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Matthias Hofmann {*}

Structure and/or Change - what will become of the Arab World?

 

webmaster's own, not authorized translation

 

    Will the Arab Spring herald the start of the hoped-for political summer or will it end in a long-lasting winter?

 

Beforehand, it must be explained briefly why the events have come not so surprisingly as the politicians and the media would like to persuade us. For when these states emerged resp. independence was granted to them - which was the case only after the end of the Ottoman Empire resp. after the end of the British and French mandate in the last century (Jemen 1918/1967, Egypt 1922, Saudi Arabia in 1932, Iraq 1932, Lebanon 1943, 1946 Jordan, Syria 1946, Israel / Palestine in 1948, Libya in 1951, Morocco 1956, Tunisia 1956, Algeria, Bahrain in 1962 and 1971), one had to create as soon as possible functioning political systems there. This has been achieved mainly by the following criteria: the creation of a national identity (common religion and language), formulation of a Constitution, setting up a general school system (for both sexes), building up infrastructure and economic system. To achieve these modalities in the shortest possible time, one has chosen the political system of dictatorship / monarchy. (If one had tried to implement these measures by means of democracy, one would probably have failed similarly as today in Afghanistan.)

The states of the Arab world with their dictators have thus created within a very short time viable political systems. However, due to the introduction of a general school system, the day was bound to come eventually on which the citizens, enabled by education, would compare their own political system with others in the world and then perhaps call for reforms in their political system. These events in recent months came not so surprisingly, as one would have us believe. One knew that it would happen, but the point in time was unknown. What is frightening here is that on the part of Europe there were no plans for the case when the upheaval occurs.

However, the fact that the riots break out now, has its cause also in the population structure: In the Arab world, the proportion of those under 25 years is partly 50% of the population. It is known that younger people are rather prone to radical changes than older. The main reason is that older people have come to terms with the respective political system: They have built their private little happiness in the form of family, work and home and certainly do not want to jeopardize it by uncertain political times. The younger ones on the spot have not yet this little happiness, but they enjoyed a good education and can currently not find a job. They are therefore prepared to dare much more than the elderly in society.

A significant share in the recent events have the modern media, and especially their - currently still undisturbed - reception via satellite. We know that many people on the spot have spontaneously organized via "Facebook".

This concurrence of different factors has led to the revolt of the Arab populations. Some dictators have already resigned, others still cling by force to their former power, and still others try to save what can still be saved by quickly initiated reforms.

However, it seems that one significantly underestimates the time factor, i.e. the time that is needed to build a functioning democracy, because one wants to hold first elections still in 2011. But an imaginary switch, which could be turned from dictatorship to democracy, does unfortunately not exist. Of course, in many places political parties currently emerge, however, as many as there are Arab "regulars' tables". But a state-supporting party must represent a greater proportion of the population as it is still the case at the moment, and very much time is needed to establish them.

It is unfortunately to be feared that during this nebulous time of radical changes new political forces will try to usurp the respective power - by whatever means. That means that in some places cruel civil wars could be the result, which could certainly lead to the one or other military intervention (national or international).

 

    "One will have to begin to develop citizens for a constitution, before one can give a constitution to the citizens."

Friedrich Schiller, in July 1793

 

Link to 'Public Con-Spiration for-with-of the Poor'