An excellent article from the Hudson Inst. With thanks to Larwyn’s Links
by Khaled Abu Toameh
February 11, 2011 at 5:00 am
This is why these dictators never took drastic measures against Islamic fundamentalist groups in their countries. Even though Egypt and some Arab countries occasionally cracked down on these groups, they always made sure that the Islamists would stay around.
In Egypt, for example, the Muslim Brotherhood organization had been outlawed for many years. However, this did not stop the organization and its supporters from operating under different labels.
In Jordan, similarly, the authorities played a cat-and-mouse game with Islamist groups and their followers. One day the Muslim Brotherhood in the kingdom would be good guys, on another day they would be bad guys.
This pattern gave the Muslim Brotherhood a chance to grow and win over more supporters, as the local people became more and more disgusted both with their dictators and the Western governments who supported them
Instead of focusing their attention on the Islamists, Arab dictators chose to chase secular reformists, liberals, democrats, newspaper editors and human rights activists; by suppressing the emergence of these people, the Arab dictatorships paved the way for the rise of radical extremists.
This is the reason the Islamist groups in the Arab countries are much more organized than the pro-democracy Facebook youth who launched the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
Unlike the Islamist groups, the anti-government demonstrators in Egypt and Jordan still do not have leaders. Mohammed ElBaradei, who enabled Iran to build up its nuclear program by misrepresenting it to the West, has not succeeded in presenting himself as a charismatic leader of the opposition in Egypt.