Every democracy is different, just like every culture is different. Arabs, even Arab leaders, know they need democracy. They have tried everything else, and nothing else works. But democracy is strong medicine for the current Arab leadership, and many would rather just talk about it, and go no further. And that is the problem in the Arab world. Islamic terrorism is the result.
When the king of Saudi Arabia stated to the assembled Arab leadership that they are the problem, that was a sign of progress. Arab leaders are victims of their own success. Their rule is based on corruption and police state tactics. Compare Eastern Europe before 1989 and the Arab world now. Both fed up with their leaders and governments, however the Arabs are not willing to make a painless switch as the East Europeans did in the 1990s. Eastern Europeans had two choices; communism or democracy. The Arabs have three; despotism, democracy or Islamic dictatorship.
The king of Saudi Arabia told the assembled rulers that the biggest problem in the Arab world was poor leadership. This was a bold statement, but not unusual for the senior people in the Saudi government. These princes have also been supporting the Arab Reform Movement, which is based on the idea that most of the Arab world’s problems are internal, not the result of outside interference. But knowing and admitting to the problem does not solve it.
Most educated Arabs will admit that their leaders have been less than stellar, and largely responsible for the corruption and bad decisions that have put the Arab world so far behind the West, and in every region except Africa, when it comes to economic growth.
After Saddam Husseins Baath Party dictatorship was overthrown, Iraqis eagerly embraced democracy, only to find that the people they elected, were not a big improvement over Saddam. Some of Iraqs new leaders backed terrorists. This was especially true of Iran backed Shia factions, which unleashed death squads that killed thousands of Sunni Arabs. Some of the Sunni Arab leaders supported terrorists who targeted Shias. Further there was the corruption, with billions of dollars of government money missing.
This incompetence is also, as the Saudi king points out, the cause of the Islamic terrorism that is growing in the Islamic world. These terrorists began attacking kafirs (non-Moslems) in the 1990s when they realized they were getting shut down in Arab countries. In Egypt, Syria and Algeria, Islamic radical attempts to toss out corrupt governments all failed since Arab dictatorship style leadership mastered the art of running a police state.
Attacking non-Moslems, outside of the Moslem world, brought into play the Western media. The Western media had 24 hour, world-wide (via satellite) outlets reporting what the Islamic terrorists did. Another benefit was the appearance of Arab language satellite news services in the 1990s. Prior to this terror attacks inside Arab countries were largely ignored by the rest of the world. Terrorist movements thrived on publicity, and the more news channels there were out there, the more attention terrorist attacks would get.
Fed up with the corrupt and incompetent leadership back home, millions of Arabs immigrated to western democracies. These Arabs were making more money than they were back home or cashed in on the welfare system of the country. However, this Arab Diaspora provided a refuge for Islamic militants and terrorist regime cells.
Thanks to all those suicide bombs and breathless news reports, the secret of corruption in the Arab world was out for the entire world to see. There was an al Qaeda call to overthrow the corrupt leaders of the Arab countries. Al Qaeda came up with the “war on Islam” angle to justify September 11, 2001, and earlier attacks. But the root cause was bad leadership at home.
One of the least known members of the Arab League, Mauritania, held elections and now have the freely elected democratic government. The divisions in Mauritania, with a population of less than four million, are between the Arab (about a third) and “former slaves” (black Africans from the south). Mauritania exists on the border between Arabs and Bantu (the ethnic group that predominates in Africa south of the Sahara). Blacks were the slaves, and slavery was formerly abolished only in 1981. But slavery still exists in Mauritania, along with democracy?
In Iraq the Islamic radicals react to democracy in which they call it un-Islamic and kill those who disagree with them. The Arabs have to deal with this, but the violence in Iraq has revealed another Arab problem.
Even if you remove religion from the equation, not all Arabs are keen on democracy. In Iraq, the Sunni Arab minority believe it is their right (or responsibility) to run the country. This is a common pattern in Arab countries. One minority believes they are rulers by right, and that democracy is an abomination and un-Islamic. This is the pattern in nearly every Arab country.
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