The popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia have exposed as nonsense the notion, held in
many quarters, that Middle Easterners – be they Arabs, Persians, Muslims and Christians – are uncommonly uninterested in democracy. But as former CIA agent and Middle East expert Reuel Marc Gerecht
writes in the New York Times:
‘A revulsion against the Iraq war and a distaste for President Bush helped to blind people to the spread of democratic sentiments in the region. It blinded them to the fact that among Middle
Easterners, democracy, not dictatorship, was now seen as a better vehicle for economic growth and social justice.
Most important, Mr. Bush’s distastefulness helped to blind Westerners to the momentous marriage of Islamism and democratic ideas. Men and women of devout faith, who cherish (if not always
rigorously follow) Shariah law increasingly embraced the convulsive idea that only elected political leadership was legitimate.’
This is key. Democracy is not being imposed from without but is now being demanded from within. As Gerecht writes: "The Egyptian faithful like the idea of voting for their leaders." This,
more than anything, will change the region.