Thinking Aloud: ISIS and the Arab Spring

June 29, 2014 by Darius 

Earlier this week in Jordan, two angry demonstrations against the country’s monarchy took place.  Some of the demonstrators carried the black flag of ISIS and spent the protest shouting pro-ISIS slogans.  ISIS’s appeal is growing in Jordan.

In a way, the appeal of ISIS is a backlash from the Arab Spring.  The Arab Spring was supposed to be a major blow to Islamist ideologies.  Groups like al-Qaeda insisted that the only way to remove secular Arab dictators was through armed struggle and a return to the principles of Islam.  But the Arab Spring demonstrated that nonviolent protest could topple the hated dictators without Islamist ideology.

At least it was supposed to demonstrated that.  But how did the Arab Spring really turn out?  In Egypt, the Arab Spring ultimately replaced one dictator with another.  In Libya, nobody is in charge and a renegade general offers the best promise of stability—but probably also another dictatorship.  Syria rapidly became a mess.  In Jordan, protests meant that the king made some cosmetic reforms but retained the fundamental autocracy of his rule.

So what is the takeaway message from the Arab Spring today?  ISIS is a return to the original school of thought: perceived oppressors, be they Prime Minister Maliki in Iraq or King Abdullah in Jordan, cannot be changed via peaceful protest.  They can only be removed through Islamism, imposed violently.

ISIS has shown no indication that it is preparing operations against the Jordanian government.  Radicalized Jordanians, though, might take matters into their own hands.  The factors of unemployment and disaffected youth have not gone away since the Arab Spring.  Attitudes have changed.  If another mass movement convulses the Middle East, it may be a lot more radical than the Arab Spring.

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One Response to Thinking Aloud: ISIS and the Arab Spring

  1. Pingback: Thinking Aloud: Year in Review Countdown … #1 | Not What You Might Think

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