Democracy and the Arab World: Une valse à trois temps.

Mohammed MorsiSo, is Egypt’s military coup against Morsi a remake of Algeria’s interruption of the democratic process? Well! It certainly looks like it and it sounds like it. But different people will always have different opinions. For me, one to answer this question ‘objectively’, one has to determine the comparison criteria and see if they apply to both cases. For the rule of Democracy the will of the people is very important as it was for the the American people in 1783 and for the French people in 1789 and most importantly for the indigenous people of Algeria in Jul 1st, 1962 when they chose to break up from colonizing France. However, despite the efforts of De Montesquieu, Rousseau and other smart people in establishing well defined droits naturels of the people and a clear contrat social, the Arabs are just not quite convinced that such amount of freedom will always work for them. Yes, anti-democratic regimes have been waving the Arab specificity to avoid more open process for sharing the power, but there is also another class of presumably democratic and progressive movements, including the civil societies, human rights advocates, … etc who are just not happy with the recent outcome of the ballot box especially when adversary and not typical democrats like Islamist parties are the winners. If Algeria’s case in 1992 was  an isolated case study of a military coup against an elected majority in the people’s parliament, it looks like Egypt’s new development has just proved the trend. So the recent ousting of elected president Morsi by the Egyptian army and discarding the Muslim Brotherhood from ruling the country, brings more than just a confirmation to the Algerian syndrome.

There is, however, a third factor in addressing the Egyptian spring. The reading of the unfolding events related to the Arab Spring and recent developments in Egypt, Syria, and very recently in Turkey clearly leads to a paradigm shift happening in the US foreign policy and probably that of its allies. Indeed, the US may no longer be interested in seeing Democracy promoted in the Arab world. It may be too tight a place to elaborate on the rationale here, but one may think of it as a simple prioritization exercise where some time sustaining democracy in the free world requires less democracy elsewhere.


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