Open image The prospects for democratic reform in Algeria are as complex and paradoxical as the country's convoluted history and opaque politics. While civil society has long possessed a democratic spirit rooted in its historic interaction with French republican principles, this orientation is highly disaggregated. For its part, the authoritarian polity maintains its stranglehold on civil society through a military-industrial complex that monopolizes the key coercive, economic, and bureaucratic instruments of the state. No amount of externally derived pressure for democratic reform, whether economic or political, has been able to alter this stalemate in state-society relations. This essay, the third in a series exploring prospects for political reform throughout the region, considers the strengths and limitations of democratic-style reformers in Algeria today. Following an overview of Algeria's political landscape, the paper examines the historical roots and current contours of Algerian civil society, where prospects for democratic-style reform remain in force, however limited. The chapter closes with a cautionary note for U.S. policymakers eager to engage constructively with Algeria.
Open image Since the January 2011 uprising that ended the rule of longtime president Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian politics has consisted of an increasingly bitter struggle between Islamists and autocrats. This paper, the eighth in a series of essays exploring prospects for reform throughout the Middle East, explains the near absence of a political center within Egypt by examining the failure of non-Islamist reformists to assert themselves as a meaningful political force following Mubarak's overthrow. It traces the weakness of these parties to the Mubarak government's enforcement of certain redlines and argues that the Muslim Brotherhood's exclusivism drove those parties to support the ouster of Egypt's first elected president, Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, and its brutal aftermath. Eric Trager, the Esther K. Wagner Fellow at The Washington Institute, is an expert on Egyptian politics and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He was in Egypt during the 2011 anti-Mubarak revolts and returns frequently to conduct firsthand interviews with leaders in Egypt's government, military, political parties, media, and civil society.
Open image After the 2011 fall of longtime Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi, signs pointed briefly toward a successful transition away from authoritarianism. The oil-rich country saw cause for optimism in a nascent civil society: a negotiated process aimed at creating stable political institutions and a national election indicating broad support for a political leadership that was neither Islamist nor autocratic. But worrying signs soon emerged, highlighted by the September 2012 attack that killed U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens. In subsequent years, militias have wrested effective power from civilian leaders, and three separate governments now claim legitimacy over the war-riven country. The World Bank warned in its latest economic outlook report that Libya is near failure. In this essay, the eleventh in a series exploring non-Islamist reform actors post-Arab Spring, Mohamed Eljarh explores the prospects for governance in a deeply fragmented, polarized Libya. He emphasizes that while a political culture conducive to democracy may be decades away, Libyan activists can lay the groundwork for such a future by promoting the principles of human security, dignity, and social justice today.
Open image Since the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Palestinian politics has been dominated by two autocratic movements: secular Fatah and Islamist Hamas. Other political movements have failed to establish strong roots, partly due to oppressive policies by the two dominant movements and partly due to their inability to formulate a distinct, convincing platform for achieving Palestinian independence. Palestinian civil society, once touted as one of the most vibrant in the Arab world, is still struggling to define its direction in the anomalous context of Palestinian self-governance without sovereignty. PA governance reform made impressive initial achievements, but ultimately proved vulnerable to attacks from Fatah and Hamas. In this essay, twelfth in a series exploring non-Islamist reform actors post-Arab Spring, Ghaith al-Omari analyzes the dynamics preventing the emergence of new Palestinian political actors and examines ways in which the United States can help support new Palestinian politics. He argues that while U.S. influence on Palestinian party politics may be limited, renewed American focus on governance reform can make a significant impact.
Open image Across the Middle East, authoritarianism has found new life in the struggle against ever more radicalized militant groups in a landscape of dire threat. And entrenched in place is the skewed dynamic that simultaneously doomed autocracies to collapse following the Arab Spring uprisings while casting doubt on the long-term prospects of Islamist governance: failure of Arab governments to foster conditions that support social justice, liberty, dignity, and individual empowerment. In this essay, fifteenth in a series exploring non-Islamist reform groups post-Arab Spring, Hassan Mneimneh discusses the challenges the future poses to the region's nonradical Islamists as well as to its non-Islamist citizens, arguing that a new Arab uprising may be imminent, with unknown consequences for the region and beyond.
This complex third divide did not materialize until 1969, when the governing Alliance lost its two-thirds majority in parliament for the first time, leading to racial riots and eighteen months of emergency rule. In the aftermath of this turmoil, rising Malay nationalism became tightly intertwined with a hierarchical, undemocratic model of politics. In this period, Malay special rights became embedded in a social contract through the concept of ketuanan Melayu or Malay dominance. The government also introduced the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1971, an affirmative action plan nominally based on need but that favored Malays in practice. Crucially, this period also marked a shift in how state power was to be controlled; it was now to be dominated by Malay elites, viewed as the protectors of the community. The government narrowed democratic space and limited civil liberties, seeking to protect Malay rights and those in power. These antidemocratic changes crystallized very different outlooks regarding the state, its legitimacy, and how and by whom it should be controlled and reformed. 2b1af7f3a8