Prior to the Republic of Turkey, there existed the massive Ottoman Empire, whose Sultans assumed that they are heirs of the Caliphates and defenders of Islam. The empire itself lasted for centuries and allowed minorities to exist, but provided incentives for people to convert to Islam (Cases of Albania – Kosovo – Bosnia). Towards the 19th Century, corruption rendered the empire weak, and the empire was tagged by the European Colonial forces as “the sick man”. The term Sick Man was used because all the main Imperial forces decided to expand their territorial empires on the expense of the Ottomans. France, Italy, Spain, and Great Britain already carved out North African nations out of the Ottoman empire by the 19th Century.
When Mustapha Kamal took power in Turkey, he had to overcome all the Allied forces present there, next to the last Sultan present. When Mustapha Kamal took power, he transformed a nation that was four centuries late into a modern country. He demolished anything reminded him of the Sultans’ system. He changed the letters (from Arabic Letters to Latin, the Ottomans used to write Turkish in Arabic letters). He gave women the right to divorce, (he was the first to divorce probably), and demolished all feudal titles. Despite the fact he faced a lot of opposition, he integrated in the constitution the right of the Turkish Army to declare a Coup in case any Islamist group won elections. The army rebelled in the early 1980s, and froze constitutional life for two years, then constitutional life was re-introduced with the Social Democrats winning. Couple of weeks ago, the army was threatening to do so again. The opposition (Ordogan’s faction) to the Army now has support from of the European Commission and Germany’s top executive power. The European Commission have been arguing that “democracy must not be tampered with”.
This leads us to Egypt. Moubarak was hailed by the US and UK as democratic. Moubarak’s regime has blocked the Muslim Brotherhood to reach power, while he tampered with presidential elections to preserve his throne for his son (the future president of Egypt). To be exact, there has been no country in the world except for Egypt that had judges demonstrating and later beaten by pro-Moubarak regime. It is ironic because Moubarak has been following the foot-steps of Nasser and Sadat in economical corruptions, which led the Muslim Brotherhood’s “welfare” networks to spread through out Egypt. The Kifaya Movement (“Enough” in Arabic) has been forged which included old fashion Arab Nationalists, Muslim Brotherhood, alter-globalization movements, and whatever remained of the reactionary left to join forces against Moubarak’s regime. The Kifaya movement was threatening against Moubarak’s presidential rally, which cost the nominee to be imprisoned for years for even challenging Moubarak. I will not dwell into the details of Egypt’s history of betrayal and oppression, and I am not defending the Muslim Brotherhood. The current status quo in Egypt is due to Moubarak’s and his predecessors’ management. The question is: how long the United States can over-look this fact till Moubarak or his son would be ousted out of power, specially his blunders, and the Social Islamist Networks’ proper organizations, are pushing the Muslim Brotherhood by the year to grow stronger and stronger. More intriguing, Moubarak turns a blind eye on most of these Networks because they are saving money on the Government’s expenses (similar to Hamas having over 40% of the Palestinians under its welfare system which puts Fatah in an awkward position).
The main idea, if the majority of the population are Islamists, do they democratically qualify to rule the nation, despite the fact that previous experiences (like Sudan) witnessed non-Muslims being ruled by the Muslim Law by Force?
In Lebanon, we have seen Hezbollah being a two-fold model, a militant one and a political one. On the militant level, they inflicted damage on the Israelis whereby no army even succeeded before. On the political level, they have been recent in involving themselves in the political life. Till now, they promised to respect minority rights, despite the fact they have their own legal system in the areas they dominate most. In case Hezbollah are 51% percent of Lebanon, does it make them qualified to rule in Lebanon, specially they have direct ties with Ayatollah Khamenei? What would be the position of their secular allies, like the Lebanese Communist Party and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party? What if, in the long-run, Nasrallah is replaced by a more fanatic hardliner as head of the Shora Council?
In Palestine, we already have seen Hamas and Fatah supporters slashing each other when balance of power is present. Hamas belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood. The Strength of the Muslim Brotherhood's partial success returns to the Israeli blunders. Since Zionists feared secular resistence, which was embodied by the PLO, they turned their eyes on the Muslim Brotherhood's social networks in order to weaken the PLO. The PLO towards the end of the 1970s, exploded at the Muslim Brotherhood under the accusation of 'collaborating with the Israelis'.
In Afghanistan, the horrors of the Taliban regime were too terrifying and oppressive, which increased blindly racism towards “secular Muslims” in the West. The United States still think a political solution is the best answer to everything. The bottom line for the driving society towards a certain orientation is not “imposing democracy”, rather placing heavy investments to improve the society. The Mujahideen in Afghanistan, soon to evolve into Taliban, were recieving a lot of money to face the Soviet invasion. They ended up of becoming part of an international terrorist organization, which has no problem of butchering anyone (including the ones who share their sect) under the banner of cleansing the nation from infidels.
Probably the most complicated case was Algeria, when in a Coup was declared after the FIS (Islamist Coalition) won the majority of the Parliament in the early 90s. The problem of the West is that they never understood the “why” part. I mean by the “why” because poverty is rather harsh, and harshness accompanied with informal welfare under the banner of Islam from the logic of hardliners, brings popularity. Algeria for example was the victim of France, which practiced a harsh and racial form of colonialism on the Algerians. Bad corrupt management by the Liberation National Front (FNL) was an incentive to trigger the different factions of the Islamist Network to expand dramatically. The other question is: “How can a country for over a century of oppression can also fix its system in couple of decades?” The Algerians, along with the Tunisians are still busy in persecuting Qa’eda cells over there, while their leaders practice supreme dictatorship over their people. Investments are still at minimal to improve the situation for this nation.
Globally, as I discussed in an earlier post, several left-wing groups blindly supported those groups because they are against US imperialism, and they are the current available alternative. This is wrong, opposing US imperialism is one thing, but supporting blindly anyone who opposes it (with the exception of al-Qa’eda since they have been too extremists to fit that category) is totally wrong and ideological breach of whatever leftist school comes from. The RESPECT coalition and Kifaya movement has been one example, the Chavez-Ahmadinejad alliance is another. If the left have been working on their goals, they wouldn’t have needed to support such coalitions.
Such a dilemma is really complicated to ponder upon, never the less, such pondering is within the realm of the capitalist logic, as revolutionaries, we should focus on our goals no matter who is in the topic executive position: Emancipation of the workers, and all power be secured into the Workers’ Hands.