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Democracy in the Arabic world

By jardinier ·
The fledgling democracy in Iraq was set in motion by a massive invasion by Western countries.

How likely is that other Arabic nations will consider a peaceful transition to democracy?

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That depends

by jdmercha In reply to Democracy in the Arabic w ...

Within the next year - no way
Within the next 5 years - doubtful
Within the next 10 years - maybe
Within the next 25 years - probably

Most likely - Jordan, Iran or Saudi Arabia.

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The History of Democracy in Iraq.

by admin In reply to Democracy in the Arabic w ...

The US didn't create a fledgling democracy in Iraq- it has been an ongoing process.

Since it's inception in 1920 Iraq has always been unique in the Arab world as having a strong democratic element. The original elections then were not completely fair really and so in 1958 a coup and revolution for democracy of, for and by the people occured. There was a period of unprecidented freedom there and it was quite an exciting event. Unfortunately this all changed 5 years later when the Baath party took power, although arguably, the democratic leaders at the time brought it on themselves, gaining wealth and power and beginning to disregard the people who put them in power. Due to this attempt to stay in power, the people in charge didn't somehow get around to holding free elections during that time. Still, this was a remarkable time of social reform and at first, of vibrant flourishing Democracy.

You could say that the United States is trying to revive the democratic heart of Iraq perhaps, but Democracy has had a presence and history there for almost 100 years.

The Arab world has witnessed and remembered this process. It will take a long ongoing success in Iraq to convince them to look at Democracy as a long term stable system of government for their nations.

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Another thing that helps Iraqi democracy

by Montgomery Gator In reply to The History of Democracy ...

Ayatollah Al-Sistani, the most prominent of the Shiite leaders in Iraq, supported the elections and the move to democracy. With the majority of the Shiites and Kurds in favor of democracy, all they need now is to find a way to get the Sunni Arab leadership to cooperate, and still guarantee their rights, along with the rights of other minorities, such as the Assyrians and Chaldeans (both predominantly Christian groups). It will take a while, but it should work.

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The Arab World

by ProtiusX In reply to Democracy in the Arabic w ...

The middle east is full of a diverse range of peoples that span religious, ethnic, cultural and national boundaries. It is a common western falicy to lump them all together as "Arabs".
Case in point is my dear friend Aswad. We have known each other for years and he was born in Bangladesh and raised from a very young age in London. To look at him and to hear him speak he is a very smooth young Englishman who likes retro and raggae music and dresses in suites every where he goes.
He is a Sunni Muslim and has dated non-Muslim women before but has been forbade by his mother to marry a woman who was not Bangladeshee.
I haven't heard from Aswad in a while as he had taken ill for a time but I am sure he would be against this war. He has no love for the Shiite Muslim nor the Kurds. It is interesting to get his perspective on things though. Now if you were to ask Az how he would define himself he would say he was an Englishman or a citizen of the UK. He would say that he is a Sunni Muslim but he would be the first to tell you that (in his words) the Shiite are the militant faction.
I guess what I am trying to say here is that there are so many different factors to take into consideration when asking this kind of question. The biggest one from my view is that the people in this area of the world have never known democracy and change (especially of this magnitude) is very scary. With that said I think the average Iraqi regardless of family, tribe, ethnic or religious affiliation is feeling pretty good right now. They are doing something unique in that part of the world and I think they will see it through. I don't think the established governments of the surrounding countries will like it much but that is because the people of those countries will begin to ask themselves "if the Iraqi's can elect their government officials then why can't we?"

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It won't happen

by pbaryl In reply to Democracy in the Arabic w ...

"How likely is that other Arabic nations will consider a peaceful transition to democracy?" It's not likely at all. The only way it will happen is through a revolution, or an outside invasion. I don't believe that the people in power of the Arabic nations would let go of their power on their own to set up a democracy.
Can you give me an example of a country that has done it peacefully? I'm having hard time of coming up with one.

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Israel is a peacefully created Democracy.

by admin In reply to It won't happen

Israel is a Parliamentary democracy.

The U.N. set it up peacefully, although of course the conflicts came, not as most nations before, but afterwards.

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Good example

by ProtiusX In reply to Israel is a peacefully cr ...

Unfortunately like Israel I think that Iraq will come under some form of assault from it's neighbors. Hopefully not to the extent that Israel was.

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I doubt that Israel is a good example

by jardinier In reply to Israel is a peacefully cr ...

It was set up by an external body, the UN (an organisation which is continually discredited at this website) on land belonging to the Palestinians.

It has been suggested (and I acknowledge this idea) that worldwide guilt over the holocaust was a big factor in allowing the State of Israel to be established.

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Definitions Please

by ProtiusX In reply to I doubt that Israel is a ...

Please define what a Palistinian is?

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Democracy and the middle east

by In reply to Definitions Please

A Palestinian is a person from the land of Palestine, the "old Philistia" or land of the Philistines, as the good book has it.

Palestine was generally defined as most of the area which now embraces Israel, Lebanon, parts of Syria and parts of Jordan.

When (mostly) French and English concerns carved up the middle east to their satisfaction over a century ago after the downfall of the Ottoman empire, the countries -- and boundaries -- created were all extremely artificial, having no regard for ethnic, religious or any other standard feature of the people already living there.

Syria and Jordan bear no resemblance to their more ancient counterparts, as is also the case with Lebanon, an entirely French construct in the new setup of mandates which arose out of the old Turkish Ottoman empire.

Farther afield in the general area of the middle east, Iraq and Iran are also artificial creations, both of them covering land that was once part of the old Persian empire, in the south and east, and Khurdistan in the north.

While democracy of sorts may have been attempted in some cases in the past, to a greater or lesser degree of success, democracy AS WE RECOGNISE IT IN THE WEST is not really what the countries of the middle east want.

I've emphasised our kind of democracy on purpose, because it's that kind that doesn't really meld well with the peculiar (to us) life-style most Arabs want these days.

The recent (two or three decades) rise of fundamentalist Islam across the entire Islamic world, but most especially in the middle east, is really pointing to what the vast majority of Muslims really want, except the west is, in general, far too blind to see it, or at least see beyond their own interests -- oil -- to be aware of anything else.

I won't go into the twisted versions of Islam some of these fundamentalist Muslims have practiced in recent times, as they've been discussed quite fully in other discussions about the subject on this site.

The Taliban (the first to follow this "new" practice) and those who have come after them do NOT really "want" the kind of Islam they purport to follow. This is simply a way of showing the west how far they are prepared to go to achieve what they are really after -- a Muslim world, run on strictly shari'a lines re-interpreted to a twentieth century perspective, if not a twenty-first century one, yet harking back to the days of the Prophet and "pure" Islam.

Call it an Islamic utopia if you like, but it is what most Muslims yearn for. Of course, we all know "utopias" are often just a dream, and in all likelihood, so will the Muslim one turn out to be. Nevertheless, they'll strive for it, and maybe they'll come close to what they want, provided, of course, the west butts out and stays out, and stops trying to shape the Muslim world in their own mold.

Having said all that, I'd like to add here that Israel is just about the worst example that could be chosen as the way of the future for the rest of the middle east. Heaven help us!!

Contrary to what most people believe, Israel is not a "democracy". It looks like one, and sometimes even behaves like one, but a democracy in the western sense of the understanding it is NOT!

Like the surrounding Arabs -- and Muslims -- what Israel actually has, and always wanted, is a state run along the lines of the laws set down in the Torah and otherwhere in Jewish literature. In short, it's a "religious" democracy, if you like.

Most Israelis are what could be called "secular"; maybe upwards of eighty or 90%. And yet, for all that, they are strictly governed by religious law!

There are two major parties in the Israeli Knesset, which numbers 120 members, the old Biblical greatest age (for people like Moses, etc.). They are the Likud (conservative) and Labour parties. The latter is a little more accommodating towards modernity than the Likud party.

However, neither party, to my knowledge -- and please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong -- has enough members (61) to dominate the Knesset in its own right. This always results in co-alition governments of one kind or another; the "winning" party making up government by bringing on line one of the many smaller parties in the Knesset.

While on one or two occasions this system has actually resulted in the two major parties forming a "one party" co-alition, it most generally means an agreement with the next largest party, Shas.

Now Shas happens to be an ultra-conservative, Jews-only-and-religion-first party of the far, far right. And of course, whatever either of the two major parties may want to do, their partner, Shas, has to agree to, resulting (usually) in no advances towards talks with the Palestinians, absolutely NO give on the matter of Jerusalem, and a rapid expansion of settlements across Palestinian territory (for example).

For a good many years of modern Israel's short history, the state has actually been "governed" by the Shas party, hence the "religious" democracy tag used before.

However, the version of "religious" as understood by Shas bears absolutely no resemblance to anything the majority of Israelis would want to tag by that term.

Most of them, by definition, are secular, wanting no part of either what Shas offers (a middle-European, 19th century-style Biblical Judaism that got stuck in the middle ages!) or, indeed, the more "reformist" kind of the struggling progressive community, trying to gain a foothold in the shadow of Shas.

Most Israelis would like to see a complete separation of church and state and have a purely political -- and democratic -- set-up, a la the west.

Did you know, for instance, that no marriage in Israel can be recognised as legal unless conducted in the orthodox (Shas) manner? Again, a convert to Judaism is not recognised by Shas unless the conversion has been carried out in the orthodox manner.

And for a convert to be married to an Israeli (Jew) -- secular, remember -- is totally impossible under Israeli law as it stands. Such marriages take place in Cyprus, or other close, neutral places.

A widow whose husband dies and there are no witnesses to the death, or the body is "lost", as in a war situation -- being taken prisoner, etc. -- must wait seven years before she can be remarried, since her husband was unable to give her the traditional "gett", or religious divorce.

And no woman can be remarried without a gett from her ex-husband, no matter how easy divorce is in other western countries these days.

And have you ever noticed that none of the young ultra-orthodox men, studying at Yeshivot (religious univerties, where only Biblical and other religious literature is studied), never get called into army service, although this is otherwise compulsory for every 18 year old (male and female) in the country?

The ultra-orthodox are EXEMPT from military service (by order of Shas) as their religious studies are considered more important than defending the country!!

Finally, of course, there is the strict segregation of men and women, particularly in holy places, such as the Khotel (Western Wall). And you thought Israel was a democracy!!

I could give many more examples of situations like this, which flourish only under strict Biblical law, but I won't, of course. There's far too many of them.

If you don't believe me, get hold of the Israeli constitution, or a Bible, and check what I've told you. It's all only too true.

Change comes very slowly, and while change is certainly afoot in Israel, for the better, it's hoped, it will be a long, long time before the influence of parties (and other ultra-orthodox groups) such as Shas to fade from Israel's memory.

The entire constitution will need to be changed and things like that can take forever. Especially when it's Jews doing the changing -- with a government of 120, there will undoubtedly be at least 121 different opinions on what must be done, and probably many more!

I rest my case.

(a proud Diaspora and very progressive Jew who pays lip service to Israel and believes strongly in the Palestinian cause)

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