Middle East miles away from adopting true democracy: Experts

New Delhi, Mar.21: Foreign and national intellectuals taking part in a interactive seminar on Transformations in West Asia: The Next Steps’, have said that the Middle East is still miles away from adopting true democracy in letter and spirit.

Throwing light on the generic turmoil prevailing in the Middle East and North Africa in the wake of the “Arab Spring” revolutions, Ashraf El-Sherif a political science lecturer at the American University in Cairo, criticised the manner in which the Egyptian military and the Muslim Brotherhood were in complete discord with each other.

He pointed out that no common man could ever fathom, let alone conduct a research on the extent of controlled centralisation of the state apparatus, including the bureaucracy, judiciary and the police.

Sherif also stressed on the fact that Egypt continues to slide backwards under the current regime, which is led by Chief of Army Staff Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

He said that the Egypt of 2014 was in complete contrast to the regime of Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt, he further opined, was in the throes of a double crisis-firstly a “Crisis of Legitimacy”, and secondly, a “Crisis of Achievements”.

He said Egypt as a state has turned more repressive and lacks accountability. As an example, he cited the fact of 15000 people dying in road accidents in Egypt every year.

A.K.Pasha a Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU) professor,highlighted four points about the region — (1) changing perceptions of democracy in the region (2) emerging governing structures (3) sectarian identity and (4) unfolding the future of the region.

Pasha said that all Middle East countries uniformly believe in coercion as a means of state policy. He said that the “Arab Spring” was still simmering, and in some places in a nuanced manner.

The general belief was that democracy as an institutional framework was being stretched in the region to the point of collapse, and thus, was seen by the people as a facade for getting votes.

Pasha suggested external legitimacy as being of overarching importance for gaining public legitimacy.

On the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Pasha said all member nations are very intimately tied to the West to ensure the security and continuance of existing regimes.

He also spoke of the huge divide in the region between Shias and Sunnis, and their impact on regional politics.

Pasha said rulers of states in the region are clearly unwilling to share and decentralize power with the people, and have completely rejected the Western style of democracy.

He said that he expected the region to experience more violence and uprisings, besides foreign intervention. Oil-deficient nations like Egypt, Sudan and Morocco would face tribal wars.

To a question on whether the Muslim minority in India would sway that country’s external policies vis-a-viz the Middle East, Pasha said it was negligible. By Subhajit Chandra (ANI)