In some countries, autocratic rule did not come as an impediment to development but as a facilitator thereof, but in Arab-majority countries, among others, communal identities were too entrenched and have severely constrained the ability and willingness of the ruling regimes to develop their countries. In Syria, the Assads have ruled the country as a conquered enemy territory, and try as they did, and they did try, they could not assimilate and reflect in their collective behavior the ideals of unity, integration and justice that they assiduously preached. Their schizophrenic behavior reflected the artificial nature of the state they controlled and served to feed and amplify the identity crisis from which each Syrian community and each Syrian citizen suffer. The result is this devastation, and its regional and global ramifications.
True, Malta’s willingness to sell passports for a tidy sum comes as a “reminder that the world we live in today isn’t the democratic and liberal utopia that we sometimes like to think it is —and it won’t be until it’s as easy for an 18 year old Turk to bum around the US for a summer as it is for US college kids to see Istanbul over the break.” This is exactly why democracy promotion outside the geographic confines of the West is important, this is exactly why those who label it as a form of an illegal intervention in other peoples’ affairs are wrong, and this is exactly why intervention to prevent or stop genocide should not be considered as meddling in other people’s civil wars. Certain types of crises are always global: genocide is one.
But of course, if you believe in democracy and human rights, your enemies in this world are many, and your friends few. But we will keep forging ahead until Razan, Samirah, all our prisoners of conscience and all our people, even those who now oppose us and accuse us of terrible things, are free. There is no room for compromise when it comes to freedom.
Despite occasional calibrations reflecting changes in administration, America’s policy towards the Broader Middle East and North Africa region remains highly influenced by a set of misperceptions and ideological stances more related to America’s internal politics than regional realities. This situation has constantly undermined America’s efforts and, occasionally, desire at playing a positive role in the region, and served to transform her into a convenient scapegoat upon which ruling regimes heap blame for all regional woes.