Is Political Islam the answer? Reconstruction in the Middle East

“There is the issue of compatibility of Islam and democracy”, but in the recent past, the people of the Middle East have “spoken loudly about rejecting strongmen and have pushed out dictators.”

But what does the political future of the Middle East hold? And what kind of system of governance could mend the broken pieces of a region shattered by conflict, disenfranchisement and sectarianism?

Professor Sultan Barakat (Director, Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies, Doha Institute) cautions that while autocratic regimes have passed their zenith, monarchies did not go through the same trajectory.

Yet Professor Barakat sees the biggest opportunity for a peaceful political future of the Middle East in a prolonged exploration of Political Islam and democracy. Previous attempts of Islamic democratic governments in Algeria, Egypt and Jordan largely failed “because they were not given the opportunity to continue a term,” Barakat argues. But with at least one full term in office and fundamental changes in the way Islamic ideology approaches statecraft, he sees great potential for Political Islam to advance political reconstruction in the Middle East.

Sultan Barakat is the Director of the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies and Professor at the University of York.

The interview was recorded in Amsterdam on June 22nd, 2016.