The Islamist Dilemma
The Century Foundation has published a report by POMED’s Director of Research Shadi Hamid entitled “Resolving America’s Islamist Dilemma.” In it, Hamid points out that the U.S. has no clear and consistent policy for dealing with moderate Islamist groups in the Arab world. He notes the U.S. is more apt to engage and encourage political space for Islamist parties in countries with less strategic relevance. Conversely, in countries more central to U.S. national security interests, we are far more likely to collude with secular dictators to repress Islamist political participation. Hamid argues it is precisely in these “important” countries–Egypt, Jordan, the Gulf states– that the U.S. should support a greater political role for nonviolent Islamists.
Hamid finds useful comparisons of Islamist participation in Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Turkey. He calls for the U.S. and its allies to tie various trade, investment, and aid benefits to clear political benchmarks. Finally, he notes that the U.S. should find a way to engage the region’s entrenched Islamist parties in hope of encouraging the more moderate strains to gain influence.