The making of moderates : U.S. relations with Islamist movements in Morocco and Egypt




Buehler, Matthew J.

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The academic literature on Islamist moderation offers several explanations for why some Islamist political movements are moderate and others radical. These theories focus on the movements' ideology, tactics, and internal democracy. Few accounts address, however, how an Islamist movement's relations with external powers influence this outcome. This paper finds that "moderation" reflects an Islamist movement's relationship of compliance or defiance with external powers rather than its essential organizational characteristics. In comparing the Moroccan Justice and Development Party (PJD) with the Egyptian Muslim Brothers, it explores why the United States has built good relations with the former but not with the latter. Employing approximately 20 interviews conducted with Islamists, U.S. diplomats, and Moroccan experts in 2009, I show that the PJD's compliance with U.S. foreign policy decisions and interests helps to shape perceptions that the movement is more moderate than its Egyptian counterpart, despite the two movements' similar ideology, tactics, and internal practices.




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