The Arab Spring has not turned to winter: William Hague replies to critics

William HagueForeign secretary William Hague has an interesting piece in today’s Times entitled “Freedom is still flowering in the Arab Spring”.

The article is hidden behind Rupert Murdoch’s paywall, but it has been reproduced on various UK embassy websites, so you can read it there for free.

In a riposte to those like Melanie Phillips and Douglas Murray who claim that “Arab Spring has turned into cold winter” because of the rise of political Islam, Hague writes:

It is true that parties drawing their inspiration from Islam have done better at the polls than secular parties and there are legitimate concerns about what this will mean. Their success is partly a legacy of the refusal of governments to allow the development of meaningful opposition parties in the past. It may also be part of a tendency to vote for groups believed to have done the most to oppose dictatorship and corruption and to offer basic welfare.

Either way, we must respect these choices while upholding our own principles of human rights and freedom and urging the highest standards. Trying to pick winners would fatally undermine faith in our intentions and our support for democracy. In standing up for the right of peoples to choose their own representatives at the ballot box, we have to accept their choices and work with the governments they elect.

Not the sort of of analysis that will find favour with Paul Goodman at ConservativeHome.

Update:  Or with Mad Mel, who writes:

What Mr Hague bashfully declines to acknowledge is his own government’s role in this disaster. It was the UK along with the US which helped lever Mubarak out of power in Egypt and went to war to remove Gaddafy in Libya. It is the UK and the US which have therefore helped bring about the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in these countries and the region. It is the UK and the US which have thus helped bring to power a jihadi movement which oppresses and enslaves the unfortunates that it rules, and which is waging a war of conquest against the entire free world. It is the UK and the US which have galvanised that movement by helping persuade it that it is well on the way to achieving its objectives of a restored medieval Islamic caliphate and the Islamic takeover of the entire world.

Update 2:  Cf. “German FM: give Arab Islamic parties a chance”,Associated Press, 13 January 2012