The Arab World’s Options

After three years of struggle, the transitions initiated by the Arab Spring uprisings have only just begun. Whether Arab countries succeed in advancing pluralism and democracy depends on which of three models they use to guide their transitions.

AMMAN – When the Arab awakening began in 2011, its primary goal should have been to advance pluralism and democracy – causes that were neglected in the Arab world’s first, anti-colonial awakening in the twentieth century. But, after three years of struggle, the process has only just begun. Will the second Arab awakening finally achieve its goals?

The answer depends on which of three models Arab countries use to guide their transition: an inclusive, far-sighted model that aims to build consensus; a winner-take-all approach that excludes large segments of the population; or a stop-at-nothing approach focused on regime survival. These models reflect the vast differences among Arab countries’ current circumstances and prospects for the future.

The strongest example of the inclusive model is Tunisia, where former opponents have formed a coalition government, without military interference. Of course, the process was not easy. But, after a tense struggle, Tunisians recognized that cooperation was the only way forward.

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