Le Monde: In the Middle East, authoritarian regimes are fueling despair. How can they write the history of their region?

The French newspaper Le Monde said that US President Joe Biden’s failure to invite any Arab country – except Iraq – to the democracy summit that he held virtually this month, is evidence of the blockage of many paths of change in the Middle East.

and in his column In the paper, analyst Gilles Paris explains the main reasons for what he calls “the catastrophe of the Middle East”, and highlights the dangers of a US withdrawal, at least in part, for the region.

In the Arab Mashreq, Paris sees that the slow and continuous internal collapse in Lebanon, the continuation of the destructive war in Yemen, and the heavy stick of authoritarian regimes, are still fueling despair and pushing tens of thousands to emigrate every year. The institutional coup carried out by Tunisian President Kais Saied and the tensions between Algeria and Morocco do not call for more optimism.

Although there are many reasons for the plight of the Middle East, 3 main axes – according to the analyst – are the ones that continued to have their effects throughout 2021, the first of which is the resistance to democratic transformation on the part of regimes that systematically prevent their citizens from organizing free elections, which prevents the punishment of political choices. When it turns out to be devastating.

sectarian closure

The columnist pointed out that the Arab region, due to the continued repression in it, has become the world champion in terms of the large number of political prisoners, led by Egypt, where their number is estimated at tens of thousands, and then the internal Palestinian repression in the West Bank, which is added to the oldest repression in Gaza, knowing that one The few Arab figures invited to speak on the sidelines of Joe Biden’s virtual summit are Egyptian human rights activist Mohamed Zarei, who is banned from leaving his homeland.

Even when elections are held in the region, such as those scheduled in Lebanon in 2022, or those that took place in Iraq in October, they are – as the writer sees – to institutionalize the closure that prevents the expression of the public will and the search for the public good, as There are strong men who justify their control over what replaces the institutions as well as the joints of the economy in their country in the name of stability that they alone can guarantee.

In the Syrian case, the price of Bashar al-Assad’s regime remaining in power – perhaps for a long time – was a 10-year civil war and complete destruction of the country. However, Muhammad Zaree indicated in his speech to the Democracy Summit that stability is likely to be achieved if those in power are held accountable, Although this is not proposed anywhere in the region.

Effects from outside the region

As for the second explanation for the Arab deadlock – for Paris – it is the lack of countries strong enough in the region to play a regulatory role on the most turbulent parties, after Egypt, the giant of the Arab world politically, militarily and culturally for a long time lost the role of the organizer, without others being able to do Thus, as is evident from the weakness of Iraq and Syria, as for the Arab League, it lacks nothing but to announce its death, according to the writer.

This huge vacuum – as the writer sees it – has opened the way for influences from outside the region, whether Turkish, Iranian or even Russian, but these countries, as the United States did before them, interfere according to interests that do not belong to the peoples of the region, and this is the third disaster to hit the region, So that the Middle East is no longer in a position to write its own history, but has become subject to the calculations of the strategic great powers.

The writer believes that the Joe Biden administration – after a moment of threat posed by jihadist groups for a long time and exploited by authoritarian regimes in the Middle East with political Islam to justify their iron fist – has a desire to change the ruling teams in the region, but with some nuances, as it did not prevent the glorification of the virtues of democracies The President of the United States, for example, from returning the bulk of American aid to Egypt despite its appalling record.

The Biden administration is also the first American administration in a long time, to refrain from conceiving any plan related to the Palestinian issue, which has become a side victim of the normalization that occurred in 2020 between Israel and 4 Arab countries, and died because of it, the pretext on which authoritarian regimes in the Middle East have long been based It is the centrality of this regional conflict that imposes the militarization of societies and forces.

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