The Islamists and secularists of the Middle East have been fighting each other for a century. Their conflict has achieved nothing but perpetuating authoritarian rule. Yet, calling on them to unite and set aside their differences is naive at best, for their differences are real and fundamental. Faking unity during the Arab Spring backfired and left both sides more distrustful of each other.
What Islamists and secularists need to do is not seek an impossible alliance but rather build a framework for coexistence that allows them to break away from their zero-sum relationship. This is a critical first step toward laying foundations for democratic governance in the Middle East.… Seguir leyendo »
The powerful images of pro-democracy protests emerging from Beirut, Baghdad and Algiers remind us once again that Arab authoritarianism has outstayed its welcome. But, in the eyes of many, it hasn’t yet outlived its usefulness. The weakness of Arab states has reached a point where authoritarianism has become the only glue keeping them together. The challenge for Arab democrats is to move beyond simply calling for democracy and instead focus on building realistic pathways for democratic change.
Arab authoritarianism is not traditional despotism. It has morphed into a complex strategy to cope with state weakness. Arab states were not strong to begin with: They have never been able to provide policy frameworks that foster economic development and social justice; manage social and political conflicts; and protect their standing in the world.… Seguir leyendo »
In less than two weeks, the Egyptian parliament suggested, debated and approved “constitutional amendments” that would allow President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi to stay in office until 2034, make him head of the judiciary and subjugate the political system to a military “guardianship.” These extraordinary amendments will be subject to a referendum after a 30-day “public debate” (in a country where a tweet could land you a five-year sentence). Article 226, which defines the constitutional amendment process, explicitly prohibits the amendment of presidential term limits or the provisions related to freedoms “unless the amendment offered more guarantees” to these freedoms. In other words, Sissi’s proposed amendments are unconstitutional.… Seguir leyendo »