Islamism's Future and What it Means for the West

An interesting situation is developing in the Middle East.  According to today's Israel Hayom, Egypt is attempting to persuade Iran to abandon its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad:

Egypt is trying to convince Iran to drop its unquestioned support of Syria's embattled President Bashar al-Assad in order to end that country's bloody civil war in exchange for help in easing Tehran's regional isolation at a time of mounting pressure on it over its disputed nuclear program.

The offer is the centerpiece of a diplomatic push by Egypt's new Islamist president, who is hoping his "Islamic Quartet" - grouping Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, all supporters of the Syrian rebellion, with Syria's top regional ally Iran - can succeed where other initiatives have failed.

The grouping is the first major effort to involve Iran in resolving the crisis. But it may be a tough sell. Tehran's influence in the Middle East is strongly tied to its alliance with Assad and his fall would be a major blow.

If this report is accurate and Egypt is able to convince Iran to abandon Assad, the complexion of the Middle East and the world will change in a heartbeat.  Islamists already control Egypt, and they are increasing their influence in Jordan.  If/when Assad falls, the Muslim Brotherhood is ready, willing, and able to take control in Syria.  Islamists already have virtual control of Lebanon thanks to Hezbaollah, and once the Brothers take control in Syria, Jordan will be the only Muslim country bordering Israel that is not run by Islamists.  That situation won't last long.  In relative short order, King Abdullah will probably mount his Harley and head for a safe haven.  Stranger things have happened.

But that's not all.  Thanks to population demographics, Islamists are increasing their influence in Europe one birth at a time; Islamists control Libya and Turkey; and the Saudi royal family faces continuing danger thanks to Islamists in that country.  You don't have to go too far out on a limb to imagine Islamists taking control of Saudi Arabia as well.  If they do, the world will confront a new reality: Islamism with teeth.  By that I mean Islamism that has political and economic strength and a powerful regional block from which to launch attacks against Islamism's enemies.  That includes the West (Israel and the United States in particular), every country that isn't run by Islamists, and moderate Muslims (yes there are moderate Muslims despite what some would have you believe). 

We may be witnessing a major tipping point in the battle between Islamists and the world.  The attacks against U.S. embassies in Egypt and Libya are a part of that battle, and it's no coincidence that they took place on 9/11.  I'm suggesting that depicting Mohammed negatively in an online film was only an excuse to launch the attacks and that the date was the key.  The attacks were perpetrated to remind the West (the United States in particular) that the war is far from over, and they are correct. 

Unfortunately, we have a president who is either asleep at the switch, ignorant, or stupid.  The best he could do in response to the armed assaults in Egypt and Libya was apologize.  Israel knows what has to be done to survive in an Islamist world, and apologizing isn't it.  Islamists laugh at apologies, but they take notice when jets and .50 caliber machine guns are deployed.  Regrettably, President Obama is too busy to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, again, so he'll have to learn the lesson the hard way.  Since he's a slow learner, the U.S. is in serious danger. 

If you think things are so bad that they can't get any worse, think again.  If President Obama is re-elected, the world as we know it may change completely before he completes his second term in office.

Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog,, is posted daily.

If you experience technical problems, please write to