Democracy in a Culture of Resistance

May 28, 2008 Published under Democracy and Freedom (or lack of), Middle East

A major challenge to letting democracy and freedom take root in the Middle East is that the region’s politics are submerged in an overwhelming culture of resistance.  For decades, Arab rulers have fed the Arab street with anti-American, anti-Western and anti-Israel epithets to such pathological degree that now every movement is defined through this prism.  Those who oppose or attack Israel and the US are instant heroes of the street.  It is hard for progressive reformers to gain traction in Arab elections.  It is either the status quo of corruption and authoritarianism or revolutionary anti-Western opposition.  Thus, according to Yasser Abu Hilala writing in Al Ghad, in Kuwait’s recent elections, the winners were Salafis and Shiia candidates who eulogized Hezbollah’s Imad Mughniyeh.  The situation is so extreme, that reporters who even just interview President Bush are considered infidels and threatened with their lives, and calls abound for countries like Egypt to break all relations with the US and Israel.

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