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Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Road to Democracy

The political institutions and economic structures in the Middle East haven't changed much since they were put in place. They worked well from the 60s through the 1980s and the state was basically redistributing wealth buoyed by oil. Democracy was dismissed as an invitation to chaos by the dictators. Economic reasons are never immediate reasons but skewed distribution of wealth among peoples form a strong pillar for this democratic movement.

The Pan Arab liberation movement ended in the years following the defeat of 1967 (The Six-Day War) – and even more so after the war of 1973. The Islamic movement has filled political and cultural he vacuum. In the following thirty years, Islamic movements have moved Arab societies into a more conservative and traditional Islamic direction. They are now in a position to exert control over cultural, intellectual and political issues. In the past, the public discourse in the Arab world were dominated by the political left, by pan-Arabists and by the secular parties. Now, however, Islamic movement/ Muslim Brotherhood has emerged as leading voice. The Muslim Brotherhood: Who Are They? : The Muslim Brotherhood is currently playing an active role in the unrest in several Arab countries.
The Americans have been paying Hosni Mubarak $2 billion a year to support Israel. The successors to the Mubarak could take a different view of this support. EU and most of the pro western mind now fears from Muslim Brotherhood or any Islamic party coming to the power. I think there is a strong likelihood that Tunisia and any other Arab country that changes it's government will end up with Sharia Law. Whilst the middle class might have started this revolution, the majority population is typically ignorant and religious and the US supported despots that rule them have ensured hatred of the West, compounded by the blind US support of Israel. This is not time to observe idly the development. Once monetary help from Saudi arrived, it will gulp all the social development happened throughout the years.

Sadiq Jalal al-Azm, one of the most prominent Arab intellectuals makes a valid point about democracy in the Arab world : The battle for democracy and human rights values does not merely take the shape of a conflict between East and West and between Islam and Europe. It is an internal battle in every country. Every country that has developed certain civilization standards goes through that battle – whether we talk about Germany, China, India, Syria or Egypt. Each of those countries has reached a particular level in achieving these standards, strengthening them and implementing them. It is therefore necessary to remember that the battle is not only a battle between East and West, between the Middle East and Islam on the one hand and liberalism on the other.

A society cannot be democratized by outside powers. The development towards democracy is the result of the internal dynamic of a society, which can take years to produce a civil society. Contrary to the European experience, secularization in the Islamic world preceded a religious reformation – with profound negative consequences for political development in Muslim societies. To remake state-building and democracy-promotion in the Muslim world as an international responsibility, rather than a messianic American ideal.

Point of Views---

Revolutionary Change In Egypt: Internal or Made in USA? Stephen Lendman points out American foreign policy that democracy is messy and unreliable. Dictatorships are much easier to control, and when one despots proves unreliable or outlives his usefulness, replace him with another, perhaps smoothed by transitional authority.

It's not radical Islam that worries the US – it's independence : The nature of any regime it backs in the Arab world is secondary to control. Subjects are ignored until they break their chains writes Noam Chomsky.

The Arab crisis: food, energy, water, justice : Tunisia’s popular uprising is reverberating across the Arab world. But such movements face problems that go far wider than dictatorship to encompass the whole range of human security, says Vicken Cheterian.

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