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Is Arab democracy a fantasy?

The revolutions of 2011 have proven that Arab culture is not incompatible with democracy. But the quest for freedom is far from complete, and many dangers lie ahead

By Eugene Rogan   March 2011

One for the album: Egyptians pose for photographs on an army tank in Cairo, two days after the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak

When democratic reforms swept the world after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Arab countries seemed to get left behind. All of the Arab regimes that were in control then were still in power at the start of this year—with the notable exception of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athists in Iraq. Some blamed Arab culture for this, others said that Islam was incompatible with democracy, but most agreed that the Arabs were bucking the global trend of…

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