Iran uprisings mark the end of jihadism?

Iran uprisings mark the end of jihadism? June 29, 2009

Joshua Muravchik believes that the uprisings in Iran will mark the beginning of the end of radical, jihadist Islam:

Even if the Iranian regime succeeds in suppressing the protests and imposes the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by force of bullets, mass arrests and hired thugs, it will have forfeited its legitimacy, which has always rested on an element of consent as well as coercion. Most Iranians revered Ayatollah Khomeini, but when his successor, Ayatollah Khamenei, declared the election results settled, hundreds of thousands of Iranians took to the streets, deriding his anointed candidate with chants of “Death to the dictator!”

“Even if they manage to hang on for a month or a couple of years, they’ve shed the blood of their people,” says Egyptian publisher and columnist Hisham Kassem. “It’s over.”

The downfall or discrediting of the regime in Tehran would deal a body blow to global Islamism which, despite its deep intellectual roots, first achieved real influence politically with the Iranian revolution of 1979. And it would also represent just the most recent — and most dramatic — in a string of setbacks for radical Islam. Election outcomes over the past two years have completely undone the momentum that Islamists had achieved with their strong showing at the polls in Egypt in 2005 and Palestine in 2006.

He recounts a whole list of recent jihadist political setbacks, including in Lebanon–where Hezbollah got trounced in a recent election–and Northern Africa and Indonesia.

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  • One wonders what he would have written in the days of Tienanmen Square, as well. A lot of his arguments fall apart if you try to apply it to that situation. Obviously, they’re not the same, but nor can one say that a government shedding its own people’s blood means it only has months or years left before the revolution comes.

    I don’t know enough about all the situations Muravchik describes, but there are some troubling inconsistencies or errors in his article.

    For instance, he says:

    This countertrend began in Morocco in 2007. The Justice and Development Party (PJD), a moderate Islamist group that had registered big gains five years before, was expected to win parliamentary elections. But it carried only 14 percent of the vote, finishing second to a conservative party aligned with the royal palace.

    Well, yes, but that’s a rather finely phrased description. What he doesn’t note is that in 2002, the PJD won 42 out of 325 seats, and in 2007, they won 46 out of 325 seats. “Only 14 percent”, and definitely less than many expected, but still more than they’d had five years before. If he’s spinning the Morocco election like that, I have to wonder what else he’s not telling us.

    Muravchik also notes that:

    Jordanians also went to the polls in 2007 and handed the Islamic Action Front “one of its worst election defeats since Jordan’s monarchy restored parliament in 1989,” as The Washington Post reported.

    Well, yes, but the Post also reported that:

    official manipulation of elections in Jordan and elsewhere is driving down voter turnout and curbing support for Islamic political blocs and political opposition groups overall. … Arab governments have felt freer to restrict the Islamic political movements since the Bush administration eased off pressure for free elections in the Arab world.

    That’s authoritarian repression, not a popular turning against radical Islam.

    Maybe he’s right, but it also seems like he’s ignoring quite a bit, as well.

  • One wonders what he would have written in the days of Tienanmen Square, as well. A lot of his arguments fall apart if you try to apply it to that situation. Obviously, they’re not the same, but nor can one say that a government shedding its own people’s blood means it only has months or years left before the revolution comes.

    I don’t know enough about all the situations Muravchik describes, but there are some troubling inconsistencies or errors in his article.

    For instance, he says:

    This countertrend began in Morocco in 2007. The Justice and Development Party (PJD), a moderate Islamist group that had registered big gains five years before, was expected to win parliamentary elections. But it carried only 14 percent of the vote, finishing second to a conservative party aligned with the royal palace.

    Well, yes, but that’s a rather finely phrased description. What he doesn’t note is that in 2002, the PJD won 42 out of 325 seats, and in 2007, they won 46 out of 325 seats. “Only 14 percent”, and definitely less than many expected, but still more than they’d had five years before. If he’s spinning the Morocco election like that, I have to wonder what else he’s not telling us.

    Muravchik also notes that:

    Jordanians also went to the polls in 2007 and handed the Islamic Action Front “one of its worst election defeats since Jordan’s monarchy restored parliament in 1989,” as The Washington Post reported.

    Well, yes, but the Post also reported that:

    official manipulation of elections in Jordan and elsewhere is driving down voter turnout and curbing support for Islamic political blocs and political opposition groups overall. … Arab governments have felt freer to restrict the Islamic political movements since the Bush administration eased off pressure for free elections in the Arab world.

    That’s authoritarian repression, not a popular turning against radical Islam.

    Maybe he’s right, but it also seems like he’s ignoring quite a bit, as well.

  • Trey

    It’s not radical Islam its Koranic Islam.

  • Trey

    It’s not radical Islam its Koranic Islam.