The key variable that we continually ignore in our discussions about democratization in the Middle East are the crucial mechanisms of authority that are needed to maintain order and control within any society. To avert chaos, humanity has created a plethora of structures that give a minority of people the ability to control the masses. The modern state along with its many appendages (like the political party) is merely one of those structures. The family, tribe and clan are other structures. Religious institutions are yet another. Even corporations and other forms of modern organizations such as labor unions are mechanisms that help bring about some sort of order in society.
In all countries and societies there is a unique concoction of these institutions that bring about order. But you do see trends that cross borders. For example, modern organizations and the modern state are most productively (and democratically) utilized in what is referred to as “the West.” However, the question that we need to tackle as advocates for reform in the broader
Whether a state is authoritarian or liberal-democratic is irrelevant to leaders of tribal and religious institutions. A Sheikh who heads a tribe would find any manifestation of the state (be it liberal or authoritarian) as an annoyance since it ultimately curtails his freedoms to do as he wishes. The same applies to religious sheikhs, who see it as their God-given right to control and direct their "flocks" as they see fit (politically as well as religiously). In the eyes of both types of leaders, the end result of a modern state is the same: curtailment of their powers. Therefore, as mentioned above, they will do everything within their powers to curtail the development of a state, or if such a feat is impossible, mold the state in such a way so as to give them as much authority as possible.
This Lebanese situation is probably the best case scenario for