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2014年2月13日 (木)

アラブの春3年 新たな政治体制へ模索が続く

The Yomiuri Shimbun February 12, 2014
Nations groping for new political systems 3 years after Arab Spring
アラブの春3年 新たな政治体制へ模索が続く(2月12日付・読売社説)

Three years have already passed since the Arab Spring democracy movements that saw people rising up in search of freedom.

In Middle Eastern countries where long-reigning dictatorial regimes were brought down, moves to seek new systems of governance have been ongoing.

Egypt and Tunisia have managed to establish new constitutions that stipulate democratic procedures. We can safely say these nations took a step forward toward enhanced freedom and the establishment of a rule of law.

In Egypt, there was a prolonged state of confusion after the administration of Hosni Mubarak was brought down. Although Mohamed Morsi from the Islamist organization Muslim Brotherhood was elected as president, he was dismissed by the military as he lost the confidence of the people because he overzealously tried to expand the influence of Muslim Brotherhood.

Even under such circumstances, countries such as Japan and the United States, as well as European nations, have continued providing assistance to the provisional military-backed government. These actions were based on the common interest of avoiding a situation in which Egypt, a strategically important country in the Middle East region, will be destabilized again.

The turning point for resolving the disorderly situation was the approval of the revised Constitution, drafted by a committee comprising representatives from various sectors, in a national referendum in January.

Compared with the previous Constitution, which had strong Islamist elements, the current Constitution is distinguished by its consideration of an appropriate balance between the teachings of Islam and secularism. The new top law retained an article to respect Islamic laws, while it clearly stipulates new human rights protections including “gender equality.”

Countries struggling

The revised Constitution also has an article that requires approval by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in appointing the defense minister for eight years from now. This means veto power is given to the military when the government forms a cabinet. We believe the people of Egypt approved the revised Constitution as many of them thought it would be impossible to prevent confusion without dependence on the military.

In the coming spring, a fresh presidential election will be held and a full-fledged administration will be launched. Still, we are afraid a situation in which part of Muslim Brotherhood, labeled by the provisional government as a “terror organization” and suppressed, will resort to radical action.

In reactivating its economy, it may be indispensable for the country to improve public safety and get foreign tourists and investment back to the country.

In Tunisia, the first country where a dictatorial administration collapsed due to public demonstrations and protests, the National Constituent Assembly recently adopted a new Constitution. Including human rights protection articles such as freedom of religion, the content of the new charter is much more progressive than that of Egypt. The freedom sought by the country's general public was then realized in a form of the Constitution.

Yemen and Libya—where dictators were driven away from power—are still in the process of establishing a new top law, while the two countries must deal with tribal and regional hostility.

The situation is most serious in Syria, where the civil uprising turned into a civil war. Dictator Bashar Assad still sits in the seat of president, holding on to power. Although an international peace conference was held, there appears to be no prospect for a ceasefire.

The Arab Spring has brought about complicated changes in the Middle East. Japan, which depends on the Middle East for most of its imported crude oil, also needs to keep a close eye on the country.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 12, 2014)
(2014年2月12日01時11分  読売新聞)


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