State of Dis-Arabia
Claude Salhani has an excellent analysis of what he terms “the state of dis-Arabia.”
He notes that, only a decade or so ago, the region was making substantial progress by investing oil revenues in much-needed infrastructure while much of Eastern Europe and Asia was in political and economic disarray. Unfortunately, the absolute resistance to even the most basic advancements in democratization–free expression, political parties, and women’s rights–has kept most of the Arab world behind. Salhani does, however, see many hopeful signs in the region.
A few countries are beginning to introduce reform, albeit at their own pace, such as Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Tunisia and Algeria, the latter of which has seen a mushrooming of independent newspapers. Others are under mounting pressure from the Bush administration to change.
The other country offering a glint of hopefulness in the region is Iran — not an Arab country — and which is most likely to head towards greater democratic changes within the next decade. “It is not right to represent Iran with its ruling mullahs, who are (going to be) seriously in trouble when young Iranians enter society,” commented Amir Naghshineh-Pour, director of the San Diego-based Iran Alliance Public Relations.
We shall see. We’ve been hearing about Iran’s impending democratization for quite a long time now.