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Nihat Ali Özcan, PhD - [Archive]

Syrian insurgency and fragmentation of political Islam 17/05/2012 - Viewed 573 times

 

Political Islamists have met the insurgencies in the Arab world with sympathy, because they thought it would give them a chance for political power. Certainly political Islamists in Turkey, who were bored with loneliness, were inclusive. But unpredictable outcomes of the “Arab Awakening” have started to emerge as it is in every major economic, social and political change. Especially the developments in Syria are leading to confusion on one hand and triggering fissions on the other hand. As a matter of fact, one can see this better if one follows the debates and newspapers of the Islamist groups in Turkey. Principally, the divisions being talked about provide significant clues regarding the Islamic movements and in which direction they might develop in the long run.

One may collect the causes that led to division among Islamic groups under six headings. The first is the confusion caused by the Iran-Syria strategic alliance. The Iranian Islamic revolution has a positive and historic influence over some of the political Islamists of Turkey. It shaped their mind set. Therefore, coming out with an anti-Syrian stance, which might leave Iran in a difficult situation with one of its strategic allies, is not a case that might be digested easily. Some Islamists see this as a betrayal of Muslim Iran, their first love. This also triggers debates.

Secondly, in an equation which includes Iran, denominational differences are not ignorable. Discussions may shift from Muslim identity to sectarian identities that could fragmentize easily. At that, in a facsimile of the Marxists in the old days, any number of factions may emerge, and each and every group may refer to texts and start to seek witnesses from history in order to prove its rightfulness and the correctness of its ideas.

The third reason is the anti-Israel stance of the al-Assad regime. This debate revives the question of “who is the essential enemy?” Is the essential enemy for Muslims Israel or the al-Assad regime? Different answers to this question deepen the discussions.

The fourth is the authoritarian Saudi Arabias and Qatars, which limit and ban real Muslims’ political actions, supporting the Syrian opposition. According to the debates, is standing with those regimes, which are remote from Islam, an acceptable attitude religiously and morally?

The fifth reason is Ba’ath regimes that have Hamas for long years. This has proven its positive stance in the Palestine case. If Ihvan comes to power in Syria, can it act in same manner in the Palestinian question?

The last reason is that: Islamists who support the Syrian dissidents are interestingly allied with and standing on the same line as the United States and U.K. Also their discourse is being formed under the “democracy” umbrella which is a Western ideology. In this case, does “Arab Awakening/Spring” belong to the Islamic worldview or a struggle for realizing a Western ideology?

As a result, apparently, political Islamists will not only come up against political, economic and social change along with the “Arab Awakening/Spring,” but also they will find themselves in a new, long and gloomy discussion.


This commentary was published on 17.05.2012 in Hürriyet Daily News.

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