Term Paper on Political Model of Middle East in the Post Arab Spring Era

Revolutions are never fairy tales. Nor do they create utopias, either instant or long-term. The year 2011 is a watershed for the Arab world. The wall of fear is shattered forever. Women and men took to the streets and succeeded in toppling regimes and ousting despots and dictators. People had high expectations that poverty would swiftly disappear, jobs would become plentiful, equality would reign, and democracy would prevail. The reality is quite different; the road to democracy is never smooth but long, bumpy, and maybe violent. the Arab uprisings have deepened both the political divide and economic woes. Defining a new order has proven far harder than ousting old autocrats. Phase one was creating conditions for democracy. Phase two is a kind of democratic chaos as dozens of parties in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia do political battle (and in some cases physical battle) over constitutions. Anciens regimes have not totally given up, as in Yemen. The cost of change has exceeded even the highest anticipated costs, as in Syria. And half of the Arab world’s 350 million people have yet to witness any real change at all. So, no, most Arabs are probably disappointed with the “Arab Spring” for one of many reasons. But the uprisings were never going to happen in one season. And this is only the beginning of a decades-long process.

Political Model Of Middle East In Post Arab Spring Era:

Today, there are two models of Muslim polities in the Middle East: one, the theocratic models of Iran and Saudi Arabia; and, two, the post-"Arab Spring" movement towards the formation of a civil state, as being sought in Tunisia, Egypt and other countries affected by the Arab Spring. The post-colonial Muslim world saw competition between the secular and religious nationalists setting up Middle-Eastern states around religious or secular models, such as Nasser's Egypt, the Shah's Iran, secular Turkey, and monarchical Saudi Arabia. Most of these were authoritarian states ruled either by a tribal hierarchy, military dictators sometimes in alliance with politicians, Arab socialist parties, or kings.

In most Muslim countries, state authorities manipulate religion for their own political ambitions. Rached Ghannouchi, the leading Tunisian Muslim democrat, has called for the freeing of the state from religion, saying that religion is a personal matter and the state cannot impose religious rule on citizens. Ghannouchi emphasises that religion is a source of moral values and principles; whereas matters of governance, industrial management and agricultural innovation lie in the domains of reason and science. States that enforce religious practices, such as the wearing of a veil, or which restrict religious freedoms for citizens, are self-damaging and unnatural.

In the face of continuing efforts by the Egyptian army to hold onto power and seek self-immunity, the democratic forces in post-Arab Spring Egypt are struggling to consolidate democracy. The constituent assembly will be elected on March 24, and it will have to be representative of all sections of Egyptian society.

At present, it is unclear what will be the shape of the future Egyptian government. Will it continue to be a model of a strong executive president, as before; a parliamentary model with a strong prime minister; or the French model of a directly elected president and a prime minister from the parliament? The Egyptian president will be elected in May.

Regarding how to manage the continued role of the military in politics, Egypt can learn from the current Turkish and post-reformist Indonesian models of civil-military relations.

The moderate Islamist Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood also seeks to play a role in the formation of the Egyptian civil state, where there will be no coercion towards religious and cultural uniformity, unlike in present France and other European countries that seek to enforce hegemonic European cultural identity on their Muslim citizens over issues such as halal meat, the hijab, or mosque minarets - all of which contradict the principles of secularism. Globalisation requires revisiting the discussion about secularism and culture. Indeed, globalisation cannot only be seen as an economic phenomenon.

The recent election results in Iran show that politics in a theocratic Islamic state is no different from other states. Iran is witnessing a power struggle between two factions within the ruling group - the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini versus President Ahmadinejad - while the reformist opposition, whose leaders are under house arrest, has isolated itself. The early reports of a parliamentary victory for the Khameini faction will weaken the power and influence of Ahmadinejad. Iran is still reeling under the effects of its 2009 presidential election result, which has ruptured the Iranian society.

Thus, the developments in Iran and Egypt represent two different political models in the post-Arab Spring Middle East. The former resists internal calls for reform, while the latter, along with Tunisia, represents the emerging new model for democracy in the Middle East, which opts for open and free competition between parties with different political platforms, be they secular, leftist, liberal, Islamist or Muslim democrat.

In this latter model, while the country has an Islamic religious and cultural identity, the political space has to remain open. The formation of such a model will go through teething troubles, but hopefully it will emerge as a model of Muslim democracy in the Middle East.

The emerging Egyptian and Tunisian models are not much different from the face of Muslim politics in Turkey, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Bangladesh, which are not Islamic states but native models of Muslim democracy, each unique in its context.

In the face of Muslim diversity, internal Muslim debate about the role of religion in politics will take place from different angles. For example, the political discourse in contemporary Iran is conducted in the light of its recent history as an Islamic state and its resultant problems; in Pakistan the debate about the role of Islam in politics takes place in the light of the history of political competition between the army, ideologically diverse political parties and Jinnah's founding political vision of a Muslim country in the modern age; and in post-reformasi Indonesia, in the context of politics of different shades.

So,by seeing every prospects of post arab spring era,there can be outlined three existing Middle Eastern political and democratic (not always in the liberal sense) constitutional models as they relate to the possible, if not probable, trajectories of political Islam in Egypt (and by extension also in Tunisia, but not in Syria or Bahrain,while presently the futures of Libya and Yemen remain unknown).

The first is the Turkish secular national model as founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881–1938) in 1923. After abolishing the Ottoman “Caliphate” in 1924 (deemed a universal trauma for nearly all Islamists), Ataturk set out to define the modern Turkish national state as distinct territorially, linguistically, and ethnically from the rest of the Islamic world—a significant part of which had earlier formed much of the Ottoman Empire’s domains, while other parts, or vestiges, of the Islamic world, most notably in India with the Khilāfat Movement (1919–1924). Looking to the Ottoman Caliph as a source of succor and the last remaining symbol of Islamic unity, around whom the Muslim polity should rally in the face of the ever-advancing Western, mainly British, imperialism and colonialism. Through these decisive actions, Atatürk no longer was burdened with governing the territories and failing economies outside the national borders of the Turkish Republic, nor with the moral duties and religious responsibility of upholding what semblance remained of Islamic unity and polity, which was the hallmark of the Ottoman Empire’s pan-Islamism. Turkey now would focus on becoming a modern, secular national state built along European lines and foundations.