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Don't spoil the Arab "Ceremony" - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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There are those who want to believe that what is happening in the Arab world is a revolution for freedom and democracy in its purest form.

Therefore, they are distressed with the outburst of sectarian violence, the emergence of new religious terrorist groups, and jurisprudential Puritanism in a manner fiercer than prior to the emergence of the Arab revolutions.

Those who believe that Arab unity is every Arab citizen’s ambition, and those who regard revolutions, “coups”, or uprisings against Arab rulers as evidence of the people’s eagerness and longing for their lost unity, and as a desire to eliminate the humiliating agreements singed with Israel and others, must be distressed to see such sectarian wars being waged within each Arab state. They must lament the regional conflicts in Sudan for example, or the southern Yemenis chanting slogans of secession from the north. Such people try to avoid these facts on the ground, or reinterpret them in a more favorable manner, by resorting to the conspiracy theory.

It was repeated many times and in various forms by Arab and Western voices that “the Arab Spring” has put an end to the “al-Qaeda” era, especially following the assassination of its leader Osama Bin Laden. For some, this marked an end to the organization, its ideology, branches, and whoever seeks to imitate it, spiritually, by the outbreak of the Arab Spring revolutions and, physically, by the death of Osama bin Laden. However, the facts on the ground did not change, and “al-Qaeda”, in its broad and comprehensive meaning, is still active. We see it attempting to control the Yemeni Abyan province, and according to Western reports, the organization is also active in looting arms from Gaddafi’s troops in Libya, and is also reportedly fighting Mauritanian troops in the Sahara.

The course of Jihadist groups has nothing to do with what happened in Cairo, Taiz or Sana’a. They follow a different course, hold a different view, and live in a different world. They have their own perception of the problem, and so they have their own solution.

Contrary to the views of some championing the slogans of freedom, fundamentalist groups may find a favorable opportunity – in the current disorder prevailing in the Arab world – to lay foundations once again, and exploit the prevailing chaos to make some gains and establish a new reality on the ground. At the very least, this is their time to seize the opportunity to stockpile arms, build hideouts and headquarters, and prepare all requirements necessary for their future operations.

Even in Syria, despite the astounding courage demonstrated by the people there in the face of the terrifying, repressive regime, and despite the country’s sensitive sectarian diversity, many of those who sympathize and side with the Syrian people’s revolution may not want to hear that extremist Sunni religious groups, with members of all ages, do in fact exist in some Syrian cities, regardless of their size or influence on the revolution.

Indeed, it is hard for someone to see the full picture without reproducing it according to his own desires, prejudice and sentiment.

In Egypt, for example, we saw how the talk about the “remnants” of the previous regime or foreign interference was overstated, and hence was used as a pretext for the problems that emerged as a result of the collapse of the previous regime, the spread of chaos throughout the country, the occurrence of sectarian problems, and the activities of religious groups and thugs. People laid the blame for what happened on illusory enemies who exist only in their imagination, and they failed to discuss the fact that these problems are purely internal matters. Therefore, it was interesting to read a recent article in the “al-Ahram” daily newspaper by prominent writer Mohamed Salmawi, a supporter of the Egyptian revolution, saying that there are those seeking to transform Egypt into a radical state, and that attention must be drawn to the political plots hatched by radical groups, instead of immersing in the talk of “remnants” of the former regime.

The picture is not always as it seems to us, or as we want it to appear to us, because there is a difference between sight and insight. The former is the vision of the eyes, whereas the latter is the vision of the heart and mind.

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi is a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism, as well as on Saudi affairs. He is Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page editor. Mr. Zaydi has worked for the local Saudi press, and has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.

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