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Coordinated by Gheorghe STOICA

Democratization and Development in the Arab Countries of the Mediterranean Area

 

Gustavo GOZZI

University of Bologna

 

Abstract: The article is divided into four parts. In the first part (chapters 1 & 2), I shall analyse the Europeanization process affecting the countries along the Mediterranean’s “southern shore” and the transformation of the models on which basis Euro-Mediterranean relations are functioning. I shall then (chapter 3) take up the difficult relation between Islam and democracy and (chapters 4 and 5) that between democracy and development. Finally (chapters 6-10), I shall examine, from a historical perspective, the European difficulties experienced in giving life to democratisation processes along the Mediterranean’s “southern shore,” and I shall also explore possible ways toward democracy in the Arab world in the wake of Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution.

 

Keywords: democratization, development, Mediterranean area, Arab Spring, Euro-Mediterranean relationships.

 

1. BEYOND BARCELONA 

The important Barcelona Process has brought to light some clear limitations, among which (i) the fact that decisions made in Europe should be binding on all of the signatories of the Process;[1] (ii) the lack of involvement on the part of Arab societies, even though this was among the main objectives set out in the Barcelona Declaration; (iii) the problem of a political governance capable of satisfying the criteria established in 1995 (rule of law, human rights, democracy); and (iv) a limited movement of people and goods, especially in agriculture. But there is also another reason why the Barcelona Process is not expected to achieve much: it lies in the difficulty involved in forging and sustaining a common security policy, due to the failed peace process in the Middle East. It even proved futile to attempt a definition of terrorism that European and Muslim countries could agree on, given the different evaluations from which they each proceed.

The 2003 European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) marked a turning point in the relations between the European Union and North Africa. As one can gather from the words of Javier Solana, the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, one of the fundamental objectives of the new European policy was that of stability: “If these regions are unstable, Europe will not be able to live in security”.[2] The ENP has put the relations between the EU and North African countries on a different footing from what they had been under the Barcelona Process, for these relations have been fashioned on the basis of individual action plans jointly developed between Europe and the country in question. The plans establish priorities among the reforms that Europe will financially support. “The most novel aspect of the ENP is the offer of a ‘stake in the Internal Market’ and the participation in EU programs.” A stake in the internal market “will mean assistance in adapting to the complex market regulations of the EU.”[3] The first action plans got underway in December 2004 and were primarily concerned with the countries traditionally close to the EU, such as Morocco and Tunisia.

The problem of adapting to the EU’s market regulations is not just an economic problem, however, for it carries weighty political implications and leads to controversial outcomes. From an economic standpoint, for example, integration into the European market means that business firms will no longer be able to rely on government funding, and that in turn carries the risk of lost jobs. From a political standpoint, adaptation entails a deep asymmetry in the relations between the EU and North African countries, in that “the main supervisory bodies and the dispute-settlement institutions such as the European Court of Justice are all EU institutions. Countries outside the EU have to adapt”.[4]

 

2. THE EUROPEANIZATION PROCESS IN NORTH AFRICAN COUNTRIES 

The process of adaptation to European regulations has been particularly accentuated in Morocco through programs designed to privatise and liberalise trade in agricultural products and to work toward cooperation in foreign policy.

Adaptation processes have been initiated in Tunisia as well, in monetary policy, tariff alignment, and consumer protection, among other areas. In conclusion, what can be observed is a growing process toward the Europeanization of North Africa, through greater cooperation, as well as through the adoption of European rules and regulations.[5]

But how should this Europeanization process be understood? Certainly, it cannot transform itself into a sort of homologizing. Indeed, not much headway has been made as concerns human rights and political liberties. In short, despite the adaptation processes underway in economic policy, human rights and political liberties are still severely restricted by authoritarian governments, and as we shall see, this political condition has always undercut the process of economic development. However, if the transition toward democracy in North African countries moves forward, starting from Tunisia and Egypt, this is surely bound to create the new political conditions needed for economic development.

These transformations depend as well on the complex dialectic unfolding in the societies of the Arab world, where numerous Islamic movements resist Europeanization processes, and this has led many Arab regimes to introduce limitations designed to curb democratic forms of government, to this end citing, by way of an instrumental justification, the fight against terrorism and Islamism. To be sure, the EU policy has contributed to the unfolding of this dialectic in the Arab countries – that is the process of Europeanization, the Islamist reaction, and the consequent reinforcement of autocratic Arab regimes. But the recent revolutionary uprisings and transformations in the Arab countries will certainly introduce a new political dialectic whose outcomes cannot yet be predicted. Even so, it is incumbent upon us to reflect on the difficulties that have so far held back the attempt to build democratic forms of government in the Arab countries.

 

3. DEMOCRACY AND ISLAM IN THE MEDITERRANEAN AREA 

It is fair to say that the problem of the countries along the Mediterranean’s southern shore is not one of resources but rather, and especially, one of forms of government. Indeed, the absence of the rule of law makes it impossible to keep the ruling elites in check and remedy the corruption. The recent uprisings in the Arab world are to be understood in the first instance as an outcry against the corruption of their regimes. And, compounding the problem, an inadequate legal system makes the business community reluctant to invest in these countries without a legal framework capable of ensuring regular economic transactions. This lack of investment only aggravates the unemployment problem, which in turn feeds into the larger problem, and so on. This entire situation is also exacerbated by a mutual lack of trust between the two sides of the Mediterranean: European policy comes across on the other side as an instrument designed to bolster Europe’s own economy, all the while keeping migratory processes and terrorism in check; and the Europeans, for their part, believe that the countries along the southern shore turn to the EU to advance the interests of the ruling elites.

The whole of these problems, in fine, can be framed by bringing out the connection they bear to a couple of fundamental questions. We begin by pointing out that the Barcelona Process was aimed at achieving forms of democracy and at guaranteeing basic rights in the countries along the Mediterranean’s southern shore. Indeed, the underlying tenet was that economic growth could only be achieved in a democratic context, for otherwise the available resources would not have contributed to reducing the poverty and the economic inequalities. Hence, the two fundamental questions are: Is economic development possible in a nondemocratic environment? And secondly, are there forms of democracy, other than those in the West that can support development or are otherwise compatible with it?

Let us go back now to the problem of democracy in Muslim Arab countries, so as to then take up the problem of the forms of government in Arab societies and the way this relates to the objective of economic development.

The basic problem that Muslim societies are facing lies in their being home to two communities at once: one of believers and one of citizens.[6] This means that no government in the Muslim Arab world can be legitimised without establishing a religious foundation. In the Western tradition, by contrast, democracy can take root only by laying its foundation on the secular values encapsulated in the basic rights and freedoms: freedom of thought, of association, of assembly, and so on. Making this the cornerstone of democracy means to recognise minorities as having equal rights and dignity with the majority. And this ultimately amounts to recognising relativism as the underlying philosophy of democracy[7] – clearly a conception that cannot be reconciled with the current forms of government in Arab countries.

Before the uprisings and revolutions in North African countries the prevailing form of government in Muslim Arab societies has been described by some as a “liberalised autocracy”[8] or “partial autocracy”, referring to those political systems that control the forms of political participation and prevent the formation of authentic political societies, marked by a free political dialectic among parties and associations.

Some liberalised autocracies, such as Morocco and Jordan, ground their legitimation in a direct line of descent on the Prophet. Others – as Egypt had done until the recent revolution – ground their legitimation on their defence of Islamic values.[9] Those who govern Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon have not attempted to impose a single vision of the political community, but have instead interposed some distance between the state and society, thereby enabling the formation of plural competing political orientations.[10] The ruling elites thus act in two roles at once: as arbiters within the political system they hold on to power by playing one group off against the other, and as religious exponents they exploit their ties to Islamic institutions to curb the influence of secularist political forces.[11] In this way, however, these governments have wound up enabling the formation of counterhegemonic Islamist movements. 

The electoral successes achieved by Islamism are unequivocal: the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1980s, the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria in 1991, the Justice and Development Party in Morocco in 2002, Hamas in 2006.[12]

But the lack of democracy does not just depend on the divided reality of Arab societies. For there is the further complicating factor that Europe and the United States tend to favour those groups that invoke secularist values. Or, stated otherwise, it does not matter that an Islamist movement should oppose autocratic regimes: Europe and the United States will sideline it even so, for they both dismiss the possibility that something like an Islamic democracy can be achieved.[13]

Western donors in turn tend to favour those groups and sectors that espouse Western values, even if it is only a limited hold that these values have on society. This has happened in Morocco and Tunisia. This situation enables Islamist movements to show that these groups with links to the West lack autonomy, with the result that authoritarian regimes stand to gain even more strength by reason of these fault lines. The Western countries do not seem capable of finding a solution to the growth of Islamism, even when dealing with nonviolent movements: they generally tend to instead favour liberal secularist groups that frequently, when faced with the threat of Islamism, support the current autocratic regimes. The European Union has so far not been able to construct a dialogue with political Islam, this despite the example of Turkey, showing that Islam and democracy are, after all, compatible.

It is a grave responsibility that the United States and the European countries bear, for they have always lent their support to autocratic Arab regimes, like that of Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt, considering them as bulwarks against radical Islamism, but thereby forsaking the defence of democracy and human rights. This support of Arab autocracies remained in place until the very final days of the Ben Ali government[14], just as it was kept up until the end of Mubarak’s regime through an unreceptive attitude to popular movements. These political orientations of the United States and the European countries show how their support of democracy and human rights is entirely nominal and ideological and easily liable to be sacrificed to the interests of realpolitik.

 

4. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND DEMOCRACY 

Before the spreading of the deep social and political transformations in North African countries, the complex dynamics of social reality in the Arab world has wound up consolidating the stability of autocratic forms of government and undermining the possibility of effecting democratic changes in the region. With this deeper awareness of the problem, we can go back and reflect on the prospects of economic development in the absence of democratic forms of government. It has often been claimed, in tackling the relation between economic development and democracy, that democracy cannot take root without first satisfying the necessary condition of economic reform, when in reality a closer analysis of Arab societies suggests just the opposite conclusion, namely, that economic development cannot be achieved without first satisfying the basic premise of democratization.

This is because authoritarianism fosters clientelistic behaviours and networks of corruption, with the result that any liberalization process in such a context is bound to remain imperfect and incomplete.[15] Liberalization – its purpose is essentially that of setting up a system of autonomous economic actors competing against one another in an open marketplace – is something the ruling elites work to effectively choke off by reason of their interest in preventing new elites from emerging who might challenge them politically.[16] Furthermore, autocratic governments oppose any legal innovation, and the private sector engages in parasitic relations with the public sector, enabling the state to fully maintain its autonomy and power.

So, even if the economic indicators can be improved, the gains certainly have not been shared among the population.[17] Finally, it will be conceded that foreign investors view the presence of nondemocratic governments as making for an unreliable environment, and that for this reason there is little direct investment that flows into these countries (only 5% of European investment is devoted to the Mediterranean’s southern shore, and only 1.5% goes into the emerging countries).

 

5. IMMIGRATION, DEVELOPMENT, AND EUROPEAN POLICIES 

Much more significant in this context are the remittances sent back by immigrant workers in the EU: these account for two to three times the amount of foreign direct investment. A sizable part of Morocco’s and Tunisia’s GDP is owed to remittances, and 85% to 90% of these come from the EU.[18] It is thus a close connection that migration bears to the reality of the countries of origin: this is owed to economic relations that sustain what have been called “bonds of solidarity” – financial tools “far superior to the aid provided by international organizations and to foreign private investment, enabling communities to survive in the most disparate places across the globe, especially in the Mediterranean”.[19] These relationships and connections engender new economic-development initiatives and forms of cooperation that in turn give rise to investments in infrastructure (rural electrification, roads, water) and to projects started by local cooperatives, as we have examples of across the Maghreb.

These bonds of solidarity ought to have formed part of the co-development objective set out in the 1995 Barcelona Declaration, that of achieving “greater cooperation among different areas by integrating their diversities, but in order to enhance and strengthen such diversities rather than to level them”.[20] Instead, when it came time to take stock of the Barcelona Declaration ten years on, in 2005, the co-development process could be observed to have been reduced to the objective of creating a free-trade area, and hence to a plan by which to advance the interests of the great European economic powers, on the basis of free-market policies and within the framework of the United States’ military hegemony.

What prevented the co-development process from coming to fruition were in large part the protectionist measures enacted in Europe (by subsidising European farmers, for example, or setting quotas on imports).

 

6. THE EUROPEAN UNION, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND DEMOCRACY 

The 1995 Barcelona Declaration was built on the premise that essential to the objective of creating an area of peace and stability in the Mediterranean would be the contribution of policies supporting human rights and democracy. This was a highly innovative conception, for it reframed the development-cooperation project by specifically tying development to the effort to respect human rights and consolidate democracy. The declaration thus emphatically stated how important a role human rights and democracy would play in striving to ensure peace and stability. Despite these enunciations, however, what came out of the Barcelona review conference of 27–28 November 2005 was a document in whose final draft Barcelona’s human-rights proclamations were found to have had no more than a declaratory function.[21] It must be observed in this regard that the tools the European Union uses to promote democratization processes and protect human rights show themselves to be entirely inadequate in the face of the radical socio-political transformations affecting North African countries.

Figuring as an “essential element” in the Euro-Mediterranean accords was the provision that relations among the parties were contingent on their respect for human rights and the guarantee of democratic principles.[22] This formed the basis of the conditionality clause, which applies in the event of any human-rights or minority-rights violations, “but no sanctions were provided for such violations, much less was the suspension clause made effective.”[23] The reason for such laxness is that the EU did not in such cases intend to void the accords en bloc: by and large, the idea was rather to suspend only some of their provisions, especially those relative to the disbursement of European funds.

Furthermore, the 1995 Barcelona Declaration set out the principle requiring respect for the cultural and historic specificities characterizing each partner country. But recognizing such specificities where Arab countries are concerned translates to legitimizing some manifestly authoritarian forms of government. In this way, the Mediterranean’s two shores remained separated by distant positions, and democracy appeared impracticable in a milieu where the dominant elites considered it as posing a threat to their power.

So only two other paths remain open as viable alternatives: on the one hand, (1) there is the manifold process of integration into the European societies (so-called Euro-Islam), and this can become a model of democracy through which Europe can establish a dialogue with the Arab countries and influence the democratic transformations in those countries; and, on the other hand, (2) there is the endogenous transition that Arab countries are making toward possible forms of proper democracy.

As far as the first point is concerned, i.e. the problem of forging a new democratic model on which basis the European societies might be able to integrate the peculiarities of the Islamic world, it is of utmost importance that we move beyond the notion of “exporting” our current democratic model, for that would amount to no more than a modern version of the colonial project (neo-colonialism). Our relation with the Arab countries should instead proceed from a deep transformation of our Western societies, a transformation effected by bringing integration policies to a successful completion. Indeed, I believe it to be essential to firm up the close connection that should exist between development-cooperation policy and integration policies grounded in the diversity-recognition principle. A development-cooperation policy can succeed only in a society capable of guaranteeing an integration founded on a respect for differences.

We should therefore create a new multicultural space capable of protecting the different religions and cultural traditions,[24] all the while fostering their intersection and cooperation. The primary way to achieve this result, I submit, is to favour a deeper, closer social dialogue among the members of the civil societies. Indeed, it is a model of decentralized cooperation that the Barcelona Declaration envisioned as the foundation on which to promote interaction among the civil societies in the Mediterranean, a model on which initiatives and responsibilities would be transferred to local institutions, NGOs, universities, trade unions, and enterprises as actors carrying out functions that complement a range of governmental activities.[25]

These prospects of cooperation translate into the potential of charting new paths along which different civilizations and their multiple cultures can find common ground and engage one another–this while taking into account all such transformations as may originate from within the Arab societies themselves.

 

7. STATE SECURITY AND HUMAN SECURITY AS A NEW PROSPECT OF COOPERATION 

The Arab Human Development Report (AHDR) of 2004 introduced a definition of authoritarian governance among Arab countries as a term designating those forms of government where the balance of power is skewed toward the executive, in such a way as to effectively undermine or extinguish the separation of powers, thereby depriving citizens of their freedoms and protections. In reply to the question as to what the prospects of reform might be among Arab regimes, the 2004 AHDR found that significant progress could be made toward cooperation by bringing outside forces to bear on these regimes, but only so long as the following principles were observed: (1) respect for the liberty of others, and in particular respect for the international law of human rights, including a people’s right of self-determination; (2)“absolute respect for the tenet that Arabs should find their own way to freedom and good governance through innovation by Arab social forces, without pressure to adopt ready-made models, as the firm guarantee of a successful and sustainable historic transformation”[26]; (3) the introduction of an independent judiciary; and (4) the elimination of the state of emergency.

The Arab Human Development Report of 2009, made public in the summer of that year, enters into the problem of reforming Arab regimes in view of human security. Human security is the necessary premise of human development, which in turn constitutes the necessary condition of economic development. The 2009 AHDR defines human security as the “liberation of human beings from those intense, extensive, prolonged, and comprehensive threats to which their lives and freedoms are vulnerable.”[27] This definition lays emphasis on “environmental resources and the state’s role in guaranteeing or undermining human security, as well as its role with respect to the insecurity of vulnerable groups, poverty [...], and general insecurity tied to employment and to foreign military interventions.”[28] This vision, centred on the concept of human security, represents a turning point of incalculable significance, since in many cases the state seems more a threat to human security than its main guarantor.[29]

The 2009 AHDR is doubtful about government-sponsored reform initiatives. By contrast, the report is very clear in singling out the actors thought to be capable of effecting tangible democratic change in Arab societies,[30] underscoring how the Arab world is home to a wealth of civil and cooperative associations: human-rights leagues, NGOs, and other civil-society institutions.[31] Accordingly, the 2009 AHDR clearly singles out the path to be followed in civil society: “Reform from within remains its first and best hope for meaningful security in Arab countries, starting with the essential rights of the people”.[32] There are four societal groups the 2009 AHDR identifies as forces from which meaningful democratic reforms in Arab countries could originate and gain momentum: (i) political-opposition groups, especially where Islamic movements have a central role; (ii) civil-society organizations; (iii) business people; and (iv) citizens.

Especially active, however, are the social movements in numerous Arab states, where they have asserted their political identity, and where they can start up democratic development through several initiatives, such as staking out a position on the basic freedoms, putting out reports monitoring the progress of human rights in each country, and appealing to the law and the courts when the opportunity arises to put an end to human-rights violations. The 2009 AHDR mentions, by way of example, the strategies enacted in Egypt by the Kifaya movement, which has persuaded citizens to stage mass protests to press the government to meet its requests. The revolutionary movement that has swept through Egypt supports this thesis, for it found in the strength of Egyptian civil society itself the source on which to draw for its own initiatives.

According to the 2009 AHDR, the human-security approach offers a promising opportunity for states in the Euro-Mediterranean area to cooperate. In fact, the approach was set out with a view to working it into the different phases of the economic, social, and cultural projects in this area.[33]

 

8. UPRISINGS AND REVOLUTIONS IN THE ARAB WORLD 

The recent developments in the Arab world are the outcome of a strong reaction to unbearable living conditions. The Tunisian revolt swept across the civil society, where it was spearheaded by college and high-school graduates that saw no future ahead of them. The social realities, well known and widely analysed,[34] were such as to make this popular uprising virtually inevitable: conspiring to make it so was the strong demographic growth in combination with the widespread joblessness and the curbs on the movement of people emigrating to Europe in search of opportunities. And this bears out the consideration previously made, namely, that any transformation in the Arab world can only originate from within: from its own people and society. The Tunisian uprising has changed into a revolution, which can give life to a new form of government based on broad social participation – to a form of democracy proper to the Arab world. A key force in this revolutionary process has been the labour unions, for the part they have played in organizing spontaneous forms of protest and helping such protests gain ground. Equally important has been the role of the NGOs, which distributed documents and urged international organizations to take a clear stand against the regime. The revolution among the civil society took root by way of a growing synergy among the people, the labour unions, and the NGOs, while the role played by the opposition – legal and illegal alike – was entirely marginal.[35]

The Tunisian example can show the way to a deep political revolution across the entire Arab world, as the presently unfolding transformation of the Egyptian regime is showing. The Tunisians have shown that the revolutions which have taken place in Latin America and the Eastern European countries can happen in the Arab world, too.[36] The democratic model that will emerge out of these revolutions will be a specific contribution of the Arab world to the range of possible concretizations of democracy.

And Europe’s role in this new landscape must be entirely reconceived. The “Union for the Mediterranean”– a project started by the French president Sarkozy in collaboration with Hosni Mubarak – reveals the utter failure of a strategy whose aim was to “realistically” support North African Arab governments without considering any question of democracy, human rights and rule of law. The time has come for the EU to rethink its entire cooperation and democratization strategy, so as to facilitate the consolidation of authentic democracies along the Mediterranean’s southern shore.

 

9. THE POLITICAL REASONS FOR THE REVOLUTIONS IN THE ARAB WORLD

The sociologist Adel Jabbar has stated that the Arab populations of North Africa have broken the three sides of a triangle that for decades has kept these populations enclosed in an area of untrammelled repression and absolute despotism: one side of this triangle consisted of the religious fundamentalism that surged without any project or clarity; another side consisted of secular, despotic, family man, and largely corrupt systems of government; the third side lay in the interference of foreign powers, which for decades have supported these authoritarian and corrupt regimes, responsible for violating their own people’s basic rights.

Today, these three elements are all staggering. Even the opposition parties have been bypassed. But the uprisings have not come out of nowhere. Quite the contrary, these are peoples with a millenary history, and one of its strands is the story of the fights they have put up to free themselves from the yoke of colonial power. In the 1960s and 1970s, these Arab states managed to build at least a minimal welfare system, but this system has since been crippled: many government properties have been sold, many of them appropriated by the elite and by the clients of those who ran the regime. In regimes as repressive as these ones, there are no public spaces where a debate with wide participation might be developed. And this explains the crucial role played by means of communication such as Twitter, Facebook, text messaging, and cell phones, which have become essential tools for exchanging information. The uprisings sparked by these factors have expressed themselves in the form of nonviolent civil disobedience–a fact that contradicts the Western image of Muslim society as inevitably prone to violence. As has been rightly observed, what has been happening is bound to definitely change the Western prejudice toward the Muslim Arab world, and the familiar notion of a clash of civilizations will accordingly be shown to be at best a misconception.

Furthermore, it is not on religious grounds that people have taken part in these protests, but to defend their dignity as citizens: the handwritten signs and banners held up during these protests carried words such as freedom, dignity, and democracy – all of them secular, all calling for an end to despotism. Such was the rallying call.

Outside attempts at working out cosmetic solutions – on the political as well as on the economic front – will not suffice to answer the concerns of a young population (it is estimated that two-thirds of the 350 million people who live in the Arab world are younger than 35 years of age). What instead will be needed is a radical political and economic makeover.[37]

What in any event is not taking shape is Arab-Muslim exceptionalism, that is, the notion that the Muslim world is extraneous to democracy. The transition processes towards a possible form of democratic government are very complex and some scholars have already announced the crisis of the “Arab Spring”.  Nevertheless the present situation of Arab countries is troubled by contradictions that can be the occasion for the creation of a new world.

The conditions are quite different in the countries where the Arab Spring has taken place. In Tunisia the elections of 23rd October 2011 have been characterized by the affirmation of the Islamic party al-Nahda, that has obtained the 40% of votes, corresponding to 89 seats, and that now can be a fundamental actor of the transition towards democracy. The second party has been the Congress for the Republic, a laic party that has obtained 30 seats. So the electoral result confirms the complexity of the internal situation of Tunisia, that doesn’t want to give up its Islamic heritage, but that does not refuse the reformer experiences of its history. Indeed the party of al-Nahda has not shown itself in opposition to the laic heritage of Bourghiba. The leader of the party, Rashid Ghannushi, has declared the will of guaranteeing the women’s rights and of accepting the family Code that was introduced in 1956. But despite these declarations, when al-Nahda has formed the government, it has tried to Islamise the Tunisian civil society that has strongly reacted refusing the politics of the government.

Quite different is the situation in Egypt. The elections of 28th November 2011 have assigned the victory to the party of Freedom and Justice, a party associated to the Muslim Brotherhood that has obtained the 47% of votes. But while the victory of this party had been foreseen, the result gained by the Salafi political party Al-Nour, that has obtained the 28% of votes, has been a surprise.

The success of Islamic parties is due to their welfare politics towards population and to the trust they enjoy in comparison with the corruption and the oppression suffered by the population under the preceding autocratic Arab regimes. But the political models of the Islamic parties are not the same. While in Tunisia al-Nahda party has proposed to follow the Turkish democratic model – although it has given it up once it has been in power –, on the contrary the Muslim Brotherhood has refused this model owing to its secularized character. The political ideas of the Muslim Brotherhood are particularly complex and articulated. The founder of the movement – Hasan al-Banna (1906-1949) – considered the Quran as the Muslim constitution, but he thought that the men could create their own political forms of organization that had to translate the fundamental principles of the Quran in the laws of the State[38]. On the contrary, another important scholar of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sayyd Qutb[39] (1906-66), thought that the sovereignty belongs exclusively to God (hakimiyya), and that consequently every government has only to apply God’s laws.

During Mubarak’s regime the movement of Muslim Brotherhood declared the intention of participating as a party in the Egyptian political life, and in this way a dialectic was opened between the laic foundation of law in Egypt and the shari‘a that has a divine origin[40]. This dialectic, that could have been the beginning of a new model of democracy in Islam, has produced on the contrary an authoritarian form of government incapable of a dialogue with all the social parties of Egyptian society.

But one has also to admit that against the government of president Morsi – expression of the Muslim Brotherhood – a campaign of delegitimation has been brought about, in which have taken part many exponents of the old regime on the ground of an alliance with the opposition joined together in the National Salvation Front. Now after the army has deposed president Morsi, the strong reaction of the Muslim Brotherhood could represent the beginning of spread troubles or even of a civil war, as it was the case in Algeria. The question is whether – after the removal of an elected president in a democratic way – Egypt will see once again pluralistic democratic elections[41].

The path to the democracy in the Arab countries seems very difficult.  Moreover there is the risk that the United States and the countries of the “northern shore” of Mediterranean try to spread their concept of democracy and rights as a form of legitimation for their hegemonic politics, as happened in Libya. On the contrary it is necessary that the EU reconsiders its Euro-Mediterranean politics in order to build a new relationship of trust and cooperation with the countries of the southern shore of Mediterranean.

 

10. THE ARAB REVOLUTIONS AND THE POSSIBLE FUTURE OF THE EURO-MEDITERRANEAN RELATIONSHIPS

The Arab revolutions have determined a radical transformation of the Euro-Mediterranean relationships. Before the beginning of the “Arab spring” the states of the southern shore of Mediterranean, on the search of a legitimation by the EU, had accepted to sign trade agreements to their damage. The result had been a decrease in the export revenue together with the “absence of competitiveness of their manufactured products on European markets on the one hand, and the maintenance of barriers against agricultural products on the other”[42]. Furthermore, within the system of the Euro-Mediterranean relationships, the Arab Mediterranean states had accepted to repress the migration flows of their own citizens and of the migrants coming from Sub-Saharan Africa. The new situation caused by the Arab uprisings has determined the consequence that neither the ENP, nor the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) can be accepted anymore because they were based on the legitimation of the Arab élite of autocratic regimes. What kind of prospects are now in front of the Arab states?

As regards the future perspectives of development in the context of the Arab world, the free trade agreement of the so called “Greater Arab Free Trade Area” (GAFTA), that has been signed at the Cairo in 1996 and now includes 17 Arab countries, has already determined important effects. Indeed since 1997 till 2007 the GAFTA has increased the intra-regional trade by 26.6%[43]. But the most important transformations will regard the Euro-Mediterranean relationships. After the spreading of the uprisings in North Africa in 2011, the EU has reconsidered its relations with the Arab countries establishing new priorities for its initiatives. In particular the EU has reexamined the guidelines of ENP, above all revisiting the principle of “conditionality”.

The focus of the European response to the transformations of the Arab world is represented by two documents issued in 2011 by the European Commission and the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy: A Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean and A new response to a changing Neighbourhood. A Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy[44]. The core of the review of the ENP has been a new definition of the conditionality principle, the aim of which has been specified in the concept of a “deep democracy”, that is in free elections, in the guarantee of the liberties of expression, assembly, association, the fight against the corruption, the introduction of the rule of law and so on. The means to achieve these results have been singled out in the offer of incentives in terms of assistance, trade and mobility [45].

However, the principle of conditionality at the core of a new ENP clashes with some limits that can be hardly overcome. In the first place, it is grounded on an asymmetric relationship with the EU that aims at influencing the transformations of the Arab countries, and this opposes the strong defence of the sovereignty principle from the post-colonial Arab world. Moreover, in reviewing the conditionality principle, the EU must redefine the “ethical standards” of its policy after having supported the authoritarian Arab regimes. Furthermore a new system of Euro-Mediterranean relationships ought to admit the enduring “unacknowledged cultural legacy of colonialism”.[46]

“Interdependence, rather than conditionality based on an asymmetry of power, and reference to universal principles, rather to standards of democracy, make it legitimate to support them abroad...And identifying common interests and concerns that reflect the demands of the people in this common Mediterranean space may be a way to establish a new dialogue with a changing Arab world”.[47]

Finally, the present economic and political crisis of the EU and the processes of uprisings in the Arab countries – if they were completely accomplished – could allow the renegotiation of “the free trade agreement with the EU, demanding both the opening of EU agricultural markets and temporary asymmetry to the benefit of MENA (Middle East and North Africa) countries”[48]. A new season could be opened for the Euro-Mediterranean relationships. But the grave troubles in Egypt and the upsetting and disorder that could ravage the whole Middle East, with their effects on the global level, render impossible all the expectations.


Bibliography

 

SAAF, Abdallah, La sécurité humaine comme nouvelle perspective de coopération, in Roberto ALIBONI, Abdallah SAAF, Human Security: A New Perspective for Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation, 10 Papers for Barcelona, n. 3, Paris, 2010, EU Institute for Security Studies – Barcelona, European Institute of the Mediterranean, February 2010.

ABEDINI, Javad, Nicolas PÉRIDY, “The Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA): An Estimation of Trade Effects”, Journal of Economic Integration, Vol. 23, No. 4, 2008, pp. 848-872.

BEN, Abdallah El Aloe H., “Tunisie, les éclaireurs”, Le Monde diplomatique, February 2011.

BEN, Achour Y., La tentazione democratica: Politica, religione e diritto nel mondo arabo, Ombre Corte, Verona, 2010.

ADEL, Jabbar, “La dignità Araba”, Africanews.it, 15 February 2011.

AMOROSO, Bruno, “Politica di vicinato o progetto comune?”, in F. CASSANO, D. ZOLO (a cura di), L’alternativa mediterranea, Feltrinelli, Milano, 2007.

ANGIOI, Silvia, Il principio di condizionalità e la politica mediterranea dell’Unione Europea, Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, Napoli, 2006.

BALFOUR, Rosa, “New Paradigms for the EU-South Mediterranean: Rethinking Conditionality?”, Med. 2012, IEMed. 2012.

BINDER, Leonard, Islamic Liberalism: A Critique of Development Ideologies, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London 1988.

BRUMBERG, Daniel, “The Trap of Liberalized Autocracy”, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 13, No. 4, 2002.

CAMPANINI, Massimo, “La seconda ondata del riformismo islamico: i Fratelli musulmani”, in Massimo CAMPANINI, Karim MEZRAN, Arcipelago Islam. Tradizione, riforma e militanza in età contemporanea, Laterza, Roma-Bari 2007.

European Commission and the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, A Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean, COM (2011) 200 final, Brussels: 8 March 2011.

European Commission and the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, A new response to a changing Neighbourhood. A Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy, COM (2011) 303, Brussels: 25 May 2011.

El MOUHOUB, Mouhoud, “The Arab Economies in the Face of the Crisis: Assessment and Perspectives since the Tunisian Revolution”, Med. 2012, IEMed, 2012.

GALLINA, Andrea, “From Security to Development: Migration Contribution to Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation”, in Mediterranean Journal of Human Rights 11, No. 2, 2007.

GOMEZ, Ricardo, Negotiating the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, Ashgate, Hampshire, England- Burlington, 2003.

GRESH, Alain, “In Egitto, la rivoluzione all’ombra dei militari”, Le Monde diplomatique, XX, n. 8, August 2013.

HALLIDAY, Fred, “The Age of the Three Dustbins”, in Fred HALLIDAY, Political Journeys, Saqi Books, London 2011.

HANAFI, Sari, “Lessons of the Jasmine Revolution”, Aljazeera Net, 23, January 2011.

KHADER, Bichara, “L’impact de l’élargissement sur les flux migratoires sud-méditerranéens”, in Filali OSMAN, Christian PHILIP (sous la dir. de), Le partenariat euro-méditerranéen: Le processus de Barcelone; nouvelles perspectives, Bruylant, Brussels, 2003.

MUÑOZ, Martín G., “Democracy and the Arab World: The ‘Islamist dilemma’”, in Amr ELSHOBAKI, G. Martín MUÑOZ, Why Europe Must Engage with Political Islam, 10 Papers for Barcelona 2010, n. 5, Paris, EU Institute for Security Studies – Barcelona, European Institute of the Mediterranean, February 2010.

MOHSEN-FINAN, Khadija, “The Union for the Mediterranean: The Difficulty of ‘Managing Proximity’ ”, IEMed Mediterranean Yearbook, 2009.

PANEBIANCO, Stefania (ed.), A New Euro-Mediterranean Cultural Identity, Frank Cass Publishers, London, 2003.

REINHART, U. Julia, “Civil Society Co-operation in the EMP: From Declarations to Practice”, EuroMeSCo Papers, EuroMeSCo, n. 15, Lisbon, 2002.

SAMI, Naïr, “La Tunisia brucia”, El Pais, in «Internazionale», 881, 2011.

UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States, Arab Human Development Report 2004: Towards Freedom in the Arab World, New York, United Nations Publications, 2005.

ZANK, Wolfgang (ed.), Clash or Cooperation of Civilizations? Overlapping Integration and Identities, Ashgate, Farnham, England-Burlington, 2009.




[1] Khadija MOHSE-FINAN, The Union for the Mediterranean: The Difficulty of ‘Managing Proximity’”, in IEMed Mediterranean Yearbook, 2009, p. 96.

[2] Quoted in Ricardo GOMEZ, Negotiating the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, Ashgate, Hampshire, England- Burlington, 2003, p. 1.

[3] Wolfgang ZANK, “The Gradual Europeanization of North Africa: From ‘Arab Socialism’ to a ‘Stake in the EU’s Internal Market’”, in Idem (ed.), Clash or Cooperation of Civilisations? Overlapping Integration and Identities, Ashgate, Farnham, England-Burlington, 2009, p. 137.

[4] Ibidem, p.138.

[5] Ibidem, p.141.

[6] See Yadh Ben ACHOUR, La tentazione democratica: Politica, religione e diritto nel mondo arabo, Ombre Corte, Verona, 2010. See esp. chap. 11, “La democrazia e il costituzionalismo nel Maghreb”.

[7] As Ben ACHOUR remarks, only with “the end of absolutes” democracy can begin. Ibidem, p. 202 (my translation).

[8] See Daniel BRUMBERG, “The Trap of Liberalized Autocracy”, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 13, No.4, 2002, pp. 56-68.

[9] Ibidem,p. 62.

[10] In Brumberg’s own words, “they have put a certain symbolic distance between the State and society in ways that leave room for competitive or dissonant politics” (ibidem, p. 61).

[11] Ibidem, p. 62.

[12] Ibidem, p. 36.

[13] Ibidem,p. 38.

[14] See Hicham Ben Abdallah El ALAOUI, “Tunisie, les éclaireurs”, Le Monde diplomatique, February 2011, p. 11. The author underscores how France remained loyal until the very end Ben Ali’s dictatorship. The Western powers’ support of dictatorships, however, has always been perceived in the Arab world as another way to perpetuate colonisation and imperialism.

[15] G. Martín MUÑOZ, “Democracy and the Arab World: The ‘Islamist dilemma’’’, in Amr ELSHOBAKI, G. Martín MUÑOZ, Why Europe Must Engage with Political Islam, 10 Papers for Barcelona 2010, n. 5, Paris, EU Institute for Security Studies – Barcelona, European Institute of the Mediterranean, February 2010, p. 27.

[16] Ibidem.

[17] Ibidem.

[18] Andrea GALLINA, “From Security to Development: Migration Contribution to Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation”, in Mediterranean Journal of Human Rights, 11, 2007, n. 2, p. 303.

[19] Bruno AMOROSO, “Politica di vicinato o progetto comune?”, in F. CASSANO, D. ZOLO (a cura di), L’alternativa mediterranea, Feltrinelli, Milano, 2007, p. 511 (my translation).

[20] Ibidem, p. 504 (my translation).

[21] “Néanmoins, au niveau régional, les mentions des droits de l’Homme conservent un caractère purement déclaratif” (Even so, at the regional level, the human-rights declarations are purely declarative). Cf. Silvia ANGIOI, Il principio di condizionalità e la politica mediterranea dell’Unione Europea, Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, Napoli, 2006, p. 344.

[22] See Silvia ANGIOI, Il principio di condizionalità…cit., p. 354.

[23] Ibidem, p. 355 (my translation).

[24] Stefania PANEBIANCO, The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership in Perspective: The Political and Institutional Context, introduction to A New Euro-Mediterranean Cultural Identity (ed. by Stefania PANEBIANO), Frank Cass Publishers, London, 2003, p. 17.

[25] See in this regard Julia REINHART, “Civil Society Co-operation in the EMP: From Declarations to Practice”, EuroMeSCo Papers, EuroMeSCo, n. 15, Lisbon, 2002, http://www.euromesco.net/media/eur_paper15.pdf.

[26] UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States, Arab Human Development Report 2004: Towards Freedom in the Arab World, United Nations Publications, New York, 2005, p. 20.

[27] H. CLARK, administrator’s foreword to the Arab Human Development Report 2009: Challenges to Human Security in the Arab Countries, by the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States, United Nations Publications, New York, 2009, p. III.

[28] Abdallah SAAF, “La sécurité humaine comme nouvelle perspective de cooperation”, in Roberto ALIBONI, Abdallah SAAF, Human Security: A New Perspective for Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation, 10 Papers for Barcelona, n. 3, Paris, EU Institute for Security Studies - Barcelona, European Institute of the Mediterranean, February 2010, p. 31 (my translation). Original text: “ressources environnementales, la performance de l’État en termes de garantie ou d’atteinte à la sécurité humaine, l’insécurité propre aux groupes vulnérables, la pauvreté [...] l’insécurité généralisée liée à l’occupation et aux interventions militaires étrangères.”

[29] Ibidem, p. 33.

[30] The 2009 AHDR uses the concept of civil society, even though, as we know, this concept originates in the Western philosophical tradition, where it designates a “system of needs” understood from an individualistic perspective. It is thus only in an improper sense that this concept can be applied to Arab societies, whose underlying conception is instead more communitarian.

[31] There are more than 130,000 organizations in the civil society of Arab countries. Their concentration tends to be in certain countries (18,000 in Egypt, 25,000 in Algeria, 7,000 in Tunisia, 4,600 in Lebanon, 1,500 in Jordan), while other countries, as was noted earlier, limit their presence to negligible levels (Arab Human Development Report 2004, p. 133).

[32] Arab Human Development Report 2009, p. 76.

[33] Abdallah SAAF, La sécurité humaine comme nouvelle perspective de cooperation…cit., p. 31.

[34] See, e.g., Bichara KHADER, “L’impact de l’élargissement sur les flux migratoires sud-méditerranéens”, in Le partenariat euro-méditerranéen: Le processus de Barcelone; nouvelles perspectives, sous la direction des Professeurs Filali Osman et Christian Philip, Brussels, Bruylant, 2003. The article underscores the explosive demographic growth that was happening in the countries along the Mediterranean’s southern shore, this while the job market was offering little or no opportunities.

[35] Sari HANAFI, “Lessons of the Jasmine Revolution”, Aljazeera Net, 23, January 2011.

[36] Sami NAÏR, “La Tunisia brucia”, El Pais, in «Internazionale», 881, 2011, p. 13.

[37] Adel JABBAR, “La dignità Araba”, Africanews.it, 15 February 2011.

[38] See Tariq RAMADAN, Aux sources du renouveau musulman, Edition Tawhid, Lyon, 2002 (trad. it., Il riformismo islamico, Città aperta, Troina 2004, p. 335).

[39] On Sayyid Qutb’s thought, see Leonard BINDER, Islamic Liberalism: A Critique of Development Ideologies, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1988, 170 and ff.

[40] Massimo CAMPANINI, “La seconda ondata del riformismo islamico: i Fratelli musulmani”, in Massimo CAMPANINI, Karim MEZRAN, Arcipelago Islam. Tradizione, riforma e militanza in età contemporanea, Laterza, Roma-Bari 2007, p. 73

[41] Alain GRESH, “In Egitto, la rivoluzione all’ombra dei military”, Le Monde diplomatique, Vol. XX, No. 8, August 2013, p. 7.

[42] El Mouhoub MOUHOUD, “The Arab Economies in the Face of the Crisis: Assessment and Perspectives since the Tunisian Revolution”, in Med. 2012, IEMed, 2012, p. 42.

[43] Javad ABEDINI, Nicolas PÉRIDY, “The Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA): An Estimation of Trade Effects”, Journal of Economic Integration, Vol. 23, No. 4, 2008, pp. 848-872. 

[44] European Commission and the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, A Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean, COM (2011) 200 final, Brussels: 8 March 2011; European Commission and the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, A new response to a changing Neighbourhood. A Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy, COM (2011) 303, Brussels: 25 May 2011.

[45] Rosa BALFOUR, “New Paradigms for the EU-South Mediterranean: Rethinking Conditionality?”, Med. 2012, IEMed. 2012, p. 64.

[46] Fred HALLIDAY (2005), “The Age of the Three Dustbins”, in Fred HALLIDAY, Political Journeys, Saqi Books, London, 2011.

[47] Rosa BALFOUR, New Paradigms for the EU-South Mediterranean…cit., p. 68.

[48] El Mouhoub MOUHOUD, The Arab Economies…cit., pp. 43-44.