As I prepare my thesis for my graduate studies at the University of Central Florida, I begin to ponder some of the variables involved.
This forces me to ask other questions about my subject matter, the Middle East, and social justice.
Is democracy meant for the Middle East?
It is true that Lebanon is the most democratic; with women’s freedom to dress liberally and citizens to criticize politicians openly; but still, the system is very much undemocratic, corrupt & influenced by autocratic neighbors.
This leaves me wondering if the Middle East is intended to be democratic, given its religious nature and religious history.
During my undergraduate studies, I recall my professor of ME studies, an Iranian-American not to mention, who challenged the universalism of democracy, asserting that the ME was a unique society, possibly unsuited for democracy; at least the Western model.
Many proponents of democracy in the ME, most of which tend to be either non-Middle Easterners, or Middle Easterners from the diaspora, such as the Syrian National Council, the supposed coalition against Syrian president Bashar al Assad. The SNC, operates outside Syria, in Turkey. These critics of the dictatorship in Syria argue that the ME is suited for liberal democracy, but only a minority is liberal, which is why perhaps the Syrian opposition to Assad was swallowed up by extremist groups; which represents the majority of the opposition. This reality suggests that, even if the dictatorship were overthrown, genuine liberal democracy wouldn’t ensue, but rather, an Islamic-style of government. And the extents of its Islamism would be unknown. Take Egypt, another example for instance. When democracy prevailed, the force that dominated the elections was Islamism, in the form of the Muslim Brotherhood. This scared liberal Egyptians, and secularists in the international arena alike. It almost minimized the prospects of a liberal democracy flourishing the heart of Arab civilization; the “Mother of the World” – Egypt.
Iraq, almost 13 years after its so-called ‘liberation’, remains in worse shape than it did prior to the invasion.
Libya, it could be argued, suffers the same fate.
So why then, must we continually heed neoconservative calls for “democratic revolution” in the Middle East?
Are we right or wrong to?