power, on the grounds that they are the best organized political groups.

Sometimes this leads frightened people to conclude that it is better to stick with the governments we have – despite their flaws – rather than risk the unknown or an Islamist takeover of power. We hear the same thing said about Syria these days, as many ponder the possible or, I sense, likely, fall of the Assad family dynasty of 42 years.

It is time for analysts to get over their worries and adjust to the overwhelming lesson from the first year of the ongoing Arab uprisings: The transition from autocracy to democracy, and from authoritarianism to pluralism, in the Arab world must necessarily pass through a phase of Islamist rule or of coalition governments in which Islamists play a role.

This is one conclusion we should draw from the track record of the past year....

Islamists who form governing coalitions with secular, business, military or other groups in society must necessarily work overtime to forge realistic policies that can respond to the many urgent needs of their fellow citizens. If they succeed in promoting economic growth, social equity, stability and constitutional democracy – as the mildly Islamist ruling party does in Turkey – they will do so because of their capacity to govern efficiently, and they will be re-elected.

This will mark the stage at which Islamists participating in coalitions affirm the secular nature of the ruling authority and state, while enhancing the adherence of citizens to their Islamic values."

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