The Strategist’s guest blogger, Chris Chapman, returns with his second post! It begins just below…
Recently, a group of Washington, DC-based analysts and academics gathered for a seminar devoted to the “Next Generation” in the Middle East and North Africa. The seminar focused on issues related to demographic pressures in the region, the impact of youth led revolutionary movements, and the role of ideologies. The topics spurred conversations on the necessity of youth involvement in the political process. After being so vital to the uprising and push for change in countries, many youth still feel alienated and ignored politically. It is unreasonable to believe the major voice of change in these states can be marginalized during the transition period. But how can their revolutionary energy get redirected into political and civic participation? This was a focus of discussion amongst the seminar participants and is vital to achieving stability.
Unfortunately, the youth in these states see the government and political process as corrupt. There is a clear need in these transitioning nations for the next generation of leaders to become active participants in politics at all levels, as well as within civil society. They have insights and ideas for how to solve their nation’s biggest issues, which will be the issues that define their lifetime. Their continued exclusion from the political process will breed the anger and resentment which brought them out to protest initially.
The task of inclusion in newly formed governments is not simple. For instance, the United States, the world’s oldest democratic society, has struggled to get younger generations involved in the political process. In the Middle East and North Africa, the youth are blocked by established hierarchies, entrenched elites, and internal division. All in all, the region encourages the young to stay on the street. This rising generation will need to forge their own way into the political process or else risk being silenced after having achieved so much.
Chris Chapman is currently a Research Intern at the NESA Center and an M.A. candidate at American University’s School of International Service. Please note that the views expressed in this piece do not represent the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.