Rhami Khouri writes:
The overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the transitions to new governance systems in Egypt and Tunisia – with others sure to follow – promise the birth of a more democratic, humanistic Arab world, assuming the transitions persist, which I believe is certain. Here are 10 things that may emerge from the current changes and which will determine if real democratization is underway, for these are the attributes that the Arab people have been denied throughout the past century:
First, real self-determination: Egypt and Tunisia may be the first instances of Arab countries that truly define themselves, their national values and their policies, on the basis of their people’s will and sentiments, rather than the decisions of a handful of self-imposed or foreign-installed rulers.
Second, real sovereignty: This may be the first time that modern Arab states implement domestic and foreign policies on the basis of the consent of the governed, rather than according to the desires or dictates of foreign powers.
Third, real politics: This may be the first time that modern Arab states experience the thrill and complexity of genuine politics, by which a variety of legitimate local actors negotiate the exercise of power and the routine transfer of incumbency from one group to another.
Fourth, real nationalism: This may be the first time that Arab societies forge a nationalist spirit that accurately reflects the sentiments, rights and aspiration of their own people, rather than merely the exploitative narrow goals of self-imposed rulers or hysterical crowds those autocrats callously manipulate.
Fifth, real constitutionalism: This may be the first time that modern Arab states see their own citizenry writing the rules of how power is exercised and how public authority is apportioned among the institutions of state, in the form of a constitution that actually represents a constituent population.