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Forum Post: The Arab Spring is in free fall

Posted 5 years ago on July 13, 2013, 12:37 p.m. EST by DouglasAdams (208)
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The Arab Spring is in free fall.

Quoting a recent article in Economist magazine –

"No wonder some have come to think the Arab spring is doomed. The Middle East, they argue, is not ready to change. One reason is that it does not have democratic institutions, so people power will decay into anarchy or provoke the reimposition of dictatorship. The other is that the region’s one cohesive force is Islam, which—it is argued—cannot accommodate democracy. The Middle East, they conclude, would be better off if the Arab spring had never happened at all."

Can Islam and the West endure the debate for separation church and state as it were in a post Enlightenment era?

Again the Economist argues –

"Arab democracy merely leads to rule by the Islamists, who are no more capable of reform than the strongmen, and thanks to the intolerance of political Islam, deeply undemocratic. Muhammad Morsi, the Muslim Brother evicted earlier this month by the generals at the apparent behest of many millions of Egyptians in the street, was democratically elected, yet did his best to flout the norms of democracy during his short stint as president. Many secular Arabs and their friends in the West now argue that because Islamists tend to regard their rule as God-given, they will never accept that a proper democracy must include checks, including independent courts, a free press, devolved powers and a pluralistic constitution to protect minorities."

The problem with Sharia Law is that it was developed between the 7th and 13th centuries in a part of the world that had always been governed by absolute rulers.

What is Sharia Law?


The proof can be traced forward from the cradle of civilization. The political history of Sumer is one of almost constant warfare. Eventually Sumer was unified by Eannatum, but the unification was tenuous and failed to last as the Akkadians conquered Sumeria in 2331 BC only a generation later. The Akkadian Empire was the first successful empire to last beyond a generation and see the peaceful succession of kings. The empire was relatively short-lived, as the Babylonians conquered them within only a few generations. The Mesopotamians believed their kings and queens were descended from the City of Gods, but, unlike the ancient Egyptians, they never believed their kings were real gods. Most kings named themselves “king of the universe” or “great king”. Another common name was “shepherd”, as kings had to look after their people.

When Assyria grew into an empire, it was divided into smaller parts, called provinces. Each of these were named after their main cities, like Nineveh, Samaria, Damascus, and Arpad. They all had their own governor who had to make sure everyone paid their taxes. Governors also had to call up soldiers to war and supply workers when a temple was built. He was also responsible for enforcing the laws. In this way, it was easier to keep control of a large empire. Although Babylon was quite a small state in the Sumerian, it grew tremendously throughout the time of Hammurabi's rule. He was known as “the law maker”, and soon Babylon became one of the main cities in Mesopotamia. It was later called Babylonia, which meant "the gateway of the gods." It also became one of history's greatest centers of learning.

City-states of Mesopotamia created the first law codes, drawn from legal precedence and decisions made by Kings. The codes of Urukagina and Lipit Ishtar have been found. The most renowned of these was that of Hammurabi, as mentioned above, who was posthumously famous for his set of laws, the Code of Hammurabi (created c. 1780 BC), which is one of the earliest sets of laws found and one of the best preserved examples of this type of document from ancient Mesopotamia. He codified over 200 laws for Mesopotamia.

Iran is home to one of the world's oldest continuous major civilizations, with historical and urban settlements dating back to 4000 BC. The Medes unified Iran as a nation and empire in 625 BC.The Achaemenid Empire (550–330 BC) was the first of the Iranian empires to rule from the Balkans to North Africa and also Central Asia from their capital in Persis (Persepolis). They were succeeded by the Seleucid Empire, Parthians and Sassanids who governed Iran for almost 1,000 years.

The Islamic conquest of Persia (633–656) ended the Sassanid Empire and was a turning point in Iranian history. Islamicization in Iran took place during 8th to 10th century and led to the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia. However, the achievements of the previous Persian civilizations were not lost, but were to a great extent absorbed by the new Islamic polity and civilization.

History of Iran


The Economist sees hope for Tunisia –

"The problem, then, is with Arab Islamists. That is hardly surprising. They have been schooled by decades of repression, which their movements survived only by being conspiratorial and organised. Their core supporters are a sizeable minority in most Arab countries. They cannot be ignored, and must instead be absorbed into the mainstream.

That is why Egypt’s coup is so tragic. Had the Muslim Brotherhood remained in power, they might have learned the tolerance and pragmatism needed for running a country. Instead, their suspicions about democratic politics have been confirmed. Now it is up to Tunisia, the first of the Arab countries to throw off the yoke of autocracy, to show that Arab Islamists can run countries decently. It might just do that: it is on its way to getting a constitution that could serve as the basis of a decent, inclusive democracy. If the rest of the Arab world moves in that direction, it will take many years to do so".

Western civilization is familiar with the legends of Persian and Greek rivalry starting over 2500 years ago, climaxed in Alexander’s campaigns to conquer the known world, followed by the rise of the Roman Empire 2000 years ago, empires from which the origins of the ideas for Democracy and The Republic have been reinvented. The impact of Arab and Ottoman invasions complete this picture of cultural development in the region. The problem for the West is how will the influence of approximately 5000 years of tyrannical rulers be projected into the future.




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