THE MUSLIM EAST IN THE EARLY 21ST CENTURY: CURRENT DEVELOPMENT TRENDS AND PROSPECTS

Viacheslav BELOKRENITSKIY


Viacheslav Belokrenitskiy, D.Sc. (Hist.), professor, head of the Department of the Middle and Near Eastern Countries, Institute of Oriental Studies, RAS (Moscow, Russia)


Religion and various aspects of its development are still the most urgent issues of our day. This is especially true of Islam, which is frequently regarded as an obstacle on the road to progress. It is commonly accepted that the religion itself, which concentrates on the afterworld, is mainly indifferent to the ideals of earthly existence and social processes. It is not religion itself but the related culture, primarily political culture, customs, and ideas which give rise to these concerns. In this sense, we can compare these two very different concepts as Islam and development.

When discussing Islam we are not referring to religion itself, but rather to the society related to it, and not so much Islamic society in the profound and omniscient meaning of the word, but Islamized, or Muslim society. For the purpose of our comparison let us take politically shaped communities as an example, the majority of which are internationally recognized states. They are described as Muslim either because Muslims comprise the majority of their populations, who acquired the faith themselves or inherited it from their ancestors, or because their titular nations consist of Muslims in the sense described above and claim control over the states entire territory or its largest part by force of tradition.

What is meant by development? There are three sides to it. The first side is economic, or the production and consumption of commodities and services; improving and widening their range; eliminating hunger and destitution; and bringing down the level of chronic unemployment and poverty. The second, the political side, lies in ensuring security and conditions for the civilized and peaceful life of the people in the absence of conflicts, manifestations of separatism, and stable alienation from power which disrupt the fabric of social life. The third is the sociocultural side, associated with conditions conducive to wider literacy and broader access to education and information sources and technologies, as well as to means of health protection, hygiene, and sanitation.

No one doubts Muslim societys ability to efficiently develop in all three spheres, thus promoting regional and world progress. At the same time, the Muslim states are currently lagging behind the non-Muslim countries in terms of the above and certain other criteria. Moreover, the stumbling blocks of world development are directly and indirectly connected with the area of Islam and the negative processes unfolding in it. I have in mind local and global terrorism, domestic and interstate conflicts, corruption and nepotism common in the Muslim countries, inefficient bureaucracy, social passivity of women, the closed nature of society and its basic cells, authoritarianism and abuse of power.

It is not my intention to explain the causes of the above, or the very phenomenon of Muslim exclusiveness. Both are obviously the product of a set of factors: historical (or vertical in the scale of time) and situational (or horizontal) depending on the current situation and the external environment. While leaving the vast range of problems outside the scope of the present article, let us concentrate on the specific features of the Islamic world as represented by the Muslim East, a key and endemic Islamic region.

Configuration

The academic community has been using the term Muslim East for a long time now, yet the classical works by academician Vassili Bartold, for example, treat it as synonymous to the Muslim world that, in this sense, was opposed to the West, or the Christian world.1 Today, any discussion of the Islamic factor in the context of international affairs and geopolitics should impart the term with a different meaning. Indeed, Islam has left the limits of its initial area where a Big Bang of sorts took place over 1,400 years ago; it covers a much wider territory.

In the first place, the recent (in historical terms) Muslim migration and, to a great extent, proselytism brought Islam to the West (Western Europe and the United States). Today we can talk about the Muslim Westa term that covers those European regions to which it came much earlier, during the Ottoman expansion. We can also talk about the Muslim North (by which I mean the Volga Area and the trans-Ural regions of Russia) and the Muslim regions of Northwest China.2 There is also the Muslim Southeast, of which Indonesia, a Muslim country with one of the worlds largest populations, is part. It borders on the Muslim area of South Asia (where Bangladesh is the only Muslim state). Finally, the Muslim South is easily identified; demographically it consists of the rapidly growing Muslim states of Africa (Nigeria being the largest among them). The Arab Maghreb countries are also part of the Muslim South. The fact that they belong to the south of Europe, with which they cooperate as one of the sides of the Mediterranean, is their most important political feature.

Having identified the Muslim West, North, Southeast, and South, we can describe the Muslim East as an area consisting of a wide stretch of states extending from the northeast to the southwest, from the center of Eurasia to the east of Africa and from Kazakhstan in the north to Sudan in the south. In the terms of mathematical economics, the area can be presented as a graph connecting Kazakhstan with Kyrgyzstan, the latter with Uzbekistan, and further with Tajikistan. Then the graph goes to Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. From Turkey it goes to Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan; from the latter it goes to Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and further to Iraq. From the latter it goes to Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Sudan. To complete the graph we should connect Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan and Sudan with Saudi Arabia.3

In this way the Muslim East includes 23 states which are very different in terms of their territorial and population size, economic development level, and material wealth. They also differ in culture, despite the fact that the Muslims comprise the majority in all of them. No matter how closed the region might look to us with its lines of internal connections (the number of which is much larger than those outlined above), it remains an open structure. This means that it has inter-civilizational border zones. In the north it borders on the Russian civilization, which is especially obvious in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan; in the east it is adjacent to the Indian civilization (expressed in the combined culture of Pakistan). In the south it borders on the African civilization across Sudan (itself divided into the Arabian North and the African South). In the west, Turkey is the border country, whereby it is disjunctive with part of it belonging to Europe, having historically close ties with the European civilization, and claiming EU membership.

At the same time, the Muslim East is the true historical, cultural, political, and economic center of the Islamic world. In historical terms, this is the place where Islam was born; the area where the Arab-Muslim, Iranian-Muslim, and Turkic-Muslim statehoods appeared. In cultural terms, this is the zone of the Arabic tongue, the sacred language of religion and literature that also used Persian as the second Islamic tongue. In political terms, this is the place where the main Muslim organizations (the Arab League and the OIC), as well as regional groups (the Gulf Cooperation Council and the ECO), have their headquarters. Recently, the Muslim media (the Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya TV companies, the Khaleej Times newspaper, and others) moved their offices there. Finally, in economic terms, this is the place where the Islamic Development Bank and other Islamic financial organizations are found and the zone of the worlds largest hydrocarbon reserves. The ellipse that includes the Gulf and the Caspian areas contains, according to the assessments of the mid-1990s, up to 70 percent of the worlds oil reserves and over 40 percent of natural gas; the Gulf zone dominates with 65 and 31 percent, respectively.4

Finally, demographically this is the largest Muslim area. According to the World Bank, in 2002, 572 million lived in the regions 23 states; Muslims comprised an absolute majority there, while the total Muslim population in the world was assessed at 1.2 billion.5 From this it follows that over half of the worlds Muslim population lives in the East, which is much more than in any of the other four areas.

Practically all large international conflicts are associated with the region: the Middle Eastern, Palestinian-Israeli, and Cashmere (between Pakistan and India). The troublesome zone of the Northern Caucasus borders on this region, while Afghanistan and Iraq are found in its center. The situation in the latter two is far from normal; Sudan, another state of the same region, is torn apart by internal armed strife.

The Muslim East is the epicenter of Islamic radicalism, otherwise known as Islamism, which challenges the West and the entire world community, the ideology of globalism and modernization. It was in the mid-1990s that Zbigniew Brzezinski called the region that roughly coincided with the Muslim East the Eurasian Balkans. As distinct from the Balkans of the late 19th-early 20th century, today the religious factor, rather than a national awakening or the struggle against the dynastic and polyethnic empires for national liberation, plays the main destabilizing role. Religion unites all radical political forces against the new type of hegemony and worldwide expansion for which, they say, the West headed by the United States is responsible. The anti-globalist ideology is varied, yet its Islamist variant is one of the most radical and most effective.6

The world of Islam is structurally very complicated; the situation in the region and outside it is closely connected with this. Iran is the main geopolitical center of the Muslim East, first, because of its central geographic location. It is connected with the northern belt (the Caucasian-Central Asian), with the middle belt (Turkey in the west and Afghanistan and Pakistan in the east), and with the southern belt of states (Iraq and the Gulf countries). Second, Iran is an oil-rich country and one of the largest oil producers in the region (about 200 million tonnes in 2001). Third, Iran is the center of Shiism, the most radical of the Islamic trends concerned with the inner life of the Islamic world. According to Alexander Dugin, the Shia discern sacral meaning not so much in the wars against the unfaithful as in the conflict inside the Islamic umma It is precisely this war that the Shia world finds paradigmatic.7

To a certain extent the sharp inner regional confrontations and conflicts between Islamic states are caused by the fact that Iran is the center of Shiism in the East. For example, 89 percent of the Iranian Muslims are Shia Imamis; Iran spreads Imamism to Afghanistan with its 10 to 15 percent of Imamis among the total Muslim population, as well as to Pakistan (20 percent), Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Iraq (60-65 percent), Lebanon and Palestine. This is a belt of instability and disturbances, instigated to a great extent by the Iranian revolution of 1978-1979 that brought Shia theologians to power.8

It seems that contradictions inside Islam, along with the changes in the socio-historical environment outside, are responsible for the rise in Islamic radicalism and conservative revolutionary passions which served as the ideological basis for international terrorism sometimes described as anti-systemic. It was Iran that played the leading role in the process. This role is still manifested by its principled confrontation with the United States and the role it plays in the Arab-Israeli conflict, the regions (and probably the worlds) most important conflict.

This explains, to a great extent, the place of Iraq, Irans neighbor and an old antagonist, on the international agenda. Under Saddam Hussein, the Shia, who comprised the majority in the countrys population, were treated as a religious minority. It seems that the oil factor along with the Iranian factor are behind Americas aggressive policy in the Gulf area. Unless it subjugated Iraq, the U.S. would never have been able to sort out the Iranian problem, or the problem of Arab-Israeli relations for that matter. Iran has assumed the role of fighter against the infidels, which is historically alien to it. It is not yet clear how far it is prepared to go.

Demographic Prospects and Economic Dynamics

Its population size explains the role of the Muslim East. According to information supplied by the national statistical structures and published by the World Bank in its recent publications, by the early 21st century nearly 10 percent of the worlds total population lived there (see Table 1); the figure for 1980 was 7.6 percent. In absolute figures, the population of the 23 regional countries increased from about 340 to 570 million in 22 years. This trend will continue: by 2015, growth will exceed 10 percent and bring the number of people to 720 million.

Table 1

Demographic Growth in the Muslim East

Countries

Population in1980,*

million

Population in 2002,**

million

Population in 2004***

million*

Fertility coefficient***

in 2003*

Population in 2015,*

million

Kazakhstan

14.9

15.0

15.1

1.9

15.2

Kyrgyzstan

3.6

5.0

5.1

2.7

5.8

Uzbekistan

16.0

25.0

26.4

3.0

30.2

Tajikistan

4.0

6.0

7.0

4.1

7.2

Turkmenistan

2.9

5.0

4.9

3.5

5.8

Azerbaijan

6.2

8.0

7.9

2.4

9.3

Turkey

44.5

70.0

68.9

2.0

77.8

Iran

39.1

66.0

69.0

1.9

82.1

Afghanistan

16.0

28.0

28.5

6.7

39.5

Pakistan

82.7

145.0

159.2

4.3

192.9

Oman

1.1

3.0

2.9

5.9

3.3

Yemen

8.5

19.0

29.0

6.8

26.5

Saudi Arabia

9.4

22.0

25.8

4.1

32.1

UAE

1.0

3.0

2.5

3.0

3.8

Qatar

0.7

0.8

3.0

1.2

Bahrain

0.6

0.7

2.7

1.2

Kuwait

1.4

2.0

2.3

3.0

2.9

Iraq

13.0

24.0

25.4

4.4

31.3

Syria

8.7

17.0

18.0

3.6

21.9

Lebanon

3.0

4.0

3.8

2.0

5.2

Jordan

2.2

5.0

5.6

2.9

6.8

Egypt

40.9

66.0

76.0

3.0

80.0

Sudan

18.7

33.0

39.1

5.0

40.0

World as a whole

4, 430.1

6, 199

6, 379

2.6

7, 084.3

Region,

in % of the world

338.3

7.6

572.3

9.2

623.9

9.8

 

722.0

10.2

Sources: * 2001 World Development Indicators, The World Bank, Washington, pp. 44-46; ** The Little Green Data Book 2004, The World Bank, Washington, 2004; *** CIA World Factbook [http://www. odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/countrycode.html].

The central belt of the Muslim world stretching from Turkey to Pakistan has the largest population. The absolute figures of population growth are impressive: from 180 million in 1980 to 300-325 million in 2002-2004. The approximate growth in Turkey was from 45 to 70 million; in Iran, from 40 to 65; in Afghanistan (despite the war and migration), from 16 to nearly 30 million; and in Pakistan, from 80 to 145-150 million. By the middle of the second decade of the 21st century, their combined population size will be nearly 400 million. While in Turkey and Iran the population will grow at a moderate pace, in Afghanistan and Pakistan the process will be much more intensive. This is supported by the current assessments of the fertility coefficient (the number of births per woman between 15 and 45). While in Afghanistan the coefficient is very high, in Pakistan it is inflated. In ten years time, the total population of these two countries (which geographically form a single zone between Central Asia and the Arabian Sea) may reach 240 million. This is fraught with serious problems which will impede economic and social development in this part of the Muslim East.

The number of people living to the west of Afghanistan and Pakistan will grow at a more moderate pace. Due to its younger population, Iran will outstrip Turkey: the fertility coefficients of both countries are almost identical and low (twice as low as that of Pakistan, for example) yet, more likely than not, demographic growth will continue there.

In the past 20-25 years, the population of the northern belt (the Caucasus and Central Asia) has been increasing at a fairly slow pace: from about 50 to 65 million; the annual growth rates there are somewhat lower than the worlds average (their share has dropped from 1.1 to 1 percent). It seems that this trend will go on. The fertility coefficients are very high in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan and compare with those of Pakistan. Uzbekistan, the largest of the local countries in terms of population size, demonstrates an inflated fertility coefficient. By 2015, the combined population of the six local countries may reach the figure of nearly 75 million.

Between 1980 and 2002 the countries of the southern belt greatly increased their populations in absolute and relative figures: from 110 to 200 million and from 2.4 to 3.2 percent (Table 1). According to the CIA World Factbook, the population size of 13 countries of this belt was even larger (232 million, or 3.5 percent) by the beginning of the 21st century. It is forecasted that in 2015 the share will remain the same, while the absolute number will be close to 260 million.

We should bear in mind not only the differences in the two rows of figures (they are considerable for some of the countries, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in particular), but also the fact that non-citizens are also included in the population size. They are especially numerous in the countries rich in petrodollars: Saudi Arabia (5.6 million in 2004), Kuwait (1.3 million), and other Gulf countries. Arabs, mainly from Egypt, predominate among the non-citizens living in Kuwait; and the number of South Asians from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka is very large in the UAE, Oman, and Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan has the largest population in the Muslim East. While in 1980 the difference between its population size and the number of people living in Turkey, Iran, and Egypt was 30-40 million, by 2015, under normal conditions, the gap will be 110-115 million. These countries are still second, third and fourth in terms of population size. In the future, Sudan, Afghanistan, and Yemen, the poorest and least fortunate states of the region, which the U.N. describes as the most underdeveloped ones, will join this group.

When talking about population growth we should bear in mind the two sides of the processthe birth (and the fertility coefficient as the best possible index) and mortality rates (average post-retirement life expectancy calculated according to the mortality rate by age). Significantly, in recent decades post-retirement life expectancy (also described as the average life span) sharply increased. In nearly all the states of the region, with the exception of Afghanistan and Iraq, it exceeded 60 years, while in the mid-20th century it was 35-45 years. Noticeable progress in medicine and health protection in the Muslim East has greatly increased the share of middle-aged and elderly people, thus confronting the state with the problem of the growing number of dependants.

The regions economic level is twice as low as the worlds per capita income. The GDP calculated by the purchasing power parity was 4.8 percent in 2002; the share of the total population is over 9 percent. In the near future, this correlation will hardly change.

The gap calculated by incomes based on the official exchange rates is even wider. The states of the northern belt (with the exception of Kazakhstan) and Pakistan, Yemen, and Sudan belong to the low-income group (under $735). Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria belong to the average low-income group (up to $2,935). The group of countries with average-high incomes (up to $9,076) includes Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Lebanon; Kuwait and Bahrain belong to the group of countries with high incomes. There is no information about the UAE (which is close to the latter category), or about Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The nominal per capita incomes in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan are assessed as being lower than in Yemen and Sudan.

The economic and social development indices (see Table 2) show that many of the regions countries (primarily the oil producers) have a low coefficient of net savings. Here I have in mind a new indicatorcorrected savings minus amortization and uncompensated, from the point of view of society, consumption of natural resources, as well as ecological damage; the funds spent on education are included in net savings. In Iran and the Arab oil producers the savings calculated by this pattern are close to zero or even below zero.

Table 2

Economic and Social Development Indices in the Countries of the Muslim East (estimates for 2002-2003)

Countries

GDP calculated by PPP, billion dollars*

Per capita income according to PPP,

dollars*

Per capita income according to the exchange rate, dollars**

Number of people living below the poverty level (in percent)*

Number of unemployed (in percent)*

Correlated net national savings (in percent of GDP for 2002)**

Kazakhstan

105.5

6,300

1,520

26

8.8

18.3

Kyrgyzstan

7.8

1,600

290

50

7.2

10.5

Uzbekistan

44.0

1,700

310

0.5

46.6

Tajikistan

6.8

1,000

180

60

40

4.8

Turkmenistan

27.9

5,800

34

32.1

Azerbaijan

26.7

3,400

710

49

1,1

35.3

Turkey

458.7

6,700

2,490

18

10.5

9.8

Iran

478.2

7,000

1,720

40

15.7

0.1

Afghanistan

20.0

700

23

Pakistan

318.0

2,100

420

35

7.7

13.4

Oman

36.7

13,100

7,830

11.4

Yemen

15.0

800

490

16

3

Saudi Arabia

287.8

11,800

8530

17.9

UAE

57.7

23,200

Qatar

17.5

21,500

Bahrain

11.3

16,900

10,500

Kuwait

41.6

19,000

16,340

2.1

27.3

Iraq

37.9

1,500

Syria

58.0

3,300

1,130

20

20

13.6

Lebanon

17.8

4,800

3,990

28

18

6.8

Jordan

23.6

4,300

1,760

30

18.2

Egypt

295.2

4,000

1,470

16.7

9.9

2.7

Sudan

71.0

1,900

370

4.8

Total

2,464.2

         

World as a whole

51,480.0

8,208

5,120

8.8

Sources: * CIA World Factbook; ** The Little Green Data Book 2004.

It should be added that most countries of the Muslim East have large defense budgets (from 3 to 5 percent of the GNP, or even up to 10 percent and more). Dual wastefulnessat the stage of using natural resources and at the stage of using the means and capacities for non-production purposesis fraught with numerous problems for the countries with a young population structure and a widening gap between the rich and the poor. The Gini coefficient, which measures statistically the unevenness in income distribution, has come close or even exceeds the critical level of 0.4 in the many of the regions countries for which there is relevant information (0 corresponds to the absence of such unevenness; 1 means complete unevenness).

Sociocultural Changes and Democracy

There are certain positive trends in nearly all the countries of the Muslim East (see Table 3); this is particularly true of the level of female literacy. In the past 12 years, the female literacy index increased from 50 to 69 percent in Saudi Arabia; from 38 to 65 percent in Oman; from 66 to 79 percent in Turkey; from 54 to 70 percent in Iran; and from 48 to 74 percent in Syria. These changes completely correspond to the sums spent on education: in 2002, Saudi Arabia spent 7.2 percent of the GNP on education; Jordan, 5.6 percent, and Kuwait, 5.0 percent.

Table 3

Sociocultural Development Indicators

Country

 

Female literacy (in percent)

 

Number of Internet users (per 1000)

 

The freedom of speech index (number by decreasing index, 167 states)**

 

1990*

2002*

2001*

2002*

 

Kazakhstan

98

99

9

16

131

Kyrgyzstan

30

30

107

Uzbekistan

98

99

8

11

142

Tajikistan

97

99

1

1

95

Turkmenistan

2

 

164

Azerbaijan

3

37

136

Turkey

66

79

60

73

114

Iran

54

70

16

48

158

Afghanistan

97

Pakistan

20

29

4

10

150

Oman

38

65

46

66

Yemen

13

29

135

Saudi Arabia

50

69

46

62

159

UAE

71

81

315

337

137

Qatar

76

82

66

115

105

Bahrain

75

84

203

247

143

Kuwait

73

81

88

106

103

Iraq

1

1

148

Syria

48

74

4

13

155

Lebanon

78

117

87

Jordan

72

86

45

58

121

Egypt

34

44

9

28

129

Sudan

32

49

2

3

132

World as a whole

63

71

106

131

 
           

Sources: * The Little Green Data Book 2004; ** The countries rating by the freedom of speech index [http://www.rating.rbc.ru].

It seems that female literacy is a good indicator of the countries sociocultural state and the degree to which their populations are exposed to contemporary trends. Due to the protracted national crisis, the level of female literacy remains extremely low in Afghanistan (there are no exact figures for this country); it is also low in Pakistan (29 or, according to different sources, 31 percent); in Yemen, 29 percent; in Egypt, 44 percent; and in Sudan, 49 percent. In fact, there has also been some progress in these countries: an increase of about 10 percent in the past 12 years. The absolute growth rate in these countries is less spectacular. It seems that the situation regarding female education has deteriorated across the post-Soviet expanse. For example, the available figures show that in certain new Central Asian states the share of girls attending primary schools has dropped to 84-92 percent.9

Yet there is one more positive circumstance: availability of the latest means of communication and information, primarily the Internet. During 2002 alone, the number of Internet users in some of the countries of the Muslim East increased 2- to 3-fold (4-fold in Egypt). There are 5.1 million Internet users in Turkey, 3.2 million in Iran; 1.9 million in Egypt; 1.5 million in Pakistan; 1.3 million in Saudi Arabia; nearly 0.5 million in Lebanon; and 0.3 million in Jordan.

The Internet is an individual, rather than family, information and communication means. Its revolutionary effect is comparable to cable TV, yet the Internet is free from the limitations of the latter. As far as we know, none of the Muslim Eastern states bans access to the Internet, as distinct from China where such a ban exists.

In terms of the freedom of speech index, nearly all the regions states are found at the bottom of the list. Lebanon and, quite unexpectedly, Tajikistan and Afghanistan (according to the latest assessments) are higher than the rest. Turkey occupies a relatively high place, while Jordan and Egypt are lower than one might have expected.

In terms of the corruption perception index, practically all states of the Muslim East are found at the bottom of the corresponding list. Special polls among businessmen reveal the extent to which bureaucrats are prone to take bribes. This index can hardly be identified exactly, therefore the results of international investigations cannot be taken for absolute. They should not be underestimated either: to some extent they reflect the specifics of state discipline, public morals, and the state of affairs in the economy. Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, and Iran demonstrated the best indices among their neighbors in the Muslim East; Pakistan and the Central Asian countries, the worst.

The situation regarding freedom of speech and corruption demonstrates, in an indirect way, that the civil society culture in these countries is comparatively low. At the same time, elements of a new political culture can be clearly discerned. The third wave of democratization that started, according to Huntington, in the mid-1970s is gradually enveloping (with a time lag of 20 to 30 years) the Muslim East. This refers not only to the change of the form of government.

Constitutionally these countries represent a variety of regimes: there are four absolute monarchies (Saudi Arabia is one of them); three are constitutional monarchies, six are presidential republics in which the president wields real complete executive power; eight are republics of a mixed (presidential-parliamentary) type, while Turkey and Lebanon are parliamentary republics.

Parliamentarism is not widespread in the region, yet there is an obvious trend toward it. In the past five years, 15 countries elected their parliaments (including the three constitutional monarchiesBahrain, Kuwait, and Jordanand four post-Soviet republics). In 2005, parliamentary elections will take place in six countries, including Iraq. Few of the local political systems can be described as competitive multiparty ones, yet nearly all of them have extra-parliamentary centers of power and influence (represented by the court, president, army, clergy, and party-bureaucratic nomenklatura).

Federalism is weakly developed in all the regions political and administrative systems; unitary structures predominate despite the fact that many of the local states are polyethnic. Apart from the UAE, which is a federation of absolute monarchies, Pakistan is the only unitary-federative state; only Azerbaijan and Tajikistan have federative elements in the form of Nakhichevan and Gorny Badakhshan.

It should be said that in the past 15 years, two statesLebanon and Tajikistanmanaged to overcome the state of a civil fratricidal war independently, even though with some external support. When semi (or pre-) democratic order is established in Afghanistan and Iraq (the latter may become a unitary-federative state with the Kurdish autonomy) Turkmenistan will become the only regional state without civil (free from total state control) sociopolitical structures. It should be said that they are highly varied and highly specific. Specificity is often ascribed to the Muslim state, while it is Muslim society that is specific. Its specific features belong to two levels: historical (connected with the traditional democracy of the caste, clan, tribe, and neighbor communities) and structural (created by elements selected from the worlds democratic arsenal).

It is recognized that civil societies may display specific features in the global, regional, and country contexts.10 It is believed that no society will voluntarily abandon its cultural and cultural-political traditions; normally it is recognized that all societies should share some comparable political features. The main demands are made on the state, on the way it communicates with its population and individual citizens. Meanwhile, this can hardly be resolved in an unambiguous way. Independence is the universal trait of an individual within any culture, therefore the main difference, the most important for progress, is the difference between the state of freedom and the state of fear, that is, between the degree of freedom of an individual and his fear of power. In the East, where the individual does not stand opposed to a collective (be it a small community or the state) but voluntarily or unconsciously blends with it, the antithesis of the state-the individual is replaced with the state-collective of individuals or non-individuals formula. The latter deprives the Muslim Easts determinism to follow the general democratic development path of its rigidity.

It seems, however, that the prevalence of collective psychology and passivity toward the state belongs to passing (albeit slowly) historical circumstances. It will weaken as the share of the socially active middle class grows. It is composed of fairly educated, well-off, and socially and economically independent people. The Muslim countries will probably acquire their own idea about individualism and civil society and their own specific structure of its basic cells. We should not expect the state and society to blindly copy alien patterns, but nor will they reject the experience of democratic development accumulated elsewhere in the world.


1 See: V. Bartold, Islam i kultura musulmanstva, Moscow, 1992, pp. 131-133. Back to text
2 See: D.B. Malysheva uses this term. See, for example, her article Islamskiy faktor v politike razvivaiushchikhsia stran i Rossii, in: Meniaiushchiysia mir i Rossia, Moscow, 2004, p. 73. Back to text
3 See: G. Avondo Bodino, Economic Applications of the Theory of Graphs, Gordon and Breach, New York, 1962. Back to text
4 See: G. Kemp, R. Harkavy, Strategic Geography and the Changing Middle East, Washington, 1997, pp. 111-112. Back to text
5 See: D.B. Barrett, T.M. Johnson, Annual Table of World Religions, 1900-2025 [http://www.wnrf.org/cms/statuswr.shtml]. Back to text
6 On the Eurasian Balkans, see: Z. Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard. American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives, Basic Books, New York, 1997. Chapter 5. For more details about Islamic fundamentalism and Islamist populism see his new book: The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership, Basic Books, New York, 2004. Back to text
7 A.G. Dugin, Filosofia politiki, Moscow, 2004, p. 361. Back to text
8 About the revolution and its repercussions, see: Iranskaia revoliutsia 1978-1979. Prichiny i uroki, ed. by A.Z. Arabajan, Moscow, 1989. Back to text
9 See: The Little Green Data Book 2004, pp. 120, 126. Back to text
10 See, in particular: J. Keane, Global Civil Society? Cambridge, 2003. Back to text

SCImago Journal & Country Rank
 - Advertorial UP - E-MAIL