The Arab world gets real on democracy

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.

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4 thoughts on “The Arab world gets real on democracy

  1. Vince J.

    Pepe Escobar has an excellent article at Asian times.
    He argues that the Egypcian military is not going to do the democratic bid. It is sustained by the cabals in Washignton… worth reading it!

  2. Norman

    The momentum so far shows that peaceful organization works. Remember, each of these countries have had the same rulers for many years, who have exploited or have been instrumental in exploiting the population. It’s still early, but lessons can & have been learned already. Only the people who want to continue living in the past believe nothing will come of this. Of course, the icing on the cake would entail all the looting that has taken place be returned to the treasury of the effected countries with a total ban on the participation of those who engaged in said looting, regardless of who or what country they belong to.

  3. scott

    Vince, that cherished American aid may have been drying up anyway. Many, many reporters, especially those familiar with all the trapping of American power and the “prestige” of our leaders and their bordello of lobbyists can make one believe in alternate realities. I’ve yet to read a serious connected author consider the collapse of NATO–would anyone in NATO or officially connected announce their death? Or, the budget constraints in Europe that have caused the erosion of support for that alliance. That indicates they’ve yet to address even the barest realities. Nor, have they addressed the economic straits we are in. State budgets are coming in now and will come with drastic cuts in services, hundreds of thousands laid off. Will those cuts to student loans, heating oil for the poor, and all the other cuts come with no restraints on the Pentagon. We spend 2 billion per week in Afghanistan, dwarfing our aid to Israel or Egypt–as much as we might begrudge that aid. (I get that our engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan, as with our Egyptian support are part of the weight of claiming Israel as our brother.

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