By Nir Boms
(Lecture notes given in Melbourne, Australia)
The main domestic objective of most Middle Eastern governments is to maintain the status quo regarding the balance between citizen freedoms and oppression.
Opposition movements can be roughly divided into two main groups: Islamist opposition, which think the governments are too secular, and the democratic or reform-minded opposition.
The Islamists seek to replace governments, but the democrats are not yet in that position. They seek reforms, the creation of greater freedoms and the like. There is an inherent difference between the ability of these two groups to achieve – or go about achieving – their goals; radicals are more focused in their objectives, and have easily defined goals. Intellectuals generally do not, nor do they have the infrastructure (such as mosques, access to money, etc.) to support their objectives.