Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Egypt, Al-Qaeda and Neocons - A new dawn in ideological worldviews or history repeating itself?

Even though it’s extremely early days since recent revolution in Egypt and the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, it remains apt to assess the ideological worldviews of Al-Qaeda and the neoconservatives against that backdrop. Egypt played centre stage in the development of Al-Qaeda ideology and the obvious debates have arisen about the impact on Islamic fundamentalism and the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda or even the neoconservatives and Pax Americana.


Stephen Walt sticks his neck out in an attempt to identify where there might be a resurgence as a result or where there might be decline – the ‘winners and losers’ (Walt, 2011). In his view, the successful revolution and US ‘support’ (albeit reluctant) weakens two central pillars of Al-Qaeda’s revised worldview. Firstly following a long period of failure trying to create uprisings by changing tact from Political Islam to terrorism and violence in Egypt, its insistence that terrorist violence is the only way to bring about change in the Arab world now lacks credibility. Secondly Al Qaeda has long been vocal against the neo conservatives’ strategy to create a ‘stooge government to follow their masters in Washington and Tel Aviv’(Riedel, 2007). This reflected a prior turning point in Al Qaeda ideological worldview. This considered regimes in the Middle East as stooges and propagated the belief that they were no longer Muslims making them targets as well. By helping nudge Mubarak from power and declaring its general support for the reform movement, the Obama administration has undercut Al-Qaeda's appeal. In a similar vein change is imminent for ‘Pax Americana’ in the Middle East. Egypt represents a key pillar of Washington’s Middle East policy that is crumbling. While it’s not the intention of this essay to speculate on a neoconservative resurgence, the environment is strikingly similar to the run of events prior to the popularity of the Committee on the Present Danger and subsequent Reagan doctrine and the Project for the New American Century and subsequent Bush Doctrine.

However what is clearly evident is a central theme of argument here. The fluidity of the ideological worldviews of both Al-Qaeda and the neoconservatives’ remains and their methods of achieving their respective objectives depends on the regions, periods and events under examination. Ideology and its aims are not constants. Whilst it feels like déjà vu from a neoconservative perspective, in contrast there is a growing consensus that any analysis that suggests a void exists for the Muslim brotherhood to fill is overplayed (Walt, 2011; Hounshell, 2011)



Hounshell (2011). http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/02/14/think_again_egypt

Riedel, B. (2007).
The Return of the Knights: al-Qaeda and the Fruits of Middle East Disorder. Survival , 49 (3), 107-120.

Walt (2011). http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/02/14/winners_and_losers_of_the_revolution?page=0,1

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