Democracy in the Middle East Expository Essay
Democracy is a word often used to refer to being ruled or governed by “the people.” Democratic societies base everything, crucial state decisions, control, and policy formulation upon the people. This is contrary to communist societies where everything is controlled by the government.
Interestingly, even communist nations like China claim to be democratic. Democracy gives power to the people and not their representatives. It puts the interest of the majority and minority in public administration and gives no room for leaders to practice individualist and selfish leadership.
The openness of democracy has many advantages and is the principal reason that has continued to push many nations to fight for democratic leadership. In the last decade, many countries moved from being non-democratic to being democratic. Considering this trend, it is possible to predict that all recognized counties in the world could attain democratic leadership, something that has been deemed impossible for centuries.
Even though some Middle East countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Ukraine are still non-democratic, it is just a matter of time before they can become democratic. This is not an outrageous claim considering the pressure non-governmental organizations, and human rights groups in these countries have been putting on the respective governments to adopt democratic leadership.
The fight for democracy in these countries cannot be belittled. Democracy ensures accountability of leaders (Mitchell 2). This, therefore, gives the people authority over public funds. They can question how their funds are used, influence government spending, revenue collection, and trade policies.
Democratic countries also have good international standing, which enhances their trade ties with other countries. Generally, democratic nations have a better chance of achieving significant economic growth as compared to non-democratic nations.
Non-democratic countries have tried so hard to maintain the status quo. Protesters, human rights activist, and the media face threats in these countries for voicing the need for democratic government. Many have been executed, others detained, others tortured, and others have been forced to flee the countries for fear of their precious lives.
These governments resort to the use of uncodified rules to instill fear among the people and to make them submit to authoritarian leadership. Freedom of expression and human rights are vocabularies to these non-democratic governments. By refusing to allow free expression, they have succeeded, until now, in denying the people democratic government. Freedom of expression is pivotal in the fight for human rights and democracy.
It gives the chance for existence of uncontrolled press, free flow of information, the sanctity of citizens’ opinion and embraces free speech. The freedom of expression is integral to other rights, civil and political. It is designed to support, protect, and enhance democratic governance. These non-democratic governments are aware of the power of the freedom of expression and hence the fight to thwart it.
Despite the limitations and endless efforts by these non-democratic governments to maintain the status quo, the fight for democracy has continued to gain momentum with each passing day. The fight for democracy is both complex and demanding. Thomas claims, “There is a question which is deep and fundamental and which I am afraid we are inclined to ignore; that is the question-how to fight for democracy” (58).
He further claims, “The method men commonly use in fighting allegedly for democracy has not proved to be overwhelmingly successful…” (58). The fight for democracy in the Middle East non-democratic nations has taken different fonts. First and most importantly, the human rights activists have often resorted to street protests at a great cost. The protesters have witnessed gross human rights violations meted against them by the authoritarian governments.
In Iraq, for instance, many protesters have been shot with live bullets killing many instantly. Kennedy, a Middle East AOL News correspondent, reported that the Iraq police killed six people on “the day of rage” protests marked on February 6, 2011. There have been many other attacks targeting human rights activists aimed at scaring them to submit to the governments.
Interestingly, these attacks have continued to spur wide spread support for their course. Many people have joined the human rights activists including University students. This has given the activists the much-needed momentum and morale to continue pushing for democratic leadership.
The activists have also sought the support of democratic nations to intervene and save the situation before it can get out of hand. Since many countries have achieved democratic government through blood shade and loss of human lives, such nations are a good inspiration to the activists. By seeking the support of these nations, activists in the Middle East countries believe they can get indirect of direct support in their fight for democracy.
The United States of America and the United Kingdom have provided a lot of support to these nations. At times when the lives of these activists are threatened, the western nations have been ready to provide asylum to them. In Bahrain, for instance, those opposed to the ruling family’s leadership “fear retribution and are claiming asylum in Europe” (Parvaz).
However, this intervention has faced great challenges from developed non-democratic countries that continue to support these governments. Counties such as China and Iran have continued to support these non-democratic governments thereby leading to continued resistance for change (Dominick 247).
The media have also been a critical tool in the fight for democracy. The activists have continued to use the media to air their grievances to the international community. Despite state control of media houses, the fight for democratic rule has not stopped as activists have resorted to using alternative means such as the internet, social media, and international media such as the BBC, and CNN.
These media houses have not disappointed. They have continued to air the grievances and unjust activities of these governments to the world. This has made their reporters to be targeted as the enemy of the people. There have been cases of journalists being arrested, tortured, or even killed by the regimes.
In 2011, for instance, more than 11 journalists were killed in Afghanistan alone (Plunkett). Ahmed Omed Khpulwak, who worked as a news reporter with BBC, was amongst those killed in the insurgent attacks. His death was described as “unspeakable tragedy shared by whole BBC family,” (Plunkett). Despite the losses, the international media have not stopped highlighting the filth in these nations.
Seeking the support of the international community through the United Nations is another avenue that has been exploited to help achieve democracy in these nations. Western states have thus attempted to intervene by imposing trade sanctions, punitive actions, and in some cases like in Iraq, military intervention.
Despite the will to support these nations by the western states, successful non-democratic states have continued to act as the obstacle to achieving democratic rule in these nations. The United Nations Security Council, which is responsible for enforcing the rule of law and promoting human rights in the world, is comprised of member states who must vote to adopt any resolution.
The People’s Republic of China is a member of the Security Council. China has frequently frustrated efforts to install democratic leadership in these nations by voting against any such resolutions. Worst, it has continued to trade with nations such as Iraq despite trade sanctions.
The non-democratic states in the Middle East deserve democratic rule. In the current world, two forms of democratic governance are considered most appropriate; that is, a parliamentary democracy and direct democracy (Goldwin and Kaufman 65). In parliamentary democracy, citizens take part in elections where they vote for leaders they believe will air their grievances and help in policy formulations that favor them.
These leaders then join the legislative assembly where crucial decisions are made to help in governing the nation. This is the form of democracy widely used around the world. Many Western nations France, Germany, Spain, and the United States of America have adopted this form of government.
The success of this democracy in the Western world has seen the West pushing for its adoption in the Middle East. Direct democracy, on the other hand, stipulates that members of the public take the responsibility of making state decisions themselves by voting before any decision is made. Such elements are associated with lower level governing units such as counties.
However, a few states have adopted direct democracy despite its costliness. Some forms of democracies are representative of the people and provide room for freedom of the people than others. As such, a representative democracy can be the best solution for the Middle East countries wallowing in dictatorial regimes.
This will ensure that the people elect their representatives and the president. In order to win a re-election campaign, elected leaders often try to follow the wishes of the people. The system should also be structured to avoid any branch of the government from altering the constitution to enable them bypass the people in making any crucial decisions or enacting essential policies.
Such tendencies have been witnessed in other parts of the world and cannot be ruled out. After voting for a new constitution in a referendum, greedy and selfish leaders find their way around the corrupt and inefficient justice corridors and change the constitution to further their selfish ambitions.
If a stable democracy in the Middle East is to be achieved, constitutional amendments must be pushed for to create space for democratic leadership. However, keeping the process on course requires vigilance and stringent constitutional amendment policies to deter any attempts by leaders to alter the constitution to favor them.
The need for democratic leadership in the current world cannot be understated. It is the right of every citizen to be governed by the leaders of their choice in the manner they want. This choice of government and participation in policy formulation is only possible through democratic leadership.
As such, adopting democratic rule gives power to the people and should be promoted. Despite strong resistance from the Middle East leaders and other developed non-democratic states, the fight for democratic leadership should not be abandoned, as this could be betrayal to those who have lost their lives in the fight.
Dominick, Joseph R.. The dynamics of mass communication: media in the digital age. 8th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005. Print.
Goldwin, Robert A., and Art Kaufman. Separation of powers–does it still work?. Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1986. Print.
Kennedy, Dana. “5 Protesters Killed in Iraq as Soldiers Move to Contain ‘Day of Rage’.” Breaking News and Opinion on The Huffington Post. AOL News, 25 Feb. 2011. Web.
Mitchell, Neil J.. Democracy’s blameless leaders: from Dresden to Abu Ghraib, how leaders evade accountability for abuse, atrocity, and killing. New York: New York University, 2012. Print.
Parvaz, D. “Bahraini activists: Seeking refuge in a storm.” AJE – Al Jazeera English. N.p., 18 Nov. 2011. Web.
Plunkett, John. ” BBC journalist killed in Afghanistan.” Latest US news, world news, sport and comment from the Guardian. N.p., 28 July 2011. Web.
Thomas, Norman. “Fighting for Democracy.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 3.216 (1941): 58-64. Print.
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