Why Is It that the Arabs Don't Revolt?

[Daily Star-Lebanon] Rami G. Khouri - The stark contrast between the street demonstrations in Iran and the absence of any such popular revolts in the Arab world raises the question: Why do top-heavy, non-democratic governance systems persist in the Arab world without any significant popular opposition or public challenge? The same pressures and indignities that annoy many Iranians and push them to openly challenge their rulers are prevalent throughout much of the Arab world: abuse of power by a self-contained ruling elite, the absence of meaningful political accountability, dominance of the power structure by security-military organs, prevalent corruption and financial abuse, mediocre economic management, enforced leadership-worshipping and personality cults, and strict social controls, especially on the young and women. One possible explanation is that frustrated Arabs do not relate to their central government in the same way that Iranians do. Arabs seem to largely ignore their governments, and instead set up parallel structures in society that satisfy the needs that governments in more coherent countries normally provide. Discontented citizens throughout the Arab world have channeled their energy into several arenas that coexist in parallel with the state. These include Islamist and other religious movements, tribal structures, and non-governmental organizations. Some of these movements, like Hizbullah and Hamas, have become parallel states in every respect.

2009-07-03 06:00:00

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