Policy LineChaotic Democracy [Archives:2005/852/Opinion]

June 20 2005

Fatima Fouad
[email protected]

Some Arabs think that delivering Democracy to the Middle East means bringing more Americans on board. The mere thought of it is horrific, given the fact that they usually come on F16s.

Bringing democracy to the Middle East with war is not a concept that we can easily chew, there is a fear that democracy in the Arab world can only be executed through the unusual, through violence and blood. Especially that every peaceful attempt to bring the same concepts to the former Soviet Union States failed drastically.

Iraq constitutes the ultimate example of a democratic American dream that turned into a nightmare. The reconstruction of Iraq is now based on western values that defies every sense of an Arabic vision (assuming that there is one). In fact, it is based on too many fragmented identities that fail to achieve a unified voice. People in the region cannot observe a democratic culture of inclusion and participation, the bombings and killings are the major witnesses event at the moment.

The ongoing horrors in Iraq executed in the name of democracy and freedom are enough to confuse our illiterate audience, but they speak strategically to our elites. There is more than one message that can be deduced from the ongoing events, all these strategic messages subtly tackle the importance of understanding the new requirements of change and forming a better alliance with the west.

The stress to foresee what is happening in Iraq as a successful democratic process cannot fool the Arabs. The coming years will dissect the current politics in detail, but what is going on now is quite simple: After the fall of the dictatorship, there has been a failure to achieve consensus and consultation with all the fragmented segments of the Iraqi population. In fact, it has been easy enough to turn them against each other and fuel conflict. The leadership of Iraq, is simply not there.

The emphasis of bringing 'Chaotic Democracy' guarded by international troops questions the commitments of the US in bringing serious reforms to the region. This has been a serious slap to long term development initiatives and peaceful solutions. Furthermore, the escalated tones that are addressing Syria and Iran are impatient and provocative, they are indicative of the desire of bringing more troops to the Middle East rather than bringing democracy.

In a desperate search of alternatives, Islamic values of achieving consensus and consultation have resurfaced as great concepts of local democracy but they, like democracy, are stagnant in the Middle East. The aspirations of revitalizing an Islamic state have been confused with focusing on an Islamic dress code rather than working for prosperity for the people. The core Islamic concepts of achieving Justice and Governance have been left undeveloped. Hence, the failure of achieving an Islamic form of democracy is much similar to the failure of achieving democracy; the champions advocating for both strategies lacked the vision to adapt to local circumstances and resisted change.

Development-wise, we are witnessing free and fair elections in Iraq that are feeding the western Media. However, elections are merely a tool in implementing democracy and they should not be seen as the end of objective. The major players in this Iraqi democracy are Shiat, Kurds and Sunnis who are eager to participate in a game that they have never played before. Building up the experiences of those will need time, resources and most likely lots of blood.

The Middle Eastern people crave democracy but they can not afford war. There is a great aspiration of democracy that can only be developed by a free strong nation. The masses of Arabs do not have the simple tools that can make this democracy work. In Europe and the States, Media, Civil Society, Elections, parliament and public opinion has its own weight. I cant recall seeing any influential group or institution in the Middle East that has a strategic voice in challenging the ineffective.

Democracy is not just a term or an aspiration from the west. Democracy by itself is a value that can only be nurtured by culture. It can simply flourish or die. Without having the democratic institution that can foster a proper environment for change, developed only by the people who demand this change, the whole initiative will always head to failure.