Only now are we properly getting a chance to see the fully developed version of the democratization project in Iraq, based on sectarian division and foreign intervention.
The nation-building project in Iraq since 2003 was touted by neo-conservatives as a shining example to the whole region for how the Arab and Islamic world can progress and achieve prosperity and stability.
As Iraq falls apart before our eyes, we can only imagine the lessons sectarian activists across the region are drawing from these events. At the end of the day, the only beneficiary from the terrible and destructive developments in Iraq over the past decade is Iran.
Suddenly, Iran is portraying itself to America and the world as the strong man who can put Iraq back together, when in fact Iran’s meddling, support for militia groups and sectarian incitement are among key factors that have led to Iraq’s destruction.
Those who supported the invasion of Iraq and who sided with Prime Minister Maliki and his Iran-backed government argued that all that the Arab world needed was more elections. However, this farce of a democratic process polarized Iraq and led to large-scale killing between Sunnis and Shias.
The simple reason for this is that in any society divided along tribal, ethnic or sectarian lines; the sudden introduction of an electoral system almost inevitably leads to the vast majority of people voting on an ethnic, tribal or sectarian basis. The politicians themselves play to these social divisions and very soon the entire society ends up fundamentally and permanently divided; particularly after bouts of sectarian bloodshed that take generations to forgive and forget.
This is because such a project fails to properly introduce a culture of democracy and the institutions of democracy that protect minorities and prevent a single sect from gaining a majority of votes and governing positions; and thus pursuing a reign of terror against the other sects.
Those same people who supported the sham democratic process in Iraq ridiculed the many monarchies across the Arab world, from Morocco, to Jordan to Bahrain and Oman.
However, they failed to recognize that a fully reformed Constitutional Monarchy system was one of the few systems that could guard against this tyranny of the ballot box.
By sitting above an empowered Parliamentary system, a Constitutional Monarchy can act as a check on the sectarian excesses of particular Parliamentary groups. For example, by appointing representatives of all sects and segments of society to a parallel Shura Council, the institution of Monarchy can ensure balanced representation and protect minority groups as well as ensuring that no political party or cliques of officials restrict the freedoms and rights of ordinary citizens.
In states like Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain and Morocco we see important moves in this direction; towards a balance between empowered representatives of the people and institutions that ensure that these powers are used appropriately and for the general good.
The so-called Arab Spring only brought chaos and disorder and it may be years before countries like Libya, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Yemen experience real stability and progress.
In early 2011 it became trendy to denigrate the Monarchies of the Arab world and predict that their days are numbered. However, those Monarchies that responded to these challenges by reforming and becoming more representative are the only states in the region now experiencing any kind of stability and growth.
Constitutional Monarchy and democratization may be the combination that best allow parts of the Arab world to move forward from these difficult last three years as other countries dissolve into warring statelets and hubs of extremism and terrorism.
We hope that so-called Middle East experts are open-mined enough to learn from these tragic mistakes and rethink their approach to the region.