By Fareed Zakaria
“Repression of Islamists in Egypt was an essential stage in the emergence of contemporary jihadism,” write Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon in the New York Times.
“As splinter groups that were significantly more radical than the Muslim Brotherhood formed, Islamists became more violent. In the 1970s, a charismatic former Brotherhood member, Shukri Mustapha, created Takfir wal-Hijra, one of the early forerunners of Al Qaeda. Meanwhile, Muhammad Abd al-Salam Faraj plotted the ideology of Al Jihad. The latter group eventually assassinated President Anwar Sadat, and later provided much of the leadership for Al Qaeda, including Ayman al-Zawahri, the group’s current leader.
“The situation in Egypt is bound to worsen and the military clearly knows this, though some delude themselves that enough brutality will bring submission. Criminalizing the Brotherhood, which renounced violence in the 1970s and honored that pledge through the inept tenure of President Mohamed Morsi, shows that a line has been crossed, and that the army’s promises of a return to democracy were empty. The turn against the Brothers is a fateful error.”
“For a model of what post-cold war cooperation with Iran might look like, the U.S. can look to Turkey,” writes Peter Beinart in The Atlantic. “Turkey’s Sunni Islamist regime initially supported Syria’s rebels. But now, seeing the danger their extremism poses, it says it will back a peace agreement that allows some elements of the current Syrian regime – though presumably not Assad himself – to remain. For months, Turkey has been pushing for Iran to participate in the conference on ending Syria’s civil war scheduled for later this month in Geneva. This weekend, to his credit, John Kerry partially agreed.”
“For a model of what post-cold war cooperation with Iran might look like, the U.S. can look to Turkey.
“Make no mistake: Even if the U.S. and Iran transform their relationship, ending the horror in Syria will remain excruciatingly hard. Syria is frighteningly divided along sectarian lines. There are multiple rebel groups. Saudi Arabia, which is terrified of Iranian power, now espouses a far more militantly anti-Assad line than the United States does. But if the U.S., Turkey, Iran, and Russia could come to a common understanding on how to structure Syria’s political transition, perhaps the Saudis might realize the futility of their efforts at promoting rebel military victory. Perhaps they might grasp the danger of prolonging a war that empowers jihadists who – like their hero, Osama bin Laden – may eventually turn their guns on Riyadh.”
“Washington lobbying, and the government-sponsored privileges it secures for various interest groups, is rent-seeking in its purest and most pernicious form. Various societies have grown free and prosperous by many different methods; dividing up existing wealth according to political connections is not one of them,” argues Charles Lane in the Washington Post.
“Washington’s revolving door is hardly the only example of rent-seeking in our society, to be sure. A good deal of Wall Street activity fits the definition.
“Rent-seeking is not necessarily unproductive. One reason inventors create new products is to patent them, a form of government protection that entitles one to years of royalty payments. Still, too many of our public institutions – from Congress to big-city school systems – have been captured by rent-seeking interest groups.”