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democracies, they will exert a tremendous influence on the internal politics of the region, by demonstrating successful alternative models to the autocracies and theocracies that have previously been the only choices on offer. Also, there are lessons to be learned from a country like Qatar that has maintained peace amongst all this turmoil by offering transparent leadership and promoting socio-economic issues, such as employment, education and health.

What lies ahead Two brief conclusions can be inferred from the above. Democracy will likely be an important moderating factor over time. But Arab people will also discover that they need to find a viable alternative that can address their economic and political woes. Therefore, these first free elections in the region are not the end of the transformation process, but only the beginning. If so, we should expect future elections to bring stability back to its real weight. After all, there should be a learning period during which, each country will develop its own culture, model and practice of democracy. It is too early to judge the ongoing political transformation process or to predict its final outcome. However, the observations made above and what has been achieved so far lead to think that the journey will be very difficult but it seems to have well begun. Indeed, some positive signs are worth noting. Post-revolution countries are well engaged in their democratic transition. New and solid political awareness is developing and has been reflected in free and fair elections in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco.

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There is the foundation of numerous political parties. Tunisia, where all this started, is offering a home-made blue print for managing a democratic transition process, which could inspire other Arab countries. People in Egypt, in spite of tremendous difficulties posed by the military and other counter revolutionary forces, continue to defend their attachment to freedom and democratic values.

We can debate the impact of the 2011 Arab Spring forever and under or overestimate the depth of its political transformation, but what happened in 2011 will have profound consequences for the future of the region, and beyond. The Middle East and North Africa will never be the same. The forces that have been unleashed are likely to continue driving regional politics for decades to come. The ongoing changes will also fundamentally alter the geopolitical map of the Middle East.

Tunisia, where all this started, is offering a home-made blue print for managing a democratic transition process, which could inspire other Arab countries.

Ultimately, Egypt will complete this first stage of transition and could offer another model. Libya, due to the lack of political and state institutions, will go through ups and downs, but will find its way with or without the help of its neighbor. Morocco offers a reasonable example of evolutionary reform which could inspire other monarchies of the region. If these countries eventually emerge as stable

About Hedi Larbi works for an international inter-governmental organisation. He is an expert on international economic and political issues. Hedi received his Baccalaureat in Mathematics from Bizerte College in Tunisia; a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering and Management from Ecole des Mines de Paris, France; and an Executive MBA from Harvard Business School, USA.

Private Sector Qatar - Feb2012  

English version - February 2012

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