Monday, June 10, 2013

Just How More Islamist Can They Get?

Following my previous post on the contretemps on the Temple Mount, let's back up a bit:

From The Guardian.on 9 October 2007:-

Sitting in the best bar in Jerusalem about four months ago (it's called Sira, in case you're interested), I entered into conversation with a tall, ginger-haired young man who turned out to be a member of the Swedish contingent in the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH). Our conversation ranged over the trials and tribulations of the life of a member of TIPH, the very large amounts of money he seemed to be making, and the merits of Jerusalem when compared with other cities in the region.

An offhand remark he made concerning the political balance of power in Hebron turned the conversation from mildly interesting to memorable. I asked him if Hamas was gaining ground in the city of Hebron. He replied wearily that the fastest-growing political force in the city was not Hamas, nor any of the other well-known Palestinian political movements. Rather, the most notable and noticeable development on the ground in Hebron was the sudden and rapid rise in support for the Islamist party Hizb ut-Tahrir...It may well be that a deep, and profoundly significant "Islamisation" of the politics of the Arab world is taking place, the implications of which are only beginning to be glimpsed. Looking around the region, the wall-to-wall dominance of Islamist groups in opposition politics appears to attest to such a process. Hizb ut-Tahrir itself may well end up being only one of many symptoms of this broader trend, all trying to ride the wave.

Such a shift, if it takes place, would have severe implications for hopes of a consensual peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and for wider regional stability. A Fatah official I spoke with recently told me that in his view Abu Mazen was "the last Palestinian," whose failure would mean the emergence to prominence of a new brand of chaotic, rejectionist politics among the Palestinians.

So had my Swedish friend - enjoying his weekend off in a west Jerusalem bar - revealed a dot on the horizon, indicating the approach of something new? It's too soon to tell, of course. But interested parties among both Israelis and Palestinians will no doubt be keeping a close eye on the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir in the West Bank in the period to come.

And on 6 December 2007:

Hizb ut-Tahrir remains a small, minority stream in Palestinian politics and the significance of its emergence should not be exaggerated. But neither should it be ignored. Those who thought the emergence of Hamas as the most significant Palestinian political movement was a product of a momentary coming together of particular circumstances - the most significant one of them being the corruption and failure of Fatah - may have missed a key contemporary dynamic of the politics of the Arab world, namely the growing "Islamization" of politics, with a variety of different Islamic currents coming to populate and increasingly define political language and action in country after country. Whether Abu Rashta's group, or another movement, eventually benefits from this process is less important than the existence of the process itself, with all its implications for hopes for peaceful and rational development in the region.

And now?

May 16:

The Palestinian Authority has maintained pressure on a Gulf-supported Islamist movement.
Officials said PA security forces have been ordered to quell protests or rallies by the Hizb Al Tahrir movement. They said Hizb, estimated to have more than 50,000 supporters, sought to expand activities with funding from Gulf Cooperation Council states.

“This is a Salafist group that although currently non-violent can easily turn to terror in the future,” an official said.

Officials acknowledged that restrictions on Hizb were eased in 2012 as part of an effort by the ruling Fatah movement to reconcile with the Hamas opposition. But they said the PA resumed its crackdown in the spring of 2013 as Fatah reconciliation talks with Hamas reached a stalemate.

Hizb was said to be active in most Palestinian cities in the West Bank, including Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin and Tulkarm. On May 4, PA police and anti-riot units dispersed a Hizb protest in the northern city of Jenin.

And on June 6, we learned:

Hundreds of Muslim fundamentalists belonging to Hizb-ut-Tahrir (Party of Liberation) held a march through the streets of Ramallah on Tuesday to mark the 92nd anniversary of the fall of the Caliphate, the Gatestone Institute reported.

Hizb-ut-Tahrir is an international pan-Islamic political group that calls for the restoration of the Islamic Caliphate, which was dismantled following the end of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. The group, which also calls for the elimination of Israel, reportedly chanted slogans encouraging Muslim armies to “march toward Palestine to liberate the Aqsa Mosque and the rest of Palestine.”

We used to say, after Fatah, there's Hamas and after Hamas, the Islamic Jihad and we now add, the Hizb-ut-Tahrir.

No one to trust over there and surely no one to who our security would be assured.


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