Growing numbers of rebels are switching to Assad’s negotiated amnesty because they are starting to realise that there is one thing worse than the Assad regime: Islamism.
At the same time, the families of retreating fighters have begun quietly moving back to government-controlled territory, seen as a safer place to live as the regime continues its intense military push against rebel-held areas.
The move is a sign of the growing confidence of the regime, which has established a so-called “ministry of reconciliation” with the task of easing the way for former opponents to return to the government side.
Ali Haider, the minister in charge, said: “Our message is, ‘if you really want to defend the Syrian people, put down your weapons and come and defend Syria in the right way, through dialogue’.”
The British Left, or rather a specific group of soft-principled liberals who are subset of the group, seem to have trouble distinguishing between textual criticism of Islam with anti-Muslim bigotry. The worst offenders tend to conflate the two. James Bloodworth has a go at analysing why this is the case:
Being ‘tolerant’ is also very often seen on the left as more important than being correct. It is certainly considered safer. Criticise Islam too strongly and you may fall out with your multicultural peers, face accusations of colour prejudice or, worse still, provoke a fanatic with a penchant for something stronger than polemics. Have a go at Dawkins on Twitter and someone may start a forum thread about you at Atheism UK.
In sum, should you wish to apply your critical faculties objectively to all religions, be prepared for the shrill accusations of prejudice that will inevitably follow you around – not so much from believers, but from your fellow liberal atheists.
Dr Kemal Helbawy was a prominent Muslim Brotherhood operative, who for decades served as the their representative to the UK. Following the revolution he returned to live in Egypt in 2011. Helbawy is not known to be a moderate nor a lover of Jews. But recently he has had some serious misgivings about the Morsi government which he was keen to air publicly in an interview with Roshan Muhammed Salih. Here are some very surprising comments by Helbawy on the recent Egyptian coup/regime change/popular uprising, call it what you will, and the reasons behind them.
RMS: What is your reaction to the recent miltary coup?
KH: It wasn’t a military coup, it was the greatest democratic event in our history. There were millions of people on the streets and the military simply responded to their desire to do away with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) government which had failed the country.
The month of fasting, sacrifice, self-denial and exertion in all matters spiritual is upon us. Ramadan Kareem!
Pearls of wisdom from George Galloway, Britain’s second highest profile “revert” and Assad supporter.
Warning: Arsehole alert.
Take a look at this 12 year old Egyptian boy, Ali Ahmed, and marvel how he puts Western supporters of the toppled Morsi government to shame. He has understood the politics of the Muslim Brotherhood better than your average Western pro-Islamist “liberal”.
Calling the Brotherhood fascists, Ali gushes forth a stream of consciousness on Morsi’s litany of failures on women’s rights, social and economic inequalities and the Egyptian constitution.
You have to wonder at the cognitive dissonace of Western supporters of Morsi’s deposed Muslim Brotherhood government. Chances are they have never lived in totalitarian Islamist state in a Muslim-majority country. Though they have grown fat on the freedoms and privileges the West offers them, they loathe the idea that those same freedoms should be enjoyed by, say, the people of Egypt.
Let’s see the clowns try and label this young chap an “Islamophobe” and “pro-Western stooge”.
The title of an article by Hazeem Kandil on the LRB blog is “The End of Islamism” trailing with a threatening question mark. He makes some solid points to justify the motivation behind the military coup but whether the toppling of Morsi marks the death knell for Islamist politics is doubtful.
Certainly, the Brothers’ dismal performance in power brought about their downfall, rather than some elaborate debate on the legitimacy of Islamism. There was nothing Islamic about the movement’s policies. On the contrary, the moral image they projected was quickly comprised by the shabby deals they tried (and failed) to strike with old regime institutions, and foreign powers they had previously condemned. Once in power, Morsi praised the Interior Ministry so highly that he even claimed this most patriotic of institutions had been an essential partner in the 2011 revolt; and his aides spared no effort in imploring America to save his presidency. Egyptians became rapidly disillusioned with Islamist incompetence, paranoia, double-dealing and, above all, profound arrogance towards people they regarded as less religious than them.
What do the fascist Nick Griffin (BNP), the totalitarian pro-Islamist George Galloway (RESPECT) and the neo-liberal Douglas Murray all have in common? They all oppose NATO intervention in Syria. A curious and diverse set of opinio-makers all converging on the same point.
On close examination, there are bound to be other points where the three doyennes of British illiberalism will converge, partly because, as any political theorist will tell you, in politics the points of extremism will always meet. In the case of our three protagonists, it is their inherent illiberalism that corrals them together.
Here is a catalogue of reasons why the Labour Party should cut ties with the illiberal Henry Jackson society by James Bloodworth:
The associate director of the HJS is Douglas Murray, a columnist for the Spectator and Standpoint, who joined the organisation in April 2011. In March, Murray wrote an article following the release of the results of the 2011 census in which he bemoaned the fact that in “23 of London’s 33 boroughs ‘white Britons’ are now in a minority”.
It took them more than 70 years of protracted “grassroots activism” to get into power in Egypt and less than one year for the Muslim Brotherhood to be ousted by the very same “grassroots” they sought to govern.
Graffiti near Tahrir Square
In the final analysis, it was Mohamed Morsi’s own inability to compromise and his party’s inherent authoritarian nature that failed the Brotherhood. Or as an Egyptian put it:
“Nasser, Sadat, Mubarak all tried to rid Egypt of the Muslim Brotherhood. In the end it was Morsi who succeeded”
What Egyptians have shown is what they, in their hearts, already knew: that Sharia Law alone is not enough for good governance and Islamists make for worthless administrators. Morsi won an election but he failed to build on the democracy that put him into power. Islamism is not “representative” of the Arab Street nor the Greater Muslim World and it certainly is not “indigenous” to it, as has become popular thinking in some sections of the Liberal Left.