Since the start of the new millennium, Arab countries have been affected by the US-led 'war on terror' and the pressures exerted by the US administration, which calls for political reforms and the spreading of democracy in the Middle East as part of its counter-terrorism campaign. In addition, Arab nations are experiencing the repercussions arising from the invasion of Iraq and the rebuilding of its political system. Along with these external effects, these countries are concurrently witnessing internal developments represented by the growing power of political Islam and the rise of popular movements and civil society organizations demanding democracy, freedom and human rights.
In the context of these sociopolitical changes underway in the Arab world, it is vital to have an understanding of the dynamics, complexities and obstacles involved in spreading democracy in the region. This book examines the role of Arab political institutions, the influence of non-governmental organizations in furthering change and progress and the role played by the forces of political Islam in the process of transformation. Other matters closely related to the issue of modernization in Arab countries are also discussed, such as the importance of education as a basis for change and the potential role of Arab women in the field of development. Thus, the book contributes to the growing internal discussion on the issues of change, reform and modernization, which will shape the form and future of communities in the Arab world.