March 07, 2005

Democracy under Occupation

Has anyone else noticed that the most dramatic democratization events underway in the Middle East of late have all occurred in countries under occupation? Iraqi elections occurred under U.S. occupation, Lebanese protests under Syrian occupation, and the Palestinian elections, of course, under Israeli occupation. Well, yes, the Economist has. There's not necessarily a discernible pattern to this, really, but I do think it's worth noting regardless.

Posted by Gregory at March 7, 2005 12:33 AM | TrackBack (7)

"freedom from"

Posted by: praktike at March 7, 2005 04:22 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Merely the pseudo-sophistication of false analogies.

Iraqi elections were (surprise!) enabled by the American "occupation." Otherwise, they would not have happened (unless, of course, one wishes to refer to the 98% turnout for Saddam as "elections").

The significant scope of the recent Lebanese demonstrations against Syrian occupation---there have been sporadic demonstrations of much more limited size in the past---were prompted by a combination of the success of the Iraqi elections coupled with the outrage at the Hariri assassination coupled with currently palpable American in the middle east; but those courageous protesters are not out of the woods yet, for Syria will not go softly into the night (though she will lower her profile and make conciliatory noises until---she hopes, actually expects---the storm blows over); moreover, if Syria is ultimately forced out, her proxies will remain, with several points to make about Lebanon's ability for self government.

Palestinian national elections (the second held since the Oslo accords) are an attempt for Abbas to consolidate power and legitimacy (and largesse) while trying to persuade the world that the Palestinians actually can be politically responsible and do want a state side by side with Israel (which they don't---at least not for the long term, or not if that state can't pose a sufficient threat to its neighbor; but it does seem that one can fool most of the people most of the time, at least on this issue).

(As for Egypt, which perhaps might be said to have been occupied by the Mubarak family, at least since Mubarak's third term---along with a relatively thin stratum of "nobility"---together with billions of dollars of American assistance, while there is something perhaps charming about forcing the constitution to be changed so as to assuage certain external pressures of the moment, there will be no massive Egyptian resistance to Mubarak, since most Egyptians---including Mubarak---realize what the alternative is. On the other hand, enabling Mubarak to be able to win only 75-80% of the vote may portend the beginning of certain healthy---all things being relative---democratic tendencies in the long run, leading to more efficient or better or more representative---whatever that might mean---governance. Perhaps.)

Posted by: Barry Meislin at March 7, 2005 08:28 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The Economist's conclusion seems unsupported by data. I'm not aware of occupation conditions in Ukraine or Kyrgyzstan, for example.

Posted by: Hovig at March 7, 2005 08:16 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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