Sunday, August 22, 2010

How Arab Governments Resist the Trend to Democracy

by Amr Hamzawy

U.S. News & World Report
August 20, 2010

Throughout most of the Arab world, poverty, unemployment, and illiteracy rates are on the rise while the quality of education, healthcare, and social safety-nets for the poor and elderly are falling to unprecedented levels. Despite these failures, the repressive governments under which they occur remain firmly entrenched. And this lack of democracy limits the West's ability to realize its goals in the region.

While authoritarian governments facing similar circumstances have toppled elsewhere—as we saw in Ghana and Indonesia—the Arab world is different. Some observers suggest its cultural and religious values are responsible. But this is simply not the case. In fact, several unique features hinder reform and block the democratic progress that the United States and Europe desires.