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Gelvin (2005) notes how many Islamic groups that developed in this part of the world did not have political aspirations at all but only wanted to provide service to their communities. Islamic political movements all seek to expand the reach of Islamic law and to impose Islamic values on society. Gelvin also stats that the "relationship between Islamism... And nationalism is a complex one" (Gelvin, 2005, p. 291) and cites Hamas as showing this, on the one hand emphasizing the Islamic way of life, while also taking a political stance on nationalism as part of its religious creed. The PLO is another such organization, though this one with a greater nationalist element than a religious one.

5. Much of the Muslim resurgence that has taken place since 1945 is attributable first to the increased interest given to the Middle East by the West and notably by the United States, to the growth in importance of the oil industry in the region and around the world, and especially as a counter to the creation of Israel and the perceived threat posed by the presence of Israel in the region. The creation of Israel in 1949 only added to the sense on the part of the Arab world that the West did not respect them or their territory, but that attitude has a much longer history than the creation of Israel and extends back to when the West did indeed wage a holy war against the Muslim world. The U.S. role throughout the peace process has been to keep the two sides talking and to try to broker an agreement. At the same time, there is little doubt that the U.S. has tended toward the Israeli side, as generally does the West as a bloc. The Islamic world is well aware of this and has sought to gain power and to unify to a degree around this fact and around the idea that if these counties act in concert, they can push back many of these outside influences. Osama bin Laden himself states of Western influence,

Their presence [in the Middle East] has no meaning save one and that is to offer support to the Jews an Palestine who are in need of their Christian brothers to achieve full control over the Arab peninsula, which they intend to make an important part of the so called Greater Israel... They rip us of our wealth and of our resources and of our oil. Our religion is under attack. They kill and murder our brothers. They compromise our honor and our dignity and if we dare to utter a single word of protest against the injustice, we are called terrorists (Khater, 2003, pp. 360-361).

The discovery of oil and the increasing importance of oil has also served as a unifying force in the Middle East, with the perception being that the West wants the oil and will pay for it but that at any time the West might decide to invade and take what it wants unless the Muslim world finds ways to protect itself. In this process as well, Israel as seen as offering the West a foot in the door. In recent years, the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism is explained by a growing view that the West is antithetical to Islamic values, that those values need protection, and that the governments of the Middle East have also failed in tier promise of increased social justice and economic advancement for all. Those regimes, such as the Shah in Iran, that imposed a degree of modernization on the Western model while making promises about delivering social justice and improvement for the people, created a situation where their failure was blamed not on incompetence or venality so much as on modernization itself, causing many groups to blame the West for this as well.

In many Muslim countries, the government has worked to suppress the Islamic opposition as well as other types of opposition (Gelvin, 2005, p. 297), and this as well could add to the increase in Muslim political power and in the actions of Islamist groups seeking change. These groups may not prevail, but they can have an influence and can alter the nature of the debate into the future. Gelvin notes that nationalism and Islamism "are roughly equivalent" (Gelvin, 2005, p. 298), and he also suggests that "the failure of the state with its nationalist doctrines led to the efflorescence of Islamist movements in the region" (Gelvin, 2005, pp. 298-299), though he finds the reverse to be true as well. In any case, the increase in Islamism and the increase in nationalism have taken place at the same time and continue to fuel one another.

References

Gelvin, J.L.…[continue]

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