Public Talk: The Middle East Democracy Dilemmas

Date of event: 15.9. 2015

The event took place on September 15 in the atrium of the CEVRO Institute. The public talk was opened by the PCTR Director Alexandr Vondra and moderated by Jan Fingerland (Analyst, Czech Radio).

The keynote speaker was Dr Amin Tarzi, the Director of Middle East Studies at Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia, who started his talk with a comparison of the two latest American presidents and their respective Middle East policies. He also mentioned the power shift between Shiites and Sunnis after the fall of Saddam Hussein in Iraq or the Muslim Brotherhood rise to power in Egypt, where the undemocratic party used the democratic institution of elections to obtain power. According to Dr Tarzi, liberal society is not feasible without the freedom of religion and it is also not possible to deny the basic rights to half of the society – in this case to women – as we can see in many Islamic countries. Then, Dr Tarzi focused on the issue of Islamism, its development, and the current situation.

The keynote speech was followed by the public debate that was mainly focused on current Middle East issues. The question was raised regarding the potential reestablishment of monarchies in the region. In this respect, Dr Tarzi compared two relatively stable monarchies in the region – while in Morocco the general perception of the monarch is positive, Jordan may be considered to be the most artificial state in the Middle East. When commenting on the current migration crisis Dr Tarzi used his experience of being a three-time refugee. However, according to him, the new immigrants cannot expect that the majority of society will adjust to newcomers. After arriving in the USA, learning the language was an essential part for him and he also described his decision to join the Marine Corps as an expression of gratitude to his new country. Dr Tarzi also noted that the immigrants to Europe should have a similar attitude – ask not what the country can give them, ask what they can give to their new country.

We would like to thank CEVRO – Liberal Conservative Academy for their media cooperation.​