Sep 26, 2012

All Politics Is Not Local In The Middle East

"All politics is local" is a common phrase in U.S. politics and it only makes sense in the context of the United States and some European countries. When it comes to the Middle Eastern politics, this phrase withers away and becomes meaningless.

Probably, nowhere is more diverse and tourist-centered with restaurants and foods from around the world than New York City, specifically Times Square. People from different part of the world like Asia, the Middle East, South Asia and Europe have their businesses and street markets. They keep the city clean, civilized, and always do their best to please their customers.

Now, imagine New York City in terms of culture, religion and races, but when it comes to voting, and paying taxes, these differences do not matter. What is important to the citizens of New York City is raising taxes, the job market, education, Wall Street, health care, and many other minor issues on an individual level. At this point, candidates knock on the doors of new-yorkers, and where local politics matter more than anything else. At this level, democracy rings true, candidates or leaders begin to know their people, understand their problems, and listen to them, and people also start knowing their leaders. This is how a democratic society should work and it works in the United States very well. There is only one reason that makes people care about politics: their taxes. The politics of U.S. taxes influence local taxes first, then national politics and then international politics.

Now, why are all politics not local in the Middle East and North Africa?
First, most countries in the Middle East are not democratic; leaders do not have a strong connection with their people. Six countries in the Middle East are under absolute monarchy. Those are: the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Kingdom of Jordan, the State of Kuwait, the Sultanate of Oman, the State of Qatar, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In North Africa, Morocco is the only monarchy. The rest of the countries like Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Iran have despotic rulers which if are not worse than monarchy are not better either. In monarchy and despotic systems, people’s voices are not heard and their votes do not matter.

Second, in several countries in the Middle East people do not pay taxes. If citizens of a country do not pay taxes, they feel less responsibility towards their governments. They restrict the freedom of their citizens; they forbid women from driving or appearing in the public without male companions, like in Saudi Arabia. The government instead of collecting taxes gives money to its citizens. This makes the citizens more willing to let their governments do whatever they want to do.

Therefore, all politics is not local in the Middle East because of these disparities among governments and their citizens. Citizens in the Middle East unfortunately live with the absence of democracy and freedom. They are oppressed and suppressed by tyrannical regimes. In conclusion, the Middle East contrast that all politics is not local, yet it matters in the United States.

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