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The West Abandons the Push For Democracy In The Arab World
I recently participated in a conference attended by some Congressmen and officials from the US Department of State and their EU counterparts, as well as a host of academic experts.
Tuesday, June 27,2006 00:00
by Amr Hamzawy

 I recently participated in a conference attended by some Congressmen and officials from the US Department of State and their EU counterparts, as well as a host of academic experts. The conferees discussed the most prominent international issues topped by the file of democratic transformation in the Arab world, the Iranian nuclear file and the political developments in Russia and China. Although the attendants presented conflicting views toward Iran, Russia and China, but they unanimously agreed on the status of democracy in the Arab world. I concluded from their discussions that the US and the EU are on their way to wash their hands off supporting democracy in the Arab world.


The discussions and arguments showed the impossibility of democratizing the Arab world for the time being, for this could help political Islam gain more ground. In their attempt to give a convincing justification for their position, the western politicians said that democracy is an all inclusive process which requires a social and economic progress adopted  by a state which enjoins a citizenship and secular civil society,  setting aside any religious or ethnic leanings, something which they say does not exist in the Arab world.


Then a lengthy discussion took place among the politicians who emphasized on new mechanisms for democratization other than the elections, now that this latter brought about extremist powers which could turn against democracy and push their societies toward a new theocratic rule. They suggested refraining from pressuring the incumbent regimes in Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and Yemen for fear of their collapse. Instead, they can count on the elite in these regimes to create the state of institutions and rule of law, as well as laying out a mechanism to materialize the modern citizenship, which could empower the society to stop the growing rise of the religious currents.


These suggestions are seen by political analysts as unrealstic. In other words, if the West refrains from scrutinizing the Arab despot regimes and  stop pushing toward democratization, while silencing the only weighty  popular entity represented in the Islamist currents for fear of the repercussions of integrating them in the political game, then what will spur such regimes into accepting reform and democracy on the first place? Does the West, topped by the US, hope that these regimes or their henchmen  could budge  their offices or even show a sign of reform, given the fact that the same regimes have been a failure at all levels and for decades?. Does the West believe that these regimes would head for political reform if they were promised  more economic cooperation?  


The most dismaying part of this farce is that the West knows that the state of institutions and rule of law cannot materialize at all in the absence of an actual multiparty system, power rotation, accountability, and separation between the three authorities, and that all these go side by side with the emergence of parties and popular awareness of the national issues.


All these combined could lead to the nation formulating legislations, bypassing the boundaries of religion and ethnicity. If the West realizes that, why then does it adopts this double standard policy when it comes to change and reform of the Arab world?


However, the tough position of  the Neoconservatives and dangerous way adopted by the  US to democratize countries through military force, does not undermine the fact that the western pressure on the despotic regimes and pushing toward democratizing the Arab world continue to be the most appropriate way toward achieving the aspirations of majority of the masses in the Arab  world .                


 The writer is a researcher with the Carnegie Institute for International Peace 


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