Assess the Prospects and Challenges for the Development of Democracy in the Middle East

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Using any one of the regions that we have explored on this course, assess the prospects and challenges for the development of democracy. The Middle East has been seen often, and by many, as a lost cause when it comes to the implementation of democracy. As most of the world took to freedom and justice, the Middle East was one of the few regions that were left behind. There are many reasons as to why the Middle East has developed such immunity towards the enticing new world democracy offers. Many reasons of this ‘immunity’ can been seen in the challenges the Arab world faces, such as; the longstanding authoritarian regimes, the notion that the Middle East is fundamentally incompatible with democracy, and the lack of a civil society, which is needed for democracy to prevail. However, there are compelling arguments in favour of the prospect of development of democracy, most convincing of all, the recent events of the Arab Spring which prove to defy and contradict the theory that democracy is an alien concept to the Middle East. This essay will discuss whether the Middle East has the potential to develop democratically, and will look at what obstacles stand in the way of democratisation. The Arab world is in plentiful supply of obstacles which barricade its path towards democratisation. One of the colossal arguments that the Arab world can never democratise fully, is the idea that Arab and Islamic civilisations are, “uniquely exceptional in its undemocratic tendencies” (Milton-Edwards, 2007: 162). This critique has been seen by many as an intrinsic element of the Middle East, and therefore, a large part of the reason to why this region has little chance of achieving democratisation. This idea is seen as the most prominent reason for the lack of democracy in the Middle East, for authors such as Huntington, who in an article declared: “Islam has not been hospitable to

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