Springtime for Bin Laden?

Although it’s sometimes claimed that the so-called Arab Spring has proven bin Laden to be irrelevant to a rapidly changing Middle East, the contrary is more likely. The political rise of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood could bring an al-Qaeda sympathizing party into power in the heart of the Arab world. But isn’t the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood “moderate?” Have a look at their response to the killing of bin Laden. Then take a look at this report on the political emergence of Egypt’s Salafists, an Islamist group with an ideology just a stone’s throw (actually, a bomb’s throw) from that of al-Qaeda. Here’s an excerpt:

One leading liberal politician told me last week that he had been barely aware of Salafism until after the revolution. Suddenly, Salafi spokesmen are all over the media and are organizing politically. By some reckonings they could get 5 per cent to 10 per cent of the vote in parliamentary elections planned for September.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the more established and less fundamentalist Islamist organization, is generally reckoned to be good for at least a third of the vote. Add in a couple of fringe Islamist parties and you could be looking at an Islamist majority in Egypt’s first parliament. “Entirely plausible,” says a Western diplomat in Cairo as he sips his coffee.

Stanley Kurtz — Stanley Kurtz graduated from Haverford College and holds a Ph.D. in social anthropology from Harvard University. He did his field work in India and taught at Harvard and the University ...

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