All political parties that have emerged in the wake of the Arab Spring will be accountable to their electorates, including the Islamists, writes Marwan Muasher in the Washington Post.
The field in countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and elsewhere is now open to all, and the people alone are the true source of authority. Society has claimed the right to bring in or remove anyone from power. Religious parties can’t hide behind religion or indulge in pretensions of sainthood — slogans such as “Islam is the solution” won’t fly without being accompanied by actions. And secularists can’t ban Islamists from politics under the pretext that the latter are uncommitted to pluralism, particularly because secular forces were often the ones curtailing open politics in the past. Both parties’ “holiness” is over.
Iran is establishing its own powerbase in Afghanistan, via the country’s media, in anticipation of an American withdrawal, writes Amie Ferris-Rotman for Reuters.
Iran spends $100 million a year in Afghanistan, much of it on the media, civil society projects and religious schools, says Daud Moradian, a former foreign ministry advisor who now teaches at the American University in Kabul. “It is using Afghanistan to send a message to America that it can’t be messed with. Afghanistan becomes a managed battlefield as a result.”
A win for the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate in the Egyptian presidential vote will give the organization sole responsibility for the country, for better or for worse, writes Elliott Abrams in the Weekly Standard.
If Egypt’s “liberals” (meaning, people who believe in democracy, liberty, and the rule of law rather than Islam as the guiding principles of the state) are to have a chance in future years, the predicate must be that the electorate believes the MB had a clear chance and failed them. If Shafik wins, many Egyptians will believe the elections were stolen by the Army and the old regime’s machine, and in any event power will be divided between the MB on one side and the Army and president on the other. There will be no clear lesson to learn if conditions in the country then continue to deteriorate. If Morsi wins, the MB will be in charge—and have to deliver. And when they fail, as I expect they will, it will absolutely clear whom to blame.
The former UN chief’s peace mission to Syria has failed, writes James Taub in Foreign Policy, and the world must admit it and come up with a new plan.
The question is: When do you stop pursuing this low-probability game? When, if at all, do the risks of action become greater than the risks of inaction? The international community kept talking with the Serbs until the massacre at Srebrenica in July 1995 finally provoked a NATO bombing campaign. In Sudan, as in Rwanda, nothing happened until it was too late to make much of a difference. Annan knows this history all too well; it is his history. “He’s been there before,” says [spokesman for the UN mission in Syria Ahmad] Fawzi, “and he will know when the time has come to pull the plug.” Or maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll recoil from the alternative.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ ploy to press Israel could well backfire on him, writes Zvika Krieger in the Atlantic.
Several diplomats in Tel Aviv expressed concern to me that Abbas might be playing with fire. One of these days, Hamas is going to call Abbas’s bluff and actually move forward with the unity agreement—which would jeopardize U.S. and other international funding, as well as force Abbas to confront his long-standing promise not to run for re-election.
Eleanor Clift of the Daily Beast takes a look at the stage version of the landmark Israel-Egypt peace treaty of 1979.
The punch line is they produced the only peace treaty that has stood the test of time. That’s how Jerry Rafshoon pitched the idea for an upcoming new play titled Camp David. He was there as the White House communications director when Jimmy Carter brought Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to the Maryland retreat in September 1978, not knowing what the outcome would be—and in an exercise of presidential leadership, pulled off what the experts warned would be impossible.