Here’s historic news from the Middle East: the civilian government in Turkey this week is naming all the new commanders of the armed forces, following a century of military-led or -dominated rule.
This is not an isolated incident, in terms of civilians asserting greater power vis-à-vis their military establishments. In the entire Middle East today, we may be witnessing an extraordinary phenomenon that only occurs occasionally. The whole region – most Arab states, Iran, Turkey and Israel – is in the midst of national corrections and, in some cases, reconfigurations in the exercise of power, as citizens come to grips with the weaknesses, failures and inequities of their past ways.
A lucky few – the non-Arabs mainly – experienced credible democracy in some periods and to some extent, while the Arab majority never did. These states do not share a common narrative or legacy, yet they do share the current reality of simultaneously passing through a moment of profound structural change that will succeed if it reflects the will of the majority of citizens in all of them.