No one was surprised by the Muslim Brotherhood’s lead in the recent election in Egypt. However, the great success of Islamic fundamentalists (Salafis) in this election was a surprise and certainly a matter of concern. These are the people who were shouting Bin Laden’s name in demonstrations in Cairo.
The real winner of this election is probably Bashar al-Asad, who has been under pressure by the West to step down. The recent return of the US and French ambassadors to Damascus could be a sign of policy change: that the West is willing to keep a pro-Iran and anti-Israel dictator in power. He may likely be seen as a better choice than the Islamic fundamentalists who will probably gain power after Asad’s regime.
Certainly, Egyptian fundamentalists (Salafis) are enjoying Saudi money and support, as in other Muslim countries. Saudis have been trying to persuade the US that politics in the Middle East are a matter of choice between pro-US dictators, and Salafis winning in democratic elections.