CH-12 - 12. The Return of Islam? When and why did this...

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When and why did this change toward Islamist politics occur throughout the Muslim world? Many Arabs and Middle East specialists opt for June 1967 as the turning point. During those six days in June Israeli forces routed the combined forces of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan and occupied the entire Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights, and all of what had been Mandate Palestine up to the Jordan River. It was a body blow not only to Nasserist Pan-Arabism but to existing regimes throughout the Arab world. As a traumatic event bringing into focus the failures of previous decades of ide- ology and institution building the Six Day War of 1967 can hardly be exaggerated. Yet, although the June War undoubtedly had a decisive effect on subse- quent events in the region, Islamist politics would probably have emerged even if this very surprising and avoidable war had not occurred. 1 Nasserist Pan-Arabism was already in decline. The idea that a larger Arab political entity was the wave of the future had been jolted six years earlier, in 1961 . That year brought the breakup of the Egyptian-Syrian union that had cre- ated the United Arab Republic only three years earlier, in 1958 . Moreover, the June War did not necessarily discredit territorial nation- alism throughout the Arab world. This crushing Arab defeat actually strengthened one important nationalist movement, that of the Palestinians. Observers with an eye for irony were wont to insist that the only victors of the June War had been Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The latter under Yasir Arafat’s leadership became thereafter less a creature of the Egyptian-dominated Arab League and 12. The Return of Islam?
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more a nationalist movement (a would-be state) beholden to its own self- defined interests. In any case, Arabs make up only about one-Ffth of the world’s Muslims. However shocking this 1967 war was to Arabs (and it certainly was that), it was less so to the millions of Muslims concerned with events closer to home. 2 To cite a few critical events in other Muslim countries, the 1965 army coup in Indonesia toppled Sukarno with resulting disturbances that brought the massacre of some 750 , 000 Indonesians (a conservative estimate). Nigeria in 1966 had coups and countercoups pitting the largely Christian Ibos against the predominantly Muslim Hausa. The Ibos then in 1967 seceded from Nigeria creating Biafra only to be defeated in a long, bitter civil war lasting until 1970 . In Pakistan 1969 marked the resignation of Ayub Khan discredit- ed after a decade-long rule only to be replaced by another general.Worse was to come in 1971 when East Pakistan seceded and became the independent state of Bangladesh. India, supporting Bangladesh, then intervened in December 1971 and soundly defeated Pakistan in a two-week war.The sixties in Turkey opened and closed with military interventions: in 1960 and 1970 .
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CH-12 - 12. The Return of Islam? When and why did this...

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