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March 10, 2005

Models for Promoting Democracy

Creative Policy Debate Question 2

Democratic institutions offer rule of law, independent judiciary, and the separation of religion and state – all which help manage competing interests in a society. The weakness of democracy in the Middle East has been cited as one of the key underlying causes fermenting terrorism.

How should policy makers promote democratic reform in places like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria? Is there a standard template for democratic reform? If no, what type of model should be developed for the Middle East? For example, what is the correct balance between the ‘Big Bang’ approach experienced in Iraq, compared to the gradual evolution to democracy experienced by Taiwan and South Korea?

Participants in the Models for Promoting Democracy Creative Debate

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Comments

[Saad Eddin Ibrahim]

Situation in Palestine: three domestic forces: autocrtats, democrats, field crowds. Autocrats had the power basically in the last 60 years, and have rejected military dictatorship. The outside world came as a player. The field crowds are growing, the main opposition to autocrats.

[Jonathan Schell]

How to develop democracy in Palestine?

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop2 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 11, 2005 04:40 PM


> How to develop democracy in Palestine, and the Middle East in general? [Jonathan Schell]

[Saad Eddin Ibrahim]

The democracy can’t be imposed from outside. Basic democracy has to emerge at home. How? By stopping the rule of autocrats, and helping build civil society!

[Bassam Tibi]

I share my opinion with Mr. Ibrahim. And in the period 1967-72 we were quite successful in developing the civil society. It is important to create a homogeneous concept for Middle East countries. We should not, however focus the on the Arab world, but on the Muslim world. And the evolution in Indonesia, as a Muslim country, is promising.

One of the biggest obstacles is the lack of political culture for democracy. It can’t be created simply. There is need for culture change, to develop the culture for democracy, human rights, more liberalism in the society.

More media exposure to the Arab democratic movement would be a great help. This also was my personal experience. When I was in prison and a young journalist publicized my case it helped to liberate me…

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop2 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 12, 2005 09:04 AM


[Miguel Rozas] After WWI we redesigned the Middle East.

[Bassam Tibi] Yes, after the decomposition of the Ottoman Empire: ‘peace to end old peace.’

[Miguel Rozas] Was it a mistake?

[Bassam Tibi]

After WWI there was a liberal movement in many countries, but it was killed by Arab nationalism. And as we said, Western countries supported autocrats. Lack of democracy and of human rights are the reasons for the situation today. For one half we can blame the West, but for the second one we can blame the countries in the region.

You can’t introduce democracy from outside. You can’t do it by force either. You have to develop the political culture. It would create a big difference if you just took a small part of the spending for war or for trade of arms to this region in developing civic society, to promote democrats.

[Miguel Rozas] How about the human rights convention? Perhaps the base is wrong and it reflects only western society?

[Bassam Tibi] Democracy is not the vote, it is not the rule of majority. It is about the culture.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop2 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 12, 2005 09:04 AM


[Virginia Gamba]

I am not expert in the Middle East, but I think it would be interesting to look more closely at what is happening in Africa. The world still hopes what the West, or the North have to do everything. We do not think about what the South can do. In Africa there are examples of establishing governance from the bottom up, without external influence.

My conclusions are:

1/ I think that the democracy process in the world can benefit from South-South partnerships, information exchange and lessons learnt.

2/ The African continental initiative NEPAD and the reform of African Union (AU) is a case in point – it has both Arab and Non-Arab states and yet it reached consensus on the road of development.

3/ The AU-NEPAD Regional Approach to development indicates two requirements for advancement:
- good governance, which includes importantly the issue of corruption.
- peace and security.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop2 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 12, 2005 09:08 AM


[Saad Eddin Ibrahim]

What does good governance mean? I can see its four main aspects:
- transparency
- accountability
- rule of law
- participation

And if you have good governance, you have more democracy, and if you have democracy there is less risk of going to war. It is very linked.

[Jonathan Schell] How about the nationalism?

[Bassam Tibi]

I see two kinds of nationalism in the Middle East:
- the local nationalism, like in Egypt, which dates as early as the 19th century
- the pan-Arab nationalism, which has risen especially after 1967

And it was the ‘westernization’ which made the Arab nationalism rise because before that nationalism was more of an all-Muslim nationalism, and practically the same in the Middle East as in Indonesia.

[Saad Eddin Ibrahim]

The use of political agenda for this nationalism is very simple: America, the West, Israel.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop2 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 12, 2005 09:11 AM


[Saad Eddin Ibrahim]
The use of political agendas for this nationalism is very simple: America, the West, Israel.

[Jonathan Schell]

How about Lebanon. Is it a real democracy movement?

[Saad Eddin Ibrahim]

There is a rise of many forces, of all groups. Lebanon used to be a truly pluralist society, politically as well as religiously. Just one example: there were sixteen different sects!

The Shia outside support (especially from Iran, Syria) was for a long time the major religious force, but the situation has now exploded. Now they do not want the US, France, Syria… they want to put their house in order without outsiders!

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop2 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 12, 2005 09:23 AM


[Huma Haider]

What do you think if Saddam goes on trial in Iraq?
Can Iraqi lawyers handle the situation?

[Saad Eddin Ibrahim]

Would be good, and they can do it.
They have a long tradition. This would be the more transparent process.

[Miguel Rozas]

What would be in this case Saddam’s defence strategy?

[Saad Eddin Ibrahim]

Sept-11 and the US war on terrorism, probably…

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop2 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 12, 2005 09:26 AM


[Jonathan Schell]

We have been spoken to about many interesting things. Let’s draw some conclusions about how to promote democracy:

1. The western countries support autocrats instead of democrats and of developing civic society.

2. Financial, technical, moral and media support of civic society will help the democrats.

3. There is need of more South-South cooperation.

Thank you very much for your contributions.

Posted by: AtochaWorkshop2 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 12, 2005 09:28 AM


1/the causes of terrorism? ignorance, lack of communication, and intolerance

2/solutions? bring up youth with peace spirit, and fight against terrorism by non-violent actions

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