Secularism, Democracies, and Radical Islam Post Arab Spring
A Honeymoon or the Calm before the Storm
There is a perpetual struggle between order and justice; the dyad in this natural process is the guardians of the status quo and their challengers (Wehr, 1975). Accordingly, there are always latent conflicts which may be traced back to a distant past (Deutsch, 1973). The conflict emerges once the challenger chose to pursue a change in the status quo. Conflicts are indispensable for minorities with grievances as they allow them to undo injustices; such benign conflicts are the pillars for democracy, and provide hope for just social and political systems. Weak settlements, or absence of consensus, are the root cause for discontent, bitterness, and resentment, generate irritation and infuriation, creates social unrest, and stimulate the parties’ urges to satisfy their material desires by means of appropriation such as theft, confiscation, litigation, or war.
Conflicts taking such a competitive stance frequently become violent; they will usually do more harm than good. When the parties in a violent or costly conflict reach a mutually hurting stalemate they attain the critical stage of ripeness. Ripeness is a psychological state that promotes resorting to bilateral or mediated negotiation (Zartman, 2000). Once the parties reach the critical point of ripeness, conflict resolution consisting of methods and processes used to assist the peaceful ending of the conflict begins. This situation sounds paradoxical; if conflict analysis and resolution (CAR) practitioners are able to resolve conflict, then waiting until conflicts erupt is counterproductive, after all they are well versed into the field and should be able to predict future conflicts and engage in early interventions to prevent them. Improvements in the field such as the development of the dynamical system theory should allow CAR practitioners to intervene during the early signs of escalation and introduce repellents in order to balance positive and negative feedback mechanisms. A broad array of events and activities can help to budge a particular state from a currently manifest attractor into a latent attractor (Coleman et al., 2006). This movement is determined by the form of the attractor topography and the location of the state in relation to the attractors. Practitioners can determine how both factors should be influenced in order to move the system into a positive attractor basin.
Unfortunately, early intervention is not an easy task. Foreseeing and reacting to emerging violent conflicts starts by grasping cultural, economic, and domestic causes of distress in specific countries, and appraising the probability of a shift toward extremism and violence. This means constant monitoring of all hotbeds of conflicts, it also requires resources and information mostly guarded by the intelligence service that gathered them. It is necessary that a strategic conflict analysis be developed for countries and regions where there are latent or growing hazards of violent conflict, for countries embroiled in an ongoing conflict, and for countries emerging from conflicts. In cases of interstate or intrastate conflicts, CAR practitioners can resort to comparative foreign policy to confirm recurring and recognizable archetypes. Discovering past patterns is essential to achieve broad awareness and a better ability to anticipate future actions; knowing the factors shaping the choice of entering into a conflict enables them to forecast, influence, and perhaps even avert potential international conflicts. In the case of the Arab spring, however, policymakers across the globe were caught off guard and ill-equipped for the ensuing anarchy and violence and they responded with a string of hasty and disorganized actions.
The post Arab spring environment presents extreme challenges to the future regional and possibly global security. Huntington, in his "class of civilizations" predicts future conflict will occur mostly between the Western and the Islamic civilizations. His findings are supported by Fox's subsequent research stipulating the Islamic civilization is prone to enter into future conflict with the Western civilization but also with all the others identified by Huntington (Fox, 2011). For the decades the west foreign policy in Muslim and Arabic countries supported autocratic regime types hoping stability would achieve security. Unfortunately neither objective was achieved as the world has witnessed the rise of radical Islam and the collapse or weakening of many autocratic regimes after the Arab spring. International relations (IR) scholarships contend that democratizing states are most vulnerable to a return to autocracy (Mansfield and Snyder, 1995; 2002); the leadership gains of Islamic groups in those countries and the troubles in many others such as Syria and Mali are worrisome signs of future theocracies. Additionally, Mansfield and Snyder argued that leaders in transitioning or autocratic espouse aggressive ideologically driven policies in order to define group membership and strengthen the bonds; these policies make them prone to engage in internal and external conflicts. A civilizations’ conflict along these fault lines may have epical proportions because of the ideological component, the global implication, and the effect on domestic policies vis-à-vis the Diasporas.
As pointed above, the post Arab spring environment may provide stimuli for a destructive conflict. The conflict, if fueled by civilizations clash rhetoric, will embroil the world in interstate and intrastate multiparty conflicts. The conflict between radical Islam, Western democracies Values, and secularism in Arab and Muslim countries is already intractable. The difference in a post Arab spring environment is the opportunity presented to radical Islamists to emerge from clandestine activism and vie for power through insurgencies or electoral processes. This also provides for a bleak assessment of the prospects of a grab of power by radical Islamists on the intractable conflict as they move from being non-state to state actors in the international community. Therefore, it is crucial to assess the likelihood this conflict, once radical Islamist establish their control of their target states, will escalate to the levels portrayed by Huntington and make recommendations to avert such a dramatic shift.The fundamental goal of research is to enhance human wellbeing by providing new knowledge that would defy and ultimately defeat prevalent dogmas, including revered but idiotic beliefs that had been around for centuries (Powers & Knapp, 1995). Conflict resolution focused research has the noble objective of engineering diverse viewpoints and contexts for the conflict by generating innovative outcomes which will question archaic and fruitless methods used hitherto. This research will use a two-pronged approach. First, the author will analyze the gist and importance of conflict resolution with regard to this intractable multi-party conflict. The article will examine the approaches previously used through the lens of the five paradigms of intractable conflict resolution, and emphasize on the potential of the dynamic system theory (DST) to clarify the core of the resolution modus operandi. The second part of this article will provide a blueprint for the potential future of this intractable conflict through a social dynamic prism. The research is designed to investigate the fulfillment prospects of Huntington’s clash of civilization theory, and provide a blueprint for possible interventions.