Juan Amoretti: „There is no universal model of democracy“

 5. duben 2012  Nikola Klímová   komentáře

Juan Antonio Macías Amoretti, PhD. is a research fellow in the field of contemporary Arab studies and an assistant lecturer in Arab-Islamic culture and history at the Department of Semitic Studies of the University of Granada. The main area of his interests covers the problematic of contemporary Arab political theories. Dr. Amoretti visited Pilsen during the Festival of Arab culture 2012. He guided an interesting lecture devoted to wide public on the topic “Democratization in contemporary Maghreb region”.

Juan Amoretti: „There is no universal model of democracy“Juan Amoretti: „There is no universal model of democracy“

Dr. Amoretti visited Pilsen during the Festival of Arab Culture 2012. He guided an interesting lecture devoted to wide public on the topic “Democratization in contemporary Maghreb region”.

It has been almost 14 months since the outbreak of the so called Arab Spring. The revolution started in Tunisia in December 2010 when a poor social-economic situation forced a young man Muhammad Bouazizi to burn himself to death. He is therefore considered a symbol of the uprising and a victim of an authoritarian regime. How strong was this impulse for the Arab world? Would the Arab Spring begin even without this self-sacrifice?

Well, that´s a very difficult question actually. I think he was a spark. Probably, the circumstances were more and more difficult and we are not talking only about Tunisia, but also about other countries. There is a change in some countries but we have to be patient to see what´s going to happen in the rest of the Arab world. There are more than 20 countries and we have a change in two, three, almost five countries. But you know we have to be patient. I am sure that something would happen.

The Libyan revolt of civil inhabitants faced a rigid and long-lasting rule of Muammar Kaddafi. Bloody repressions by state army were interrupted by the intervention of NATO air forces under the leadership of France and Britain. Was it a legitimate action? Don´t you think that the whole intervention was a result of oil interests of the West? I am pointing out the fact that France was the first state to

Yes, of course. There is no international movement without the presence of interests of the different countries. The same case was Britain or France or Spain or even other countries. They finally made some arrangement with the regime of M. Kaddafi from the...(hesitating)

Especially France is said to be connected with his regime, which reminds me of the case of Sarkozy´s presidential campaign.

Yes, they easily change their minds when their reward starts to be more and more important in Benghazi. So, there was a strong interest on the energy – like the Libyan petrol. At the same time, it´s quite tricky to condemn the intervention. I hope it helped to save many lives. But you know it´s very difficult to say.

The intervention was justified by the rhetoric about the protection of civilians and civil properties. Why wasn´t the same principle enforced in the case of the civil war in Syria?

Because of the same thing. Because of the interests of the countries. There are no energy resources in Syria so that the intervention is not that important. At least not that important as it was in Libya. There are all the important actors who behave in favour of Syria – Iran, Russia and China, of course. So, the situation is therefore more difficult.

Syrian uprising has lasted for more than one year, however, the Syrian liberation army and Syrian protesters haven´t reached any changes yet. What is the reason of their failure?

I think it is because of the system, the political system. Well, maybe not the political system but the system of muhafazah in Syria (Syrian governorates). Bashar Al-Assad, just like his father, he partly controls the system but not completely.  There (the governorates) are different groups heading the governorates and they even dispose of different secret services.  So they can act in a very independent way. So, even the president himself cannot control the entire system. That´s one of the points.

Doesn´t the Syrian conflict destabilize the whole region? Thousands of refugees are escaping to the border with Turkey and Jordanian black market with weapons is blooming.

It´s a very dangerous situation, of course. Especially when taking into account the position of Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, as well. I think that Israel has something to say to this situation because it´s one of the most powerful countries in the region. I think that obviously Israel is interested in keeping calm in the region and keeping the things as they have been in the last 60 years. So, somehow even Israel is interested in keeping al-Assad (Bashar al-Assad) in power.  

But isn´t Israel far more concentrated on the situation in Iran? Especially, if we took into the consideration that Iran is developing the production of its own nuclear weapons. I think that both are related. Let´s go back to northern Africa. After the elimination of old political structures in Egypt and Morocco there were organized parliamentary polls. In both cases, newly established political parties have succeeded and dealt a crushing failure to the traditional political groups. There is also another similarity; both winning parties have their foundations in Islamic principles. What is the reason of their boom?

I think the main reason is that they have been appreciated by people as the only political parties in the system that really fought against the regime. The thing that they have this legitimacy, especially in Egypt and also Tunisia, is because they were fighting against the corruption and the old regime up to the last consequences. In Morocco it´s because they have become a part of the system and they also fought against the corruption and the political leaders. What´s more, all of the mentioned countries are traditionally technocratic when speaking about the political leaders.

It is often recommended to the newly liberated states to let them be inspired by Turkey, the role model of a secular state inhabited by a Muslim population. Is there any chance that the north-African states will follow Turkey?

Well, that´s an interesting question because it refers to Turkey as a model of democracy and of an Islamic democracy. But I think that there are very different scenarios. I consider it difficult that these countries could follow this model because the political structures are different and so are obviously political minds, as well.

Maybe even the culture could play role, couldn´t it?

Yes, of course. And the religion in Turkey, that has nothing to do with the core position of Islam in public affairs.

Victory of Islamic parties caused a panic in Western societies. Islam is considered a strongly militant and hateful religion, especially after the terrorist attacks on the WTO in September 2001. Shouldn´t we expect a trend to strengthen the military segments of states with Islamic governments? Won´t the new political parties provoke an anti-Western ambiance to appeal to the society?

I don´t think so because the new Islamic political parties who are in power, they know very well that they must sign agreements with the West to keep their power. So, I think that they are trying to get the consensus. Not only inside the countries, among all the political forces. That is the case in Tunisia or Morocco or in Egypt. But also outside, for example with the United States, to keep their power and to stabilize the economy, as well.

Anyway, what´s the position of armed forces in these states? There have been so far many military coups and people might be afraid of a military government.

It´s a really strong, though, even the armed forces are mainly trying to stay closer to the West. I think that they will want to ensure their position as one of the main actors in the country. But, I don´t think that military coup or a military regime is possible in these countries.

Even in the case of Egypt?

Egypt is right now the most impressive and interesting case. In my opinion, they (the army) are trying to do so but I don´t think that they are going to keep the power for a long time. At least, in this situation, because I think that the United States is trying to support the democratization in the country.

When speaking of Islamic states the theme of sharia is often being discussed. What would its implementation mean for the internal situation in the countries?

Sharia is a very wide concept. Well, it´s Islamic law but it means many things. Sharia is the code of behaviour for every Muslim.  The concept of sharia that we have in the West is sometimes misunderstood. Sharia is used in the countries in terms of a family law. It´s a traditional thing in these countries and nothing new happens (if it is implemented). Sharia is already implemented in the countries, at least some parts of it. I don´t think they are going to implement all the parts of the code.

What could happen with the Muslim women who participated in the protests? They unarguably were significant actors who contributed to the results of the revolution.

I think that´s the question that especially Muslim women in these countries will have to face. However, there are internal changes in these countries helping them to gain a deserved status. The external world, for example the European Union, cannot do anything apart from supporting the democratic reforms. I don´t think that new regimes could go back to the past when the sharia and all the family laws were more restrictive to women. But if that happens than it will be up to the women to win their status back, not up to the foreign countries. So, all we can do is to support women in those countries - that´s the main thing.

Is it possible to install the model of a European democratic state into the Arab region? Isn´t there any alternative way which would lead to a combination of democratic principles, specific Muslim culture and Islamic religion?

You know that´s the question. (laughing) I think that we cannot think of exporting European democracy like goods. Every region has its own history and cultural development. So I don´t know if that´s possible. Probably not. They have to develop their own models which certainly will be similar to European democracies or similar to American democracy or similar to even Czech democracy. But they have to develop their own model without any pressure from other countries. I think that the main actors must be the societies themselves.  

So, you don´t expect implementing any universal model into all the countries in the region?

I don´t think so, because there is no universal model of democracy.

Even if the countries have similar roots and foundations?

That´s true, but democracy in Spain isn´t the same thing like Italian democracy or Czech democracy, to be in Europe. Of course, no existing democracy is ideal. We all, not just the Arabs, must fight for making a better democracy and especially in the cause of Middle East it is quite tricky. But I don´t think that there is a model. So, we just have to wait and we will see what kind of democracy will be implemented.

Juan Antonio Macías Amoretti, PhD. is a research fellow in the field of contemporary Arab studies and an assistant lecturer in Arab-Islamic culture and history at the Department of Semitic Studies of the University of Granada. The main area of his interests covers the problematic of contemporary Arab political theories. His research activities look into the relation between democracy and Islam, with the specialisation on the Maghreb region. He has so far published two books - Between the Faith and the Reason – the ways of political thought in Morocco and Islamist Movement and Democracy in Morocco.

Autorka je redaktorkou rubriky Ze zahraničního dění.

Odpovědný redaktor: Petr Vrchota

Text neprošel jazykovou korekturou

Titulní obrázek převzat z: http://maghreblog.blogspot.com/2011/09/transitions-and-breakdowns-in-arab.html

Jak citovat tento text?

Klímová, Nikola. Juan Amoretti: „There is no universal model of democracy“ [online]. E-polis.cz, 5. duben 2012. [cit. 2017-11-23]. Dostupné z WWW: <http://www.e-polis.cz/clanek/juan-amoretti-there-is-no-universal-model-of-democracy.html>. ISSN 1801-1438.

Autor Nikola Klímová

Autor:

Šéfredaktorka zabývající se především oblastí mezinárodních vztahů, zahraniční politiky a mezinárodního práva. V e-Polis začínala v rubrice Ze zahraničního dění.


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