November 3rd, 2014
04:52 PM ET

Can Arab countries be real democracies?

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

Can Arab countries be real democracies? Well, one of them, Tunisia just did well on a big test.

More than twenty years ago, the scholar Samuel Huntington established his famous "two turnover test" for fledgling democracies. He argued that a country can only be said to be a consolidated democracy when there have been TWO peaceful transitions of power.

Tunisia passed Huntington's test after last weekend's election, when – for the second time – a ruling establishment agreed to hand over power. Tunisia's relative success is in marked contrast to the abysmal failure of Egypt, the Arab world’s largest and once most influential country.

As in Tunisia, Egyptians also overthrew a dictator three years ago...but after Egypt's brief experiment with democracy, in which the Muslim Brotherhood was elected and then abused its authority, today the country is ruled by a repressive dictatorship.

Watch the video for the full Take or read the WaPo column

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Topics: Fareed's Take

soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. ayakzan

    Reblogged this on Yakzan on Immigration.

    November 3, 2014 at 5:04 pm | Reply
  2. 100% Ethio-Britain (American)

    It's a jew syndrome.

    November 3, 2014 at 6:02 pm | Reply
  3. Thomas

    Yes they can , however the light bulb must want to change !

    November 3, 2014 at 6:43 pm | Reply
  4. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    As far as working democracies go, the answer is no. The Arabs are better off with authoritarian leaders like Bashar al-Assad and Mohammar Qadaffy, like it or not!

    November 3, 2014 at 6:48 pm | Reply
    • Blue Saffron

      Just like India is with Modi a murdering woman bashing genocidalist, suppose. Is that your inference?

      November 3, 2014 at 6:57 pm | Reply
      • Reader

        It is completely ridiculous to relate India and Modi to Arab countries and it's dictators. It's the biggest democracy in the world and quite successful at that. If you hate Modi and India that is your problem, but the two things are not related at all.

        November 4, 2014 at 12:21 pm |
  5. Blue Saffron

    Can Fareed not plagiarize?
    Real Democracy? LOL

    November 3, 2014 at 6:55 pm | Reply
    • banasy©

      So, I'll assume you're saying no, Arab countries cannot be real democracies?

      November 3, 2014 at 7:25 pm | Reply
      • Blue Saffron

        Define "real democracy".

        November 3, 2014 at 7:32 pm |
      • banasy©

        You're the one who thinks it is laugh out loud funny; suppose you tell me.

        November 3, 2014 at 7:40 pm |
      • Blue Saffron

        I LOLed because I mean I know what democracy means but never heard of Real Democracy.

        November 3, 2014 at 7:49 pm |
      • banasy©

        Ah...I gotcha.

        November 3, 2014 at 8:30 pm |
      • Blue Saffron

        Glad you gotcha Fareed is a Real Dacha.

        November 3, 2014 at 9:00 pm |
      • banasy©

        Dacha? Isn't that creole for "powerhouse"?

        November 3, 2014 at 10:32 pm |
      • Serengeti

        Gotcha !!!!'

        November 4, 2014 at 3:10 am |
      • Philip

        Exactly,@banazi. Arab countries are predominantly Muslim who believe the word of Allah as found in the Koran should be the deciding voice. NOT the voice of the average voter.

        November 4, 2014 at 9:33 am |
      • banasy©

        How hard is it to spell my username correctly, Philip? No wonder you don't want to vote; you cannot read a ballot.

        November 4, 2014 at 10:31 am |
      • Philip

        It's more of a definition/pronunciation than it is a spelling. Get a clue.

        November 4, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
      • banasy©

        It's spelled b a n a s y. Pronounced as written, but as you lack reading comprehension, I am not surprised.

        You're quite myopic, aren't you?

        There is no definition that isn't solely in your fevered imagination. I suggest a visit to a qualified psychotherapist and ophthalmologist to address your problems.

        November 4, 2014 at 3:17 pm |
      • Philip

        Stop thinking this blog is about you, nazi lady. Stop distracting from the simple truth: Democracy is a violation...an abominization, if you will...of both The Holy Bible and The Koran.
        That the average Joe Schmo should have a say in matters is ridiculous at best.

        November 4, 2014 at 4:52 pm |
      • banasy©

        Our country's laws aren't based on the any religion, and if you wouldn't posit about me, I wouldn't have any need to defend myself against your juvenile passive-aggressive attempts to insult me.

        I am a lady, although I am not a Nazi. Absurd and childish, although I expect nothing less you.

        I would take our (somewhat) flawed democracy over your wish for a totalitarian theocracy any day; your desire for that is telling. Do please avail yourself to that wish by traveling and gaining citizenship in a country currently has that system of government. It is not wanted here.

        A theocracy will never happen in the United States, and for that, I am profoundly grateful. It is written in our Constitution, and it was written in that manner for a reason.

        The average Joe Schmo votes, which puts him heads and shoulders above the idiots that proclaim their laziness by not voting, and then boasts openly about doing so as some sort of badge of (dis)honor.

        November 4, 2014 at 5:10 pm |
      • banasy©

        (Godwin's Law dictates you lose the debate, btw)

        November 4, 2014 at 5:35 pm |
  6. Blue Saffron

    Fareed's new modus operandi is to spread misinformation. He has been well trained by CIA\RAW.

    November 3, 2014 at 8:06 pm | Reply
    • Steve

      He is a good journalist...What is your problem?

      November 3, 2014 at 8:23 pm | Reply
      • Blue Saffron

        Ugliness lies in the eyes of the beholder. I have nothing but solutions.

        November 3, 2014 at 9:09 pm |
  7. Ferhat Balkan

    Is it possible? Yes, I believe so. Democracies take time and under the right conditions they can form and flourish. This idea that a Muslim majority country can't have a democracy is absurd. The same is true for all Arab countries. The biggest hurdle to overcome is the dictatorship or theocracy that already exists. More often than not, the transition of power becomes bloody either through a revolution, an overthrow or invasion. Then comes the next hard part.. Does the so called newly democratically elected government truly represent all the people? Can that government achieve economic prosperity? Maintain laws that are just and balanced that serve the majority as well as the minority? To achieve all this, it takes sacrifice, time and great effort. You can't have a democracy form overnight. In the end, the ultimate question is: Do the Arab people want a democracy?

    November 3, 2014 at 8:33 pm | Reply
  8. rohit

    They can be. But they need to have the crucial separation of church( mosque) and state.
    Make laws that do not allow a campaign based on religion. Projecting self as a better Muslim or deriding the opponent as a lesser one should be banned. Use if religious quotes images symbols etc should not be allowed. No mention of sharia in campaign. Then maybe you will get a string democracy. Otherwise it will hand power to islamists who will subvert.

    November 3, 2014 at 8:38 pm | Reply
  9. Blue Saffron

    "Experimental Democracy" has failed in India. An experiment that was being shoved down India's throat by western countries too eager to propagate their own values on a country that was trying to decolonize itself while trying to shed the communist skin of being a Soviet ally. India was thus trapped. What has become evident now is that this "Experimental Democracy" has marginalized the country. The marginalized groups of the country – Dalits and ‘backward’ castes/classes, indigenous ‘tribal’ people and religious minorities have been disenfranchised.

    November 3, 2014 at 9:04 pm | Reply
    • Sunderbans

      (Hinduism) is the most oppressive cult on record in its suppression of women. it was Charles Manson's inspiration. From conception to death, woman had to suffer in numerous ways:::.

      Child Marriage – Girls are to be married when 5 years old !

      Dowry – Vedas (Hindu holy script) prescribes this practice

      Bride-Burning – if the dowry is insufficient burn her alive.

      No Property, burn her alive.

      Mass Wife-Burning (Jauhar) – Often 100s are burnt at a time.

      Widow-Burning (Sati) – Sanctioned by the Vedas, Puranas, practiced by Hindu Lord Krishna's wives, it still continues in India to this day.

      November 4, 2014 at 3:29 am | Reply
    • Farragut

      India should be broken up. It is unmanageable.

      November 4, 2014 at 6:35 am | Reply
  10. Blue Saffron

    Folks, "Real Democracy" is DOA (Dead On Arrival) in India. It is has never worked in large populated countries. Particularly those with mostly illiterate populace such as India. The recent "selection" of Modi ....a murderer, rapist and stalker is a testament to this failure. Too big to manage, minorities such as muslims, sikhs, christians get disenfranchised etc. India will need to go back to its socialist/communist roots. Maybe splitting it up into smaller pieces (circa USSR) is an alternate scenario. CIA is probably running some models to deal with the potential implosion.

    November 3, 2014 at 9:06 pm | Reply
  11. Blue Saffron

    So Fareed what we have here are three democracies:

    :: Democracy
    :: Real Democracy
    :: Experimental Democracy

    Now let me know what you think about these three and which one applies.

    November 3, 2014 at 9:08 pm | Reply
  12. Philip

    Of course Arabs could be a democracy. Not Muslims though. For Muslims are theologists as Christians are. (Those advocating God rule , not Man rule as atheists teach)

    November 3, 2014 at 9:32 pm | Reply
    • Serengeti

      Ahhhh.... The fruits of democracy.

      LONDON: India continues to be the country with the highest number of people (1.1 billion) defecating in the open. Nearly 1.5 billion people worldwide defecate in the open and 82% of them live in just 10 countries, says a report jointly prepared by the WHO and the Unicef. Nigeria is close second to India.

      November 4, 2014 at 2:57 am | Reply
  13. Philip

    Muslim Brotherhood are mentioned in this article. Where did they go? They became what your leader calls "ISIL/ISIS". Egyptian authorities only executed about 600 of them after finding out they were agents of the White House. So that doesn't account for the Muslim Brotherhood disappearing from the eye of Big Media.
    Nope. MB is alive and well. And well armed by U.S. to take over Iraq. Iran? Watch your ass.

    November 3, 2014 at 9:38 pm | Reply
  14. Blue Saffron

    Democracy is a failed concept. Look at the turmoil world is in now. UN is equally obsolete.

    November 3, 2014 at 9:43 pm | Reply
  15. Blue Saffron

    Democracy leads to murders and woman bashers and genocidalists and stalkers like Modi of India to come into power. Therefore it is a no no.

    November 3, 2014 at 9:45 pm | Reply
  16. Serengeti

    Hindus in India have killed 133 moslems for voting a candidate of their choice. So much for democracy.

    Reuters and BBC have covered this story but CNN HAS NOT.

    November 4, 2014 at 2:52 am | Reply
    • Sunderbans

      That is just so deplorable.

      November 4, 2014 at 6:26 am | Reply
    • Philip

      How many Christians have been killed by invading Christians in Iraq? (hint: there used to be almost 300,000 Christians living in Iraq)

      November 4, 2014 at 7:56 am | Reply
  17. Serengeti

    Fareed, how about democracy in Indian Occupied Kashmir?

    It took Putin of Russia a week to hold plebiscite in Crimea. India has not been able to accomplish this in 70 years in Indian Occupied Kashmir. YES, 70 YEARS !! RUB YOUR EYES !!!

    Scotland held its plebiscite in a day !!!

    The concept is no different than what we Americans are doing in Puerto Rico. Let the people decide their fate. This is what democracy is all about.

    Unlike what hindoos did in Indian Occupied Kashmir, we Americans didn't send in the Army to Puerto Rico to occupy it and raype the people.

    November 4, 2014 at 3:22 am | Reply
  18. Sunderbans

    I agree that democracy does not work in large populated countries. Multinationals don't have democracy.

    November 4, 2014 at 6:30 am | Reply
    • Farragut

      That is interesting observation.

      November 4, 2014 at 6:32 am | Reply
  19. 31 year old New Jersey diabetic chick with heart murmur and glaucoma

    Interesting observation.

    November 4, 2014 at 6:46 am | Reply
  20. Philip

    No. Democracy runs counter to the teachings found in the Koran. No true Muslim would want the average Joe infidel/renegade having a say.

    November 4, 2014 at 7:54 am | Reply
  21. Hoyt

    Gita Bhagavad the hindu doctrine on terrorism specifies raypes as the alternate to India's foreign and domestic policy.

    November 4, 2014 at 8:05 am | Reply
    • Abby S

      WOW! I assume as an alternate to democracy. That is if the terorists who wrote this t rashy book knew about democracy.

      November 4, 2014 at 8:07 am | Reply
      • Haggis

        The problem is experimental democracy in uneducated societies like the one they call Hindoostan leaders to election of raypists and murderers like Narinder Modi.

        November 4, 2014 at 8:11 am |
  22. Peter

    The marching orders of Fareed are to bash moslems. The jews in CNN have teamed up with an India person as their puppet. Haven't we seen this b'fore? Yup

    November 4, 2014 at 9:00 am | Reply
  23. My Picture Of Muhammad

    8=>(_|_)

    November 4, 2014 at 9:29 am | Reply
    • Peter

      My picture of Lord Shiva:: MY D IKK!!
      LMFAO. Get the picture?

      November 4, 2014 at 10:18 am | Reply
      • Philip

        Hang on. Let me get my magnifying glass @ needle dick the bug fricker.

        November 4, 2014 at 3:23 pm |
  24. ahmed

    Let me disagree with you, and I say that some people looking for a manufacturer on the size of some of the democratic currents close to his policies and in order to achieve its objectives in the region.

    November 4, 2014 at 10:56 am | Reply
  25. j. von hettlingen

    Indeed many ask why democratic changes have taken place in Tunisia and not in Egypt. Through strong trade ties with Europe, Tunisians have always been more open and engaged in global affairs. While they have learned that a zero-sum game wouldn't lead them to anywhere, Egyptians are still lagging behind.
    In Tunisia the moderate Ennahda gave up power voluntarily to allow general and presidential elections to take place. In Egypt Mohamed Morsi refused to step down and was toppled in a coup.
    Tunisia may be an exception in the Arab world.

    November 4, 2014 at 11:05 am | Reply
  26. Peter

    Modi must be impeached and sent to trial in The Hague. Modi is the "democratically" selected keader of India, a rapist, murderer and woman basher....oh, also a stalker.

    November 4, 2014 at 11:11 am | Reply
    • Philip

      Israeli Jew IDF war criminals targeting children are the one to be dragged to The Hague, Pete.
      Fortunately, Palestine has been granted Observer State status by the UN, and so the ICC is required by international law to investigate each and every death of Palestinian citizens at the hands of foreign forces. Even Jews.
      String-em up boys. Gonna have ourselves a public lynching.

      November 4, 2014 at 4:48 pm | Reply
  27. Philip

    @GPS. You mentioned the Muslim Brotherhood reigning over Egypt for a short time, and then removed by Egypt's military after "abusing power". What you FAILED to mention:
    Over 600 Muslim Brotherhood were executed after High Court investigations revealed that the Barack H. Obama Foundation finances Muslim Brotherhood operations throughout northern Africa and the Middle East. The same Barack H. Obama foundation that IRS Louis Lerner was exposed by US Congress after she had secretly granted said foundation retroactive tax exempt status after said foundation had been operating illegally for 6 years.
    Hey, Fareed. Write up a piece about the B.H. Obama foundation financing acts of State terrorism, why dontcha. You could even be the guy exposing the Benghazi embassy attack as a simple case of embassy security stumbling upon another shipment of U.S. Carlyle Group chemical weapons being smuggled into Syria to be used by Muslim Brotherhood militants (aka "ISIS/ISIL") in failed takeover attempt in Syria.
    Perhaps if you did, racists here would stop suggesting you sell Slurpees at 7-11 and just start throwing rocks at you instead.

    November 4, 2014 at 3:20 pm | Reply
    • Philip

      ...some readers may recall.Lerner claiming to have "lost" her emails, even after the NSA/CIA publicly admiited to storing as data every single email, text message, PC keystroke, and phone call made in the USA for the past 6 years.
      (Am waiting on @banasy to claim that president Obama is ignorant of this)

      November 4, 2014 at 3:46 pm | Reply
      • banasy©

        (Am pretty sure @Philip is aware that I have asked him many times to cite the information about the "secret" emails to no avail, {must be TOO secret} and that he knows full well the the foundation he posted about is not only NOT affiliated to our POTUS, but our POTUS'S only foundation is the Barack Obama Foundation, but still willfully lies about this. I am, however, aware that there are two foundations, but they have ZERO to do with each other, and our POTUS is aware of the other foundation NAMED AFTER HIS FATHER, which is why he changed the name of his own; the one that is for his Presidential Library.

        Why Fareed Zakaria would write a piece on a foundation that is not President Obama's is anyone's guess.)

        November 4, 2014 at 5:27 pm |
  28. Philip

    Democracies decline into despotisms anyway, so it really doesn't matter.

    November 4, 2014 at 5:04 pm | Reply
    • banasy©

      So do theocracies. Point?

      November 4, 2014 at 5:30 pm | Reply
  29. Eddie Fonseca

    When we think of democracy as Americans for the young men and women of the Middle East form Israel to Egypt and Turkey, democracy means in our minds is when a women in the Middle East can decide if she want's to be college educated and apply for the same job like her male counterparts in the workforce. There is a flip side to democracy is when men and women express their opinions if they disagree with the local government policy's, and they don't have to fear being put in jail or worse being put to death for going against the government. In most Middle country's there is lot's of fear of expressing thought's about certain government foreign policy's, being an American who has traveled to
    many city's across the Middle East from Israel, Turkey, Beirut, Jordan and Dubai I have talked with many young men and women who are University educated they tell me over a cup of coffee in local café about life in the Middle East. They tell me it's a balancing act of knowing when to speak out and when to keep silent, which should not be the case in many Middle East countries who strive to be pro democratic just like America. Freedom and living life free form personal and religious harassment, is not just an American liberty but everyone in the world deserves the same basic human right's from expressing thoughts either by writing to their elected government officials or talking in the streets with their friends about the local government policy's. If we take away the basic human right of allowing people from Americans and Arabs to come together, and express their thought's about the positive and negative aspects of their government's will people be afraid to speaking out against their government when it threatens their lives. Can we as one voice from American to the Middle East state to our government, that freedom is not just an American liberty but everyone should have the right to live free just like Americans for years to come.

    November 13, 2014 at 10:54 pm | Reply
  30. zarai hichem

    After three years of change, a large number of Tunisians remain aware of the so called "democracy " .Honesty, we are still learning the values and the pullers of a democratic society after being suddenly plunged into a weird and inexperienced mood of life..It must be clear cut that we all have a dream as you have today.

    December 23, 2014 at 5:29 am | Reply

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