Nicolas Pelham has reported on the Arab world for twenty years and currently writes for The Economist. (October 2013)
Hamas in Politics: Democracy, Religion, Violence by Jeroen Gunning
It is perhaps a measure of how close Libya is to breaking apart that two years after ousting their one dictator, many Libyans are craving another. The name most often and favorably circulated is Colonel Salem Joha, an unorthodox soldier from Misrata.
Jordan’s parliamentary election was boycotted by five opposition parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood, and even according to disputed official figures less than 40 percent of the kingdom’s voters bothered to register and vote. But for all their common economic grievances, many Jordanians seem unnerved by the mounting opposition to their sovereign.
Jordan has become a crucial center for the Islamist opposition in Syria—fighters, regime defectors, and their supporters, who speak of replacing the secular-Alawite regime with a new government that brings a Sunni majority to power.
The arrival in Gaza of the Emir of Qatar was the latest step by Arab governments to shift hundreds of millions of dollars in aid from the Palestinian Authority to the Islamist movement Hamas and could signal a historic shift in Palestinian politics. But a reconciliation with Egypt remains elusive, and Gaza’s economic recovery, largely dependent on underground trade to the Sinai, is precarious. And as Hamas turns away from its Islamist social welfare policies while struggling to contain more radical movements, there are new questions about its longevity. “We can’t keep ourselves imprisoned much longer,” a Hamas commander tells me as he slouches bootless under a makeshift tent at the tunnel mouths.
Since the Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi set himself and the Arab world aflame in December 2010, young men all over the Middle East have tried to imitate him. In no country have they done so more often than in Morocco, where some twenty men, with many of the same economic grievances, are reported to have self-immolated. Five succeeded in killing themselves, but none in sparking a revolution. It is not for want of causes.
Two and a half weeks after shrugging off Colonel Qaddafi’s dictatorship, the rebels are continuing their carnival outside the courthouse in Benghazi, the city on Libya’s east coast where they have made their headquarters.