The upending of longstanding authoritarian regimes in Arab countries has created new opportunities but also new uncertainties for this region; while the Arab Spring has opened the path to democracy, it has also opened the door to the possibilities of extremism or ethno-sectarian conflict. Drawing upon lessons from previous democratization efforts around the world over the last four decades, RAND's Laurel Miller and Jeffery Martini discuss the challenges ahead for democracy in the region as the countries rebuild, work to find a balance between the roles of civilian and military authorities, and include Islamist voices in the democratic process. Reasons for cautious optimism abound, but internal dynamics in the region will drive what eventually unfolds.
"There are some steps the US and international community can take to offer practical assistance in support of democratization... but, there are real limits to what any outside actors can do to affect the course of democratization in these countries."
— Laurel Miller, senior policy analyst