Advancing a Free Society

A Democratic Middle East?

Friday, April 1, 2011

By Stephen Haber and Victor Menaldo

The Middle East and North Africa are being swept by popular uprisings. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who ruled Tunisia since 1987, and Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak, who ruled Egypt since 1981, have been forced from power in quick succession, and with minimal bloodshed.

Protesters have taken to the streets in Bahrain, Iran, Syria, and Yemen, causing security forces to crack down, with varying degrees of success, fearful of the outcomes of the Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions. Open civil war has broken out in Libya. The participants in all of these movements demand democracy, an end to corruption, and economic opportunity. Will they succeed?

We would like to say that democracy is coming to the Middle East and North Africa, but there are good reasons to curb our optimism. It is one thing to force a tyrant from the presidential palace. It is quite another to create a durable democratic political system.

Continue reading Stephen Haber and Victor Menaldo at our sister site Defining Ideas

(photo credit: Ramy Raoof)