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 Prospects for Democratic transition in Arab spring countries in light of current

 Arab situation



The conditions of some Arab countries were marked by regime change brought about by

the Arab revolutionary wave and loud voices demanding freedom and equality. Apart from

 traditional reasons, human rights abuses, dictatorship, and disruption of political life, in

addition to the rising rates of poverty, unemployment, widespread corruption, unfair

distribution of wealth, and opportunity disequilibrium at the socio-economic, political

and cultural levels sparked off free uprisings demanding the consolidation of    justice

 and the values of democracy. These revolts were borne out of internal sufferings

which were not taken seriously at the moments of historical pain prongs. The result

has been that regimes, civil society organizations, political parties, decision-makers,

the west and the world in its entirety were taken aback by such revolutions.

Intellectuals and researchers have agreed upon some maxims that popular uprisings

have not only knocked down the barriers of fear in Arab societies and established a new

irreversible history, but also ushered Arabs back into history long after they had been on

the way out.

Answers to questions of whether or not such revolutions have been a success were

fairly identical; what is particularly taking place in the Arab spring countries is a sort of intricate

struggle for sought-after democratic transformation which, according to some scholars, may take

 long. However, such struggle would ultimately lead to the creation of a proactive and robust

democracy that lay the groundwork for real democratization.

New political systems must necessarily prove   their merit to boost political partnership and

the rule of law, and to build modern states based on institutionalism. They must also shape

the future of their own countries on the grounds of real democracy, tolerances, co-existence,

and belongingness to the nation if they are to prove their ability to achieve what former regimes

couldn't- a formidable challenge that still lies ahead.

Democratic transition means that a radical and comprehensive change is taking place in the

structure of society due to the influence of revolts that have far-reaching effects at the political,

intellectual and socio-economic levels.

Now that Arab revolutions are still fledgling and incapable of attaining their goals in full, it is still

too early to make conclusive judgments on the extent to which they will affect social fabrics and

political systems in the offing.

Presently, there have been three trends as to the possibility of Arab revolutions bringing about

radical about-turns leading to a real transition towards democracy in the Arab spring nations in

particular, and in the Arab region in general. The  First trend holds that Arab spring uprisings can

 trigger   all but long-term democratic transformation. However, there are obstacles to a smooth

and swift transition, most significant of which are related to these countries’   political and

intellectual structure   and the poor political awareness that makes it even harder for many to

grasp the currently prevailing political discourse.

Secondly, some also see the possibility of a democratic transformation in Arab countries thanks

to the impacts of popular revolutions. However, they are not unanimous on how long it would

 take to make such a shift as well as on the nature of the constraints thereon.

 Thirdly, other scholars opine that revolts and protests could never create change of any sort,

 citing the intractable conflicts and deep divisions that have so far been experienced  in some

Arab spring countries.

 Of the most significant ,  positive aspects of Arab spring uprisings are

the rising popular awareness, the wiping of fear and security challenges, and the emergence of

transitional justice as a way out of crises. Further, political change in the Arab world has seen

the introduction of large-scale changes and reforms into the legislative and constitutional

structures in such a way as to enhance human rights, achieve equal citizenship, and ensure

the conduct of   free and fair elections,  in addition to boosting the role of civil society ,

the emergence of new actors, and ending the policy of succession to power.

The post-Arab spring political scene has seen three groups of Arab countries:

Group one involves pro-change and pro-reform governments which vehemently

struggle for the people's demands and aspirations to be met.

Group two stands for the governments adopting limited reforms, which    

have managed to contain the protest movements by carrying out minor reforms.

Group three consists of the fait accompli governments of countries that have seen

minor changes, but where   prospects for popular revolutions are still likely .

Obstacles to Democratic Transition:

Though the Arab spring revolutions have engendered a new reality, history holds

that kicking a despot out of his palace doesn’t necessarily mean the downfall

of the regime he is representing. Thus, the transition process in the Arab world is facing

numerous challenges as follows:

-The management of transitional periods is primarily challenging due to the flawed rules of

public life and former  security systems that require urgent restructuring in their capacity as

the real guarantor of a peaceful transition of power towards democracy and civil liberties.

The gap between expectations and achievements still constitute another challenge.


-Arab spring revolutions are inconsistent as disparities do sweep away their proactive forces.

- Synchronization of rebuilding a nation state and achieving democratic transition :

there are problems appertaining to the sociological structures of Arab societies,

as revolts revived old loyalties-tribal, sectarian, ethnic, religious or

regional-a matter that have its own impacts on the concept and entity of the nation states

of these countries.

-There are impediments that are inextricably linked to the intellectual and political structure

of these countries. These include regressive democratic  and libertarian thought and  weak

political consciousness which make the understanding of political rhetoric even more difficult,

 besides  the totalitarian thinking of Arab political parties. This implies that the current reality is

teeming with a variety of intellectual, political, constitutional and value-related problems that

simultaneously exploded, thus causing disintegration and obliging us to work towards rebuilding

our own countries.

-A key problem that has arisen from the current situation is the fact that the  un-politicized publics

have deeply engaged in politics.


-There is no denying the fact that the recent Arab spring revolts have not yet succeeded in

uprooting former regimes, though they have ousted many presidents, or purging  public

institutions of  corrupt officials who  still constitute pockets of resistance that continuously

obstruct and endanger transformation. Besides, pro and anti-revolution rallies have

 impeded democratic transition. 

-The worsening economic situation marked by  weak and fragile state institutions in

all Arab spring countries rendered such institutions  incapable of performing their functions.

Also, the weapons possessed by wartime groups and militias still jeopardize the democratic

transformation, a matter that entails disarming those militias and putting an end to the public

display of arms.

There are some mechanisms that should be implemented in order to protect revolutionary

achievements and to build up the future of these nations as follows:

-Reducing the negative effects of ethnic, religious, sectarian and tribal loyalties on democratic

transition and political participation by propagating the culture of co-existence based on the

 principles of equal citizenship, the rule of law and social justice.

-Establishing   democratic systems by achieving national reconciliation that forms a common

ground for national peace and  democratic transition. This entails  rebuilding state institutions

and apparatuses-particularly the military and the police, let alone integrating  the concept of

the nation state and  its legitimacy into  the awareness of all social segments so as to gradually

secure the loyalty of citizens.

-The political forces of all stripes must  assume the responsibility of making democratic

transformation a success by promoting their political discourse, modernizing their organizational

structures and broadening the basis  of public support.  

-The popular will should be present in terms of writing the constitution, making laws,

distributing public wealth,  framing the structures  that regulate public life, and favoring  

the voice of state institutions   over that of dictators.

-The necessity of separating the three authorities-the legislative, the executive and the judiciary,

and specifying the nature of relations between same so as to ensure their effectiveness and


-Caring for human development by propagating education as well as scientific and technological

 advancement, fighting unemployment, and taking care of youth by engaging them in public life.