Jordan: The Quest for a Centrist Position

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VOL. 13


No. 2
P. 3
Jordan: The Quest for a Centrist Position

The following address was delivered to the Middle East Consultation at the Carter Center of Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA on November 8, 1983.

The present situation in the Middle East is the outcome of the interaction of many diverse and divergent political factors which have dominated the region over the last decade or so. The Camp David Accords injected a fresh momentum in the peace process but their negative aspects have unfortunately dominated the politics of the region. The Accords provided for a partial peace which plunged Arab politics into a serious morass of conflict and recriminations. The neutralization of Egypt and the subsequent Arab-imposed containment of Egypt rendered Israel dominant, while Arab politics became marked by feuds and polarization. A cursory examination of the events of the last few years will point to a singular conclusion, namely, the triumph of extremist politics, whether in Israel or the Arab and Muslim worlds. Both in Jewish and Muslim societies, politics have become infused by religion and religious precepts to produce political fanaticism which the Middle East has rarely known as shown by the activities of such groups as the Phalange of Lebanon, Gush Emunim of Israel and the Pasdarans of Iran. Populist religion-based fanaticism has had an immediate impact on society and politics in the whole region. The denial of legitimate rights, compounded by the absence of authoritative political institutions to safeguard the cultural, ethnic and religious diversity of these societies, has allowed rampant extremism to dominate the conduct of public affairs. Social diversity has assumed an ever-increasing dimension in the struggle between populist movements of different origins and divergent aims. The politics of fanaticism has triggered off a new dimension of social conflict and communal polarization. Primordial perceptions of society have become a pervasive feature of the ideology of extremist populist groupings, the logic of which leads to fragmentation of all states in the region, as is occurring in Lebanon.