Transformation in the Middle East

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A profound transformation is occurring in the Middle East over the past few months. Since January of this year the region has seen the overthrow of two long standing regimes, that of Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hussein Mubarak in Egypt. Nearly every other country in the region has seen protests of varying severity and outright bloodshed in Libya. The upheaval appears to have been unforeseen by much of the international community. How America and its allies react to this situation may well determine the future of relations between the West and the Arab world. There is much speculation concerning what happens next for the region, it may still be too early to give a definitive answer though caution is clearly advised. Optimism would suggest that the Middle East is entering into a golden era of democratic reform. However, realistically, this scenario seems unlikely. In fact there are numerous reasons to believe that the status quo will be maintained or conditions may deteriorate to a point worse than before the revolts. Though some of the dictators in the Middle East have been removed from power (and more may follow) the conditions for successful democratic reform in these countries is not promising. The Middle East has been a troubled area for the better part of the last century. Countries there have no real history of democratic ideals. They were controlled by the Ottoman Empire and various European mandates in the early twentieth century. The rest of the century they were mostly ruled by a series of "strong men", who often remained in power for decades at a time. Even when these dictators were in power the region suffered from ethnic and religious divisions. Nowhere is that more true than in Iraq. After the U.S. led i... ... middle of paper ... ...en a nations elite military has interests not related to the defense of the state. Not a promising prospect for reformists, even if the Ayatollah is no longer the ruler of the country, its unlikely that the Pasdaran will relinquish power. The events of the past few months in the Middle East are historic, it remains to be seen though if democratic reform will take hold. Even with the removal of a few dictators, and perhaps a few more in the coming days, the region faces many obstacles to the establishment of a pluralistic and freer society. Reasons for this are numerous, a lack of previous democratic experience, economic woes and the traditional conservatism of Islam. All important and all will have to be addressed. No matter what happens next though, the region is in for a long and difficult (and perilous) path ahead. Works Cited History of the Middle East
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