Two forces have dominated the Arab political scene since World War One. The first is Arab nationalism; this was diverse, ranging from the moderate and conservative Hashemites in Jordan to radical Nasserism in Egypt and Ba’athism in Syria and Iraq, in addition to South Yemen’s Marxists. The second force is Islamism epitomized in the Saudi monarchy and its conservatism. The Arab Spring swept away the remnants of most of the nationalist regimes, shifting the balance of power to a new crop of leaders.

These include Muhammad Mursi, whose election as Egypt’s President marks the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood. Severely restricted under the regime of ousted and now jailed former President Husni Mubarak, it remains to be seen how the party will evolve now it is in power for the first time since its establishment in 1928. Push and pull factors are operating within the Brotherhood and it difficult to predict whether the old guard will yield to increasing pressure from younger and more progressive members. It is also hard to gauge how other forces within Egypt, such as Salafis and Jihadists, pushing for a more literal application of Shari’a law as they jostle for power, will shape the Brotherhood’s policies. It will need to decide how it wants to tackle the Arab-Israeli issue, what stance it will take on the Camp David Agreements and the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. It is unclear, when it comes to the Palestinian territories, whether the Brotherhood will continue to favor Hamas over Fatah. (CONTINUED - 953 WORDS)