Islam, State, War on Terror and Democracy in the Middle East

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 16:40
Location: Hörsaal 16 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Mohammad Hossein PANAHI, Professor of Sociology, Allameh Tabataba’i University, Iran
Nima SHOJAEI BAGHINI, PhD Candidate in Political Sociology, Allameh Tabatabae'i University, Iran
Freedom House 2015 Report (entitled “Discarding Democracy”) shows a negative pattern of freedom in the Middle East, and categorizes 18 Middle Eastern countries as follows: 2 “Free”, 3 “Partly Free” and 13 “Not Free”. In fact, the rise of terrorism, fundamentalism and violence in the Middle East in recent years, along with the gradual decline of the course of “democratic revolutionary waves” in the region (December 2010 to mid-2012), is evident in the region. Thus, some political theorists suggest that the current conditions may lead to the re-enforcement of authoritarian rulers in the region. However, others believe that the democracies with higher “State Capacity” may survive these detrimental situations. Besides, one should consider the role of the so-called “war on terror” in this regard, to see whether it contributes to the rise or decline of democracy in this region.

To answer such question, we believe that the “history” of regional political conflicts might shed some light on this issue. Hence, we consider three themes in this paper: First, we discuss the role of Islam in the regional political developments. Second, we use both historical and institutional analysis to explain the role of State in the future of democracy in the region. Third, we focus on “WOT”, “Globalization” and “Post-National” theories in which apparently state has lost its classical role. Our findings show that, the future of the peace, stability and democracy in the Middle East would not be achieved through WOT, but through moderate explanation of Islam and development of democratic political institutions.