A common refrain among pundits is that fear of radical Islam requires (reluctant) opposition to democracy on pragmatic grounds. While not without some merit, the formulation is misleading. The general threat has always been independence. In the Arab world, the U.S. and its allies have regularly supported radical Islamists, sometimes to prevent the threat of secular nationalism.
Noam Chomsky, Truthout
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Egyptian protesters march the streets of Cairo during demonstrations against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on January 28, 2011. (Photo: Ed Ou / New York Times)
“The Arab world is on fire,” al-Jazeera reported on Jan. 27, while throughout the region, Western allies “are quickly losing their influence.”
The shock wave was set in motion by the dramatic uprising in Tunisia that drove out a Western-backed dictator, with reverberations especially in Egypt, where demonstrators overwhelmed a dictator’s brutal police.
Observers compared the events to the toppling of Russian domains in 1989, but there are important differences.