The Struggle for Middle East Mastery

The question in almost all of the wider Middle East is no longer one of democracy versus dictatorship, but rather one of (Islamist) revolution versus (military) counter-revolution – dictatorship or dictatorship. And, because both sides have opted for armed struggle, the outcome will be protracted civil war and chaos.

BERLIN – The last illusions about what was called, until recently, the “Arab Spring” may have vanished. Egypt’s military coup has made the simple, depressing alternatives for the country’s future crystal clear: The question is no longer one of democracy versus dictatorship, but rather one of (Islamist) revolution versus (military) counter-revolution – dictatorship or dictatorship.

This applies not only to Egypt, but to almost all of the wider Middle East. And, because both sides have opted for armed struggle, the outcome will be civil war, regardless of what well-intentioned European Union foreign ministers decide in Brussels. The Islamists cannot win militarily, just as the generals cannot win politically, which all but ensures the return of dictatorship, significant violence, and a series of humanitarian disasters.

For both sides, full mastery and control is the only option, though neither has even a rudimentary understanding of how to modernize the economy and society. So, whichever side gains the upper hand, authoritarianism and economic stagnation will prevail once again.

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