Another must-read from Barry Rubin:
…the best way of describing the relationship is that of rivals fighting over control of the steering wheel rather than a hijacking by a group of Islamists who are mere criminal interlopers. Daniel Pipes has described this situation in his own words as radical Islam being the problem and moderate Islam being the solution.
While respecting his formulation I’d use my own phrasing: There are three contestants: The powerful Islamist political movement; the strong but perhaps weakening conservative traditional Islam (which is being influenced by Islamism, too); and the very weak reformist Islam. Islamism is the worst of those alternatives. I would say: radical Islam in the form of Islamism is the problem; moderate Islam is the best solution; but even conservative traditional Islam is preferable to Islamism and is far more likely to win—like it or not—than some grand project for reforming Islam that would take decades if not centuries.
This is by no means to idealize mainstream conservative traditional Islam which is in many respects retrograde and sabotages economic and social progress. Yet it would have been far more permissive—in reality if not in theory—of change.