How will the West deal with the Islamic movements in the coming stages? Although there is a state of hesitation and confusion in the western attitudes towards the Islamic movement we see a transitional stage in the Western policy towards Islamic movements. That given, this Western policy can be relatively different for brief periods of time. There is no consistent or long-term strategy for the Western treatment of the Islamic movement. The Western policy is mainly seeking to protect Western interests in the Arab and Muslim regions. This can be ascertained through the political hegemony and the securing of the Israeli occupation state and the alliance of the ruling elite in the region with the West.
However, the Western policy’s views towards the Islamic movement changes according to the view of policy makers who seek the most appropriate means to achieve the aims of the Western foreign policy. It is evident that the Islamic movement is not desired by the West which views it as a threat which must be kept under control in order to not affect targets of the western foreign policy.
In George Bush Jr"s term, especially after 9/11 attacks, the Western policy placed the entire Islamic movement in the same basket; as being the foremost enemy of the West. When it was revealed that this policy aggravated a state of disagreement, confrontation and hostility among a broad sector of the public, it started to differentiate between extremist and moderate movements dealing with each according to their classification. This spawned outlines of a Western strategy that gradually took shape in dealing with the Islamic movements.
Restructuring the Islamic Case
The western party initially tries to be an effective element in forming the Islamic case, so that it can influence this case from within the country or abroad. It eventually lead to an essential change in the map of the Islamic situation and in the trends of Islamic movements. Western policy makers definitely realize it is difficult to affect Islamic movements, but Western attitudes show concepts and models for the Islamic movement and exercises pressure on any movement to determine its attitude towards these Western models, the Islamic movement accordingly have only to either declare itself an ally or enemy to the West. However, there is a variety of models, which are based mainly on the Islamic movement"s position on the map of the Muslim and Arab Region, spawning various substitutes inside the category of allies and enemies.
The Western policy is seemingly dealing with various models, without restricting itself to the narrow category of friend or foe. The following are several representations highlighted by Western policies.
1-The Islamic enemy:
This category consists of Al-Qaeda network and Taliban Movement in Afghanistan, along with the Taliban Pakistani Movement. It is apparent from the western backed policy of President Barak Obama that this category constitutes the arch rival of the United States and the West. Any anti-US militant movement that may also oppose the US-allied ruling regimes is listed in this category. The war that Pakistani government launches against Taliban Pakistan Movement has no connection with what happened in 11/9/2001. It is reported that the Taliban Pakistani Movement supports the Taliban Movement in Afghanistan and Al-Qaeda network. However that does not justify the expanding of the war in Pakistan in such a way that it may trigger a civil war. This war was actually launched against anti-US Jihadist movements who fight US allies in the region. This defines the differences of the two categories of enemies that fight using weapon, and of terrorism, in a category that can be expanded to include others.
2-Secularist allies with Islamic roots: This category consists of any Islamic movement or Islamic figures that give a political platform or rhetoric under a secularist front, assuming that secularism is the optimum standard of democracy and human rights in the western mindset. Any secularist approach on the political and public levels is consistent with the Western understanding of politics, despite their being cultural and ethical differences. Islamists who offer a platform that embraces the secularist criterion of the modern state is actually committed to the Western conditions of politics where the cultural differences reflect the cultural and moral differences accepting Western political models with special features suitable for the varying local environments. An example of this model is the Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP) which constitutes a secular party founded by Islamists or so called: "A party with Islamic roots", not with an Islamic source of authority. This is an example of a movement that can have an alliance with the West, unlike the Islamic enemy.
3-Islamists allying to fight extremism:
1. This consists where special conditions require the sealing of alliances with an Islamic party without imposing g unjust conditions for the purpose of confronting another Islamic party. This is what happened in Somalia, where the West allied with a party of the Islamic Courts Movement that ruled Somalia for a few months, against another party in the same movement, the Islamic Courts movement. This resulted in the confrontation between the West-backed Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed as a president of Somalia, and his friend in the Islamic Courts Movement Taher Awes. Definitely, Sherif Sheikh Ahmed wasn"t promoting secularism. They also allowed him to request the applying of the Islamic Sharia and he was given a liberty to fight the Islamic opposition. In this we face an Islamic ruling and an Islamic opposition. We observe that the Western policy is based on getting rid of "an extremist movement" with a movement that the west perceive as more moderate. We even anticipate a tragic end for such an approach, resembling the end of the movements of Mujahideen in Afghanistan.
If the power allied with Sherif Sheikh Ahmed managed to eliminate the so called extremist movements which are seen as embracing the ideology of Al-Qaeda network and its leader Osama bin Laden, Western powers will oppose it in an attempt to eliminate it as well and search for a secular ally, unless they find a secular tendency from Islamist Sheikh Sherif Sheikh Ahmed. This occurred with Afghan militants as they faced a confrontation from those who were formerly among them after the end of their role in the war against Former Soviet Union. This was, assumed to be the starting spark for Al-Qaeda under the leadership of Osama bin Laden to wage the war on America. In addition to this other different forms of accepting Islamic movements for specific purposes, similar to that of the Iraqi Islamic Party took place in return for its participating in the political process under US occupation of Iraq.
4-Accepting an Israeli price:
This approach appears in the resistance movements in Palestine and Lebanon. The Hamas movement is asked to adopt policies that secure the existence of an Israeli occupational state in return for recognizing the movement, recognizing its political role, and allowing it to share power. This is a bargain between the resistance and the recognition of the movement which is in fact a compromising of all constituents of the movement and the constituents of the Palestinian people. Therefore, those bargains and compromises will not succeed because what they ask of the Hamas movement or Hezbollah is in fact a pact with suicide for them. If the Hamas movement abandoned its constituents, the movement will disappear and leaving a void to be filled by another movement.
The problem here is that: The West thinks that what happened with secular struggle movements can happen with Islamic resistance movements, which is wrong. Secular struggle movements can adopt settlements, and change their constituents of their struggle because these constituents are only political views, but the beliefs of Islamic resistance movements which are religious and cultural constituents, elements that the nation can"t restrict or change. Therefore, we see that western policy will move in a vicious cycle with the Islamic resistance movements. It will hold dialogues with them, however without reaching final understandings. This means that the dialogue with Islamic resistance movements is only a means for opening ways for a temporary understanding with the resistance, as being a status quo that can"t be disregarded. Therefore a dialogue will be maintained with those movements to gradually soften their attitudes, in the hope that this may eventually lead to important changes.
5-Keeping away from power:
An example of this case is the Muslim Brotherhood movement, present in several Arab and Muslim countries, especially in Egypt, where we find that the western policy does not want any Islamic movement to reach power.. Any Islamic movement that has an Islamic platform becomes unacceptable as alliances with the West. However, the West does not want to open all fronts of confrontation and conflict with all of the Islamic parties. Therefore, we see that the attitude towards the Muslim Brotherhood group, can"t be secularized, nonetheless it is not ready to change its attitude towards the Israeli occupation state- which it sees as an illegitimate entity. It also calls for a unified State of Palestine; we see that this attitude will move towards controlling its outside power, as an alternative for confrontation and exclusion. The Western policy will focus on not allowing the Muslim Brotherhood movement to reach power, and by allowing it to live and seeing its presence, activity and effect as an inevitable fait accompli.
According to the above mentioned movements, Islamic movements are listed as the militant enemy, the secularist ally, the temporary moderate Islamic ally facing Islamic extremism, the resistant Islamic power which wishes to change its attitude, and the Islamist who is being kept away from power as long as it can"t be secularized. The most important thing in this concept is that it has no principle, as it may change from time to time. It also widens gaps between the Islamic movements, and deals with them starting from giving them the carrot of power for those accepting secularization as a political ceiling and the stick of the military force against those fighting US hegemony or fighting US allies in the region. The aim is to widen the gap and even cause schism among Islamic movements, in a way that may trigger confrontations among them, causing these movements to get involved in proxy wars for the West.
The most complicated point is the dialogue with the Islamic resistance movements in Palestine , especially the Hamas movement. Holding a dialogue with it aims at exercising pressure on it to recognize the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state, and denounce the resistance which they call "violence and terrorism". This is impossible. Therefore, the results of the dialogues with the resistance movements will remain an important and effective factor in the Western attitudes towards the Islamic movement in general and they may even lead to changing Western policies towards them.