Islamists lost in the Moroccan Elections. Al-Qaeda is losing ground in Egypt and many other places in the Middle East.

This comes in addition to the Pew’s Global Poll finding Muslim support for suicide bombings and for Osama bin Laden have dropped very significantly.

In Egypt Al-Qaeda lost support amongst the people. I think this sums it up:

“These groups have of course been around for a long time. But what people discovered with them is that they’re incredibly rough and rigidly ideological,” says Diaa Rashwan, an expert on political Islam at the Al Ahram Center for Strategic and International Studies in Cairo. “Their methods weren’t about winning people over, being with them, but imposing upon them. No people in the world like that.”

Egyptian Islamists have rejected Al-Qaeda’s extremism – but in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood. So in some ways, we’re back to where we were.

But these groups, typified by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, have sought to work from within existing systems, moving slowly to build support and sending out a message of gradual change.

“The whole notion of what it means to be radical leaves most people in the world feeling uncomfortable,” says Mr. Rashwan. “The Brotherhood has worked long term and focused on people’s daily problems and needs, they don’t have the big, dangerous dreams of revolutionaries so that’s where the support ends up.”

I am very wary of the Brotherhood. I used to be the radical Party of Islamism. I’m not convinced they converted into peaceful gradual reform-democrats. But of all the Islamist parties out there, the Brotherhood is the one most likely to become a reformist party.

Al-Qaeda’s Revolutionary message is being rejected. What is causing this shift? Iraq.

Al-Qaeda declared Iraq to be the central front in their global insurgency. Since then, people across the Arab World have seen constant suicide bombings and beheadings – not of Jews in Israel, or Hindus in India, or Russians in Afghanistan – but of Arab Muslims in Arab states.

Let’s be honest. Many Arabs were very supportive of suicide bombings so long as those who died were just Jews. Once suicide bombing inverts and targets other Arabs – they don’t like it so much.

The bigger problem is the lack of a secular political alternative. Socialism and Arab Nationalism are dead political forces. There is no Liberal tradition to speak of. What’s left are the Monarchists and the Islamists.

When the Islamists lose elections – or are denied victories – there is a higher possibility of civil war. This happened in Algeria in 1992.

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