Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, stated in a recent editorial for Dar al Hayat, that American officials will work with Islamist parties to prop up emerging Arab democracies.
"We are less concerned what a political party or organization calls itself than what it does in practice, and we will reach out to those who act according to democratic principles, respect their fellow citizens' rights, and do not use force or violence to impose their views," Feltman explains in the op-ed.
The Obama Administration's goal is "to reach out beyond the traditional government and business elites not only to articulate clearly our own goals but to listen to a wide spectrum of views. This includes reaching out to Islamist parties, who now play an important role in the political transformation of many countries in the region."
The United States intends to support the new democracies with both governmental aid and private economic investment. Feltman saluted the efforts of major American firms like Pfizer, Marriott, and Microsoft, who have already invested in Tunisia's new Islamist-led democracy. He also discussed the Administration's effort to convince Congress to facilitate job creation in Egypt, academic exchanges between the countries, and to "develop […] 'Enterprise Funds' to foster private-sector development."
The commitment of Islamist parties to democracy and human rights remains to be seen. While officials from Tunisia's Al-Nahda party and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood have said all the right things to Western news sources, they have continued to use traditional extremist rhetoric in addresses to their political base. Several Islamist groups also support a policy of gradualism, by incrementally introducing Islamism into local society and building their relationship with other Islamist regimes in the direction of a renewed Islamic empire [Caliphate].