Intelligence Director: Surprise! ‘Arab Spring’ Has Benefited Islamists

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The “Arab spring” has benefited Islamists rather than democracy advocates, while political transitions and unrest in the region have provided opportunities for terrorists to mount attacks against U.S. interests, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told lawmakers Tuesday.

Delivering the intelligence community’s annual report on threats facing the United States, Clapper gave what amounted to a downbeat assessment of the upheavals that many initially viewed as a promising movement towards greater democracy in a region dominated by long-ruling autocrats.

“Islamist actors have been the chief electoral beneficiaries of the political openings, and Islamist parties in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco will likely solidify their influence in the coming year,” he told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in a written statement.

“Although some countries have made progress towards democratic rule, most are experiencing uncertainty, violence, and political backsliding. The toppling of leaders and weakening of regimes have also unleashed destabilizing ethnic and sectarian rivalries.”

Clapper said the transitions in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen, and unrest in Syria and Mali had offered opportunities for terrorists to target American interests.

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