Despite the early promise of the Arab Spring, one transition after another has struggled or failed to produce governments that can respond to citizens’ longing for freedom and opportunity, says a leading analyst.
The fragility of the once-promising Arab transitions clearly shows the urgency of beginning the painstaking process of constructing an Arab world defined by pluralism and tolerance. Only then can what I call The Second Arab Awakening and the Battle for Pluralism be realized, the Carnegie Endowment’s Marwan Muasher writes:
If it is to succeed where the first Arab awakening failed, this Second Arab Awakening needs to be an assertion of universal values: democracy, pluralism, human rights. These are not ideals that can be imposed upon a region from outside, but they can be encouraged to grow. This requires patience and an accurate understanding of both the actual conditions and the kinds of actions that are likely to be effective. Only when societies and their elected leaders truly embrace tolerance, diversity, the peaceful rotation of power, and inclusive economic growth will the promise of a new Arab world be realized.
Given the grim news coming out of the region today, some will regard such arguments as naïve. But do not mistake the grim early skirmishes for the outcome, Muasher contends:
The battle of ideas has finally started to unfold in the contemporary Arab world and is far from ended. The region will go through a period of turmoil in which exclusionist forces will attempt to dominate the landscape with absolute truths and new dictatorships. In the end, however, these forces will also fade, because exclusionist, authoritarian discourses cannot answer the people’s need for a better quality of life –economically, politically, culturally, and otherwise.