The Arab Spring brought about regime change as well as created instability. At the same time it emboldened a new generation of Salafi Islamists– spurred on by ultraconservative imams who had been muzzled for years.
The Salafi Islamist movement wants to control the governing process. Tunisia was the first to see regime change, followed by Egypt and Libya. Quick action by Algeria’s leader in reducing food prices, and modifying oppressive government actions saved him from the same fate. Morocco also fared better, with the monarchy allowing new parliamentary elections, addressing human rights issues, and giving up some sovereign rights. An Islamist recently won the election in Morocco, and became the prime minister. Salafi Islamists will continue to gain influence in the North African countries. These rulers have temporarily survived, but there is still underlying discontentment that won’t go away. Drought related issues, rising food prices, and high unemployment continue to be major concerns across the Maghreb.
In the Arabian Peninsula al-Qaeda and affiliated Islamic extremists are chipping away at the governments in Yemen, Oman, Lebanon, and Bahrain. Syria will eventually fall into the hands of Islamic extremists. The instability caused by these Islamists could spill over into Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait and the Emirates. In Saudi Arabia, al-Saud in 1744 embraced Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s narrow version of Islam, which included armed jihad. Osama bin Laden was a disciple. His al-Qaeda network has been angered by the House of Saud, which could put the Saudi leadership at risk. Islamic extremists will continue to destabilize countries, in their quest to establish Islamic states.