Lecture on the Question of Democracy in the Arab World

Politics Professor at Princeton University and Director of the Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for Peace and Justice Amaney Jamal lectured on March 16, 2016 on the question of democracy promotion in the Arab states within the hierarchy in the international system, the Arab dependency on the U.S., and the U.S.’s geostrategic interests.

Organized by the Faculty of Law and Public Administration, the Political Science Department and Abu Lughud Institute for International Studies, Jamal’s lecture reviewed the main pointsof her book “Of Empires and Citizens.”

The book examined the political systems in Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Palestine, and Saudi Arabia to explore how Arab citizens decide to back existing regimes, regime transitions, democratization projects, and how the global position of Arab states shapes people's attitudes toward their governments.

Jamal questioned bottom-up approaches to democratization, which assume that states are autonomous units in the world order and are completely reliant on the U.S..

The study concluded that in Arab states that are completely dependent on the US for both security and economic needs, only pro-American- democracy will be permitted to influence their governments.

“The U.S. benefits economically and strategically from the dependency relationships it has inherited and created in the Middle East,” she explained. “Therefore, the U.S. strives to maintain a status quo rather than supporting regime change if the relationship with the country serves its interests.”

Amaney A. Jamal is the Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Politics at Princeton University and director of the Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for Peace and Justice. Jamal also directs the Workshop on Arab Political Development. She currently is president of the Association of Middle East Women’s Studies (AMEWS). Her interests include the study of Muslim and Arab Americans and the pathways that structure their patterns of civic engagement in the U.S., and democratization and the politics of civic engagement in the Arab world.