Democracy in the Arab Middle East: A lost cause?

Damage to aircraft at Tripoli's airport caused by fighting in July.

Damage to aircraft at Tripoli’s airport caused by fighting in July.

…Much of the problem in the Middle East now stems from the so-called Arab spring. I well remember how marvellous the feeling was as news reports came in confirming the beginning of an uprising against Gaddafi in Libya. Now here was a truly sick, cruel, heartless bastard who had been in power for decades. He could and did abduct young girls from schools he visited. If they attracted his eye they would simply disappear to the dungeons of his palaces where they would be used, abused and discarded like last year’s toys.

There was joy around the world as the pressure mounted on his regime, and we feted a government in exile that swanned around Europe acting like they meant something. We armed some of the factions fighting Gaddafi, thinking we were clever enough to pick winners. Now look at what our applause and gun-running has brought Libya: chaos on a grand scale is our legacy.

The barbarians are no longer massing at the gates, they have taken over. Tribalism and religion dominate the landscape because the West cannot admit their greatest failing. You cannot impose the wonders of democracy on people who have no history of it and no stomach for it. Local warlords command the loyalty of their own tribe and are deeply suspicious of the warlord next door…

A good piece, worth reading in full.  Democracy and tribalism do not mix.  The sectarian split in Islam is another huge deal it seems.  And finally, of course, are the arguments over Islam itself, as in Libya where Islamists are fighting against non-Islamists.   A total mess.

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