A Tortured Relationship

Islamists and US Foreign Policy

Authored by: Benjamin MacQueen

Routledge Handbook of Political Islam

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  March  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415484732
eBook ISBN: 9780203154144
Adobe ISBN: 9781136577239


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The relationship between Islamist movements and the United States generates controversy and even violence. Posited as the greatest security challenge in the early twenty-first century, the confrontation between the United States and movements that conducted the first attack against the US on its own soil since World War II now dominates discourse concerning US foreign policy in the Middle East and the broader Muslim world. This chapter explores this relationship by highlighting how Islamist movements have responded to US foreign policy and how US foreign policy has interacted with and itself responded to the actions and fate of Islamist movements. Despite the tension in this relationship, there is potential for greater co-operation between the US and Islamists, particularly in the area of regional political reform. However, such co-operation is likely to continue to be undermined by priority being placed on, for the US, regional stability at the expense of reform, and for Islamists, confrontational political positioning.

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