January 31st, 2013
09:23 AM ET

Arab Spring’s hits and misses

By Fareed Zakaria

The Arab world’s two largest experiments in democracy, Iraq and Egypt, have, unfortunately, poor choices in common. Both placed elections ahead of constitutions and popular participation ahead of individual rights. Both have had as their first elected leaders strongmen with Islamist backgrounds who have no real dedication to liberal democracy. The results have been the establishment of “illiberal democracy” in Iraq and the danger of a similar system in Egypt.

The best role models for the region might well be two small monarchies. Jordan and Morocco have gone the opposite route, making measured reforms and liberalizing their existing systems. The monarchies have chosen evolution over revolution. So far, it seems the better course.

Read the full Washington Post column here

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Topics: Arab Spring • Middle East

soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. matslats

    Ah so democracy is good enough for us, but Arabs need dictators is that the thrust of the argument?
    > Arab world’s two largest experiments in democracy, Iraq and Egypt.
    Umm you forgot Iran under Mosadeq. Also Pakistan is a large democracy.
    It seems a bit ripe to deem these experiments failures after so much US interferance.

    January 31, 2013 at 10:11 am | Reply
    • wjmccartan

      True matslats, Iran was a democracy under the populist Prime Minister Mosadeq up to his overthrow in 1953 by the C.I.A. and replaced with that horrific Shah Reza Pahlavi. As for Pakistan, it's what one would call a pseudo-democracy since their leaders are on the payroll of the U.S. government. Overall, the so-called Arab Spring seems to have achieved very little!

      January 31, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  2. rightospeak

    Iraq a democracy ????What nonsense ! I hear and read enough propaganda and there is no need to comment further.

    January 31, 2013 at 7:15 pm | Reply
  3. j. von hettlingen

    Jordan and Morocco emerged unscathed from Arab Spring vis-à-vis Egypt. The two countries have a long tradtion of monarchies. Although the real power lies in the kings' hands, their prime ministers usually take the blame, when their people rise up and take to the streets. Even if governments are dissolved pending new elections, the countries are not without heads-of-state. Egypt is different, the power is in the hands of the president. When his competence and legitimacy are questioned by the people, there is a political cricis and the country lacks an authority and leadership.

    February 1, 2013 at 10:34 am | Reply

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