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that is also a problem through the activities of the West in the Arab world shortly after the World War I. This led the Arab to totally neglect the west form of government (democracy) and embrace absolute monarchy which eventually resulted in autocratic government. The Arab lands existed in a permanent malaise, a condition of corruption and authoritarianism, their regimes maintaining a lock down on their subject populations and their mutual borders. It’s as if people slept, awoke, lived, and worked without hope, overtaken by the feeling that they could not even effect their own lives, much less something bigger. The main issue was always the absence of citizen participation and representation in the affairs of state and society. In recent time, the monopoly of information in the public arena gradually stopped being in the exclusive hands of the state, leading to political or cultural democratization. This is why both the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings are inspiring. Hope rekindled was the driving energy and determination of the Egyptian protestors. They saw possibilities and possibilities ignite the human imagination. This paper seeks to explain at the democratization process in the Arab world; its future outlook, its challenges and its “do-ability”.
freedom of expression. the death of Ghadaffi in Libya. unemployment and authoritarianism in the Arab world contributed to or resulted into the protest that overthrew half a century of autocratic rule. Democracy brings with it freedoms that oppressed people do not enjoy. This demand came from the realization that the monarchs or ruling elites just rule for the benefit of themselves through the instrumentalism of Islam.and. inequality. This principle is assumed to have helped human society so far to live in a peaceful and orderly society. it was somewhat successful because it led to the resignation of Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt. usurpation of God’s command.INTRODUCTION Arab world is characterized by autocratic and dictatorial government in form of monarchies with Islamic fundamentalists who sees democracy as a violation of God’s sovereignty. Equality – the rule of law. The degree of poverty. people take to the street and demand freedom. freedom of speech and freedom of the press .freedom of association. Freedom and equality is basic to all human being.With these uprisings in the Arab world came the urgent need to revisit democracy as a form of government. freedom from forced choices. Democracy holds very core to the principles of Freedom . Mass uprisings on the Arab streets have become the vehicle for reform as the availability of modern means of communication has enabled the Arab opposition to express their frustration caused by the stagnancy and inefficiency of the status quo-oriented authoritarian-bureaucratic regimes of the region. They wanted desperately to be involved in the affairs of government as opposed to how it was before the uprisings. Cruelty. and bondage reign in nations with freedoms. Although this protest met with violence from the ruling class. . The society is peaceful because people do not feel marginalized. Middle class citizens having suffered decades of repression now demand for a democratic form of government. It started in Tunisia and it spreads gradually to other countries in Arab.
its prospects. they aided in the establishment of a political system that would guarantee fair completion between parties. whose standard interpretation requires a ruler to include the community in the decision making process. On the other hand. liberal democracy enjoyed a measure of support in Arab societies. This duality . BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY There is no truth to the claim that the Arabs have never had any contact with democracy. and western democracy. The council’s members were appointed and their role purely advisory. The council was based on the Islamic principle of Shura. The turning point came after the World War I. Democracy has historic root in the Arab societies. acted as political mentors. problems and possibilities. the west performed a dual function in the inculcation of liberal democracy in the Middle East. with the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent establishment of the Arab states.This study therefore intends to look at democratization process in lieu of the Arab uprising. freedom of assembly. and equal rights for women and minorities. announced the establishment of a ‘consultative councils’ (majlis al-mashwara). In fact it is this experience with democracy that makes their approach to it more complex and guarded than other cultures. when one of the founding fathers of modern Egypt and the governor of the Ottoman districts. Until the end of the eighteenth century. often through emphasis on the parallels between western style of government and “Shura”. Britain and France on the one hand. the western powers sought to promote their own strategic interests and bolstered the status of political forces loyal to the West. parliamentarianism. freedom of speech and inquiry. Arab intellectuals nonetheless drew a connection between the council. During this period. The Arab acquaintance with democracy began as far back as 1829. helping to move Arab societies towards full independence.
to their mind. all share in the use of the modern standardized language. culture or geographic contiguity. Iraq. Thus they experimented with different forms of government with utmost aim of being free from the hold of the West. They declare themselves the standard bearer of the democratic ideals. since. This chasm separating the democratic rhetoric and the despotic reality of the Arab regimes did not go unnoticed. Arab world is made up of 22 countries in the Middle Eastern world. The Arab world refers to Arabic-speaking states. and cultural situation. for the most part. territories and populations in North Africa. The term "Arab World" often connotes the Middle East. The Arabic language forms the unifying feature of the Arab world. They came to regard liberal democracy as synonym for the underhanded promotion of foreign interests and thus avoided its practice in their states. Arab largely perceived it as a fraud. But demands that the situation be corrected. an illusion intended to distract them while the west perpetuated its domination of the Middle East.inevitably resulted into a deep seated mistrust of western form of government in the Arab world. These countries includes Egypt. and various stops on the road leading to it. 2008). CONCEPTUAL CLARIFICATION ARAB WORLD The Arab world may be defined as consisting of peoples and states united to at least some degree by Arabic language. The regimes that follow therefore insisted that there are various ways to implement democracy. Though different areas use local varieties of Arabic. Western Asia and elsewhere (Frishkopf. Algeria. even as they insisted it was not yet possible to implement this ideal on account of the ever present threat of instability. of a liberal nature. voiced from early 1950s to the early 1980s. Saudi . but the larger and more populous part of the Arab World is North Africa. derived from Classical Arabic. Reformist did not see in Western democracy a recipe for the improvement of a country’s political. until they completely deviated from democracy. Sudan. economic. Morocco. 2010)). this recipe had already been tried and found wanting (Shavit. were not.
The following ideas are central to what is referred to as liberal democratic theory: 1) Supremacy of the people. who lives in an Arabic-speaking country. and Comoros (Wikipedia. United Arab Emirate. obliges them to obey the chosen government. Djibouti. Syria. this is the Pan-Arabic definition (Dwight. Some countries may fulfill some of the above criteria and still not be a member of the Arab World. Democratic theories not only specify that people should govern themselves. 3) The rule of law: peaceful methods of conflict resolution. 2012). once given through the voting process. The Arab League is a regional organization that aims to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries. both Eritrea and Chad are not commonly considered parts of the Arab world. 4) The existence of a common good or public interest. and who is in sympathy with the aspirations of the Arabic-speaking peoples. . but none of them is a memberstate of the Arab League. Pan-Arabism sought to unite all Arabic-speaking countries into one political entity. Qatar. but that the purpose of government is the good of people. DEMOCRACY Democracy is based on the consent of the people which. An Arab is a person whose language is Arabic. Lebanon. Although Eritrea has observer status at the Arab League. Mauritania. Kuwait. 2007). and especially to pursue the political unification of the Arab countries. 2) The consent of the governed as the basis of legitimacy.Arabia. Tunisia. Behind the democratic viewpoint lies the hypothesis that power and the right to exercise power belongs to the people. Libya. Jordan. Palestinian territories. Somalia. Bahrain. Yemen. Chad. Eritrea and Israel recognize Arabic as an official language. and has a large number of Arabic speakers. Oman. Arab League also known as Pan-Arabism was formed in 1945 to represent the interests of the Arabs.
The Arab world is mostly characterized by autocratic government. the intelligence apparatus and major business owners.popular uprisings that toppled the authoritarian regimes in Egypt and Tunisia triggered the wave of pro-democracy protests that is now sweeping the Arab region commonly assumed to share the same roots. ordinary members of society are denied the right to participate in government. a political system in which power rests in a single individual. even the most heavy-handed authoritarian leader requires some degree of support from military leaders. pure dictatorships are uncommon. ‘the rule’). literally means ‘the rule of the people’ (the word came from the Greek demos ‘the people’ and Kratos . On the economic front. Because of the complexity of modern society. DISCUSSION ARAB SPRING AND DEMOCRATIZATION PROCESS Arab spring . Democratic political systems tend to be based in rational-legal authority. Protesters in these countries were motivated by a similar set of socio-economic grievances and political goals.5) The value of the individual as a rational. a political system in which citizens are able to directly or indirectly participate in their own governance. AUTHORITARIAN REGIME In authoritarian political systems. A modern form of authoritarianism is dictatorship. 6) Political equality and equal civil rights for all individuals Democracy. in that citizens are regarded as subjects rather than as participants in governance. Monarchies are typically authoritarian.to mid-income countries with rising unemployment rates that have been affected by the recent economic downturn and its . many countries of the Arab world are low. moral active citizen.
Some of them have suffered during the economic crisis and as a result of a collapsing housing boom. mainly concern the distribution of the oil wealth. But living standards are generally higher and economic grievances. Rising food prices and high consumer price inflation have eroded living standards with economic difficulties most closely felt by young people who lack any future economic perspective. Egypt and Tunisia experienced a period of solid economic growth and have won many laurels for their market-friendly economic reforms. moreover. Poverty is often limited to large communities of migrant workers or to certain ethnic minorities. This left scores of middle-class youth unemployed and disenchanted with a political and economic order in which personal relations trumped qualifications and where crony capitalism allowed those in a position of power to amass fabulous riches. have been deeply unpopular and have been blamed by the public for deepening the current economic malaise. as the examples of Libya and Bahrain have shown. Rising oil prices. where they arise. Egypt and Tunisia. including Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. a combination of falling real wages. Especially amongst the lower and middle income groups. . Several of them. Economic conditions amongst the oil-producing countries. however. Job creation took place primarily in the low-skilled and low-wage sectors of the economy and has been unable to keep pace with demographic growth rates. including Jordan. have made it even easier for these countries to dispense economic benefits and side-payments to quell any challenge to their internal stability. Market reforms and privatization in a number of countries.impact on exports and remittances. are somewhat different. Morocco. economic wealth does not necessarily matter if certain sectors of society feel that they are deprived of their share of the pie or harbour other grievances. have already issued generous financial handouts in a bid to forestall protests. and several of them register high unemployment rates. However. It was those lower middle-class youth that formed the nucleus of the subsequent revolutions. most people experienced a decline in living standards. high inflation and rising unemployment have wreaked economic havoc.
While similar conditions exist in a number of Arab countries. protests across the region have also been driven by . inequality and a lack of opportunities matter even more. However. unable to make independent. Police violence and the abuse of public authority have also been a routine part of daily life in both countries and corruption has been endemic at every level of society. Also. All of this contributed to a widespread feeling of powerlessness and alienation. which explains the central themes of “dignity” and “pride” that permeated the messages of the protesters. as seems evident in Yemen. the nature and shape of protests across the region might differ. This explains why Tunisia. Protesters in Egypt were also mourning the lack of principles and the listlessness of their government in the international arena. a country with one of the lowest poverty rates in the region. socio-economic indicators suggest that the intensity of these deficits varies considerably across the Arab world. and the alienation of the demographically dominant age cohorts from the political order. While Tunisians have known few freedoms during Ben Ali’s time in power. while absolute levels of poverty are important.Similarly. Egypt under Mubarak had turned into “America’s poodle”. As a result. albeit most visible at the top. was the first to take to the streets. The existence of a large lower middle class that has no way of advancing its ambitions has played an important role in Tunisia and Egypt. From being perceived as the proud leader of an independent Arab world under Nasser. the Arab spring has been triggered by a combination of deteriorating living standards and growing inequality. But the absence of such a middle class has not necessarily doomed demonstrations. Egyptians saw some of their freedoms taken away from them as the regime clamped down on public protests and the independent media and manipulated parliamentary elections late last year. In summary. a lack of political freedom and public accountability. political repression and a lack of basic freedoms was another important impetus for protesters to take to the streets.
Close to half of the Arab world’s population is under 25 years of age. mobile phones. it is their frustrations that are driving the revolutionary process. Also the following as show future of democracy in the region. the internet. Technologically versatile and internationally connected. The outcome of the mass protests is likely to vary in accordance with the nature and level of cohesion of the incumbent regimes and their ability to maintain their monopoly on the use of force. revolutionary ideas have proven to be most contagious amongst this generation. a government crackdown on protestors or even a disintegration of the state. However. the chants. As a result. rap songs and symbolism that have been part of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt have now become part of the images and tropes of all the Arab revolutions. PRESENCE OF VIBRANT YOUTHS A large percentage of the Arab world population are youths. The pent-up energies of the youth bulge are palpable everywhere across the region. In the past.social networks and facilitated by satellite broadcasters. and new social media tools that elude government control and helped create new cleavages and loyalties. in other cases the outcome may be more gradual top-down reforms. PROSPECTS OF DEMOCRATIZATION IN THE ARAB WORLD A probability of advancement of democratic form of government in the Arab World is apparent following the protests and rally that accompanied the Arab spring. it seems to have been the shared demographic realities that made the revolt so contagious . While in some cases this might lead to a democratic transition from the bottom up. this mass of young people was assumed to be part of a lost generation raised under squalid conditions and nurtured on a diet of religious radicalism and totalitarianism. While underlying socio-economic indicators therefore differ considerably throughout the region.
PROBLEMS OF DEMOCRATIZATION IN THE ARAB WORLD This refers to the challenges faced in the cause of trying out democratic principles in the Arab World. . media freedom or levels of corruption remain large. Bahrain and Kuwait have gradually increased the space for democratic participation and adopted reform agendas. while Tunisia used to have one of the most restrictive. Emboldened by the peaceful mass protests that brought Ben Ali and Mubarak to their knees. Although free and fair elections remain a pipe dream throughout the region. demanding a better life and a more accountable government. FREEDOM OF THE PRESS Press freedom has varied widely. for example. They organized relatively open parliamentary elections and allow the participation of some opposition groups and Islamist parties. CONDUCTED ELECTION Countries like Jordan and Morocco. differences in the quality of public administration. with Egypt being endowed with one of the most open media environments in the Arab world. can boast considerably higher ratings in democracy surveys than some of their neighbours. young protesters have taken to the streets in many Arab capitals. This has shown that it is possible to dethrone despotic leaders and has thus created a ray of light for democracy.OVERTHROW OF AUTOCRATIC LEADERSHIP The overthrow of autocratic governments in Egypt and Tunisia has radically changed the course of Middle Eastern politics.
the elected Assembly of Experts elects the Supreme Leader. Systems of government differ and not all countries share the same socio-economic grievances. Few Arab countries are also as religiously and ethnically homogenous as Tunisia and Egypt and some harbour long-standing secessionist . but in practice the system does not satisfy the criteria for a free election since the Supreme Leader appoints the members of the Guardian Council who in turn vet the candidates for all elections including the elections for Assembly of Experts. and the Guardian Council is given the duty of interpreting the constitution and verifying that all laws passed the parliament are not against Islamic laws. The Arab world is far from being a unitary bloc. so in theory he is elected indirectly by popular vote. influence and involvement of armed forces specially the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution and Basij in political activities.g. widespread corruption in the ruling elite. This loop limits the possible candidates to those agreeing with the views held by Supreme Leader and he has the final say over all important issues. and corruption in Judiciary. Many articles of constitution about political freedoms and minority rights (e. PRONOUNCED DIFFERENCES AMONG COUNTRIES IN THE ARAB WOLRD The problems include the issues with the rights of racial and religious minorities. education in mother language for language minorities) have not been applied at all. problems with security forces like police and militias like Ansar-e Hezbollah. CLASH OF WRITTEN CONSTITUTION WITH ISLAMIC Also the forth unchangeable article of constitution states that all other articles of the constitution and all other laws are void if they violate Islamic rules.FAULTY ELECTORAL SYSTEM The main problem is the closed loop in the electoral system.
POSSIBILITIES.movements. Intentional or not. The myth of the West as a generator of new political trends that are subsequently transferred to its periphery has not been lost on these states. as post-revolutionary states are beginning to chart a more independent course in international affairs. the Arab uprising is likely to herald an end to Western hegemony over the Middle East. The Arab revolutions are further confirmation that a fundamental reshuffling of the international order is underway. . These differences are likely to have an impact on the scale and shape of future uprisings throughout the region.
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