Democratization in the Middle East: Experiences, Struggles, Challenges

By Amin Saikal; Albrecht Schnabel | Go to book overview

1
A rough journey: Nascent
democratization in the Middle East
Albrecht Schnabel

The tumultuous and frustrating escalation of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, particularly since 2000, the continuation of international sanctions against Iraq and its suffering population, the continuing violence in Algeria, and high levels of structural violence committed by authoritarian governments in virtually all states of the region – all these are constant reminders that the societies in the Middle East are still far removed from a condition of stable peace. Conflict, violence, and repression, particularly in this era of globalization, produce economic and social stagnation that will marginalize these countries, and the region overall, even further in an environment in which peace and political stability are the basic foundations for economic competitiveness in the global economy. This is not to speak of the immense human suffering produced by internally and externally initiated, supported, and manipulated violence and instability. 1

There are many reasons for the region's political instability, economic plight, and human suffering. However, the lack of open political systems, heavy-handed authoritarian rule by autocratic governments, and most governments’ violent and repressive struggles with opposition movements and groups are key factors in limiting these societies’ potential for human, economic, and social development. 2 Genuine democratization, if successful and sustained, can produce accountable, transparent, participatory, inclusive governance, instead of exclusive and repressive rule. Liberalization of political and economic systems throughout the region

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