Re-visioning Germany’s democracy promotion in the Arab World

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Article about Germany’s democracy promotion in the Arab World by Lardi Sadiki and Layla Saleh (Qatar University) featured in ORIENT II 2022

This article briefly investigates German democracy promotion in the Arab world since the 2011 popular uprisings and revolutions. It seeks a parsimonious discourse analysis, looking at Germany’s “democracy-promotion speak” during the Merkel era. A constructivist frame lends itself to exploration of the interplay between norms and interests when it comes to fostering Arab democracy as a subset of German foreign policy. As the Arab world has slid further into a “crisis of democratisation”, so too has German democracy promotion. It seemed to buckle in rising to challenges of resurgent authoritarianism. Despite setbacks, the contention here is that the new German government should not abandon the democratic impulse in dealing with the region. Policies should be attuned to socio-economic deprivation and marginalisation as development spills into democratisation. Filtered through a “democratic learning loop” rooted in parity and mutuality, German support for Arab civil society can still enhance pro-democracy activism and civic practices.

Larbi Sadiki is Professor of Arab Democratization at Qatar University. A graduate of ANU’s Politics and International Relations programme (PhD: 1997) and taught at its Centre for Arab and Islamic studies as well as the University of Exeter in the UK. He has published numerous books on questions surrounding democratisation in the Arab World and was lead Principal Investigator in the four-year project titled “Transitions of Islam and Democracy: Engendering ‘Democratic learning’ and Civic Identities”, a Qatar National Research Fund Grant. He is the editor of the Routledge series on Middle Eastern Democratization and Government and the new Brill journal Protest. He is also co-founder of the Tunis-based research and advocacy centre Demos: Center for Democratic sustainability.

Layla Saleh is Associate Professor of Political science at Qatar University’s Department of International Affairs. she is author of numerous journal articles and book chapters and the book US Hard Power in the Arab World: Resistance, the Syrian Uprising, and the War on Terror (Routledge, 2017). she is also Associate Editor of the Brill journal Protest and co-founder of the Tunis-based research and advocacy centre Demos: Center for Democratic sustainability.

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