Democratization in the Middle East: Experiences, Struggles, Challenges

By Amin Saikal; Albrecht Schnabel | Go to book overview

Notes
1
See Fuad Zakaria, “The Rise of Illiberal Democracy,” Foreign Affairs, vol. 76, November–December, 1997, pp. 22–43. See also Quintan Wiktorowicz, “The Limits of Democracy in the Middle East: The Case of Jordan,” Middle East Journal, vol. 53, no. 4, Autumn 1999, pp. 606–20; Beverly Milton-Edwards, “Façade Democracy and Jordan,” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 20, no. 2, 1993, pp. 191–203; and Iliya Harik, “Pluralism in the Arab world,” Journal of Democracy, vol. 5, no. 3, July 1994, pp. 43–56.
2
The only possible exception is Lebanon, during the period between the mid-1950s until the outbreak of the civil war in 1975, and the presently emerging opposition and its acceptance in Jordan. In the first weeks of January 2000 a heated debate between opposition elements and the prime minister took place. Opposition deputies accused the prime minister and his family of engaging in corruption and demanded his resignation, which he resisted; they also demanded that the judiciary should investigate the matter. Such a debate is unprecedented in any Arab country, where opposition is usually repressed by violence. The event was hailed by many Arab intellectuals as a great step forward toward a genuine democratization process in Jordan.
3
See Jordan Times, 13 January 2000, p. 1; Abdelfattah Rashdan, “Recent Developments in Democratization in the Middle East: The Case of Jordan,” METU Studies in Development, vol. 3, 1997, pp. 413–28.
4
Quintan Wiktorowicz states: “I use the term democracy to denote a political system where popular political participation, civil liberties, and civil rights are protected by law and the enforcement of that law,” in “The Limits of Democracy in the Middle East: The Case of Jordan,” p. 606.
5
For a distinction between what is meant by democracy and by liberalism, see Zakaria, “The Rise of Illiberal Democracy,” pp. 22–43; and Marc Piattner, “From Liberalism to Liberal Democracy,” Journal of Democracy, vol. 10, no. 3, July 1999, pp. 121–34. Most Arab countries go through the process of electing deputies to a legislative assembly, which is given different names in each country. However, many of these assemblies are no more than a rubber stamp to legitimize the actions of the executive branch. Debates are a mere formality. In essence many are arenas for the executive to present issues to the public through the legislature and give them some publicity. Exceptions where genuine debate occurs are Jordan and Lebanon.
6
The term “institutionalization” is used here to denote a process whereby decisions in public life are taken not by an individual but through a formalized rational procedure in a freely elected legislative body.
7
The term “liberality” refers to a certain measure of liberalism in the conduct of public life.
8
The situation may be similar to that in some European monarchical regimes of the nineteenth century that later evolved into liberal democracies.
9
On this point see Wiktorowicz, “The Limits of Democracy in the Middle East,” p. 608, and also Glenn Robinson, who calls Jordan's liberalization “defensive democratization” in “Defensive Democratization in Jordan,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, vol. 30, 1998, pp. 387–410.
10
In most Arab countries the presence of a constitution does not necessarily guarantee human rights in general or the freedom of expression in particular. At times a particular regime may allow a certain space for debate and opposing opinions; yet that depends on themoodofthedayandcanchangeatanytime.
11
See David Roberts, “The Background and the Role of the Ba'th in Syria,” presented at the conference on “Politics and the Economy in Syria,” London, SOAS, 20 May 1987; “The Republic of Syria,” in Don Peretz, The Middle East Today, 4th edn, New York: Praeger, 1983, pp. 396–427.

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