Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Game of Camps: Ideological Fault Lines in the Wreckage of the Arab State System

From a study by Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman, BESA, September 21, 2016:
The following is the Executive Summary. Follow the link for the full report.

In recent years, Arab politics has been marked by national disintegration, violent conflict and bitter rivalries, as well as new patterns of cooperation and efforts to counter extremist forces. Some states have ceased to exist, torn apart by ideological imperatives that are often intertwined with local power politics and sectarian affiliations. Sharp rifts have emerged, such as the rupture between Egypt and Turkey: a relationship that shifted from friendship to public hostility overnight after the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt. New alliances have been forged as well.

Essentially, the most important shifts have occurred along ideological fault lines, and need to be understood in these terms. This study maps four Arab ideological camps and their interactions:
  1.          the Iranian camp,
  2.          the Islamic State camp,
  3.          the Muslim Brotherhood camp, and
  4.         the “counter camp.” This camp consists of the forces of stability, ranging from Saudi Arabia and most of the Gulf states to Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco, as well as the Kurds and other non-Arab players.

These camps have been fighting each other to the death across a range of regional fronts, from Libya to Syria to Iraq to Yemen, and in subversive political and terrorist actions elsewhere. Events over the first half of 2016 confirm that the balance is tilting. Islamic State and its affiliates are still vicious, but they are under siege and losing ground, while Muslim Brotherhood forces are in political decline.

The main battle for the future of the region pits the Iranian camp against the forces of stability. Israel shares the fears and goals of the counter camp, and is joined with it in countering Iran. The US administration’s courtship of Iran, as well as the hope held broadly in the West that the Muslim Brotherhood could play a constructive role, has done little to  restore stability or restrain the rise of radicalism.

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