Democracy in Jordan and the Middle East: Is Islam the Solution?
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What is it, substantively, that influences organizations like Freedom House to label most Middle Eastern states undemocratic? What makes the Middle East especially resistant to democratization? And finally, if the United States' security is indeed affected by the political makeup of states that produce terrorists, what can the United States and other foreign countries do to encourage or precipitate democratic reform in the Middle East? This paper will examine these questions through the case study of Jordan. For many years Jordan has been considered to be a moderate state in a region of extremists and has been an ally of the United States while many of its neighbors have had tense or even hostile relations with Western nations. Thus, on the surface at least, as a moderate state, Jordan appears to be more ready for democratic transformation than most other states in the Arab Middle East. The following discussion will examine Jordan's political history, democratic components and prospects for democratization, and then attempt to make more general observations about democracy and democratization in the region. But first, in order to be able to gauge democratic elements within Jordan, we will overview theories regarding democracy and democratization.