Following decades in which western democracies have backed oppressive regimes in the Middle East and focusing efforts on backing authorities and secular elites, both the U.S. and the EU are considering closer relations with opposition groups, including the Islamic movements.

In Iraq, the U.S. was forced to change their stance and consider relations with Moslem groups. Islamic groups harvested the majority of seats in the latest national council elections.

The EU foreign ministers, during their Saturday meeting in Luxembourg, are reconsidering there previous taboo against dialogue with Islamic opposition groups in the Middle East. Many among them believe necessary to encourage transition to democracy.

EU foreign ministers are more convinced that authoritarian Middle East governments have to relinquish some power and accept the principle of alternation, diplomats said.


Such ideas would positively echo on the ears of Islamic leaders, whom are pushed away from decision making circles despite the growing popular support to the Islamists in the region.

EU weighs talking to the moderates among the Islamic groups in Middle East. 


‘The EU should reach out beyond its traditional secular interlocutors.’ Said a paper presented to the foreign ministers forum.

‘In the past the EU has preferred to deal with the secular intelligentsia of Arab civil society at the expense of the more representative Islam-inspired organizations,’ diplomats quoted the paper as saying.

‘Has the time come for the EU to become more engaged with Islamic ‘faith-based’ civil society in these countries?’ the paper, co-authored by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and the bloc’s Luxembourg presidency, asked.

Talking to Islamic groups could bring the EU into conflict with Israel and incumbent Arab rulers and raise awkward questions about the bloc’s approach to militant organizations, a diplomatic source in Luxembourg said.

Recent secret talks between representatives of the Palestinian Islamic resistance movement Hamas and American and EU officials were reported last week.