Only democ­racy can stop blood­shed

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL - [Ja­mal Khashoggi is a Saudi jour­nal­ist, colum­nist, au­thor, and gen­eral man­ager of the up­com­ing Al Arab News Chan­nel. He pre­vi­ously served as a me­dia aide to Prince Turki al Faisal while he was Saudi Ara­bia’s am­bas­sador to the United States. Khashoggi has

de­mon­stra­tions called by Iraqi cleric Muq­tada al- Sadr, de­mand­ing po­lit­i­cal re­form.

While west­ern coun­tries are ex­am­in­ing what can be done to re­vive democ­racy and to grap­ple with trans­for­ma­tion amid com­mu­ni­ca­tion rev­o­lu­tion, Arab coun­tries like Iraq, Syria, Libya and Ye­men are in deep need of democ­racy to be able to sur­vive

Un­for­tu­nately, the fail­ure of democ­racy in Iraq will be­come an ex­cuse for the op­po­nents of democ­racy. An en­thu­si­ast for tyranny would claim that Arab coun­tries can­not be ruled by democ­racy, while a so-called lib­eral will in­sist that peo­ple must be pre­pared and be ed­u­cated about it. Such op­po­nents of democ­racy have a strong case now which is the fail­ure of the cre­ation of a vi­able demo­cratic regime in Iraq.

Old regimes: In fact, the op­po­nents of democ­racy do not have any other al­ter­na­tive for these coun­tries. They only want restora­tion of old Arab regimes which col­lapsed in 2011 af­ter be­ing in power for more than half a cen­tury.

They be­lieve old regimes can re­store se­cu­rity and sta­bil­ity as they compare the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion with that of the one-man rules such as that of for­mer Libyan leader Qaddafi or for­mer Egyp­tian pres­i­dent Husni Mubarak. The use of hash­tag “bring back Husni Mubarak” is an ex­am­ple. It clearly re­flects the as­pi­ra­tions of some Egyp­tian peo­ple who once thought that break­ing free from the cy­cle of mis­ery, job­less­ness and tyranny of the regime can only be achieved by get­ting rid of the head of state.

The idea that only democ­racy can stop blood­shed should be spread while at the same time re­gional play­ers should be con­vinced against the idea of restor­ing old regimes. Ye­me­nis and Syr­i­ans want democ­racy and ex­change of power but such sen­tences are only found in con­sti­tu­tions of Arab re­publics and have not been ap­pli­ca­ble on the ground.

Iraq’s new con­sti­tu­tion is the­o­ret­i­cally a model but has not de­liv­ered democ­racy or re­spect for the rule of law and hu­man rights. Arab democ­racy project shall be spon­sored by sta­ble Arab coun­tries even if they were not demo­cratic. This must look like a con­tra­dic­tion but do we have a bet­ter al­ter­na­tive than this ab­surd ten­dency to ad­vo­cate restora­tion of old Arab regimes?

One day blood­shed will even­tu­ally stop in Arab coun­tries and we should be ready to en­able the trans­for­ma­tion process and pro­mote sta­bil­ity. When the bat­tle ends, we will find de­mol­ished towns and frag­mented com­mu­ni­ties divided along re­li­gious, eth­nic and re­gional lines. There won’t be a united na­tional army but sev­eral mili­tias and no tyrant who pre­vails by force. The so­lu­tion would be to im­pose democ­racy un­der in­ter­na­tional um­brella, to prevent dis­agree­ments and to pave the way for the re­turn of fed­eral gov­ern­ments.

Let us take the Libyan ex­am­ple; all at­tempts to es­tab­lish sta­bil­ity with­out democ­racy have not achieved re­sults. Af­ter two years of vi­o­lence that has al­most ru­ined the coun­try, a large sec­tion of the Libyan peo­ple is now con­vinced that democ­racy, based on con­sen­sus and par­tic­i­pa­tion, is the only so­lu­tion un­der the um­brella of the United Na­tions.

This so­lu­tion is needed for other Arab coun­tries as well. They should be aware that sup­port­ing one party to im­pose its con­trol over the rest of the coun­try will lead to more fail­ures in the fu­ture. Ex­pe­ri­ence has shown that vi­o­lence has pre­vented one party or the other from achiev­ing a de­ci­sive vic­tory.

Once the war is over, the great­est sup­port that Saudi Ara­bia and other Gulf coun­tries can pro­vide to Ye­men is not mak­ing it a mem­ber of the GCC, nor a Mar­shall plan or even bil­lions worth of grant, but by help­ing it es­tab­lish demo­cratic mech­a­nism reg­u­lat­ing peace­ful ex­change of power and gath­er­ing dif­fer­ent par­ties in a con­stituent as­sem­bly. The same should be im­ple­mented in Syria and Iraq. The de­tails could vary but the essence of democ­racy re­mains the same.

Sta­bi­liz­ing democ­racy and driving peo­ple to be­lieve in it is the only way for­ward for peace. Af­ter ac­com­plish­ing this, we should work to de­velop and re­build the na­tion. Stop­ping blood­shed should be the pri­or­ity at the mo­ment. —Cour­tesy: AA

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