Last week, a very lively Doha Debate discussed the role of Arab governments in maintaining order in countries such as Libya. While there was optimism that Arab countries a making great progress towards credibility on the world stage, the majority of the audience wanted Arab governments to have a limited role, claiming that their own governments lacked both the power and commitment to protect civilians in Libya, and the task is best left to NATO.
In the following video from the Council on Foreign Relations, African Union Commission chair Jean Ping discusses the impact of the so-called “Arab Spring” on the continent, and the AU’s role in Libya.
Given the constraints on the AU, it seems up to the West, and countries like Canada, to offer its support to a Middle East that strives for democracy and good government. A recent Globe and Mail editorial reads: “Canada should be an agent of change in those countries in which a transformation from autocracy to democracy is most likely to happen. Tunisia is one such country. Egypt, with 80 million people, is pivotal.”
Indeed, it is in Canada and the West’s best interest to be catalysts of the explosive change that has begun in the Arab world, simply because we all benefit from a free and democratic world.