One of the things that Israelis fear most about the recent uprisings in the Arab world is the possibility that Islamist radicals or other violent militant groups could step into the vacuum created when the old regimes fall. With the current revolutions, though, veteran military correspondent Yisrael Katzover sees a glint of hope that things could end on a positive note.
“When there is a vacuum in the Arab world, as there is now in Egypt and Libya, there is always the danger that the best organized group will step in and take control, and the Islamists by definition are the best organized groups in these countries,” Katzover tells Arutz 7. “But the people in these countries, who have worked hard to get rid of their old dictators, are likely to want to make sure that their hard work does not fall into the lap of another set of dictators.”
Although Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi is still managing to hold onto power, it's just a matter of time before he departs the stage – but he is likely to take a lot of people with him. “Qaddafi is a classic dictator who is fighting a classic dictator's war for survival,” Katzover says, “including attacking his own citizens with his own military and hired mercenaries. The rebels have him backed into a corner, and he is clearly the type who would wish to go out as a martyr. Leaders like this usually end with a bullet in their head, or by their men putting a bullet in the heads of the people who oppose him.”
While one would think that whatever comes next in Libya would have to be better than Qaddafi's regime, Katzover says that things don't always work out that way. “Whatever the current situation, there are always worse possibilities, especially for Israel. You don't always get a democratic alternative – sometimes a worse dictator could emerge.” Often, those dictators come from well-organized opposition groups – in the case of the Arab world, usually the Islamists. “They have the clubs, the hospitals, and the youth movements, and they usually have been working for years with the population,” Katzover says. “Even if elections take place as they are supposed to, the better organized groups have an edge.”
But just because the Islamist groups are better organized, in both Egypt and Libya, that doesn't mean that those groups will necessarily take control. “In Egypt, for example, it turns out that the population was not necessarily waiting for the Muslim Brotherhood to walk in and take control. The young generation that began the revolutions in the Arab world are connected to the internet, Facebook, and other social media, and seem to be aware of their goals,” Katzover said. As the old leadership is swept away, it's possible that something positive may yet come of these revolutions.”