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Dangers of Democratization in the Middle East

After the revolution succeeded in overthrowing Hosni Mubarak, last week the Egyptian people would fall into sectarian conflict. The sectarian conflict between Muslims and Christians. In the SARA nuanced conflicts, there are at least 11 people were killed.

Sectarian Conflict in Egypt is an example of political resistance in the Middle East region after the revolution is successful.

Pascarevolusi, generally the desired simple demands of the people and political elites are hold democratic elections to choose new leadership.

In fact, it’s not just the process of democratization establish a general election. A democrat who will not see it advanced his ideas in a simple way like that. Democracy requires initial conditions are adequate. For example, a certain level of economic development, knowledge and political skills are adequate among the population, support of political elites against democracy, tradition of rule of law and protection of human rights are quite strong, supportive culture, and so forth. All this is needed before the freedom of opinion and elections overflow (direct, general, free, confidential) and JURDIL (honest, fair) can be held (Arif Budiman, 2002).

Initial conditions like this is important to note, because the political process of democracy in a transitional period so susceptible to various conflicts of interests of the elite. In a democracy there is usually the aggrieved party and benefit at the same time because the latter’s majority vote will determine who will rule and who should be eliminated. And at the level of democracy is to be vulnerable. Elite who usually get the privilege in the government era now have to follow the authoritarian rule of the democratic system to participate to compete in elections.

Here the elite who were knocked out by the rules of democracy typically uses nationalist sentiment SARA (ethnic, religious, racial, and antargolongan) to build political power for the democratic process interrupted and cause socio-political shocks are terrible.

Sara Nationalism

When communism collapsed in 1989, was stunning beautiful imagination of academics and president of the United States (U.S.). Leading academics from Johns Hopkins University, Francis Fukuyama, for example, imagine the situation as a post-Cold War era, the end of history, namely the endpoint of ideological evolution of mankind and the universal Western liberal democracy as the final form of government the people of manusiaa. Here, Fukuyama also speculated that the end of history will make war become obsolete because democracy can prevent countries fighting each other with each other.

In the same spirit with Fukuyama, President Bill Clinton in 1990’s period makes the spread of democracy as the main agenda of U.S. foreign policy. The goal is to create a world free from the scourge of war, given the history of international politics there are no two democracies fight each other with each other.

It’s the wave of democratization that occurred in the relatively stable era of the 1990s and spread like a snowball effect in some regions like Latin America, southern Europe, Eastern Europe, and even penetrated to the East Asian region. But ironically, in this era also recorded some nationalist conflict is prolonged due to democratization.

Jack Snyder (2000) in his renowned “From Voting to Violence: Democratization and Nationalist Conflict” find some facts about the relationship between democratization and nationalist conflict.

The fact that Snyder was found in the study relates to what he called racial nationalism. SARA nationalism is nationalism which bases its legitimacy on the cultural, racial, religious, historical experience, and / or myth of common ancestry. Unfortunately the criteria of racial nationalism that used to include or exclude people into and from national groups, because the impact of different racial elements can occur at any time.

In the study, Snyder found that most of the countries that are plunged in a racial conflict during the 1990s, are the countries that are experiencing partial progress in terms of political freedom or civil liberties of one to two years before the outbreak of pertiakaian SARA. That is the biggest part of SARA conflicts occurred in countries that are heading stage of democratic transition.

For example, the outbreak of racial conflict in the former Yugoslavia among those former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan, and Russia among the provocateur in the war against the separatist movement Checchen occur due to weak political institutions the power contained in their respective countries.

Similarly to the case of Burundi. At first the minority Tutsi military government willing to carry out elections in 1993 as a recommended international donor agencies and the minority Tutsis has also agreed to share power with Hutu majority who have long oppressed. However, when the election results turned out to put a president from the majority Hutu and the Hutu majority tried to enter into the military ranks, began to grow jealous of the minority Tutsi. That is what then creates fear and resentment of both parties (the Tutsi and Hutu). As a result, within a year only about 50,000 residents Hutu and Tutsi were killed in rioting SARA there.

Dangers of Democratization

Examples of cases SARA conflict in the former Yugoslavia and Burundi are very similar to what happened in Egypt, sectarian conflict. For states other Middle East who had just managed to overthrow an authoritarian government, such as Tunisia, or possibly also Yemen, Bahrain and Libya are still in the process of upheaval, the three examples above SARA conflict can become valuable lessons for how to start the stages of democracy.

Middle East as it is known very thick with nationalism movement. As was disclosed by Kim Holmes (2011) that nationalism Middle Eastern countries are usually driven by the elite and clergy. The elite usually encourage and exploit the sentiments of the people to create nationalism. No less important, Islamic scholars also often exploit religious beliefs to promote social hatred.

In context to build a stable democracy in the Middle East region, this is clearly a separate issue. For that Middle Eastern countries that is in the process of democratization needs to strengthen civic nationalism to avoid the emergence of racial nationalism. What is meant by civic nationalism is that if the existing political elites do not feel threatened by the process of democratization, and political institutions (state institutions), which is strong enough to accommodate this process.

If this civil nationalism developed successfully grown in Middle Eastern countries who were heading stage of democracy, the various interests of different political elite can be united, because the existing political institutions is considered solid. To that end, democracy can be trusted as a unifier of the nation, because it can create the equality of citizens regardless of what type of interest, what skin color, and from where offspring.

Conversely, if the condition fails to build civic nationalism, democracy will only be a political system that is dangerous for civil society. For the initial conditions of democracy as mentioned above is important to be taken seriously for the Middle Eastern countries do not fall into a bloody civil conflict.

Social Media Analyst at LSI Network

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