Jerusalem Post correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh writes that in Syria, "What started as a secular Facebook revolution against the Assad regime is now beginning to look like a jihad [holy war] led by Muslim fundamentalists." In an op-ed published Friday by the Hudson Institute's New York affiliate, Abu Toameh points to signs that Islamists, many of them associated with the Brotherhood, are pushing aside secular democrats and coming to dominate the Syrian opposition.
Arab press reports say Islamists have been smuggling weapons into the country from neighboring Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon. Most of the weaponry has been obtained by fundamentalist Muslims who are now waging guerrilla war to overt against the dictatorship headed by President Bashar al-Assad.
As in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen, Syrian Islamists laid low at the start of that nation's uprising. As it became clear that the Syrian revolution might succeed, they began to play a more open role. Brotherhood members and "independent" Islamists hold 10 of the 19 seats on the general secretariat of the Syrian National Council, the country's main opposition group.
According to Abu Toameh, it is disturbing that Washington and many European governments have endorsed the Islamist- dominated opposition council. "For many Syrians, the only choice today is between a murderous secular regime led by Assad and Muslim fundamentalists seeking to turn their country into an Islamic state."
The Hudson Institute's Lee Smith writes that, like its predecessors in the George W. Bush administration, the Obama administration has sought reach out to Brotherhood supporters and other hostile Islamists rather than opposing them. President Obama, in particular, has sought to cultivate Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, "a demagogue who has patterned his career after the Middle East's most famous radical, Gamal Abdel Nasser" – the Egyptian dictator whose aggressive hostility toward Israel helped provoke two Middle Eastern wars.
Smith believes that in some ways, "moderate" Islamists like Erdogan could prove to be more dangerous than terror groups like al-Qaida. The latter are dependent on the support of rogue states to commit crimes. But "so-called moderate Islamist parties, on the other hand, win electoral contests that leave them in charge of Middle Eastern governments, security services and militaries with artillery, tanks, air forces and navies," Smith writes.
Read more about how radical Islam is benefiting from the Arab Spring here.