“This [Palestinian elections] is but the latest manifestation of the rise of political Islam in the electoral politics of the Middle East, a development that – despite the Bush administration’s endless promotion of democratic reform in the region – is causing deep worry among top policy makers in Washington.
“Last year began with Islamist candidates winning most of the seats in the first very limited municipal polls in Saudi Arabia and ended with the Iraqi religious parties – both Shiite and Sunni – performing handsomely in the December parliamentary elections. The official Iraqi results, announced on January 21, showed the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance winning almost 80% of the seats that should go to the majority Shiite community. Likewise the Islamic Iraq Party won 80% of the places to which the Sunni minority is entitled.
“In between these polls, in a general election held last summer, Hizbollah emerged as the preeminent representative of Lebanese Shiites, the country’s largest sectarian group (which is grossly underrepresented in parliament). And in the first election for the legislative assembly not flagrantly rigged by Hosni Mubarak’s regime in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood registered a nearly 60% success rate by winning 88 out of the 150 seats it contested. The Brotherhood certainly could have won many more, but its leadership deliberately decided to contest only a minority of seats in order not to provoke the regime of Egypt’s pro-American president and so create a situation in which he might be likely to strike out indiscriminately against the opposition.”
Sooner or later, the US and its Western allies will have to learn to deal with groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. True democracy means accepting the will of the people, without interference or obstruction.
The West should be worried.