Democracy in the Arab World

January 30, 2004 • Volume 14, Issue 4
Will U.S. efforts to promote democracy succeed?
By Kenneth Jost, Benton Ives-Halperin

Introduction

A protester outside Egypt's parliament demands democratic reforms on March 9, 2003. His banner proclaims: “Enough! 21 years of emergency law.”  (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)
A protester outside Egypt's parliament demands democratic reforms on March 9, 2003. His banner proclaims: “Enough! 21 years of emergency law.” (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

The monarchs and presidential strongmen who have governed Arab lands since independence in the mid-20th century have been reluctant to share power, allow free elections or permit popular dissent. Following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, however, President Bush has vowed to establish a working democracy in Iraq — and to promote free elections throughout the region. But democratization faces daunting obstacles, including the Arab world's limited experience with self-rule, imbalanced economic development and the rise of radical Islamist movements. While some experts see encouraging signs in a few countries, prospects for democracy appear dim in many others, including two major U.S. Arab allies: Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Oct. 20, 2017  Democracy Under Stress
Jul. 17, 2012  Myanmar's New Era
Jan. 17, 2012  Emerging Central Asia
Jun. 21, 2011  Peacebuilding
May 03, 2011  Turmoil in the Arab World
Feb. 15, 2011  Sub-Saharan Democracy
Jun. 2010  Democracy in Southeast Asia
Apr. 01, 2005  Exporting Democracy
Jan. 30, 2004  Democracy in the Arab World
Nov. 03, 2000  Democracy in Latin America
Oct. 08, 1999  Democracy in Eastern Europe
Jul. 24, 1998  Democracy in Asia
Aug. 17, 1990  Initiatives: True Democracy or Bad Lawmaking?
Feb. 02, 1990  Free Markets, Free Politics and Growth
Jun. 14, 1967  Greece: Monarchy Vs. Republicanism
Feb. 04, 1959  Revolutionary Ferment and Democratic Processes
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