ISTANBUL – The ongoing showdown in Egypt between the country’s Islamists and its military rulers is a clear reminder of how difficult democratic transitions in the Arab world are likely to be. Obviously, failure to reach a power-sharing agreement will prolong political instability. But the resulting economic inaction would be just as damaging to the consolidation of democratic rule.
Emerging Arab leaders, from Islamists to re-invented former regime officials, are keenly aware of the need to improve their countries’ economic prospects. They know full well that their popularity can be sustained only if they are able to deliver growth, employment, and higher living standards. This would be a difficult challenge under any circumstances – and is all the more daunting against the backdrop of the Arab Spring’s destabilization of the economic systems across the Middle East and North Africa.