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Arab Fall or Arab Winter?

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Criticizing the concept of an “Arab Spring,” the author is pessimistic about democracy and development in the Arab countries that have recently overthrown authoritarian leaders. Overthrowing a dictatorship is much easier than building a functioning democracy and a stable society to replace it. Few of the countries in the Arab Middle East have the requisite level of civil society, institutions, middle class, political culture, level of socioeconomic development, and proximity to other developed democracies (the mentoring factor) to support democracy. Reviewing the literature on democracy and development, the author systematically assesses the Arab Middle East in light of its democratic prospects. His prognosis is pessimistic—at least in the short run. He also distinguishes between countries at different levels of development. As for U.S. policy, the author recommends greater realism and less romance and wishful thinking.
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Keywords: Egypt; Gulf states; democracy; prerequisites; “Arab Spring”; “clash of civilizations”

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2012

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