Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

A Future Middle East: A Historically Open Thread

Last night I spent some time skyping with the Egyptian Moose delegation. The current situation post-Mubarak remains in flux, concerns about abuse of power by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) are rising while the country seeks a democratic solution to governance.

Libya similarly is beginning a path that – at least in theory – would see democracy take hold in the country.

While there is understandable concern among all who care about the region – most importantly those who live in it – I remain optimistic that the series of fits-and-starts that should be expected will lead eventually to a positive outcome.

What do you think, Mooses?

There are reasons to be concerned. It is hard to see beyond the current chaos, the popularity of Wahabism, the economic blight and articles like this:

Egypt ruling’s military council, facing its worst crisis since the fall of ex-President Hosni Mubarak, was on Wednesday forced into an extraordinary denial of claims it was responsible for violence in which at least 25 people, mostly Coptic Christians, died at the weekend.

But the long sweep of time seems, to me, to push towards a positive future. It may be further out than anyone might hope, but it just seems unlikely that the Middle East will slide backwards into the 13th Century while the rest of the world moves forward.

As part of our conversation we looked at longer periods of time. Forward to 2100, backwards the same distance to 1920. In 1920 European leaders referred to Europe as “Christendom” – who would have thought that by 2011 it would be a largely non-secular continent? In the world of 2100 – largely unseeable from here, but either a dystopian wasteland or a barely-recognizable world where what is magic today is technology then (I think the latter, by far) – is it easy to imagine that large parts of the world will seek the life of the Dark Ages? I don’t think so. Somewhere between now and then the line of history bends towards the future. The Arab Spring was one (large) bend in that curve, there will be more – hopefully more subtle – bends between now and then.

We will see.


  1. amr

    One aspect you remain to neglect Chris. The people want to go back to the 13th century, and even before that.

    Thing is, in Islam, most “interpret” the “great” war between the Muslims and the Jews as a war that will happen with swords and horses.

    And you would only think someone that had little to zero education would believe that? Think again! .. I’ve had conversations with the what supposedly are the creme de la creme, one of which had top notch education, holds a very sensitive and respected position in a huge company around here. And he does believe it!

    So yeah, to the people, they want that age to come because it means victory for them and end of times, hence, heavens. Or that’s at least what they hope. 🙂

    It’s holidays around here, “Eid” for all of you that don’t know. I’ve seen the Salifist and MB in their exuberant audacity. They are using the needs of the poor, throwing around meat, goods, and whatnot to get people to vote to  them. They are very loud and more sure than ever to become the new force in the region.

    And some would think if the people want them so much why do these things. My answer to that is that they are not aiming for 80% of the seats in parliament, they are aiming for 100% if they can get it.

    I don’t know what factors you have in mind that would make you optimistic about it, but, if these people assumed power, there’s no turning back, period. And as we talked early today, I have no doubt that in 5-8 years from the time they get into office/power, another big eruption will occur but this time, there will be unprecedented bloodshed that would make this past revolution look like a demonstration for same sex marriage, although I see that to be quite catastrophic as well, but you get the picture.

  2. Strummerson

    The situation of Egyptian Christians will be a good barometer of how the liberalizing agenda of many of the Tahrir participants fares.  I don’t know if I/P resolution would help, but I know that the current trajectory of things feeds Egyptian support for HAMAS.  It allows the most aggressive of the Islamists to claim the nationalist flag.

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