What went wrong in the Middle East?

The question is not whether the elections in Egypt and Syria are democratic or not. They are clearly not. But when did democracy visit these countries anyway? The closest Arab countries in the Middle East have come to democracy is in Iraq and that is only because the old mold was broken by the U.S. invasion.

Otherwise it would be much the same there too with the minority of Sunnis running the show by force. Today, the tables have turned, of course, and the Sunnis argue the government has no respect for their rights. The stark truth of the matter is the Arab Spring failed to spawn the democracy that an overly optimistic world expected.

Egypt’s experiment in democracy, after Hosni Mubarak was ousted by the people, also showed early signs of failure, even before the military toppled the elected president and government. Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood government may have been elected democratically, but they showed early on they had no respect for pluralism either.

The manner in which they prepared the country’s “democratic” constitution and forced it on the nation, without considering the rights of the secular classes and non-Muslims, is on record.

Looked at from the perspective of genuine democracy, there is no question the “electoral victory” of Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in Egypt, and the imminent “electoral victory” of Bashar al-Assad in Syria are unacceptable. Looked at from the perspective of the political realities that govern the region, however, they are normal.

For sociological, political and religious reasons, the region has shown once again it is not ready for pluralistic democracy in the western sense of the word. But there is no pluralistic democracy in the...

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