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Why the Arab nations are not ready for democracy
Sam Oudeh
by Sam Oudeh
June 18th, 2014 (2 Comments)
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Normally, I hate speaking or writing about Arab politics. The reason I hate it is because it normally ends with someone getting a shoe or table (depending on the person’s strength) thrown in his or her direction. Arabs are very prideful of their countries and want the best for them. The arguments start when opinions are stated as to what is the best way for their country to flourish without war or destruction. Many of us in the United States would like to see a democracy in our home countries, but that is a goal that isn’t attainable at the moment.

Let’s first look at Syria. The first thing that must be known about Syria is that it is not democratic, and everyone who thinks it is have some sort of denial. Bashar Al-Assad won the most recent election with 88.7% of the vote, which means the ballots are stuffed, or there is some other form of election rigging. Nobody wins 88.7% of the vote in any election fairly. Syria is the perfect example of why overthrowing a government and installing democracy is impossible. The idea of overthrowing the ruling elites in Syria and implementing a fully democratic government sounds great in theory, but there was no way that it was going to be done. When a government is overthrown, a power vacuum is created, and Arabs are far too dysfunctional to get together and create a democracy. Once a group seizes power, the first thing it does is try to hunt down those who oppose it. For example, let’s pretend that the Free Syrian Army overthrew Bashar. ISIS, who was a major player in the Syrian opposition, would then capitalize on the opportunity of ruling over a country. With ISIS in power in Syria, expect the minorities in Syria (who make up 25% of the country) to either be killed or flee the country. The first thing ISIS would do in power is go after Christians, Shiites, Alawites, and Druze. There would be absolutely no way to stop ISIS from attacking the power vacuum if Bashar was overthrown. My conclusion on Syria is that although it is not a democratic state, it is much better off with Bashar Al-Assad than any other party trying to take it from him. Having Bashar ruling the country works best for Syria right now.

Let’s look at another example: Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood saw a power vacuum after Mubarak was overthrown, and they capitalized on it. During that year, violence against anyone who didn’t support the Muslim Brotherhood skyrocketed. Churches were being burned, and supporters of the old regime were detained or killed. After a year, Egyptians ousted the Muslim Brotherhood from power and a military government is back. Only time will tell how Sisi will do in Egypt, but a democracy isn’t attainable in Egypt right now. They are simply not ready for it.

I am 100% in support of democracy throughout the world, including in every Arab country, but I am also a realist. Right now, the goal for democracy in places like Syria, Iraq, and Egypt are simply unrealistic. I think efforts should be focused more on reforming present governments than overthrowing them. The road to democracy is a long one, and the Arab nations are not ready for it just yet.

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* Sami Oudeh is a Palestinian American graduate of the University of Kentucky. He is a sports nut and lives in Lexington, Kentucky.

Comments (2)
  1. This is so racist! If a white person said these things I’d tell him to eat a bag of (edited so I don’t embarrass my mama). I shake my head in shame at you sir!

  2. Hello Sami,

    I am a regular reader of Amer Zahr’s blog, so I stumbled upon your article just now. While I agree with you that democracy isn’t very realistic in Arab nations, there is one very very simple reason why. It’s actually quite embarrassing. But the reason that Arabs cannot have the democracy we all think of is because NO ONE respects the vote. The problem with our Arab brethren in those countries is that not only do they all want power, but it’s so polarizing that they can’t agree to disagree and just wait for the next election. If you disagree with what one party is saying, they then want you dead. Its that simple. Dead. Like, not “ok I respect your opinion, and stay on the other side of the aisle. If you disagree, then you will be killed.”

    So simple, and so embarrassing.


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