Democratisation in the Middle East: Dilemmas and Perspectives

Democratisation in the Middle East: Dilemmas and Perspectives

Democratisation in the Middle East: Dilemmas and Perspectives

Democratisation in the Middle East: Dilemmas and Perspectives

Synopsis

The main aim of the book is to provide a forum for opinions held by Arabs who are neither Western puppets nor fanatical nationalists or Islamists, but rather academics with a vast knowledge of the Middle East as well as of the West.

Excerpt

Birgitte Rahbek

Democracy has been on the agenda in the Arab world for several decades, most particularly in the 1960s and 1970s when it was propagated by progressive and secular national opposition movements and parties – only to find no support in the West which, during the cold war, could only conceive of one enemy, the Communists or Socialists. Instead, the West supported and armed one authoritarian and repressive regime after another, shipping weapons of mass destruction and logistics to dictators. Socialists and pan-Arabists were seen as threatening elements, while the rising fundamentalists were considered a harmless counterweight. in the case of Afghanistan, however, the fundamentalists or Islamists were militarised and globalised by the West and set against the invading Soviet troops who were finally defeated and withdrew, leaving behind them tens of thousands of unemployed Mujahedeen eager for new exploits. a snake had been fostered at the imperial breast.

When the Islamists turned against their former sponsors and masters, democracy suddenly became the buzzword in the Western corridors of power, from whence it aimed more at foes than at friends in the Middle East. However, the creation of a Western style democracy, i.e. one man – and woman! – one vote in the Middle East, might lead to political structures different from the malleable and compliant ones favoured by the West. the long decades of despotism, corruption, and nepotism made it very likely that such a democracy would produce what the West now despised and feared most of all, an Islamist anti-Western nationalist regime.

Nevertheless the majority of Arabs (61 percent according to World . . .

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