David Rohde, in Reuters’ Analysis and Opinion blog, designates 2012 as the year of the Islamist and discusses the likelihood that Islamists will remain in power in Tunisia and Egypt:

 Fourteen months after popular uprisings toppled dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, Islamist political parties – religiously conservative groups that oppose the use of violence – have swept interim elections, started rewriting constitutions and become the odds-on favorites to win general elections.

Rohde makes note of the fragile position of current Islamist leaders, as well as the fragmentary nature of Islamist politics:

 Months after gaining power, moderate Islamists find themselves walking a political tightrope. They are trying to show their supporters that they are different from the corrupt, pro-Western regimes they replaced. They are trying to persuade Western investors and tourists to trust them, return and help revive flagging economies. And they are trying to counter hardline Salafists who threaten to steal some of their conservative support.

Rohde suggests that American officials ought to create political and economic incentives for Islamist countries to integrate into the international system, in order to keep democracy afloat and ensure stability.  He also writes that current and future events taking place in the Middle East may not be compatible with Americans’ sensibilities:

 An extraordinary debate about the very nature of Islam is unfolding across the Middle East. In the months and years ahead, it will frighten, confuse and alarm Americans, but it is vital that Washington allow it to play out.

Read the full article here.