Challenges to Democracy in the Middle East

This book provides in five essays background information of some of the most current problems affecting the modern Middle East. Ahmad Ashraf analyzes the appeal of modern conspiracy theories to Iranians, including the social, cultural, political and psychological factors contributing to its attraction to Persians. Amatzia Baram offers an account of the development and metamorphoses of regime-sponsored national ideology in Iraq under the Bacth Party. William Harris describes the absence of democracy in Lebanon and Syria in the 1990s. He reflects on whether the confessional democracy and civil society of Lebanon has been pulverized by Syria in the 1990s, and whether the Syrian population considers democracy an irrelevant concept after living under dictatorship for more than a quarter of a century. Heath W. Lowry outlines a series of elite-imposed ideological taboos on history, religion, ethnicity, pan-Turkism and the legacy of Ataturk, which have hampered the development of democratic institutions in Turkey, and analyzes the effects that the removal of these taboos have had on Turkish politics and society in the 1990s. Thereafter Yesim Arat describes two kinds of feminist movements in Turkey in the 1980s.

Yesim Arat is also the author of Rethinking Islam and Liberal Democracy: Islamist Women in Turkish Politics.

Ahmad Ashraf (University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, Princeton University, and Tehran University) is the author of several books and numerous articles, including Historical Obstacles to the Development of Capitalism in Iran.

Amatzia Baram is in the Department of Middle Eastern History at the University of Haifa, Israel.

William Harris (University of Otago, New Zealand, former visiting professor at Princeton University and past faculty member of Haigazian University College in Beirut) is also the author of Faces of Lebanon and The Levant: A Fractured Mosaic, both of which are available from Markus Wiener.

Heath Lowry is the Atatürk Professor of Ottoman and Modern Turkish Studies at Princeton University. He has written several books on Ottoman and Turkish history, including The Nature of the Early Ottoman State.