Necessary Authoritarianism

Many Muslim countries are incapable of liberal democracy due to the majority of the population supporting Islamists. It is important to emphasize that there are many Muslim countries where the opposite is true, where a substantial majority supports liberal democracy as in Tunisia and Morocco. 

The US government should be more understanding of authoritarian practices in those Muslim countries where thus liberal democracy presently is not feasible due to the majority sympatizing with Islamists. The US government would be particularly well-advised not to undermine Anti-Islamist authoritarians such as President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al Saud of Saudi Saudi Arabia, both close friends of America and Israel. Such pro-American strongmen rule majority Islamist countries and their authoritarianism is not merely necessary for them personally so as to remain in power but crucially so as to keep the Islamists out of power. Their hold on power may be more tenuous and their political situation more delicate than may be apparent to outsiders. Imagine e.g. the situation of MBS, a committed anti-Islamist ruling an Islamist land governed by a Wahhabi version of Sharia law. Imagine how many domestic Islamist adversaries that he faces in his quest to liberalize the country and the dangers to him personally and the risks he takes for the good of his country. It is easy for outsiders to moralize who do not realize that MBS could easily end up like the last Shah of Iran. 

US human rights concerns for such countries should be targeted (such as criticizing torture) and promote liberalization, particularly civil rights such as women’s rights and LGBTQI rights without undermining the pro-American regimes of those strongmen who across Islamdom remain a strong bulwark against Islamism and by extension Jihadism.  The US should also demand that pro-democratic political prisoners be allowed to emigrate to the United States. The pro-democratic political prisoners in such countries are domestically dangerous because they could organize revolutions which by extension could bring Islamists to power as happened in Egypt. At the same time should the US strongly support advocates of liberal democracy in Muslim countries where anti-democrats do not have majority support. 

Published by Daniella Bartfeld

Daniella Bartfeld is the founding director of the Aliyah Organization

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