February 5th, 2013
09:21 AM ET

Evolution vs revolution in Middle East

"Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

By Fareed Zakaria

The scenes of chaos and strife in Egypt that you've been seeing during the second anniversary of the Tahrir Square uprising are just the latest and most vivid illustration that Egypt's revolution is going off the rails.

It has revived talk about the failure of the Arab Spring and even some nostalgia for the old order. But let's remember, that old order was doomed. Arab dictators like Hosni Mubarak could not have held onto power without even greater troubles; look at Syria.

But events in the Middle East the past two years do underscore something I've long believed that constitutions should take precedence over elections. Let me explain.

Watch the video for the full Take.

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Topics: Middle East

soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Chukwuemeka

    Its akin to choosing between development and growth. Which comes first? You can not develop without growth.

    February 5, 2013 at 9:44 am | Reply
  2. Quigley

    Fareed Zakaria has it wrong here by saying that all Middle Eastern dictators were doomed by the so-called "Arab Spring". Yemen is ruled by Saleh's right hand man, Hadi and the kings of both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are still very much in power!

    February 5, 2013 at 11:07 am | Reply
  3. mitdgreenb

    The same argument was made to me, personally, by a senior minister of China... 20 years ago. When asked about the then rapid moves of Russia toward elections, he responded that China was a lot better served developing its economy and educating its people... that democracy before that would lead to chaos (anathema in Asia) with little chance to serve the citizens. He was also quite critical of we Americans for suggesting otherwise. Frankly I was a bit insulted.

    And history has shown I was wrong.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      That Chinese minster was quite right in what he said, mitdgreenb. Today, what Egypt needs is Socialism rather than a bourgeois democracy and certainly not a pseudo-democracy similar to Iraq and Libya!

      February 5, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Reply
      • Ado

        You are correct-but the people did not think that -who said the people are always right?

        February 6, 2013 at 4:46 am |
  4. rightospeak

    When you keep removing my comments just realize that you do not have freedoms , you are an Imperial Parrot., that is all. I have a lot more freedom than you.

    February 5, 2013 at 8:03 pm | Reply
  5. rightospeak

    My comments were not politically correct and you removed them to fool the American people and to keep them misinformed-that is precicely why the US is in trouble. Enough for tonight.

    February 5, 2013 at 8:06 pm | Reply
  6. egyptian scientist

    If you look more broadly at the big picture you would find in my opinion many promising signals 1) 2 years ago there was no hope for democracy and no visible to reach even an unbiased election. 2) Few months ago there was no visible way to get the military out of the political scene but now they are partially out. It took decades for turkey to get civilian control over the military. 3) Even that chaos going on indicate that people are became politically involved and overcame the fear even though there is still excessive use of force by police. That can be evidenced by the ability of the demonstrators to reach the presidential palace and even crowl over the doors. 4) ther are more than one islamic party competing (moslem brotherhood versus salafis parties) which can help prevent a theocratic dictatorship like Iran.
    My overall conclusion is that there is a long way to go for Egypt in order to reach a stable democratic fate.

    February 5, 2013 at 9:28 pm | Reply
    • Ado

      Ok-scientist-so after all this what did you get? Your peoples problems are at best the same-but from my observation after a recent visit the people are saying they are worse off. So how mr.Scientist does all this democracy help?

      When people have no jobs, or money-can i feed them democracy crap?

      February 6, 2013 at 4:42 am | Reply
  7. Ado

    Well he is right- arab spring has been a failure.These countries have no chance of economical revival in the next 10-20 years.As for syria- arab spring which is another name for western instigation through ngos and other methods is doing the same thing it did in other countries- the people will suffer and continue to suffer.

    February 6, 2013 at 4:40 am | Reply
  8. j. von hettlingen

    Evolution is always more desirable than revolution. It all depends on the powerholders, whether they are keen to tread the path of change or reforms, when they see their citizens taking to the street. If they don't read the writing on the wall, people will spark a revolution, which also means to bring down the current political system and build something new.

    February 6, 2013 at 5:48 am | Reply
  9. billy

    The censorship on this web site by CNN proves that real freedom of speech is not allowed here...

    February 6, 2013 at 6:07 am | Reply
  10. KEVIN

    Fareed is right to an extent. Egypt freely elected another dictator. But revolution always produces much more significant change then evolution. Especially when the previous governship was dictatorial in Nature. The only reason that revolution in the ME has not produced significant change is that any new govt. will be significantly rooted in the muslim religion and it's restricted freedoms.

    February 6, 2013 at 6:24 am | Reply
  11. jimmy lim

    I beg to differ. Bcos of history, culture, customs, economic and sociail background, one cant compare and assume always democracy will work for every nation – China is very different from US & EU. Imho, I think only developed nations can handle n implement democracy. When is comes to mideast, I dont think democracy will ever work. There is no such thing as Islamic democracy and democracy cannot work if there is no secularism. I m not so sure if Islam religion is a not curse. Is sharia law compatible with democracy, human rights and secularism. If it is not , why then most if not all islamic nations insist on sharia laws even at its infant stage of democratisation? Is the muslim mindset of muslims shackled by its religion? Why are muslims nation the poorest in the world? why are muslim nations always at war within ? If not for oil, there is no rich muslim nation such as SA, Bahrian, Qatar, UAE etc? Is Islam impoverishing muslim nations? I thot islam is the religion of knowledge, tolerance and peace BUT why then are muslim nations so backward, abject poverty and always killing one another?

    February 6, 2013 at 7:56 am | Reply
  12. Jonesyman

    It has not even been 2 years since the start of the Arab Spring, far to soon to judge its affects. Consider the United States, from the Declaration of Independence till the 1st president took office under our current stable government was 13 YEARS. Only half of which was spent on the revolution itself, with a half dozen years left over for infighting, riots, failed governments and a barely aborted military coup.

    Yes, the Mid East is very different from the early US, but my point is that changes in nations are slow and often messy affairs and just because progress isn't happening on some arbitrary timeline doesn't meant it has failed.

    February 6, 2013 at 10:26 am | Reply
  13. deniz boro

    It's high tide for America to speak of evolution verses revolution. In some States evolution is hardly thought.

    Can these people "in general" comment on a Middle East Evolution or Revolution?

    February 7, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Reply
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    February 7, 2013 at 10:08 pm | Reply

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