Friday, March 30, 2012

Al Jazeera English: How the West de-democratised the Middle East

The US has been prevaricating in the middle east for along time with little effect. The Al Jazeera article explains some of the outcomes of Western democratization. The author also notes that Islamic societies have no notion of the separation of church and state. 

"Is Islam compatible with democracy? 

The predominant answer for many years was "no". Among others, Elie Kedourie, MS Lipset, and Huntington advocated such a position. Bernard Lewis, "the most influential postwar historian of Islam and the Middle East", who offered "the intellectual ammunition for the Iraq War", was most vociferous in upholding this position. Their main argument was that, unlike Christianity, Islam was unique in not differentiating religion from the state and hence democracy was impossible in Muslim polities. Against this doxa, I make three arguments.

First, the position that Islam is incompatible with democracy was false from the beginning, because it served imperial ambitions of the West and violated Muslims' self-perception that, not only is Islam compatible with democracy, it was one of the engines of democratic empowerment.

Second, I argue that the West's discourse of democratisation of the Middle East is dubious because it hides how the West actually de-democratised the Middle East. My contention is that, from the 1940s onwards, democratic experiments were well in place and the West subverted them to advance its own interests. I offer three examples of de-democratisation: The reportedly CIA-engineered coup against the elected government of Syria in 1949, the couporchestrated by the US and UK against the democratic Iran in 1953 and subversion of Bahrain's democracy in the 1970s. I also touch on the West's recent de-democratisation in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

Third, I explain that the Middle East was de-democratised because the West rarely saw it as a collection of peoplewith dynamic, rich social-cultural textures."

See the complete article at:
How the West de-democratised the Middle East - Opinion - Al Jazeera English Subscribe to the Rightardia feed: Creative Commons License Rightardia by Rightard Whitey of Rightardia is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

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