Africa Institute Occasional Paper - latest Issue
Volume 2006, Issue 2, 2006
Author Faten AggadSource: Africa Institute Occasional Paper 2006 (2006)More Less
The subject of political or state reform - more specifically democratisation - of the Arab state is a complex one. Since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, there have been several attempts to change the very nature of the Arab state. It remains least understood despite it being a subject of much scholarly and policy analysis, over the past decade in particular. The allure of the theme is derived from the currency of debates about democratisation and political reforms in the post-Cold War era and the wave of democratic reforms that affected a larger part of the developing world, but seemingly sidelined most of the Arab world. It is a matter that has been taken up by the increasing number of Islamic movements in the Arab world, as part of a drive to bring about representative and accountable governments in a region that is dominated by theocracies and oligarchies. These movements and the democratisation cause are also a product of changing demographic patterns in the Arab world, with the youth becoming a dominant segment of the population in many Arab countries. Fairly educated, but generally socio-economically and politically marginalised, Arab youths have become radicalised and pushed into a mixture of civil movements sharing the vision of reformed political systems in the region. In the process, the Arab governments have appeared out of touch with present post-Cold War realities by flirting with dictatorship, and irrelevant by failing to deliver public services despite hefty gains from oil and other proceeds.