Bassma Kodmani analyzed the relationship between political and religious authority in the Arab world.
The adoption of the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative by the Group of Eight Industrialized Nations (G-8) at their June 8-10 summit in Sea Island, Georgia represents a diplomatic victory for the United States. The initiative, however, is extremely unlikely to have a noticeable impact on political reform in the Middle East.
Professor Mustapha Kamel al Sayyid analyzed various political reform movements in the Arab world.
Drawing on the insights of some twenty-five leading Western and Middle Eastern scholars, Islam and Democracy in the Middle East highlights the dualistic and often contradictory nature of political liberalization. Political liberalization—as managed by the state—not only opens new spaces for debate and criticism, but is also used as a deliberate tactic to avoid genuine democratization.
Despite predictions that the American march into Baghdad would unleash either a wave of democratization or a plague of repression throughout the region, in reality most Middle Eastern states are too preoccupied with domestic problems to be moved profoundly by events in Iraq. Iraq will have a political impact on the region, but changes are likely to come in smaller steps than commonly predicted.
Before the United States can determine whether its gradualist approach to democratic reform in the Middle East is the best remedy, we must first understand how Arab autocracies actually work. In particular, we must understand how the "liberalized autocracies" of the region endure despite frequent prediction of their imminent death.
Friday, January 31: A panel discussion to launch the new Carnegie book by Shanthi Kalathil and Taylor C. Boas.
Marina Ottaway discusses findings from her new book on semi-authoritarian regimes. Audio transcripts are available.