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POLS 3326 – Politics of Middle East and North Africa – Final Exam Essay Questions (Essay Sample)

Demonstrate your understanding of political Islam, its stated goals, and the distinction between the different strands covered through the readings and discussions in class. Make sure to delineate the intellectual foundations behind political Islam with reference to material discussed in class. In answering the question, incorporate the topics of sectarianism as well as authoritarianism. In what ways have specific strands of political Islam, and the discourses surrounding those specific strands, contributed to the seeming increase of sectarianism in the regions? In what ways has political Islam affected the manner in which some MENA region states approach Islam and use state power to control Islamists? source..
Political Islam in the Middle East Name Institution Affiliation Political Islam in the Middle East Introduction For the past two decades, politics of the Middle East have been considered to be a threat to other regions including the West. In various political debates driven by several scholars, Islamism has been characterized by militant as well as radical grouping of what is called Islamist social government when it comes to Muslim world. In this case, this paper focuses on understanding the concept of political Islam, its goals and specific strands while examining the increase of sectarianism in the region. More so, other areas to cover include the aspects of how political Islam has affected MENA region states. Political Islam In their book, A history of the modern Middle East, Cleveland & Taylor & Francis (2017) define the term Islam and politics that rotates around it. For example, their study explains that Islam comes from the Arabic word called Salama, which means peace. In this case, Islam is considered to be a religion based on achieving peace. In the Middle East, Islam religion is believed to have started as early as the 7th century, and it was based on the teachings of Prophet Muhammad. When it comes to politics, Knudsen (2003) depicts that Islam in the Middle East has for the past decades been attributed to Islamic resurgence or revival, and this makes it complex to explore. In fact, the resurgence of Islam, according to Knudsen (2003) is considered to be "political Islam." On the same note, Cleveland & Bunton (2017) explain that Political Islam in the Middle East is characterized by militant Islam, radical Islam, revolutionary, extremists Islam to mention but a few. In this case, therefore, Islam in this region has been used as the political end in one way or the other. Furthermore, one of the major challenges most of the countries in this region face is that political Islam is considered to be an illegitimate extension driven by extremists while using religion to influence politics. In other words, political Islam in the Middle East involves religion, which is fused with politics (Knudsen, 2003). In their book, Cleveland, Taylor & Francis (2017) highlight that political Islam in the Middle East, especially in countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia have always been involved with fundamental forces between central governments and Islamic extremists. Consequently, such fundamentalism has created hatred to regimes that work with Western countries in a bid to suppress oppositions. On the same note, Cleveland & Bunton (2017) add that most resistance in the Middle East is against governments that get support from the West to eliminate any threat to their power However, this has since worsened the situation as the Middle East continues to be the hub of Islam extremists who use extreme means to challenge their governments. As Knudsen (2003) reports, Middle East politics is characterized with the tendency of condemning any form of social protest terming them as illegitimate, and this usually calls for the use of military forces. Because of the consequences as a result of military force to suppress protesters, formation of resistance and Islam extremists has increased in the region like never before. At this point, it is not surprising that the use of military force has persisted and at the same time gained popularity among the Islamic movements in the Middle East. Whereas most of the regions across the globe continue to experience significant change to practice democracy, Cavatorta, Freer, Kilavuz, Mandaville, Shehata & Yadav (2015) explain that the Middle East has regressed toward more repression. More so, Cavatorta et al. (2015) explain that domestic situations of the regimes in the Middle East countries continue to shape the future of Islamists. In fact, their study depicted that such conditions contribute to why trajectories of the Brotherhood-related movements usually vary from one case to another. In other words, Islam extremists have persisted in the region because most of the regimes have always tried to survive and define their political space despite the level of repression for Islamists that is usually based on the regime self-interests. According to Haklai (2009), politics in the Middle East countries is characterized by repression mechanism, which is based on controlling citizens by all means necessary (by force). Besides, spending a lot of money in a bid to keep track down people against governments has become order of the day, and regimes continue to use repression, especially when dealing with most of the citizens who refuse to dance according to their tunes. In relation to Haklai (2009)’s research investigation, Cavatorta et al. (2015) speculate that most of MENA countries use extreme means to silence any call for political change. In most case, these regimes use political force, which involves intelligence and the military to arrest or detain, fight to eliminate any level of threat from protesters who are demanding for change. In the process, these regimes usually spend a lot of money on political forces and military while using expensive intelligence systems with the necessary equipment as well as personnel to deal with all sorts of political challenges that come up due to the efforts of those who want change. Furthermore, Cavatorta et al. (2015) emphasize that that domestic factors in Middle East countries, especially MENA states usually define Islamists' strategies are used in one way or the other. For example, their research indicates that as domestic security environments in these regimes become more restricted, they usually create a situation for various cross-ideological coalitions. In this case, therefore, it is worth mentioning that most of Islamic extremists such as Al Qaeda developed their ideologies based on such absolutism in the region. More so, it is from this background that Cavatorta et al. (2015) assert that the Islamists' choices are likely to continue impacting on their future in one way or the other. At this point, there is a need for collective effort to change the status quo, which can lead to a democratic region. Cavatorta et al. (2015) claim that implementing free and fair voting practices will be essential for Islamists going forward to change the political tension in the region. While responding to political situation in the Middle East, Mandaville et al. (2015) suggested that it is important for the young people in the region to understand the aspect of Islamism. In fact, his perspective is based on the assumption that young people rather than old, have the potential to determine or the future of this region as far as politics is concerned. More so, it was highlighted that youth could determine the classical understanding of Islamism based on what they spread and believe in. In the same line, Axworthy (2013) add that political culture in the M...
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