Results tagged “Islamist”

Yesterday, the rule of Egypt's dictator of 30 years, Hosni Mubarak, finally came to end in the midst of massive popular uprising. One of the strongest dictators in the region, the fall of Mubarak portends instability in the region as other Arab dictators must contend with increasingly hostile populations. Already, the aging president of Yemen has promised electoral reforms to the opposition and will step down later this year. In Bahrain, home to the US's Fifth Fleet and bulwark against Iran, the emir plans to give each family 1,000 dinar (a little over $2,500) ahead of opposition protests next week. Inspired by the successful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, the Arab world is entering a new period of instability and potential chaos.

The implications for the United States and its allies in the region are critical. Although the US must support freedom and democracy everywhere, this nation must also ensure that the conditions are right for democratic transition. Egypt, now, has only one organized opposition party, the Muslim Brotherhood, which has Islamic roots and is hostile to American and Israeli policy in the Middle East. Inevitably, the party will dominate elections by simply being the most organized party. Wisely, the chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee has warned that the Muslim Brotherhood poses a threat to Egypt's democratic movement. Before Egypt rushes to elections, it must have time to develop an array of parties competing for the people's votes. At this time, they will vote for anyone, regardless of ideology or consequence, as long as it is not Mubarak and his cronies.

It is essential that the US assist Egypt in bridging the current power vacuum. Democratic transition is difficult and takes time; Cairo cannot rush to elections that might jeopardize the nation's fledging freedoms before they have an opportunity to become well-grounded. In this effort, the US can follow a model set down by Indonesia. Like Egypt, the predominately Muslim country ejected its military dictator after decades of rule. Even though the country's main opposition at the time of the democratic transition was an Islamist party with ties to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, Indonesia has consistently elected secular governments--and Islamist parties have actually declined in popularity. The nation, though, waited a year to hold its elections and allowed the military to maintain order and stability while other, non-Islamist coalitions formed.

Egyptians have an opportunity to advance their nation, with its rich history, towards a free democracy. The nation's military is an optimal position to shepherd the country to meaningful democratic elections, while maintaining the 1979 peace agreement with Israel and protecting the essential Suez Canal.

The nation must move prudently if it wishes to capitalize on the gains from its currently successful revolution.