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April 28, 2014 Special Dispatch No. 5722

Al-Arabiya Director: As Long As Arab Countries Are Dominated By Military And Religious Establishments, They Will Not Achieve Genuine Democracy

April 28, 2014
Special Dispatch No. 5722

In an op-ed published April 26, 2014 on the website of Alarabiya TV, the channel's director, 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, wrote that elections in Arab countries, even if outwardly democratic, often produce dictatorial regimes or are used by such regimes to consolidate their rule. He explained that Arab republics are the outcome of the religious and military institutions, and that, as long as these institutions maintain their grip on power, these republics can never advance into genuine democracy.

The following is an English translation of the article that was published on the website.[1]


'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed (image: alarabiya.net)

"Election carnivals are sweeping the Arab world, from Mauritania to Algeria to Egypt, Iraq and Syria. Ballot boxes are the greatest trick dictators used to stay in power, and many people fell for it.

"This week, Mauritanian President Mohammad Ould Abdel Aziz decided to hold new elections, ignoring the fact that no one recognized the results of the previous ones he held. In Algeria as well, President Bouteflika won the presidential elections for the fourth term. Despite his illness, Bouteflika insisted on voting for himself. Next month, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, almost unrivaled, will be waiting for Egyptians to choose him as their sixth president. Then there is the Syrian president announcing his candidacy for the upcoming presidential elections, after slaughtering a quarter of a million people and rendering 9 million people homeless. As for Libya, the former elected prime minister fled to Germany after receiving death threats, and the Prime Minister-designate resigned later on for the same reason."

"The Question Remains, Do You Still Believe In Democracy Around You?"

"The question remains, do you still believe in democracy around you? This is an old story that Britain tried to impose in the first decades of the 20th Century in Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, and Iraq. The Americans tried to do the same in Iraq and consequently, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki has grabbed more power than the former dictator Saddam Hussein, whose toppling cost amounted to a trillion dollars.

"From Syria to Mauritania and South Sudan, Arab republics are the outcome of the religious and militant institutions. As long as these two institutions maintain the grip on power, the region will never advance into an era of civilized democracy. The Arab democracy crisis, whether real or false, will often lead to repressive regimes, led by religious men or militants.

"Egypt is a typical example: following Tahrir Square’s angry demonstrations that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, people resorted to the ballot box to choose their next president. The first elections crowned a fascist religious party to rule the country, refuting the same democracy that got the party to power. At that point, millions of people, again, protested against the theocratic rule, and army emerged as their only savior."

"The Arab Democracy Crisis, Whether Real Or False, Will Often Lead To Repressive Regimes, Led By Religious Men Or Militants"

"Another great example of the religious militant monster was Sudan. Omar al-Bashir and Sheikh Hassan al-Turabi ruled Sudan in the late 1980s. Al-Bashir wanted to seize all the power, which led to endless crisis. Fearing his ouster, he formed a bilateral alliance again. In Libya, politically immature extremist religious groups are trying to take over the rule by terrorizing parliamentarians, ministers and embassies. These groups have succeeded in sabotaging the situation by being armed and staying in the Parliament. They tried to rule though militias, the same way Qaddafi governed the country.

"The Arab democracy crisis, whether real or false, will often lead to repressive regimes, led by religious men or militants."

[1] Alarabiya.net, April 26, 2014.

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