The Arab Spring and the Struggle for Democracy in Egypt

Type Journal Article - The Georgetown Public Policy Review
Title The Arab Spring and the Struggle for Democracy in Egypt
Volume 21
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
It also set in motion other political struggles throughout the Middle East and North
Africa (MENA) region, before engulfing Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrein, and Yemen, and
subsequently spreading to Syria. As the largest Arab country in the region, Egypt in
particular, has experienced mixed results in its democratic journey. In this article we
examine the so-called “democratic failure”i in Egypt, touted by mainstream media,
policy analysts and scholars, by placing the Egyptian democratic process, epitomized
by the youth-led uprising at Tahrir Square, at the center of analysis.
This paper argues that, contrary to popular belief, what is unfolding in Egypt, set in
motion by the Arab Spring, is not a descent into chaos. Instead, it is simply the outworkings
of democratic transition, and a demonstration of how countries in the region
are learning to function as democratic nations (Roy, 2012c). To probe this issue, we
examine the broader challenges of democratic transition, some of the analytical and
political failures of the changes sweeping through the MENA region, as well as the
discourse on whether Arab conservatism, secularization, and democratization can coexist.
We also analyze the mixed record of U.S. foreign policy in Egypt, arguing that
most of the aid is distributed in the form of military assistance and has not led to the
consolidation of democratic institutions. Instead, it has strengthened military
institutions while weakening social movements.

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