December 17, 2020 marked the tenth anniversary of the start of the Arab uprisings in Tunisia. Beginning in 2011, mass uprisings swept North Africa and the Middle East, spreading from the shores of Tunisia to Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, and the Eastern Province of the Arabian Peninsula. A “second wave” of mass protests and uprisings manifested during 2019 in Sudan, Algeria, Lebanon, and Iraq. The persistence of demands for popular sovereignty even in the face of re-entrenched authoritarianism, imperial intervention, and civil strife is a critical chapter in regional and global history. 

This is part of an effort to mark, interrogate, and reflect on the Arab uprisings, we launch a yearlong set of events, reflections, and conversations. We hope to produce resources for educators, researchers, students, and journalists to understand the last decade of political upheaval historically and in the lived present. For more, visit

This is the second of six parts of a series that presents peer-reviewed articles concerned with the Arab uprisings published in 2010-2020 from our peer-reviewed articles database. In this installment, we highlight those focusing on the theories and framings drawn around the uprisings.


From Islamists to Muslim Democrats: The Case of Tunisia’s Ennahda

By: Sharan Grewal

Published in American Political Science Review Volume 114, Issue 2 (2020)

Abstract: What drives some Islamists to become “Muslim Democrats,” downplaying religion and accepting secular democracy? This article hypothesizes that one channel of ideological change is migration to secular democracies. Drawing on an ideal point analysis of parliamentary votes from the Tunisian Islamist movement Ennahda, I find that MPs who had lived in secular democracies held more liberal voting records than their counterparts who had lived only in Tunisia. In particular, they were more likely to defend freedom of conscience and to vote against enshrining Islamic law in the constitution. Interviews with several of these MPs demonstrate that they recognize a causal effect of their experiences abroad on their ideologies, and provide support for three distinct mechanisms by which this effect may have occurred: socialization, intergroup contact, and political learning.

US Media Darlings: Arab and Muslim Women Activists, Exceptionalism and the “Rescue Narrative”

By: Ahlam Muhtaseb

Published in Arab Studies Quarterly Volume 42, Issue 1-2 (2020)

Abstract: Using critical textual analysis based on the postcolonial school of thought, this essay analyzed a ten-minute segment, called “Women of the Revolution,” on the ABC news program This Week, anchored at that time by Christiane Amanpour, for its portrayals of Arab and Muslim women. The analysis showed that Arab and Muslim women were portrayed positively only when they fit a “media-darling” trope of Western-educated Arab or Muslim women, or those who looked and acted similar to Western women, especially if they ascribed to a Western view of feminism. Those women also were seen as the exception to the “repressive” culture that characterizes the Arab and Muslim worlds, according to the Orientalist stereotype. The implications of this analysis indicate that, in spite of the visibility and progress of many Arab and Muslim women in their countries and indigenous cultures, they are still framed within old recycled molds in US mainstream media, even if these seem positive at face value.

Magical realism and metafiction in Post-Arab spring literature: narratives of discontent or celebration?

By: Abida Younas

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 47, Issue 4 (2020)

Abstract: My study is an attempt to examine recent developments in post-Arab Spring fiction by Anglo-Arab immigrant authors. Instead of conforming to the traditional narrative modes and strategies, post-Arab Spring literature provides a bitter evaluation of the so-called Arab Spring and deconstructs the revolutionary rhetoric that heralds a new era for the Arab world by producing a counter-narrative. The selected novels, Karim Alrawi’s Book of Sands and Youssef Rakha’s The Crocodiles, use peculiar strategies to portray the fractured and cryptic realities of the Arab world. Written within the framework of realism, utilizing the literary strategies of postmodern literature, these writers unsettle the boundaries of literary genres and give rise to diverse phenomenal trends in Arab fiction. Using magical realism, Alrawi expands the traditional realist narrative style by blending realist elements with magical. By employing metafiction, Rakha formally exhibits the precarious scenario of the Arab world. Drawing on the theory of Magical Realism and Metafiction, these works are investigated in order to emphasize how this new writing reflects the unstable reality of the Arab Spring. While it is too early to discern the characteristics of Post-Arab Spring literature, my research is a contribution to developing a framework in which to do so.

Orientalism and binary discursive representations of Tunisia’s democratization: the need for a “continuity and change” paradigm

By: Hanen Keskes, Alexander P. Martin

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 47, Issue 4 (2020)

Abstract: Mainstream analyses of Tunisia’s post-2011 democratic transition have been largely divided along two mutually exclusive narratives. There are those hailing the country as ‘the Arab Spring’s only success story’ on the one hand and those sounding sensationalist alarms about the country’s democratization failure and return to authoritarianism on the other. This is consistent with, and perpetuates, a problematic zero-sum binary in Middle East and North Africa (MENA) scholarship between either a linear democratization process or authoritarian resilience. Furthermore, these reductionist representations highlight the failure of predominant democratization theories to account for the nuances and complexities of democratic transition. This paper critically examines the binary discursive representations of Tunisia’s democratization and explores their underpinning in two competing Orientalisms: the classic Orientalism underscoring an ontological difference (and inferiority) of the ‘Arab world’ to the West, and a liberal civilizing Orientalism which, while acknowledging an ‘essential sameness’ between the West and the ‘Arab world’, places the West as the temporal pinnacle of democracy and the normative monitor of democratic success. This paper thus rejects the binary discursive representations of Tunisia’s transition and advocates for a more nuanced narrative which accounts for the patterns of continuity with and change from authoritarian structures within the democratization process.

Deliberating in difficult times: lessons from public forums in Turkey in the aftermath of the Gezi protests

By: Meral Ugur-Cinar, Cisem Gunduz-Arabaci

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 47, Issue 2 (2020)

Abstract: This study examines the prospects of public deliberation in a semi-authoritarian political context and unfavourable political cultural setting through an in-depth analysis of three public forums taking place in the aftermath of the 2013 Gezi Protests. This analysis shows that while the gains of deliberation in terms of influencing policy decision-making are limited, significant gains can still be reached in terms of creating a more civic public and a more strongly connected civil society that keeps its linkages with social movements. The study also finds that such forums can help create dialogue among distant segments of the society even though such interactions are still rather modest. These findings have implications for public deliberation in other non-deliberative settings as they open new areas of research in terms of the prospects of such forums in increasing social capital, pluralism and civicness.

Proliferation of neopatrimonial domination in Turkey

By: Fatih Çağatay Cengiz

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 47, Issue 4 (2020)

Abstract: Literature on Turkey’s post-2011 authoritarian turn – especially after the eruption of the 2013 nationwide Gezi Protests – adopts modern concepts such as ‘dictatorship’, ‘authoritarianism’, ‘totalitarianism’, ‘one-party government’, ‘party-state fusion’, and even ‘fascism’ mainly in order to pin down the nature of the Justice and Development Party (AKP, Turkish acronym) or depict the current character of Turkey’s regime. Through engaging the pre-modern concept of neopatrimonialism, which is derived from Max Weber’s concept of patrimonialism, this paper argues that Turkey’s encounter with authoritarianism is deeply associated with the proliferation of neopatrimonial domination, into which the legacy of patronage politics, fracture of security power, and the metastasis of crony capitalism have been conflated. This article argues that neopatrimonial features have always, to a degree, marked state-society relations in Turkey. Furthermore, this article suggests neopatrimonial characteristics started to dominate Turkey’s modern legal structure under the AKP, which led to a state crisis culminating in the 2016 attempted coup. However, despite the fact that neopatrimonialism cannot be argued as a pathological deviation from modern-legal domination, this paper concludes that tension exists between the crony capitalism-based economic model of neopatrimonalism and Turkey’s decades-long market-based capitalism.

The Future is a Moving Target: Predicting Political Instability

By: Drew Bowlsby, Erica Chenoweth, Cullen Hendrix, Jonathan D. Moyer

Published in British Journal of Political Science  Volume 50, Issue 4 (2020)

Abstract: Previous research by Goldstone et al. (2010) generated a highly accurate predictive model of state-level political instability. Notably, this model identifies political institutions – and partial democracy with factionalism, specifically – as the most compelling factors explaining when and where instability events are likely to occur. This article reassesses the model’s explanatory power and makes three related points: (1) the model’s predictive power varies substantially over time; (2) its predictive power peaked in the period used for out-of-sample validation (1995–2004) in the original study and (3) the model performs relatively poorly in the more recent period. The authors find that this decline is not simply due to the Arab Uprisings, instability events that occurred in autocracies. Similar issues are found with attempts to predict nonviolent uprisings (Chenoweth and Ulfelder 2017) and armed conflict onset and continuation (Hegre et al. 2013). These results inform two conclusions: (1) the drivers of instability are not constant over time and (2) care must be exercised in interpreting prediction exercises as evidence in favor or dispositive of theoretical mechanisms.

Threat Perception and Democratic Support in Post-Arab Spring Egypt

By: Shimaa Hatab

Published in Comparative Politics Volume 53, Issue 1 (2020)

Abstract: The article examines the reasons why Egyptian elites and masses withdrew their support for democracy only two years after they staged mass protests calling for regime change in 2011. I draw on basic tenets of bounded rationality and recent advances within the field of cognitive heuristics to demonstrate how cues generated from domestic and regional developments triggered stronger demands for security and stability. Drawing on elite interviews and public opinion surveys, I show how both elites and the masses paid special attention to intense and vivid events which then prompted a demand for the strong man model. Fears of Islamists pushed both elites and masses to update their preferences, seek refuge in old regime bargains, and reinstate authoritarianism.

Current Legacies of Colonial Violence and Racialization in Tunisia

By: Benoît Challand

Published in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East Volume 40, Issue 2 (2020)

Abstract: The article argues that the social life of racialization in Tunisia can be traced back to colonial norms and that one cannot speak of racialization in isolation of class differentials, elements that arose historically with the spread of the tandem colonialism-capitalism in North Africa. From a direct form of racialized violence leaving Muslim Tunisians on the low end of the colonial social ladder of worth, salaries, and the right to life, one moved to a more symbolic form of violence, with the south of the country quasi-racialized as less valuable than the urban coastal areas around Tunis and the Sahel in contemporary Tunisia. In a polity that reached independence more than six decades ago, one can witness the perpetuation of a north-south divide that dates back to the colonial times; but a historical reading of racialized brutality can help us recognize a distinct tradition of activism, in particular trade union activism around the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) and protests in the southern part of the country, such as the one that led to the ousting of dictator Ben Ali in 2011. Through a discussion of diachronic forms of racialization, the article suggests that Giorgio Agamben’s focus on juridical issues of exception is partly misleading, for many forms of exception arise outside of the realm of emergency.

The “Arab Exceptionalism” Re-examined from the Legal Perspective of Human Rights

By: Antonio-Martín Porras-Gómez

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 13, Issue 2 (2020)

Abstract: The study re-examines the phenomenon of “Arab exceptionalism” from the perspective of human rights’ recognition. The formal changes introduced since 2004 in the new Arab bills of rights (comprising the Arab Charter on Human Rights plus the bills of rights of the new constitutions of Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt) are presented and analyzed with the purpose of answering the following questions: From a descriptive–analytical perspective, are the new Arab bills of rights adopting similar designs? From a formal perspective, do these new designs imply a shift with respect to previous patterns of Arab exceptionalism? Finally, from an explanatory perspective, is there an evolutionary rationale accounting for the specific designs adopted in the new Arab bills of rights?

Hopes and disappointments: regime change and support for democracy after the Arab Uprisings

By: M. Tahir Kilavuz, Nathanael Gratias Sumaktoyo

Published in Democratization Volume 27, Issue 5 (2020)

Abstract: What happened to citizens’ support for democracy after the Arab Uprisings? Did the support increase, stay the same, or actually decrease after all the protests, regime changes, and reforms? Which theories of citizens’ political attitudes best explain these dynamics? Analysing two waves of the Arab Barometer surveys and employing an item-response method that offers methodological improvements compared to previous studies, this article finds that support for democracy actually decreased in countries that successfully overthrew their dictators during the Uprisings. Following the arguments that emphasize the rational evaluations of citizens, it argues that in countries that had an experience with a freer political system, such as Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen, challenges of democratization and the poor political and economic performances of the governments left citizens disappointed. Despite the hopes that people had at the onset of the Uprisings, the disappointments generated by the unmet expectations eventually led to a decline in support for democracy.

Autocracy login: internet censorship and civil society in the digital age

By: Chun-Chih Chang, Thung-Hong Lin

Published in Democratization Volume 27, Issue 5 (2020)

Abstract: This study discusses whether the internet contributes to the rise of civil society or provides the state with a means to suppress civil society. By examining cross-sectional time-series data of 153 countries from 1995 to 2018, this study demonstrates that internet censorship is a reactive strategy used by autocracies to suppress civil society. Although rapid internet diffusion might undermine internet censorship in autocracies, since the Arab Spring, the use of censorship as a political reaction to technological diffusion and contentious politics worldwide has damaged the development of civil society. The autocratic reactive approach contributes to our understanding of information and communication technology, civil society, and authoritarianism. A more nuanced illustration of internet politics delivers a warning of technological threats to civil society.

Mobile emergency rule in Turkey: legal repression of protests during authoritarian transformation

By: Mert Arslanalp, T. Deniz Erkmen

Published in Democratization Volume 27, Issue 6 (2020)

Abstract: One of the challenges of autocratizing governments in regimes with nominally democratic institutions is how to repress fundamental democratic rights while claiming to uphold the rule of law. Post-9/11 socio-legal debates point to the emergency rule as a legal framework within democratic constitutions that can be potentially used to hollow out citizens’ rights. But the study of emergency rule is often limited to its enactment under extraordinary situations. This article takes the crucial case of Turkey’s authoritarian transformation and develops the concept of mobile emergency rule to argue that emergency-like suspensions of rights also occur in highly localized and temporary forms in the absence of an officially declared state of emergency. Based on an original dataset, it examines all legal bans on protests issued by authorities between 2007 and 2018 in the name of maintaining order and security. The results illustrate how the use of this tool dovetailed with key turning points of authoritarian transformation in Turkey and reflected the changing needs of the regime as it tried to build and sustain a new hegemonic project. In effect, mobile emergency rule created a highly ambiguous terrain for protest rights even before the declaration of state of emergency in July 2016.

Insecurity and political values in the Arab world

By: Melani Cammett, Ishac Diwan, Irina Vartanova

Published in Democratization Volume 27, Issue 5 (2020)

Abstract: Within a few years of the historic Arab uprisings of 2011, popular mobilization dissipated amidst instability in many Arab countries. We trace the relationship between shifting macro-political conditions and individual-level political values in the Middle East, demonstrating that a preference for democracy and political trust are not fixed cultural features of populations but rather can shift rapidly in the face of perceived insecurity. Our empirical analyses employ longitudinal data from the Arab Barometer covering 13 countries and data from the 2015 World Values Survey, which includes both Arab and non-Arab countries in order to benchmark regional developments against global patterns. Our findings contribute to the growing body of research on the political effects of insecurity and oppose culturalist depictions of fixed political attitudes among Muslims in narrow perspectives on the relationship between Islam and democracy.

Supporting the Tunisian transition? Analysing (in)consistencies in EU democracy assistance with a tripartite nexus model

By: Elisabeth Johansson-Nogués, Adrià Rivera Escartin

Published in Democratization Volume 27, Issue 8 (2020)

Abstract: This article puts forth a new heuristic model for analysing the EU’s democracy assistance to non-accession countries. The EU’s democracy assistance has predominantly been scrutinized in academia through the so-called democratization-stability dilemma, whereby allegedly the EU is found to single-mindedly promote regime stability to the detriment of democracy. Nevertheless, we argue that this conceptualization falls short of analysing the full dynamics of EU democracy assistance. Our contribution provides an alternative to the traditional conceptualization of EU democracy assistance, by proposing three alternative nexuses of analysis: formal/substantive democracy, elite/non-elite engagement and security/stability. We apply this new analytical framework to the study of EU’s democracy assistance to Tunisia from 2011 to date. While EU’s political and financial investment in the transition has been considerable in the three nexuses, negative interaction effects have generated several inconsistencies that affected several areas of EU’s democracy assistance.

Youth quotas and “Jurassic Park” politicians: age as a heuristic for vote choice in Tunisia’s new democracy

By: Kirstie Lynn Dobbs

Published in Democratization Volume 27, Issue 6 (2020)

Abstract: Countries that undergo a democratic transition often adopt youth quotas to ensure stability and legitimacy in the eyes of a potentially rebellious youth cohort. Tunisia followed this trend by instating a youth quota after undergoing a youth-led democratic revolution in 2011. This subsequently led to youth representing 52% of the candidates (aged 18–35) in the 2018 municipal elections. However, it has yet to be tested whether a candidate’s age matters when evaluating politicians and casting a ballot in elections among Tunisian voters. This article explores the link between age and candidate evaluations which has been largely understudied in the political behaviour literature. Using an original survey experiment fielded in Tunisia, I run a series of regressions that model the relationship between several age treatments and candidate evaluations. Overall, I find that most Tunisians do not use age as a heuristic cue when evaluating political candidates running for office with the exception of the oldest voters who tend to prefer a candidate that is in their 50s. These results showcase the potential limitations of youth quotas serving as a mechanism ascertaining governmental legitimacy in the eyes of young people.

On the ‘Arab Inequality Puzzle’: The Case of Egypt

By: Gilbert Achcar

Published in Development and Change Volume 51, Issue 3 (2020)

Abstract: This article surveys and discusses prominent protagonists of the debate on socio‐economic inequality in the Arab region, with a special focus on the World Bank and Egypt. According to official data, the region holds remarkably low Gini coefficients in a context of declining inequality. This contradicts the popular perception of high social inequality as a major cause of regional protests since the Arab Spring; hence the reference to a ‘puzzle’ in mainstream literature. The debate about the reality of social inequality in the region has developed since 2011 — particularly in regard to Egypt, where income and consumption data are periodically collected by means of household surveys. Inequality measures based on this method alone, while income taxation data are inaccessible, are highly questionable and conflict with various observations and calculations based on other indicators such as national accounts, executive income or house prices. Yet, the World Bank upholds official inequality findings in portraying the Arab upheaval as the revolt of a ‘middle class’ that aspires to greater business freedom, in consonance with the neoliberal worldview.

Roles, identity, and security: foreign policy contestation in monarchical Kuwait

By: Sean Yom

Published in European Journal of International Relations Volume 26, Issue 2 (2020)

Abstract: The 2011–2012 Arab Spring posed an existential threat to the Gulf Cooperation Council’s six monarchies. A major response was the 2012 GCC Internal Security Pact, an innovative project to enhance cross-border repression of domestic opposition and thus bolster collective security. Yet despite its historic weakness, ongoing domestic unrest, and initial enthusiasm for the agreement, Kuwait’s monarchy did not ultimately ratify the accord. Building on theories of foreign policy roles and identity, this article presents an ideational explanation for this puzzle. The Security Pact failed because it sparked identity contestation. For many Kuwaitis, the prospect of the Sabah monarchy imposing this scheme for greater repression was incompatible with the regime’s historical role of tolerating domestic pluralism and protecting Kuwait from foreign pressures. This role conception of a tolerant protector flowed from historical understandings and collective memory and was cognitively tied to a national self-conception of “Kuwaiti-ness.” The mobilizational scope and symbolic power of this popular opposition convinced the regime to acquiesce, despite possessing the strategic incentive and resources to impose the treaty by force. The Kuwaiti case therefore exemplifies how domestic contestation over regime identities and roles can constrain foreign policy behavior, even in authoritarian states facing severe crises of insecurity.

Cross-Class and Cross-Ideological Convergences over Time: Insights from the Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutionary Uprisings

By: Gianni Del Panta

Published in Government and Opposition Volume 55, Issue 4 (2020)

Abstract: The 2010–11 Arab uprisings continue to prompt a great deal of discussion. By focusing specifically on Tunisia and Egypt, this article aims to present a more dynamic account of revolutionary moments in these countries. It does so in two ways. First, the changing nature of structures and mechanisms of authoritarian domination over time is explored. Second, the convergences of different social classes and political forces during the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt are not treated as unique and static occurrences. By showing how the two revolutionary networks gradually emerged and enlarged, a truer picture is thus provided. By doing so, this article aims to contribute to a more nuanced interpretation of the two revolutionary outbursts and to the development of the fourth generation of revolutionary studies.

Democratic disillusionment? Desire for democracy after the Arab uprisings

By: Niels Spierings

Published in International Political Science Review Volume 41, Issue 4 (2020)

Abstract: Have the Arab uprisings influenced the desire for democracy in the Middle East and North Africa? This study presents a systematic explanation of the different impact the uprisings had on people’s desire for democracy across the region. It applies the relatively new consequence-based theory of democratic attitudes, and integrates the notion of deprivation into it. The expectations derived from this framework are tested empirically by examining data from 45 public opinion surveys in 11 Middle East and North Africa countries (2001–2014) and combining them with a systematic country-level case comparison. The study shows that the desire for democracy drops mainly in countries of major protest and initial political liberalization, but no substantial democratization (e.g. Egypt, Morocco) indeed, and that a lack of major protest or initial reform (e.g. Algeria, Yemen) ‘prevents’ disillusionment. The seemingly exceptional Lebanese and Tunisian cases also show the mechanism holds for specific groups in society: Lebanese Sunnis and the poorest Tunisians.

Jihad as a Form of Political Protest: Genesis and Current Status

By: Evgeny I. Zelenev, Leonid Issaev

Published in Iran and the Caucasus Volume 24, Issue 3 (2020)

Abstract: This article presents the evolution of the concepts of jihād from the minimalist and maximalist approaches. In the present article one can find two conceptions: the conception of liminality and the conception of re-Islamisation. Liminality is a form of structural crisis that appears as a result of the split within the Islamic spiritual elite and Muslim community itself. The period of liminality is characterised by political and social instability, crisis of social and individual forms of self-identification and sharp cognitive dissonance among many ordinary believers who conduct their own search for fundamentally new forms of Islamic political existence. Re-Islamisation is the post-liminality period that happens if the maximalist block of Islamic elite wins political power. The events of the Arab Spring can be seen as the result of the appearance in the Islamic ideological space of two different ideological platforms (minimalism and maximalism) around which representatives of not only the Islamic elite, but also the “popular” Islam gathered.

Egyptian Movement Poetry

By: Elliott Colla

Published in Journal of Arabic Literature Volume 51, Issue 1-2 (2020)

Abstract: Poetry has long had a central place in the repertoires of modern Egyptian protest movements, but just as social science accounts of these movements downplay the role of expressive arts (such as poetry), literary studies of colloquial Egyptian poetry have downplayed the performative dynamic of this poetry, as well as its role within social movements. This essay develops the concept of “movement poetry” within the Egyptian social movements, with a special focus on the protest cycle of 1968-1977. In so doing, it discusses the work of Abdel Rahman el-Abnoudi (ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Abnūdī), Ahmed Fouad Negm (Aḥmad Fuʾād Nijm), Samīr ʿAbd al-Bāqī, and others, and considers the conventions and repertoires that extend to Egyptian activists in the present.

Egypt’s unbreakable curse: Tracing the State of Exception from Mubarak to Al Sisi

By: Lucia Ardovini, Simon Mabon

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 25, Issue 4 (2020)

Abstract: This paper uses Giorgio Agamben’s State of Exception as a theoretical approach that allows us to see how emergency legislations operate in the region as mechanisms of control and dominant paradigms of governance. Relying on Egypt as a case study, this paper traces the significance of emergency rule throughout Mubarak’s era up until Al Sisi’s 2014 Constitution. It applies a four-stage analytical framework to investigate whether or not Egypt was indeed ruled by the exception throughout its turbulent recent history, while under the guise of Emergency Rule. In doing so, we aim to provide an analysis of the legal structures that shape Egyptian politics, while also adding to debates on the State of Exception, particularly on its application in the non-Western world.

Decentralization in the Arab world: Conceptualizing the role of neopatrimonial networks

By: Thomas Demmelhuber , Roland Sturm, Erik Vollmann

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 25, Issue 4 (2020)

Abstract: Since the early 1990s, government-led decentralization strategies have emerged in the Arab world, with an additional surge after the Arab uprisings in 2011. Western donors and Arab civil society activists expected an increase in participation and autonomy. Yet the outcome of the reforms varies considerably. We develop a new conceptual approach for the analysis of decentralization processes in the Arab world. We suggest that decentralization is guided, inspired, and used by informal neopatrimonial elite networks on the national, regional, and local levels of government. Fiscal and budgetary policies are suggested as empirical tools to investigate the gap between normative claims connected with formal decentralization and the much more complex reality of decentralization.

Explaining divergent transformation paths in Tunisia and Egypt: The role of inter-elite trust

By: Mazen Hassan, Jasmin Lorch, Annette Ranko

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 25, Issue 5 (2020)

Abstract: This article analyses why the political transformations following the Arab Spring took different paths in Egypt and Tunisia. Based on data from field interviews conducted between 2012 and 2018 as well as press analyses, we argue that a strong factor why Tunisia was more successful in establishing democracy is that it had a higher level of inter-elite trust. Moreover, we show that the establishment of inter-elite trust depends on the presence of functioning trust-building arenas during the transition and the early democratic consolidation period. To investigate the role of inter-elite trust, we develop a theoretical-analytical framework, drawing on Arab Spring literature, transition theory, scholarship on democratic consolidation, and research on trust.

What makes coups outside the chain of command in Turkey succeed or fail?

By: Ömer Aslan

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 25, Issue 4 (2020)

Abstract: Existing work on civil-military relations in Turkey has left the question of coup outcomes understudied. Although coups organized in line with the military chain of command are automatically assumed most likely to succeed, not all coup attempts carried out by junior/mid-ranking officers are doomed to fail. While 27 May 1960 coup by junior officers succeeded, three other coups attempted outside the chain of command in 1962, 1963, and 15 July 2016 in Turkey failed. Why? This article uses ‘coordination game’ framework as a theoretical tool to provide an answer. These cases lend significant support to application of game theoretic models to the literature on military coup outcomes.

We Are All Wasatiyyun: The Shifting Sands of Center Positioning in Egypt’s Early Post-Revolutionary Party Politics

By: Hendrik Kraetzschmar, Barbara Zollner

Published in Middle East Critique  Volume 29, Issue 2 (2020)

Abstract: This article focuses on a common rhetorical referent in Egyptian public imagery and parlance–that of wasat (center) and its derivatives, wasati/wasatiyya (centrist/centrism)–and discusses how it has been appropriated and molded in the sphere of party politics. Inductive in approach, it examines the rhetorical appropriations of the center ground by party officials, revealing not only its popularity as a marker of (ideological) self-positioning but its malleability and contextuality. The article concludes that in Egyptian party politics the center positioning of parties cannot be gauged exclusively from the study of party manifestos and/or expert surveys, but ought to include contextual analysis of how this and other ideological markers are appropriated and given meaning in elite rhetoric.

Governing Anxiety, Trauma and Crisis: The Political Discourse on Ontological (In)Security after the July 15 Coup Attempt in Turkey

By: Umut Can Adisonmez, Recep Onursal

Published in Middle East Critique  Volume 29, Issue 3 (2020)

Abstract: Concern about the ontological security of the state has been at the center of Turkish politics since the beginning of the republican regime in 1923, shaping both the domestic and the foreign policy of Turkey. Taking the July 15 coup attempt in 2016 as a case, this article critically analyzes the political discourse on ontological (in)security in Turkey. The discussion begins by locating the discourse on the survival of the state [beka meselesi in Turkish] in a historical and sociopolitical context. Building on this discussion, the article investigates how unprecedented political instability caused by the failed coup attempt created a political space for the ruling Justice and Development Party to re-articulate the state’s survival discourse and related security practices. The article argues that governing elites followed a double strategy. On one hand, they aimed at simplifying the sociopolitical space with a ‘one nation, one state, one homeland, and one flag’ discourse; on the other hand, they actively prevented public contestation by keeping the political dimension of the coup at bay. To advance this argument, the article develops a discursive-theoretical framework by cross-fertilizing Ontological Security Theory with Post-foundational Discourse Theory.

Singing a New Future: Egypt’s Choir Project

By: Caroline Seymour-jorn

Published in Middle East Critique  Volume 29, Issue 2 (2020)

Abstract: This paper explores the creative production of Egypt’s Choir project, a collaborative musical and theatrical group that has provided a context for youth creative, social and political expression since 2010. Drawing upon Richard Bauman’s (1984) multifaceted framework for thinking about emerging art forms, I detail the history and socio-political context of the Choir project’s activities during the period from 2011 until 2018, and engage in close literary analysis of some of its lyrical productions. Since the Choir has emerged and developed in a charged political environment, I take into account the important ways in which it has provided a context for political expression. However, I argue that detailed literary and social analysis of its creative process and production suggests that while the Project can be considered a mode of social and political expression or even resistance, it is also a profoundly creative phenomenon that produces lyrical and dramatic creations, which must be considered in their own right and which also must be understood as powerful modes of personal and even existential expression. I suggest that paying close attention to aesthetic experimentation and style adds an important dimension to our understanding of emerging art forms and the complex set of ideas that they express. Close analysis of the nature of innovative creativity also may help to explain why these forms have been so popular among audiences and the general public, even in the midst of political chaos and uncertainty about the future.

Exclusion and Violence After the Egyptian Coup

By: Steven Brooke, Elizabeth R. Nugent

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 12, Issue 1 (2020)

Abstract: Scholars of Islamism have long grappled with the relationship between political participation and ideological change, theorizing that political exclusion and state repression increase the likelihood of Islamist groups using violence. The trajectory of post-2011 Egypt offers a chance to systematically evaluate these theories using subnational data. Pairing district-level electoral returns from pre-coup presidential elections with post-coup levels of anti-state and sectarian violence, we find that districts where Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated candidate Mohammed Morsi performed well in 2012 witnessed more anti-state and sectarian (anti-Christian) violence following the 2013 military coup. The same relationship holds for the performance of liberal Islamist Abdel Moneim Abu El-Fotouh, which is consistent with arguments that political exclusion alone may also drive violence.

The war and the economy: the gradual destruction of Libya

By: Matteo Capasso

Published in Review of African Political Economy Volume 47, Issue 166 (2020)

Abstract: This article questions dominant analyses about Libya’s present ‘war economy’ and ‘statelessness’, which are often deployed to explain the country’s ongoing destruction. By reinterpreting the history of the past as the failure of Libya to implement neoliberal reforms, these accounts trivialise its anti-imperialist history. The article reflects on the role that war and militarism play in the US-led imperialist structure, tracing the gradual unmaking of Libya from the progressive revolutionary era, towards its transformation into a comprador state and an outpost for global class war. In doing so, it moves the focus away from Libya’s ‘war economy’ to examine the war and the economy, linking Libya’s fate to the geo-economic and geopolitical forces at the core of US-led imperialism.

Crises and critical junctures in authoritarian regimes: addressing uprisings’ temporalities and discontinuities

By: Frédéric Volpi, Johannes Gerschewski

Published in Third World Quarterly Volume 41, Issue 6 (2020)

Abstract: In this article, we aim at sharpening common understandings of the notion of political crisis to better explain the trajectories of authoritarian transformations during popular uprisings. We make three major claims. First, we propose a definition of crisis as brief moments of institutional fluidity and openness in which a process can take different directions. We delineate the crisis concept from the concept of critical junctures and outline how our approach contributes to the methodological debate on ‘near misses’. Second, we indicate how the de-institutionalisation processes leading up to a crisis are to be analytically distinguished from within-crisis moments. We argue in favour of a discontinuity approach that takes into account the different temporalities of gradual lead-up processes and rapid within-crisis dynamics. Finally, we illustrate our theoretical and analytical reasoning with concrete cases from the authoritarian crises of the Arab uprisings, whilst suggesting that our argument can travel to other areas of research in which crisis narratives have gained prominence.

The Moroccan system of labour institutions: a class-based perspective

By: Lorenzo Feltrin

Published in Third World Quarterly Volume 41, Issue 7 (2020)

Abstract: The relevance of workers’ mobilisations in the 2011 Arab uprisings and – more recently – in the Algerian movement for democracy and social justice has encouraged a renewed interest in labour–state relations in the region. This article presents a class-based perspective on labour institutions, taking Morocco as a case study. In contrast to institution-based approaches, this research argues that it is problematic to treat the trade unions as analytical proxies for the working class, because this heuristic move conceals how class struggles – from below and from above – can transcend and transform labour institutions. The article proposes a framework to study labour–state relations, highlighting the relative autonomy of union officials from workers and vice versa. In this way, it shows how, in the neoliberal phase, the Moroccan state increased inducements to the unions while decreasing those to the workers and maintaining significant constraints on workplace organising. To use a simplified formulation, the regime included the unions to exclude the workers. In such a context of low union representativeness, the dangers of reducing the working class to the trade unions emerge clearly.

Can non-democracies support international democracy? Turkey as a case study

By: Senem Aydın-Düzgit

Published in Third World Quarterly Volume 41, Issue 2 (2020)

Abstract: In recent years, there has been a rise of interest in the concept of autocracy promotion, with scholars questioning whether the efforts by authoritarian governments to influence political transitions beyond their borders are necessarily pro-authoritarian. An extension of this question is whether some authoritarian governments may at times find it in their interest to support democracy abroad. This article aims to answer this question by focusing on the case of Turkey. It argues that, despite its rapidly deteriorating democracy since the late 2000s, Turkey has undertaken democracy support policies with the explicit goal of democratic transition in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region during the Arab Spring and, while not bearing the intention of democratic transition, has employed democracy support instruments in the form of state-building in sub-Saharan Africa since 2005 to the present day. Based on original fieldwork, the article finds that non-democracies can turn out as democracy supporters, if and when opportunities for strategic gains from democratisation abroad arise. The article further suggests that even in those cases where strategic interests do not necessitate regime change, a non-democracy may still deploy democracy support instruments to pursue its narrow interests, without adhering to an agenda for democratic transition.

Democratisation in ambiguous environments: positive prospects for democracy in the MENA region after the Arab Spring

By: Osman Bahadır Dinçer, Mehmet Hecan

Published in Third World Quarterly Volume 41, Issue 12 (2020)

Abstract: Instead of writing off the post-uprising period in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as a failed attempt at democratisation, this article argues that the region is still undergoing an ambiguous and contingent process in which democratisation survives as one likely path among others. From this alternative viewpoint, the uprisings have multi-faceted, complex and uncertain consequences that constitute the beginnings of a long-term transitional phase in which various forces of political development continue to coexist in competing fashions. We argue that amidst this ambiguous process, the uprisings have introduced game-changing dynamics with regard to democratisation. We further attempt to identify these dynamics and discuss the potential value of the post-uprising experience as an asset for regional democratisation. For this purpose, we underline at least three crucial aspects of the post-uprising experience regarding democratic development in the region: (1) the demonstration of the potential for political change, (2) the contribution to the democratic learning curve, and (3) the emergence of Tunisia as a ‘transition game’. This study aims to serve as a guiding analytical exercise in the study of democratisation within ambiguous political environments, such as the post-uprising MENA region, where identifying the direction of democratisation may prove difficult.

The Psychology of Repression and Polarization

By: Elizabeth R. Nugent

Published in World Politics Volume 72, Issue 2 (2020)

Abstract: How does political polarization occur under repressive conditions? Drawing on psychological theories of social identity, the author posits that the nature of repression drives polarization. Repression alters group identities, changing the perceived distance between groups and ultimately shaping the level of affective and preference polarization between them through differentiation processes. The author tests the proposed causal relationship using mixed-method data and analysis.The results of a laboratory experiment reveal that exposure to a targeted repression prime results in greater in-group identification and polarization between groups, whereas exposure to a widespread prime results in decreased levels of these same measurements. The effect of the primes appears to be mediated through group identification. Case-study evidence of polarization between political opposition groups that were differently repressed in Egypt and Tunisia reinforces these results. The findings have implications for understanding how polarization, as conditioned by repression, may alter the likelihood of the cooperative behavior among opposition actors necessary for the success of democratic politics.

Nationalism and the Use of Pop Music: A Discourse Analysis of the Song “Boshret Kheir”

By: Mohamed Gameel & Salma El Ghetany

Published in Arab Media & Society Issue 27 (2019)

Abstract: The Egyptian Arabic song, “Boshret Kheir” or ‘good omen’, represents an example of the role of popular music in promoting populism, patriotism, and the ideology of Egyptian nationalism. Given the song’s popularity, this article poses the question: what transforms an ordinary pop song into a national phenomenon? The song is studied through observational discourse, using visual semiotic analysis of its video clip. The song was adopted as a patriotic anthem of sorts by a segment of society- namely those espousing the mainstream narrative in support of the military. It was produced to encourage political activism and participation but carried a deeper meaning given its affiliation with the ruling military at the time. The song was released ten days before the presidential elections, almost one year after former president Mohammed Morsi was ousted, on June 30th, 2013. Although “Boshret Kheir” was meant to encourage people to participate in the presidential elections, the discourse analysis in this study shows that the song’s lyrics symbolized the election’s legitimacy.

The Arab Intellectual and the Present Moment

By: Tahrir Hamdi

Published in Arab Studies Quarterly  Volume 41, Issue 1 (2019)

Abstract: The Iraqi poet Saadi Youssef urgently asks, “Why are the poets silent?/Where have they gone?” These questions underscore the compelling need for the guiding voices of Arab intellectuals at this deeply divided present moment in the Arab world that has effectively seen the destruction of seemingly stable nations and identities. It is important to understand why and how easily “things fell apart” for Arab nations and peoples under the destructive influence and direct intervention of imperialist and Zionist agendas and forces. What does it mean to speak truth to power in the current Arab and global context where the destruction of Arab nations, such as Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen has become the all too familiar, convenient, and accepted status quo, which is marked by destructive and exclusionary discourses? It has become incumbent upon the Arab intellectual/writer/poet to lead the self-examination process in order to provide an understanding of the current Arab situation within its greater global context and construct a revolutionary and insurrectionary oppositional discourse that would expose and dismantle the current defeatist and divisionary discourses. Antonio Gramsci’s concepts of hegemony and consent, Louis Althusser’s ideological state apparatuses, and Edward Said’s important ideas on the intellectual’s critical consciousness, secular criticism, and beginnings are the theoretical lenses used to help decipher the catastrophic happenings in the Arab world. This study also examines excerpts of literary works by important Arab poets/intellectuals, such as Mahmoud Darwish, Mourid Barghouti, Bader Shaker Al-Sayyab, Saadi Youssef, and Yusuf Al-Ani.

Party competition in the Middle East: spatial competition in the post-Arab Spring era

By: Ali Çarkoğlu, André Krouwel, Kerem Yıldırım

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 46, Issue 3 (2019)

Abstract: This paper charts the nature of political cleavage between major parties in post-Arab Spring elections in five Mediterranean region countries, with data from online opt-in surveys. We compare the Moroccan elections, held under a consolidated authoritarian regime, with the transitional cases of Tunisia and Egypt as well as the more mature democracies of Turkey and Israel. Voter opinions are obtained on 30 salient issues, and parties and voters are aligned along two dimensions. We trace country-specific cleavage patterns and reflections of party system maturity in these five countries. The cases of Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco reveal that in less settled cleavage structures there is little congruence between vote propensities for parties and agreement levels with policy positions compared to the more institutionalized democracies of Israel and Turkey where voters exhibit a higher likelihood to vote for a party as the distance between the voter and the party in the policy space gets smaller.

Feeling so Hood. Rap, lifestyles and the neighbourhood imaginary in Tunisia

By: Stefano Barone

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 46, Issue 1 (2019)

Abstract: The article examines the role of rap in reimagining the social structure in Tunisia after its 2010/2011 revolution. Before the revolution, the Ben Ali regime imposed a narrative of Tunisian society as mainly middle class; beneath this narrative, the Tunisian folklore hosted multiple markers of social distinction that classified people through their perceived lifestyles: residence, language habits, consumption patterns, religious attitudes. Disadvantaged neighbourhoods were obliterated by the official narrative and condemned to social spite by the unofficial ones. After the revolution, the success of rap came to ‘represent’ those quarters and the youth that inhabited them: rappers sang the hoods by criticizing their hard conditions and, at the same time, glorifying the hoods themselves. The vagueness of the social narratives in the country allowed rap musicians to manipulate both the image of the poor neighbourhoods and the idioms of social difference circulating in Tunisia: through this manipulation, they provided a new dignity to the most marginalized sectors of Tunisian society. At the same time, by representing the hoods, rappers could claim social capital and credibility as the ‘true’ narrators of the new Tunisia. But the reimagination of social narratives was not enough to improve the life conditions of dispossessed youth.

Down and Out: Founding Elections and Disillusionment with Democracy in Egypt and Tunisia

By: Sharan Grewal, Steve L. Monroe

Published in Comparative Politics Volume 51, Issue 4 (2019)

Abstract: Which electoral losers become the most disillusioned with democracy following the first free and fair elections? Exploiting surveys before and after founding elections in post-Arab Spring Egypt and Tunisia, we find that the most disillusioned losers were those residing in areas where the losing parties were strongest. We argue that expectations matter. Losers whose parties are strong locally tend to overestimate their popularity nationally and thus become more disillusioned after the first elections. Beyond these attitudinal results, we find that these areas witnessed a greater increase in support for candidates from former autocratic regimes in subsequent elections. These findings clarify subnational variation in electoral losers’ attitudes towards democracy. They suggest that decentralization may keep otherwise disillusioned losers invested in democracy.

Sideways Concessions and Individual Decisions to Protest

By: Sarah J. Hummel

Published in Comparative Politics Volume 52, Issue 1 (2019)

Abstract: Sideways concessions to protest are policy reforms that decrease grievance among potential protesters, without being directly linked to the stated demands of the protest. By avoiding both the backlash effect of repression and the inspirational effect of direct concessions, they are theoretically powerful tools for quelling unrest. This article evaluates the effectiveness of sideways concessions at reducing individual mobilization potential using a survey experiment conducted in Kyrgyzstan in October 2015. The evidence shows sideways concessions are effective among respondents who were dissatisfied with the government and not optimistic about the future of the country. The article also demonstrates the plausibility of these results in other settings, drawing on observational data from the 2014 Gezi Park protests in Turkey and the 2013 Euromaidan protests in Ukraine.

Rethinking the Root Causes of The Tunisian Revolution and its Implications

By: Mohammad Dawood Sofi

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 12, Issue 3 (2019)

Abstract: What happened within and beyond Tunisia in 2010–11 has been told repeatedly from a number of perspectives, each putting a greater or a lesser emphasis on one or several variables ranging from society, politics, economics, to religion or the involvement of external dynamics. An exploration of the causes of the Arab Spring and the factors that shaped its outcome is critical when answering several frequently raised questions, some of which are highlighted here. This article provides a concise picture of the Arab Spring and its consequences for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). It defines the meaning of revolution by examining various explanations and interpretations provided by several theorists and shows which explanation(s) best fits the Tunisian case. Moreover, the study explains how multiple factors, such as social and economic injustice, authoritarian rule, the internet, and social media have played a role in enabling the Tunisian Revolution to happen.

The Transformation of the Power Structure and Security in LibyaFrom a Unified to a Fragmented Security Sector

By: Laura Feliu, Rachid Aarab

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 12, Issue 1 (2019)

Abstract: The Libyan security sector has undergone a profound transformation since the 17 February Revolution in 2011. The Jamahiriya experience gave way to a period in which violence ceased to be predominantly a state monopoly, and a series of armed conflicts took place with important consequences for the security sector. This article applies the Sociology of Power to an analysis of the security sector as a complement to other theoretical focuses. This approach helps to explain the transformation of the sector from a personal, unified system to a fragmented system with territorial divisions associated with different competing power centers.

Sovereignty in Morocco: Between Royal Legitimacy and Democratic Legitimacy

By: Mohamed Fouad El Achouri

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 12, Issue 3 (2019)

Abstract: This article tackles the issue of sovereignty in the Moroccan political system and argues that there are formally two sources of legitimacy, royal and democratic, with deeper implications for decision-making and political power. The article analyzes this phenomena as enshrined in the Moroccan constitution of 2011 and identifies the characteristics of a political system quite different from known democratic systems. This concept of political power makes the elected institutions play a secondary representative function compared with the high and transcendent representation of the royal institution.

Post-Islamism: Ideological Delusions and Sociological Realities

By: Abdul Ghani Imad

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 12, Issue 3 (2019)

Abstract: The thesis of political Islam’s failure reignites a deep discussion of fundamental questions. At the same time, it opens the door for a discussion of post Islamism as a concept, a term, and a phase. The term “post-Islamism,” like every “post-” term, is undoubtedly characterized by an extremely fluid definition. This leads to certain interpretations expiring without establishing others and to profound transformations occurring within an intellectual and social phenomenon that presages that it will evolve away from its original form. In no circumstance, however, will what comes after resemble what came before. The aspects of the relationship and similarity between the two phases largely remains relative and ambiguous. Although the use of the term “post-Islamism” dates back decades, in particular to the 1990s, it has once again returned to the spotlight, more prominently now than ever, as several Islamist movements are advancing further on the path to accepting democracy, political pluralism, and power-sharing. Several Islamist movements in the Arab and Islamic world today are embracing public and individual freedoms, and advocating a separation of religion and politics. This article examines the concept of post-Islamism, its legitimacy, and credibility as a fundamental shift in Islamist rhetoric and behavior, as well as the causes leading to it, and the conditions, obstacles, and realistic models of this concept or its approximates, both Sunni and Shiite, in the Arab or Muslim world.

The Economic Consequences of the Libyan Spring: A Synthetic Control Analysis

By: Javier García-Enríquez, Cruz A. Echevarría

Published in Defense and Peace Economics Volume 30, Issue 5 (2019)

Abstract: In 2011 a wave of revolutionary movements, the so-called Arab Spring, spread in the Middle East and North Africa. Libya was one of the most affected countries, ending Gaddafi’s dictatorship after an international intervention and a civil war. This paper assesses the effects that this revolution had on Libyan economy. The analysis is made by means of the synthetic control method. Our estimates for the 2011–2014 period show (i) a cumulative loss in the growth rate of per capita real GDP of 64.15%; (ii) a cumulative loss in per capita real GDP of 56,548 dollars; and (iii) a cumulative loss in the aggregate real GDP of 350.5 billion dollars.

Sharīʻa, Islamism and Arab support for democracy

By: Lars Berger

Published in Democratization Volume 26, Issue 2 (2019)

Abstract: The Arab Spring and its aftermath reignited the debate over the relationship between Islamism and democracy. This analysis improves upon previous research by demonstrating the crucial contribution which a more precise understanding of the multiple meanings of the concept of Sharīʻa can have on our assessment of the future of democracy in the Arab world. While support for the Sharīʻa-conformity of laws has a positive impact on the preference for democracy, the insistence that Sharīʻa represents the word of God as opposed to the human attempt to interpret it reduces support for democracy. These findings are of considerable significance for academics and policy-makers interested in the future of democracy in the Arab world as it suggests that generic expressions of support for Sharīʻa are less relevant in explaining support for democracy than what Arab women and men consider to be its essence.

To govern, or not to govern? Opportunity and post-coup military behaviour in Egypt 2011–2014

By: Justin A. Hoyle

Published in Democratization Volume 26, Issue 6 (2019)

Abstract: This article examines Egyptian military behaviour in 2011 and 2013 to address the question of why officers remain in power following some successful coups, and allow for a transition to civilian rule after others. My evidence suggests that in post-1970 cases where international factors fail to exert sufficient pressure, outcome variation is influenced by levels of corporate opportunity, defined here as the ease with which the army can use control of the state to expand its corporate interests. Drawing on the existing literature, I posit consensus against military rule, high popular support for democracy, strong civil society, the presence of a strong opposition party, and low levels of cohesion among officers as factors which constrain opportunity. Prior research suggests that when the level of opportunity is high, controlling the state becomes a high-risk/low-reward endeavour, making it likely that officers will allow for a transition to civilian rule. My study contributes to the existing scholarship by using original data gathered through interviews with Egyptian officers, as well as other experts on the Egyptian military, to argue that low consensus against military rule, low support for democracy, and high organizational cohesion are jointly sufficient to produce governing intervention.

The evolution of authoritarian rule in Algeria: linkage versus organizational power

By: J. N. C. Hill

Published in Democratization Volume 26, Issue 8 (2019)

Abstract: This article draws on the Algerian regimes of Chadli Benjedid and Abdelaziz Bouteflika to critically evaluate Steven Levitsky and Lucan Way’s dimension of linkage. The paper shows that, despite the intensification of the country’s ties to the European Union (EU) from one regime to the other, the willingness and ability of Brussels to put democratizing pressure on Algiers decreased rather than increased. This development challenges Levitsky and Way’s thesis and the importance they place on linkage in relation to their other dimensions of leverage and organizational power. The article concludes that: strengthening linkage does not always result in greater EU or Western democratizing pressure; the balance of importance Levitsky and Way strike between their dimensions is open to question; and, the EU has grown less willing to press for political change in Algeria.

Rethinking the repression-dissent nexus: assessing Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood’s response to repression since the coup of 2013

By: Khalil al-Anani

Published in Democratization Volume 26, Issue 8 (2019)

Abstract: This article examines the repression-dissent nexus in Islamist social movements. Several studies have overwhelmingly focused on the effects of repression on protest volume, level, and tactics. However, understanding the responses of individual members to regime repression and how they relate to the movement’s collective response is rarely discussed. By analysing the response of the Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to regime repression since the coup of 2013, this article explains the effects of repression on opposition movements. It argues that to understand the impact of repression on these movements, we need to differentiate between the collective and individual responses to repression. These two levels of analysis are crucial to better understand the repression-dissent nexus. Also, the article contends that collective and individual responses to repression cannot be explained by focusing solely on the structural and institutional factors (i.e. organization, ideology, leadership, etc.). Members’ personal experiences, memory, emotions, and trauma play a key role in shaping their response to repression. The article thus accounts for both the formal and informal effects of repression on Islamists.

Shaking off the neoliberal shackles: “democratic emergence” and the negotiation of democratic knowledge in the Middle East North Africa context

By: Jeff Bridoux

Published in Democratization Volume 26, Issue 5 (2019)

Abstract: There is a general assumption in democracy promotion that liberal democracy is the panacea that will solve all political and economic problems faced by developing countries. Using the concept of “good society” as analytical prism, the analysis shows that while there is a rhetorical agreement as to what the “good society” entails, democracy promotion practices fail to allow for recipients’ inclusion in the negotiation and delivery of the “good society”. Contrasting US and Tunisian discourses on the “good society”, the article argues that democracy promotion practices are underpinned by neoliberal parameters borne out from a reliance on the transition paradigm, which in turn leave little room to democracy promotion recipients to formulate knowledge claims supporting the emergence of alternative conceptions of the “good society”. In contrast, the article opens up a reflective pathway to a negotiated democratic knowledge, which would reside in a paradigmatic change that consists in the abandonment of the transition paradigm in favour of a “democratic emergence” paradigm.

Is there difference in democracy promotion? A comparison of German and US democracy assistance in transitional Tunisia

By: Leonie Holthaus

Published in Democratization Volume 26, Issue 7 (2019)

Abstract: Since the 1990s, comparative scholars and constructivists have recognized the universally liberal character of democracy promotion and yet continued the analysis of difference in this area. Mainly in studies of German and US democracy promotion, constructivists have demonstrated the recurring and difference-generating impact of ideational factors. In this article, I hence assume the likeliness of difference and address the question of how we can analyse and explain those differences through a comparison of German and US democracy assistance in transitional Tunisia. I conceive of Germany and the US as a dissimilar pair and adopt a broad perspective to uncover differences at the diplomatic level and between and within the respective approaches to democracy assistance in Tunisia. Theoretically, I argue that national role conceptions hardly impact democracy assistance in a clear manner, and that roles are renegotiated in the process. I rather focus on liberal and reform liberal conceptions of democracy, which shape perceptions of the local context, and democracy assistance agencies different organizational cultures, which impact civil society support. Finally, I account for transnational dialogue and coordination as a factor mitigating differences in democracy promotion.

Never out of Now: Preference Falsification, Social Capital and the Arab Spring

By: Ammar Shamaileh

Published in International Interactions Volume 45, Issue 6 (2019)

Abstract: Could the Arab Spring have led to a rise in support for authoritarian governments in some states? Discussions of revolutionary diffusion during the Arab Spring focused on whether expressions of discontent spread to different states. Such discussions, however, neglect the potential for there to be a decrease in expressions of discontent in the wake of spreading revolutionary sentiment in certain contexts. The spread of revolutionary fervor in states with similar characteristics decreases perceptions that individuals will free ride in a revolution, and, thus, increases the perception that a revolution can succeed. This perceived increase in the probability of a revolution succeeding, however, can decrease expressions of discontent with the regime where the threat of an unfavorable alternative replacing the status quo is high. The empirical analysis of data collected before and after the Arab Spring provides evidence that the Arab Spring decreased criticism of the regime in some authoritarian contexts.

Social Brokers and Leftist–sadrist Cooperation in Iraq’s Reform Protest Movement: Beyond Instrumental Action

By: Benedict Robin-D’Cruz

Published in International Journal of Middle East Studies Volume 51, Issue 2 (2019)

Abstract: This article develops a concept of social brokerage to explain leftist–Sadrist cooperation during Iraq’s 2015 protest movement. Conventional understanding holds that Iraq’s secular-leftist civil trend and Shiʿi Islamist factions have been mutually isolated, and at times fierce antagonists, in Iraq’s post-2003 politics. This view has been challenged by an emergent political alliance between a faction of the civil trend and the Shiʿi Islamist Sadrist movement. By comparing this alliance with the failure of another Shiʿi Islamist group, ʿAsaʾib Ahl al-Haq, to involve itself with and exploit the protest movement, this article isolates the conditions which determined the dynamics of leftist–Islamist interactions. Shifting the focus away from elite politics and structural-instrumental explanations favored by rational choice models, this article reveals a longer backstory of social and ideological interactions between less senior actors that transgressed leftist–Islamist social boundaries. From this context, potential brokers emerged, capable of skilfully mediating leftist–Sadrist interactions.

Standing Acts: The Political Aesthetics of Defiant Resistance 

By: Barry J Ryan

Published in International Political Sociology Volume 13, Issue 2 (2019)

Abstract: We most commonly encounter the word defiance when used as an adverb to classify a peculiarly courageous or risky act of resistance. However, the use of the word defiance in this way is a departure from the historical meaning of the word. Moreover, it occludes the possibility that there exists political activity that is manifestly defiant. The article takes issue with this tendency and identifies a mode of resistance that is explicitly defiant. In order to do this, the paper draws from the phenomenological approach underpinning the standing sculptures of the British sculptor Antony Gormley. This informs an exploration of the protest enacted by the standing man of Taksim Square, who participated in a large antigovernment movement in Turkey in 2013. In acts we might distinguish as defiant, the paper demonstrates the materialist vulnerability of the protesting body, the aesthetic ontology at work, the prevalence of the standing metaphor, the role of silence, and the absence of futurity. By unearthing defiant modes of protest, the heterogeneity of resistance is affirmed, and a new domain where art encounters the political is revealed.

Narratives and the romantic genre in IR: dominant and marginalized stories of Arab Rebellion in Libya

By: Alexander Spencer

Published in International Politics Volume 56, Issue 1 (2019)

Abstract: The article shows how the rebellion against Gaddafi in Libya in 2011 was romanticized in the British newspaper media and among the political elite. Combining insights from literary studies and employing a method of narrative analysis which focuses on the elements of setting, characterization and emplotment, it illustrates the process of narrative romanticization by emphasizing story elements which constitute the rebellion in an emotional setting in which the rebel is characterized as a young and brave underdog fighting against a brutal and oppressive regime for an ideal such as democracy, freedom and a better future. While romantic narratives were dominant in the discourse on Libya at the time, other less positive narratives which for example emphasize human right violations by rebels were marginalized through a strategy of silencing, denial, ridicule and justification. While the dominance of romantic narratives of rebellion aided the legitimation of British military intervention, the marginalization of negative counter-narratives contributed to the ignorance of extremism and set a bad precedent for the role of human rights in post-conflict Libya.

Social Ties and the Strategy of Civil Resistance

By: Ches Thurber

Published in International Studies Quarterly  Volume 63, Issue 4 (2019)

Abstract: This article examines the impact of social ties on a challenger’s ability to initiate a civil resistance campaign. Recent waves of nonviolent uprisings, from the color revolutions of Eastern Europe to the Arab Spring, have sparked renewed scholarly interest in civil resistance as a strategy in conflict. However, most research has focused on the effectiveness and outcomes of civil resistance, with less attention paid to when, why, and how challengers to regime power come to embrace a strategy of nonviolent action in the first place. Drawing upon a longitudinal analysis of challenger organizations and coalitions in Nepal, this article illustrates how social ties inform challengers’ assessments of the viability of civil resistance and consequently shape their strategic behavior. The findings complicate state-centric approaches to contentious politics by showing how diverse actors within the same state face different sets of political opportunities and constraints. They also highlight the indeterminate effects of ideology, as variation in challengers’ social ties drive Gandhians to take up arms and Maoists to lay them down.

Framing and Foreign Policy—Israel’s Response to the Arab Uprisings

By: Amnon Aran, Leonie Fleischmann

Published in International Studies Review Volume 21, Issue 4 (2019)

Abstract: The eruption of the 2010 Arab uprisings has generated a great deal of academic scholarship. However, the foreign policy of Israel, a key power in the Middle East, amid the Arab uprisings, has received limited attention. Furthermore, as we demonstrate, the conventional wisdom purported by the current debate, which is that Israel adopted a “defensive, non-idealist” realist foreign policy posture (Magen 2015, 114) in the wake of the Arab uprisings, is wrong. Rather, utilizing an innovative approach linking foreign policy analysis (FPA) and the literature on framing, we demonstrate that Israel adopted a foreign policy stance of entrenchment. This posture is predicated on peace for peace not territory, reinforcing Israel’s military capabilities, and granting limited autonomy to the Palestinians under Israeli occupation. Thus, the article demonstrates how framing can usefully be operationalized to uncover how binary discourse does not merely reflect foreign policy but is, in fact, constitutive of it. We demonstrate that diagnostic and prognostic frames helped to create a direct connection between the images held by a leader, his/her worldview, ideas, perceptions and misperceptions, and foreign policy actions. These frames constituted action-oriented sets of beliefs and meaning that inspired and legitimated certain foreign policy options and instruments while restricting others.

Framing and Foreign Policy—Israel’s Response to the Arab Uprisings 

By: Amnon Aran, Leonie Fleischmann

Published in International Studies Review Volume 21, Issue 4 (2019)

Abstract: The eruption of the 2010 Arab uprisings has generated a great deal of academic scholarship. However, the foreign policy of Israel, a key power in the Middle East, amid the Arab uprisings, has received limited attention. Furthermore, as we demonstrate, the conventional wisdom purported by the current debate, which is that Israel adopted a “defensive, non-idealist” realist foreign policy posture (Magen 2015, 114) in the wake of the Arab uprisings, is wrong. Rather, utilizing an innovative approach linking foreign policy analysis (FPA) and the literature on framing, we demonstrate that Israel adopted a foreign policy stance of entrenchment. This posture is predicated on peace for peace not territory, reinforcing Israel’s military capabilities, and granting limited autonomy to the Palestinians under Israeli occupation. Thus, the article demonstrates how framing can usefully be operationalized to uncover how binary discourse does not merely reflect foreign policy but is, in fact, constitutive of it. We demonstrate that diagnostic and prognostic frames helped to create a direct connection between the images held by a leader, his/her worldview, ideas, perceptions and misperceptions, and foreign policy actions. These frames constituted action-oriented sets of beliefs and meaning that inspired and legitimated certain foreign policy options and instruments while restricting others.

Turkey’s tamed civil society: Containment and appropriation under a competitive authoritarian regime

By: Bilge Yabanci

Published in Journal of Civil Society Volume 15, Issue 4 (2019)

Abstract: Under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule, Turkey’s civil society has enlarged both in size and diversity of civic engagement. This development is puzzling since Turkey’s weak democratic credentials do not allow an enabling political and legal setting for civil society’s expansion. This study argues that the expansion can be explained through a particular dilemma of rulers in competitive-authoritarian (CA) regimes. The AKP is caught between the conflicting interests of appropriating and containing civil society. While the government needs to cherish civil society to sustain CA regime, it also needs to repress it, as civil society is the only arena where dissenting social forces can still carve pockets of resistance and challenge the dominant paradigms of the regime. Based on extensive fieldwork, this study discusses the patterns of containment and appropriation that have led to the steady expansion of civil society under pressure. The AKP’s dilemma has also rendered Turkey’s civil society ‘tamed’, namely politicized, disabled and segregated. The study broadens the understanding of relations between civil society and the state in CA regimes by offering essential insights into how these regimes are sustained, entrenched and also contested through and within civil society.

Conquering and coercing: Nonviolent anti-regime protests and the pathways to democracy

By: Nam Kyu Kim, Alex M Kroeger

Published in Journal of Peace Research Volume 56, Issue 5 (2019)

Abstract: Recent research finds an association between nonviolent protests and democratic transitions. However, existing scholarship either does not specify the pathways through which nonviolent protests bring about democratization or conduct systematic empirical analyses demonstrating that the specified pathways are operative. This article proposes four pathways through which nonviolent anti-regime protests encourage democratic transitions, emphasizing their ability to directly conquer or indirectly coerce such transitions. Most simply, they can conquer democratic reforms by directly overthrowing authoritarian regimes and installing democracies. They can also coerce democratic reforms through three additional pathways. Nonviolent anti-regime protests can coerce incumbent elites into democratic reforms by threatening the survival of authoritarian regimes. They also increase the likelihood of elite splits, which promote negotiated democratic reforms. Finally, they encourage leadership change within the existing authoritarian regime. Following leadership change, nonviolent movements remain mobilized and are able to coerce democratic concessions from the regime’s new leaders. Our within-regime analyses provide robust empirical support for each pathway. We show that nonviolent anti-regime protests conquer democratic reforms by ousting autocratic regimes and replacing them with democracies. Nonviolent anti-regime protests also coerce elites into democratic reforms by threatening regime and leader survival. These findings highlight the importance of protest goals and tactics and also that nonviolent anti-regime protests have both direct and indirect effects on democratization.

Do they know something we don’t? Diffusion of repression in authoritarian regimes

By: Roman-Gabriel Olar

Published in Journal of Peace Research Volume 56, Issue 5 (2019)

Abstract: The use of repressive strategies by authoritarian regimes received a great deal of attention in the literature, but most explanations treat repression as the product of domestic events and factors. However, the similarity in repressive actions during the Arab Spring or the intense collaboration in dissident disappearances between the military regimes of Latin America indicate a transnational dimension of state repression and authoritarian interdependence that has gone largely understudied. The article develops a theory of diffusion of repression between autocracies between institutionally and experientially similar autocracies. It proposes that the high costs of repression and its uncertain effect on dissent determines autocracies to adjust their levels of repression based on information and knowledge obtained from their peers. Autocracies’ own experience with repression can offer suboptimal and incomplete information. Repression techniques and methods from other autocracies augment the decisionmaking regarding optimal levels of repression for political survival. Then, autocracies adjust their levels of repression based on observed levels of repression in their institutional and experiential peers. The results indicate that authoritarian regimes emulate and learn from regimes with which they share similar institutions. Surprisingly, regimes with similar dissent experience do not emulate and learn from each other. The results also indicate that regional conflict does not affect autocracies’ levels of repression.

Between hierarchy and heterarchy: Post-Arab uprisings’ civil–military relations and the Arab state

By: Ruth Hanau Santini, Francesco N. Moro

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 24, Issue 2 (2019)

Abstract: Every actor who commands coercive resources plays a relevant role in the complex processes of state restructuring following regime change. The role of armies in the 2010–2011 Arab uprisings has been widely explored, but limited attention has been devoted to how different agents with coercive power have been involved in the restructuring of political order. This contribution presents the theoretical framework within which the remaining empirical contributions are situated. The central insight is that better understanding of the emerging political orders requires moving away from binary notions of hierarchy and anarchy as ordering principles and look at how, within heterarchical political orders, coercive agents behave within fluid state–society relations.

Determinants of political instability across Arab Spring countries

By: Nayef Al-Shammari, John Willoughby

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 24, Issue 2 (2019)

Abstract: This paper investigates the determinants of political instability across Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with special attention to the Arab Spring-affected region. The yearly data-set covers 19 countries in the MENA region for the period 1991–2014. The study uses pooled ordinary least square (OLS), fixed effect and random effect approaches. Our most robust result indicates that political instability in the region is very sensitive to exogenous food price shocks. Youth unemployment and regime durability are also strong predictors of unrest. The frustrated educated youth explanation of the Arab Spring is, however, not borne out by our study. The connection between the presence of democratic institutions and political unrest is more complex. Our results confirm other studies which find that more democracy leads to less unrest. On the other hand, our focused study of five Arab Spring countries and Egypt finds the reverse. Our results are sensitive to the ways in which the variables are defined. It is always important to use alternative empirical specifications when undertaking econometric investigations of political processes.

Women, information ecology, and political protest in the Middle East

By: Nadya Hajj, Patrick J. McEwan, Rebecca Turkington

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 24, Issue 1 (2019)

Abstract: Does internet usage increase the likelihood of political protest, and is the effect larger among women than men? Using data from three waves of the Arab Barometer Survey, historical research and interviews with women activists, this paper contributes to the growing body of literature on information ecology and contentious politics in the Middle East. We hypothesized that the internet increases public protest for all individuals but differentially enhances women’s involvement in public protest in the Middle East. We find that there are substantial gender gaps in internet usage and political protest, and that internet usage increases political protest of adults, on average, regardless of gender. However, internet usage does not differentially increase public protest among women (including during the Arab Spring). Our paper problematizes the notion that the internet is a low-cost and safe space for women’s political activism.

Democratization beyond Capitalist Time: Temporalities of Transition in the Middle East after the Arab Uprisings

By: Roberto Roccu

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 28, Issue 3 (2019)

Abstract: Trapped in the premises of the transition ‘paradogma,’ democratization and authoritarian persistence literature are limited by a linear and continuous understanding of time, a gradualist view of transition, and a procedural definition of democracy. These analytical and normative strictures are compounded by a methodological nationalism that prevents an appreciation of how global factors shape the parameters for political transformation in the contemporary Middle East. Inspired by Gramsci’s theory of history, this article seeks to move beyond these limitations and explore the prospect of transition as rupture, away from democratization as strategy for ensuring duration of capitalist time, and toward democratic transition as epochal change beyond capitalism. By counterposing the effects of the two globalizations and the decolonization in between on the prospects of political transformation in the Middle East, this article argues that the Arab uprisings provide an opportunity for thinking globally and rupturally about political time, transition and democracy in the region.

Memory Studies in the Middle East: Where Are We Coming From and Where Are We Going?

By: Sune Haugbolle

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 28, Issue 3 (2019)

Abstract: This article takes stock of the field of memory studies and where it has moved since the Arab uprisings. If the 1990s marked the first interest in memory studies, the 2000s opened the floodgates to a variety of approaches and localities. The aim is not to present a complete catalogue of memory studies in the Middle East, but rather to highlight some of the trends and patterns in the field and its development over time. It does so both by discussing key works and by focusing on an examination of memory studies about contemporary Lebanon. The article argues that memory studies in the 1990s drew on a particular understanding of transition that came to an abrupt end with the Arab Uprisings. 2011 marked a turning point both in the way the uprisings made scholars question the national framework previously privileged, and by stoking an interest in memories and histories of revolts other than those connected to the anti-colonial struggle. The latest wave of memory studies investigates the uses of online archives and the archive as metaphor for how storage functions for human memory, introducing new methodologies and theoretical directions.

Engineering Affect: Street Politics and Microfoundations of Governance

By: Michelle D. Weitzel

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 11, Issue 2 (2019)

Abstract: Affect was an essential component of the Arab uprisings, and it remains an important medium for shaping everyday politics in the Middle East and beyond. Yet while affect is beginning to be conceived as integral to studies of social movements, endeavors to control individual and collective affect in the praxis of statecraft remain understudied—despite robust evidence that affect and emotion are intimately entwined with political behavior and decision-making on a wide range of issues spanning voter preference to foreign policy. This article examines how such control takes effect, situating the sensory body as a bridge and key site of interaction and contestation for diverse projects that seek to influence behavioral outcomes via the manipulation of public space. From among the bodily senses, it singles out the auditory realm as a particularly potent generator of affect and examines the entanglement of sound, hearing, and power to foreground ways the sensory body is routinely engaged in state projects. Drawing on examples from the protests that ricocheted across the Middle East from 2010–2012, and framing these with historical antecedents from original archival work, this article bridges phenomenological experience and political outcomes to reveal how sensory inputs such as sound, wielded by elite and subaltern actors alike, are engineered for political effect. In so doing, I argue that a necessary prerequisite for grasping the role of affect and emotion in politics is a better understanding of technologies and modalities of control that go into the structuring of the sensory environment.

When Revolutionary Coalitions Break Down: Polarization, Protest, and the Tunisian Political Crisis of August 2013

By: Chantal Berman

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 11, Issue 2 (2019)

Abstract: Revolutionary coalitions often break down in the aftermath of revolution, leading to the collapse of transitional governments. Fragmentation among revolutionary elites has been extensively theorized, but few works consider the origins and consequences of polarization among non-elite protesters in the revolutionary coalition. This paper examines the case of Tunisia to unpack how polarization among former revolutionaries may drive secondary waves of mobilization that imperil governing coalitions, even when elites are cooperating. Unique protest surveys of pro- and anti-government demonstrations during the Tunisian political crisis of 2013 – which catalyzed the resignation of the country’s first elected assembly – show that polarization within this coalition occurred along ideological lines concerning the role of Islam in governance but not along class lines, as some theories of transition would predict. Revolutionaries are re-mobilized in part through divergent narratives concerning which social groups participated most in the revolutionary struggle, and which groups suffered and profited most under the old regime. This paper counters the elite-centrism of predominant “transitology” approaches by highlighting how protest politics may shape institutional transitions.

Lying, Denying, or Justifying? Rethinking Authoritarian Repression Strategies in Light of Ben Ali’s Tunisia

By: Mirjam Edel

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 11, Issue 1 (2019)

Abstract: In Tunisia under Ben Ali (1987–2011), marked human rights rhetoric coincided with intense repression. This points to a more general puzzle: what happens when authoritarian regimes uphold their repressive power maintenance agendas while simultaneously trying to avoid negative international consequences? This article argues that authoritarian decision-makers attempt to evade negative consequences from international audiences by applying cushioning strategies in the form of obfuscation, rhetorical justification and/or procedural justification. In that way, they adapt their repressive tactics and manipulate the visibility and perception of their repressive behavior. Ben Ali’s main strategy was to obfuscate, i.e. to deny and cover repression. However, as international audiences are far from applying the same yardstick to all human rights violations, ruling elites often repress targets differently depending on whether audiences have links and sympathy. Again, this becomes apparent in the Tunisian case study, from which hypotheses are generated for future research.

Trade-Offs and Public Support for Security Reform during Democratic Transitions

By: Nicholas J. Lotito

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 11, Issue 2 (2019)

Abstract: During democratic transitions, newly elected governments face public demands to reform the institutions of the old regime, especially the security forces; yet, these reforms often fail. I argue that politicians define policy issues in ways that maximize popular support for their own positions through well-established processes of elite issue framing. Politicians can reduce popular demand for difficult and costly reforms of the security forces by framing them as trade-offs with other types of reform. The argument is tested with original survey data from Tunisia, an important contemporary case of democratic transition. An embedded vignette experiment primes existing issue frames by asking respondents to adjudicate between investments in security reform versus economic or political reform. I find that framing a trade-off with a more popular policy, economic development, reduces public demand for security reform. These findings have important implications for security sector reform and democratic consolidation in Tunisia and beyond.

Trauma as a Counterrevolutionary Strategy

By: Vivienne Matthies-Boon

Published in Middle East Report Issue 292/293 (2019)

Abstract: Recent research in Egypt demonstrates how trauma can be (and has been) weaponized as a counterrevolutionary strategy by military and political elites who seek to maintain and strengthen their economic and political power.

Defending the Egyptian nation: national unity and Muslim attitudes toward the Coptic minority

By: Bosmat Yefet

Published in Middle Eastern Studies Volume 55, Issue 4 (2019)

Abstract: This article discusses the Muslim discourse concerning the Coptic Christian minority since the 2000s in Egypt. Emphasizing the effects of the January 2011 uprising, the paper analyzes the role of nationalism and the national unity discourse in suppressing the debate regarding discrimination against the Copts. Despite the fissures that were created in the discourse, which rejects any reference to discrimination against the Copts, the Coptic issue remains trapped among the contested interpretations of national unity. All narratives of national unity and Egyptian essence, whether the official one pursued by the regime or the one promoted by pro-democracy activists, require the Copts to suppress their demand for rights for the sake of national unity. Adherence to the national unity discourse by all forces precludes the possibility of developing a form of nationalism or a national culture which embodies pluralism of identities and cultures and reinforces the role of nationalism as a tool for stifling pluralism and democracy for all Egyptians, whether Muslim majority or minorities.

Authoritarian resilience and regime cohesion in Morocco after the Arab Spring

By: J. N. C. Hill, Francesco Cavatorta

Published in Middle Eastern Studies Volume 55, Issue 2 (2019)

Abstract: This article argues that Morocco’s competitive authoritarian regime is more resilient today in certain key respects than it was when the Arab Spring began. Drawing on Levitsky and Way’s dimension of organisational power, the article contends the regime was sufficiently unnerved by the unrest to resort to the use of high intensity coercion as part of its response to the 20 February Movement. The article maintains that, in employing this force successfully, the regime has turned the protests into an important source of non-material cohesion for its security apparatus and thereby enhanced its ability to defend itself from similar challenges in the future.

Repression, Cooptation, and Movement Fragmentation in Authoritarian Regimes: Evidence from the Youth Movement in Egypt

By: Nadine Sika

Published in Political Studies Volume 67, Issue 3 (2019)

Abstract: How do authoritarian regimes fragment protest movements in the aftermath of mass protests? How do protest movements deal with these authoritarian measures in return? Based on qualitative fieldwork with 70 young people in Egypt from April until November 2015, I demonstrate that regimes which face major contentious events and transition back to authoritarian rule, utilize two main strategies for fragmenting protest movements: repression and cooptation. The main literature on protest movements contends that regimes respond to protest movements through a combination of repression and concession to offset movement gains and eliminate their motivations for further protests. More concessions are believed to be effective in democratic regimes, while more repression is effective in authoritarian regimes. However, the results of this fieldwork demonstrate the importance of repression in addition to cooptation in authoritarian regimes, which is largely ignored in the literature on protest movements. Cooptation is an instrumental tactic for the regime in two manners: first it creates internal struggles within the movements themselves, which adds to their fragmentation. Second, it facilitates a regime’s repression against protest movement actors. This creates more fragmentation in addition to deterrence to the development of new protest movements and protest activities.

Protests and the Arab Spring: An Empirical Investigation

By: Tansa George Massoud, John A. Doces, Christopher Magee

Published in Polity Volume 51, Issue 3 (2019)

Abstract: This article discusses a variety of major explanations for the intensity of recent protests in Arab states and investigates whether there is empirical support for them. We survey various political, economic, and social factors and develop a comprehensive empirical model to estimate the structural determinants of protests in 19 Arab League states between 1990 and 2011, measured using events data. The results show that protests were stronger in countries with higher inflation, higher levels of corruption, lower levels of freedom, and more use of the internet and cell phones. Protests were also more frequent in countries with partial democracies and factional politics. We find no evidence for the common argument that the surge in protests in 2011 was linked to a bulge in the youth population. Overall, we conclude that these economic, political, and social variables help to explain which countries had stronger protest movements, but that they cannot explain the timing of those revolts. We suggest that a contagion model can help explain the quick spread of protests across the region in 2011, and we conduct a preliminary test of that possibility.

A Classroom Simulation of the Syrian Conflict

By: Richard W. Frank, Jessica Genauer

Published in PS: Political Science & Politics Volume 52, Issue 4 (2019)

Abstract: This article describes a semester-long classroom simulation of the Syrian conflict designed for an introductory international relations (IR) course. The simulation culminates with two weeks of multi-stakeholder negotiations addressing four issues: humanitarian aid, economic sanctions, ceasefire, and political transition. Students randomly play one of 15 roles involving three actor types: states, non-state actors, and international organizations. This article outlines the costs and benefits of simulation design options toward encouraging students’ understanding of IR concepts, and it proposes a course plan for tightly integrating lectures, readings, assessment, and simulation—regardless of class size or length. We highlight this integration through a discussion of two weeks’ worth of material—domestic politics and war, and non-state actors—and the incorporation of bargaining concepts and frameworks into the two weeks of simulated multi-stakeholder negotiations.

Social Network Analysis of German Foreign Fighters in Syria and Iraq

By: Sean C. Reynolds, Mohammed M. Hafez

Published in Terrorism and Political Violence Volume 31, Issue 4 (2019)

Abstract: Why do Westerners become foreign fighters in civil conflicts? We explore this question through original data collection on German foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, and test three sets of hypotheses that revolve around socioeconomic integration, online radicalization, and social network mobilization. We conduct link analysis to map the network of German foreign fighters prior to their mobilization, and marshal evidence to assess the validity of competing explanations. We find only modest support for the integration deficit hypothesis, and meager support for the social media radicalization theory. Instead, the preponderance of evidence suggests that interpersonal ties largely drive the German foreign fighter phenomenon. Recruitment featured clustered mobilization and bloc recruitment within interconnected radical milieus, leading us to conclude that peer-to-peer networks are the most important mobilization factor for German foreign fighters.

Tales of a Square: The Production and Transformation of Political Space in the Egyptian (Counter)Revolution

By: Wladimir Riphagen, Robbert A. F. L. Woltering

Published in Arab Studies Quarterly Volume 40, Issue 2 (2018)

Abstract: This article looks into the meaning of Tahrir Square before, during, and after the January 25 revolution. We employ Lefebvre’s conceptual triad of space to understand how space is not merely a physical form, but also the product of relations between natural and social objects in this space. To understand how these relations changed dramatically after January 25, we will draw on Sewell’s insight into how space is a constituent aspect of contentious politics. We discuss the way in which the political space of Tahrir Square went through distinct phases during and after the Egyptian revolution, from counter-space, to eventually a change in the conceived space of Tahrir Square, but not according to the principles of the newly created lived space during the 18 days.

The 2011 Egyptian revolution chants: a romantic-Muʿtazilī moral order

By: Hiba Ghanem

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 45, Issue 3 (2018)

Abstract: While most literature on the 2011 Egyptian Revolution chants highlights the revolutionary role of poetry, little attention has been paid to the role that theology plays within this domain. This article argues that reading Abu al-Qassim al-Shabbi’s poem, ‘Life’s Will’ (1933), which inspired the chant for the fall of the regime, through the lens of Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age (2007) sheds light on the political relevance of the theological theme within this poem. The essay re-reads al-Shabbi’s investment in the Islamic muʿtāzilī doctrine of free will in terms of the creative role that Taylor gives to romantic poetry in creating a community’s ‘moral order’. Such an analysis brings to light the contribution that a comparative theological-literary framework can have to the political deliberation on the Arab Spring revolutions, especially the 2011 Egyptian Revolution.

Questioning the ‘immortal state’: the Gezi protests and the short-lived human security moment in Turkey

By: Oğuzhan Göksel, Omer Tekdemir

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 45, Issue 3 (2018)

Abstract: This article has three interrelated objectives: firstly, it challenges monolithic depictions of the 2013 Gezi protests and conceptualizes the so-called ‘Spirit of Gezi’ as a highly influential—albeit temporary—power in the politics of Turkey. Secondly, it traces the success of the HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) in the 7 June 2015 parliamentary election back to Gezi while acknowledging the roots of the party within the Kurdish political movement. Thirdly, it examines the manifestation and subsequent decline of what is termed the human security moment in Turkey. The arguments of the work are mostly based on interviews with Gezi activists. It is argued that Gezi produced a discursive challenge to the national security-oriented understanding of the ‘Kurdish question’. Yet, even though the human security-oriented Gezi discourse had brought the Kurdish political movement and the Turkish left together, it ultimately failed to permanently transform Turkish politics due to the collapse of the peace process in June 2015. In addition to contributing to the literature on Gezi, the article also draws insights for security studies. It concludes that alternative discourses to the state-centric securitization approach to conflicts such as the Kurdish question can only have a lasting effect under conditions of ceasefire.

Understating the Logic of Regime Survival? Conceptualizing State–Society Relations and Parliamentary Liberation in Post-2011 Jordan

By: Paul Maurice Esber

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 45, Issue 3 (2018)

Abstract: Both reform and revolutionary movements in the Arab world have called on institutions of state to follow through on the cries for dignity, bread and social justice emanating from the street. These movements are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and may demonstrate overlapping commonalities of practice. Asef Bayat has designated this phenomenon an example of ‘refo-lution’, the amalgamation of a revolutionary agenda with a reform process. This paper will argue that 2011/2012 demonstrations in Jordan fall into this category, and that they elucidate that the relationship between the Hashemite monarchy and Jordanian society needs to be reframed for political stability. The theoretical frame of this article, grounded in the selectorate theory of Bruce Bueno de Mesquita in conjunction with insights from Nazih Ayubi, suggests that this stability requires a more defined separation of powers and functions of the monarchy and the parliament, making the latter an autonomous legislative body.

Moral Identity and Protest Cascades in Syria

By: Wendy Pearlman

Published in British Journal of Political Science Volume 48, Issue 4 (2018)

Abstract: Cascade models explain the roles of the intrepid few who initiate protest and the masses who join when the expected utility of dissent flips from negative to positive. Yet questions remain about what motivates participation between those points on the causal chain, or under any conditions of high risk. To explain these anomalies, this article employs theories of moral identity to explore the interdependence of a facet of decision making that rationalist models typically regard as fixed: individuals’ awareness of and need to express values central to their sense of self. Three mechanisms describe ways that individuals’ responses to early risers trigger moral identity-based motivations for protest. First, by conjuring normative ideals, first movers can activate bystanders’ urge to follow their example in order to earn their own self-respect. Secondly, by demonstrating the joy of agency, early risers can inspire bystanders’ desire to experience the same gratification. Thirdly, by absorbing punishments, early risers can activate onlookers’ sense of moral obligation to contribute to collective efforts. These mechanisms redouble bystanders’ sense of the inherent value of protest, apart from its instrumental utility, and intensify their acceptance of risks, independent of the actual risks anticipated. Original interviews with displaced Syrians about their participation in demonstrations illustrate these processes.

Islamic Law, Truth, Ethics: Fatwa and Jurisprudence of the Revolution

By: Youssef Belal

Published in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East Volume 38, Issue 1 (2018)

Abstract: This article is devoted to the study of questions of knowledge, law, and ethics in Islamic context. Starting with a discussion of assumptions about Islamic ethical practices in recent anthropological and historical works on the fatwa, it explores procedures of truth seeking and modes of reasoning in legal opinions authored by Islamic scholars, notably Yusuf al-Qaradawi, at the time of the Egyptian Revolution (2011). This text analyzes also the relationship between interiority and exteriority in ethical practices enabled by these legal options and exemplified by the assessment of the ruler’s faith. It studies the extent to which the very revolutionary gesture informs Islamic scholars’ own legal and ethical practice and enlightens anew the relationship between the inner and the outer as well as between the self and others. Finally, it explores the articulation between Islamic law and revolution in the Egyptian context and the ways in which the former’s authoritativeness and ethical performativity is reenacted, in contradistinction to Western liberal revolutions instituting a new legal order declaring its rupture with the past law and indifferent to the individual’s morality.

Ignorance: Islam, Literacy, and Status in the Shadow of Revolution

By: Nermeen Mouftah

Published in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East Volume 38, Issue 3 (2018)

Abstract: Mouftah’s article explores Egyptian anxieties about ignorance and how the January 2011 uprising brought new urgency to calls for managing it. In post-Mubarak Egypt, literacy activism became a major platform from which to “continue the revolution.” Drawing on ethnographic research that observes a national literacy campaign among shipyard workers, Mouftah demonstrates how a particular strand of Islamic reformism makes modern education an indicator of morality, ultimately constraining the revolutionary potential of the literacy movement. Literacy activism offers a crucial lens to observe a major challenge for revolutionary action—the negotiation of recognition among social classes. Through attention to teacher-student interactions, she depicts how workers negotiated the power of the written word to gain respect in their early experiments with writing. This article contributes toward an anthropology of ignorance by revealing the political predicaments that arise out of an Islamic literacy activism that, Mouftah argues, is ultimately counterrevolutionary in its effects.

Islamic Law, Truth, Ethics: Fatwa and Jurisprudence of the Revolution

By: Youssef Belal

Published in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East Volume 38, Issue 1 (2018)

Abstract: This article is devoted to the study of questions of knowledge, law, and ethics in Islamic context. Starting with a discussion of assumptions about Islamic ethical practices in recent anthropological and historical works on the fatwa, it explores procedures of truth seeking and modes of reasoning in legal opinions authored by Islamic scholars, notably Yusuf al-Qaradawi, at the time of the Egyptian Revolution (2011). This text analyzes also the relationship between interiority and exteriority in ethical practices enabled by these legal options and exemplified by the assessment of the ruler’s faith. It studies the extent to which the very revolutionary gesture informs Islamic scholars’ own legal and ethical practice and enlightens anew the relationship between the inner and the outer as well as between the self and others. Finally, it explores the articulation between Islamic law and revolution in the Egyptian context and the ways in which the former’s authoritativeness and ethical performativity is reenacted, in contradistinction to Western liberal revolutions instituting a new legal order declaring its rupture with the past law and indifferent to the individual’s morality.

Art in the Egyptian Revolution: Liberation and Creativity 

By: Rounwah Adly Riyadh Bseiso

Published in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East Volume 38, Issue 2 (2018)

Abstract: Bseiso’s article examines how art production was understood during a particular moment in Egypt’s political and cultural history. It examines the ways understandings of art were liberated from the former (and predominant) understanding of art as an elitist, private endeavor located in private/socially restrictive spaces to one of an open, accessible, spontaneous, and at times communal art whose natural location became the street. This liberated understanding of an art that could be created by anyone, anytime, and anywhere emphasized the importance of accessibility and art’s connection to its social and political context, as well as to the community at large. Through a localized, contextualized study that puts at the forefront conversations and interviews with cultural producers and artists in Cairo, it argues that understandings of revolutionary art during the Egyptian revolution (from its beginning in January 2011 to arguably its end in the aftermath of the events in Rab’a in August 2013) came in the creation—the doing—of art rather than the actual artwork itself.

Relations Between Qatar and Saudi Arabia After the Arab Spring

By: Abdul Rezak Bilgin

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 11, Issue 3 (2018)

Abstract: The Arab Spring initiated a new era in the history of the Middle East and significantly shifted regional dynamics. It profoundly marked the history of the region and affected relations between Middle Eastern countries. Qatar–Saudi Arabia relations have likewise been profoundly impacted by it. This study focuses on how the Arab Spring affected relations between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and on how the regional power struggle and rivalry between Riyadh and Doha were exacerbated during that period when disagreements and clashes escalated and deepened between both countries. It also emphasizes the causes of tensions that emerged during the period of the Arab Spring between both states. Using classical realism as a theoretical framework in approaching the issues at hand, the study begins by outlining the historical background to Qatar–Saudi Arabia relations. It then describes the policies of Qatar and Saudi Arabia towards the Arab Spring and explores the problem areas in their bilateral relations. Finally, the sanctions imposed against Qatar are also discussed.

Legitimacy and protest under authoritarianism: explaining student mobilization in Egypt and Morocco during the Arab uprisings

By: Kressen Thyen, Johannes Gerschewski

Published in Democratization Volume 25, Issue 1 (2018)

Abstract: Political protests constitute a major concern to authoritarian regimes. Existing research has argued that they indicate a lack of regime legitimacy. However, empirical evidence on the relationship between legitimacy and protest participation remains rare. Based on new survey data from Morocco and Egypt, this study investigates whether legitimacy played a significant role in student mobilization during the 2011 uprisings. In doing so, we first develop a context-sensitive concept of legitimacy. This allows us to differentiate the ruler’s legitimacy claims and the citizens’ legitimacy beliefs. Furthermore, we distinguish between two different objects of legitimacy: the broader political community and specific regime institutions. Our empirical analysis suggests that legitimacy had an independent and significant impact on students’ protest participation, yet in more nuanced ways than generally assumed. While protest participation was driven by nationalist sentiments in Egypt, it was motivated by dissatisfaction with the political performance of specific regime institutions in Morocco.

Abortive regime transition in Egypt: pro-democracy alliance and demand-making framework

By: Shimaa Hatab

Published in Democratization Volume 25, Issue 4 (2018)

Abstract: What accounts for the failed transition and restructuring of authoritarianism in Egypt after a fleeting rupture in 2011? How did the dominant statist party lose its iron grip on power? Why did the collapse of the dominant party not bring about significant democratic transformation and generate power-sharing pacts? The article aims to go beyond the question of the importance of either authoritarian resilience or the transition paradigm to offer a two-layered analytical framework based on leverage level and the coherence of pro-democracy forces’ demands to account both for the timing of one-party collapse and the consequent dynamics of authoritarian revival. I allow room for complex and strategic interactions between different components of pro-democracy forces and the old ruling class to elucidate the contingent political trajectory after the time of disintegration. When pro-democracy forces maintained their leveraged position and kept a demand-claiming framework unified, they secured a ‘cooperative differentiation’ position and were able to apply consistent democratization pressure that led to regime breakdown. When they adopted a conformist stance and accommodated their demands to the incumbent regime, they became captive to the interests of old regime holdovers and asserted an ‘antagonistic identification’ position that hobbled efforts to move towards democratization.

How authoritarian rulers seek to legitimize repression: framing mass killings in Egypt and Uzbekistan

By: Mirjam Edel, Maria Josua

Published in Democratization Volume 25, Issue 5 (2018)

Abstract: How do authoritarian rulers legitimate repressive actions against their own citizens? Although most research depicts repression and legitimation as opposed strategies of political rule, justified coercion against some groups may generate legitimacy in the eyes of other parts of the population. Building upon this suggested link between legitimation and repression, this article studies the justifications of mass killings. To this end, framing theory is combined with recent research on the domestic and international dimensions of authoritarian rule. We contend that frames are directed towards specific audiences at home and abroad. Moreover, given the common threats at the global level and the diffusion of repressive tactics, we assume that learning processes influence discursive justifications of repression in authoritarian regimes. We provide an analysis of government rhetoric by comparing the protest crackdowns of Rabi’a ‘Adawiya Square in Egypt and Fergana Valley in Uzbekistan, taking into account the audiences and the sources of the frames that justify repression. In both cases, we find the terrorism frame to emerge as dominant.

Self-expression values, loyalty generation, and support for authoritarianism: evidence from the Arab world

By: Sabri Ciftci

Published in Democratization Volume 25, Issue 7 (2018)

Abstract: This study examines the micro foundations of political support in Arab polities. Most Arab states rank highly in aggregate human development or economic wealth, but they lag behind in democracy defying the predictions of modernization theory. Modernization and human development perspective implies that increased resources and self-expression values will induce critical political outlooks toward the regime. This study questions the applicability of this theory to the Arab region and proposes that colonial state formation history, international patron–client relations, and the domestic patronage networks have more leverage in explaining regime support in the Arab region. A series of multilevel and fixed effects regression estimations utilizing the Arab Democracy Barometer reveal that modernization perspective has some relevance. However, world system theory inspired patron–client perspective and loyalty generation through domestic distributive mechanisms play a greater role in shaping political attitudes. The results provide important insights about micro foundations of Arab authoritarianism and the differential utility of emancipative values formed in the context of hierarchical world order.

The intra-GCC crises: mapping GCC fragmentation after 2011

By: Cinzia Bianco; Gareth Stansfield

Published in International Affairs  Volume 94, Issue 3 (2018)

Abstract: If shared security perceptions were the foundation of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), 2011 might be analysed as the watershed year in which the GCC began to fragment from within. Both the 2014 and 2017 intra-GCC crises were manifestations of conflicting security perceptions, formed across the GCC countries in and since 2011. Through an in-depth analysis of the events and of the subsequent reaction of the GCC governments in terms of discourse and foreign policy, we distinguish three different categories of conceptualization. First, the governments of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates perceived domestic protests as an ‘intermestic’ threat—triggered by the intersection of the international and domestic levels. Second, the leaders of Oman and Kuwait conceptualized protests in their countries as manageable domestic insecurity, rather than as fully-fledged externally orchestrated events—arguably because they did not perceive a direct danger to their stability and legitimacy. Finally, it can be argued that the government of Qatar did not see any real danger in the protests but instead viewed them as an opportunity to expand Doha’s regional influence, arguably at Riyadh’s expense. Unpacking the fundamental factors shaping such perceptions is the key to finding the appropriate framework for analysing GCC security in the future.

Leader Language and Political Survival Strategies

By: Leah Windsor, Nia Dowell, Alistair Windsor, John Kaltner

Published in International Interactions Volume 44, Issue 2 (2018)

Abstract: Authoritarian leaders’ language provides clues to their survival strategies for remaining in office. This line of inquiry fits within an emerging literature that refocuses attention from state-level features to the dynamic role that individual heads of state and government play in international relations, especially in authoritarian regimes. The burgeoning text-as-data field can be used to deepen our understanding of the nuances of leader survival and political choices; for example, language can serve as a leading indicator of leader approval, which itself is a good predictor of leader survival. In this paper, we apply computational linguistics tools to an authoritarian leader corpus consisting of 102 speeches from nine leaders of countries across the Middle East and North Africa between 2009 and 2012. We find systematic differences in the language of these leaders, which help advance a more broadly applicable theory of authoritarian leader language and tenure.

Coup-Proofing and Military Inefficiencies: An Experiment

By: Andrew W. Bausch

Published in International Interactions Volume 44, Issue 1 (2018)

Abstract: Coup-proofing occurs when a leader arranges his military to prevent military leaders from overthrowing him. However, coup-proofing often has the additional effect of lowering the military’s effectiveness in conflict. This article discusses coup-proofing in the context of the Nouri al-Maliki’s regime in Iraq before presenting two formal models. The first model shows when coups are possible, leaders select military commanders with lower ability but higher loyalty. The second model shows that when coups are possible, leaders rotate their military commanders to prevent any one commander from becoming too powerful. The article then presents experimental tests of the models. The results of these laboratory experiments show that leaders are more likely to select loyal commanders or rotate their commanders under the coup treatment relative to groups with no leadership turnover or with leadership turnover according to elections. Thus, when faced with the possibility of a coup, leaders intentionally lower their military effectiveness. This article captures the dynamics behind a fundamental inefficiency introduced into groups when leadership is valuable, delegation is necessary, and powerful subordinates can remove the leader from office.

Dynamics of Political Protests

By: Graig R. Klein, Patrick M. Regan

Published in International Organization Volume 72, Issue 2 (2018)

Abstract: The links between protests and state responses have taken on increased visibility in light of the Arab Spring movements. But we still have unanswered questions about the relationship between protest behaviors and responses by the state. We frame this in terms of concession and disruption costs. Costs are typically defined as government behaviors that impede dissidents’ capacity for collective action. We change this causal arrow and hypothesize how dissidents can generate costs that structure the government’s response to a protest. By disaggregating costs along dimensions of concession and disruption we extend our understanding of protest behaviors and the conditions under which they are more (or less) effective. Utilizing a new cross-national protest-event data set, we test our theoretical expectations against protests from 1990 to 2014 and find that when protesters generate high concession costs, the state responds in a coercive manner. Conversely, high disruption costs encourage the state to accommodate demands. Our research provides substantial insights and inferences about the dynamics of government response to protest.

Resonance of the Arab Spring: Solidarities and youth opinion in the Global South

By: Adam K Webb

Published in International Political Science Review Volume 39, Issue 2 (2018)

Abstract: The Arab Spring exemplifies to many a kind of globalisation from below. It cuts across borders and challenges liberal and technocratic élites. But how far does its global resonance really go? Are publics still largely corralled within national political spaces? Are waves of revolt confined by civilisational breakwaters? Or is the cosmopolitan space that many leftists envision taking shape? Based on a three-country survey of university students, this article probes these assumptions. It finds far-reaching solidarity with the aspirations of the Arab Spring, driven by the rise of a cross-border global society. But on probing the bases of such solidarity, it also finds that the cosmopolitan cohort emerging in the Global South does not fit a simple liberal or leftist mould. The Arab Spring resonates on multiple frequencies at the same time. This complex cosmopolitanism has implications for layers of common ground as global political opportunity structures emerge.

Labor Migrants as Political Leverage: Migration Interdependence and Coercion in the Mediterranean

By: Gerasimos Tsourapas

Published in International Studies Quarterly  Volume 62, Issue 2 (2018)

Abstract: How do states attempt to use their position as destinations for labor migration to influence sending states, and under what conditions do they succeed? I argue that economically driven cross-border mobility generates reciprocal political economy effects on sending and host states. That is, it produces migration interdependence. Host states may leverage their position against a sending state by either deploying strategies of restriction—curbing remittances, strengthening immigration controls, or both—or displacement—forcefully expelling citizens of the sending state. These strategies’ success depends on whether the sending state is vulnerable to the political economy costs incurred by host states’ strategy, namely if it is unable to absorb them domestically and cannot procure the support of alternative host states. I also contend that displacement strategies involve higher costs than restriction efforts and are therefore more likely to succeed. I demonstrate my claims through a least-likely, two-case study design of Libyan and Jordanian coercive migration diplomacy against Egypt in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. I examine how two weaker Arab states leveraged their position against Egypt, a stronger state but one vulnerable to migration interdependence, through the restriction and displacement of Egyptian migrants.

How to Keep Officers in the Barracks: Causes, Agents, and Types of Military Coups

By: Holger Albrecht, Ferdinand Eibl

Published in International Studies Quarterly  Volume 62, Issue 2 (2018)

Abstract: What are the most efficient strategies to prevent military coups d’état? The answer depends on coup agency, that is, who attempts to overthrow the regime: elite officers or lower-ranking combat officers. Elite officers and lower-ranking combat officers have different incentives, opportunities, and capacities when it comes to perpetrating coups. Using original data on coup agency, public spending, and officer salaries in the Middle East and North Africa, we find that counterbalancing—a strategy designed to increase barriers for coup plotters’ coordination efforts—and higher shares of defense spending prove more effective at preventing coups by elite officers. However, higher social spending reduces the risk of coups by combat officers. Political liberalization has mixed effects on military agents. It decreases the risk of coups by combat officers, but makes elite officers more likely to mount coups. Our findings suggest that the study of coups needs to better incorporate variation and that we need to rethink the image of coups as purely elite-led power grabs.

The EU and Islamist parties in Tunisia and Egypt after the Arab uprisings: A story of selective engagement

By: Benedetta Voltolini, Silvia Colombo

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 23, Issue 1 (2018)

Abstract: This article argues that the new EU’s selective engagement with Islamist parties in its Southern neighbourhood following the Arab uprisings is the result of a partial shift in the EU’s frame used to understand political Islam, combined with a form of pragmatism that puts a premium on finding interlocutors in the region. Using the case studies of Tunisia and Egypt, it shows that the EU has replaced its previous monolithic conception of political Islam with an understanding that is more sensitive to differences among Islamists. This opens the door to some forms of engagement with those actors that renounce violence and demonstrate their commitment to work within the confines of democratic rules, while violent strands of political Islam and conservative groups remain at arm’s length.

The French foreign policy U-turn in the Arab Spring – the case of Tunisia

By: Laura-Theresa Krüger, Bernhard Stahl

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 23, Issue 2 (2018)

Abstract: As for many, the Arab uprisings of 2010–11 came as a surprise for France. After initial inactivity, followed by last minute support of the Tunisian regime, President Sarkozy took a U-turn by spearheading the military intervention in Libya and both Sarkozy and his successor Hollande announced a re-launch in the Franco-Tunisian relations. Starting from the assumption that France’s drastic foreign policy changes cannot be sufficiently explained by presidential change, we draw upon social-constructivist discourse-bound identity theory and provide a model for discursive legitimations of foreign policy changes. When the “permissive consensus” between the three discursive formations of the French foreign policy identity breaks up, drastic foreign policy turns may occur. By analysing the French policy actions and rhetoric towards Tunisia between 2007 and 2015, we show, however, that the sudden change tends to be rather ephemeral and that French foreign policy seems to be gradually returning to its pre-revolution approach.

The role of human development in the transition to democracy after the Arab Spring

By: Grigorios Rapanos

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 23, Issue 3 (2018)

Abstract: In this article, we examine how human development, as expressed by indicators, like life expectancy, infant mortality, income and gender inequality and literacy, may affect the transition to democracy of the countries that experienced the Arab Spring. More specifically, we attempt to explain why Tunisia has had a rather smooth transition from dictatorship to democracy, in contrast to other countries where the uprisings either failed or led to civil wars (Syria and Libya) or there was a return to autocracy (Egypt). Our analysis shows that Tunisia had a much better performance in all human development indicators, in comparison with the other countries, which may explain why this country has not backtracked and despite the difficulties is on the road to democracy.

Changing the path? EU migration governance after the ‘Arab spring’

By: Andrew Geddes, Leila Hadj-Abdou

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 23, Issue 1 (2018)

Abstract: This article shows how understandings amongst policy élites of a ‘new normal’ form the basis for current and future EU action on migration in the Mediterranean region. This new normality centres on the understanding that Europe faces significant migratory pressures at its Mediterranean borders. By opening the ‘black box’ of European and EU migration governance, the article seeks to provide fresh insight into how framing and frame enactment shape policy responses. Rather than detailing the ‘outputs’ or ‘outcomes’ of European migration governance systems – such as laws and policy approaches – this paper adopts a different approach by exploring the underlying perceptions and understandings of migration held by actors within migration governance systems.

Toward an Alternative ‘Time of the Revolution’? Beyond State Contestation in the struggle for a new Syrian Everyday

By: Estella Carpi, Andrea Glioti

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 27, Issue 3 (2018)

Abstract: The convoluted relationship between the state and citizens in conflict-ridden Syria often has been reduced to a binary of dissent and consent. Challenging these simplistic categorizations, this article analyzes how state mechanisms resonate in the everyday lives of Syrians since the beginning of the crisis. Drawing on ethnographic insights from Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Syrian Kurds in northeastern Syria, this article shows how state, society and political opposition function as relational processes. Then, it identifies the limitations of contemporary strategies of everyday political contestation through the theory of Syrian intellectual ‘Omar ‘Aziz’s ‘time of the revolution.’

All is Flux: A Hybrid Media Approach to Macro-Analysis of the Turkish Media

By: Aslı Tunç

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 27, Issue 2 (2018)

Abstract: Since 2002, when the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power, the media in Turkey have undergone significant transformation. Drawing on the historical background of Turkish media and including the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, this article focuses on the changing role of newspapers and television channels, as well as the journalism profession. In-depth interviews lead the way to an analysis of the media sector’s function at the intersection between clientelism, authoritarian tendencies, and capitalist market rules. The concept of ‘hybridity’ used for this study offers a theoretical framework for discussing how Turkey fits into the model of competitive authoritarianism and Andrew Chadwick’s hybridity media framework.

Egypt’s New Authoritarianism under Sisi

By: Bruce K. Rutherford

Published in Middle East Journal  Volume 72, Issue 2 (2018)

Abstract: While many have noted how the regime of ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi differs from that of Husni Mubarak, scholars have not yet conceptualized these differences’ significance. This article utilizes the literature on authoritarianism to argue that the Mubarak–Sisi transition was an attempt to shift from a provision pact, grounded in an extensive patronage network, to a protection pact in which elites back the regime because it protects them from internal and external threats. This transition is incomplete and, as the protection pact disintegrates, Egypt is left with a fragmented elite and a fractured state that renders the country more difficult to rule.

The ‘Third Hand’ in Egypt: Legitimation and the International Dimension in Political Transformations

By: Sarah Wessel

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 10, Issue 3 (2018)

Abstract: This article seeks to complement current research on the international dimension of the recent transformations in the Arab world by focusing on the subjective domestic political debates on external actors in Egypt. Approaching political transformations in post-revolutionary Egypt (2010–2014) as dynamic and reciprocal processes of claim making and receiving, I explore how the representations of external actors served as an important source for the military to legitimize the continuous expansion of its political powers. By doing so, I hope to illuminate on a period that was celebrated as a departure towards democracy, yet regressed into the re-emergence of a military regime three years later. Drawing from empirical findings gained in a multi-sited long-term field study from 2010 to 2014, I show that the ‘third hand’ – a concept that is commonly used in the streets, the media and in political speeches to designate external interventions as attempts to undermine the stability of the country – had a major impact on the transformations. The article shows how the exploration of domestic public debates is key to a better understanding of the international dimension in political transformations.

Public Support for Democratic Reform in post-Mubarak Egypt

By: Fait Muedini, Bryan Dettrey

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 10, Issue 2 (2018)

Abstract: This article investigates support for democracy after the overthrow of Egypt’s long-time President Hosni Mubarak. It specifically examines concerns prompting the protests and support for several democratic reforms in Egyptian governance. The results suggest corruption slightly outweighed the lack of democracy as a primary concern of Egyptians over the last few years. Specific democratic reforms such as a fair judicial system and the ability to criticize government receive significant support. Less support is found for equal rights for women and considerably less support for civilian control of the military. The article concludes with a discussion of how little support for providing civilian control over the military may represent an obstacle to a democratic transition. Democratic consolidations are more likely to be successful if democracy is “the only game in town”.1 The role of the military in the ouster of Mubarak and now Mursi suggests the military has significant influence on Egyptian governance, with little support for altering this institutional arrangement.

Democratization in Unlikely Places: Comparative Lessons from the Latin American Experience

By: Kenneth M. Roberts

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 10, Issue 3 (2018)

Abstract: The Latin American experience at the end of the 20th century demonstrates that democratic regimes can be established and stabilized in “unlikely” places that would not appear to have the requisite “preconditions” for democracy as conventionally theorized. The region may thus provide insights into the prospects for democracy in other parts of the world, such as the MENA region, that also lack the traditional correlates of democracy. An understanding of democracy’s institutional roots in deep societal conflicts, rather than political consensus, civic cultures, or economic prosperity, is an essential starting point for such cross-regional perspectives.

The Puzzle of Democratic Divergence in the Arab World: Theory Confronts Experience in Egypt and Tunisia

By: Eva Bellin

Published in Political Science Quarterly Volume 133, Issue 3 (2018)

Abstract: Eva Bellin explores the divergent political trajectories pursued by Egypt and Tunisia after the Arab Spring. She argues that factors such as socio-economic development, mass culture, and prior regime character were less consequential in shaping the chances of democratic transition than were factors such as civil society, the character of the military, and leadership.

Elite Survival Strategies and Authoritarian Reversal in Turkey

By: Oksan Bayulgen, Ekim Arbatli, Sercan Canbolat

Published in Polity Volume 50, Issue 3 (2018)

Abstract: What explains authoritarian reversal and resilience in hybrid regimes? This article derives hypotheses from an in-depth case analysis of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rule in Turkey. The Turkish case demonstrates that authoritarian reversal can happen as a result of strategies pursued by political elites to stay in power. Ruling elites in hybrid regimes endure by using the strategies of centralization, legitimation, and repression. During the 2002–13 period, Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) were able to entrench their power by eliminating veto players within the state, building a well-organized apparatus for targeted repression, and strategically making concessions to large segments of the electorate. Since 2013, they have changed their strategies for political survival in response to emerging economic and security problems and the ensuing defections of some supporters, which had rendered the original equilibrium unsustainable. AKP elites intensified repression, further centralized power, and relied heavily on an ideological and polarizing rhetoric to delegitimize and splinter the opposition. We argue that this new equilibrium of high centralization, ideological legitimation, and widespread repression allowed the elites to withstand serious challenges to their rule, while significantly weakening the competitive and democratic elements of the hybrid regime. Our in-depth analysis of elite strategies and their adaptability to changing exogenous economic and geostrategic conditions in the Turkish context contribute to the analysis of the resilience and vulnerability of hybrid regimes in general and of where on the regime spectrum they eventually move.

Survey Research in the Arab World: Challenges and Opportunities

By: Lindsay J. Benstead

Published in PS: Political Science & Politics Volume 51, Issue 3 (2018)

Abstract: Survey research has expanded in the Arab world since the 1980s. The Arab Spring marked a watershed when surveying became possible in Tunisia and Libya, and researchers added additional questions needed to answer theoretical and policy questions. Almost every Arab country now is included in the Arab Barometer or World Values Survey. Yet, some scholars express the view that the Arab survey context is more challenging than that of other regions or that respondents will not answer honestly, due to authoritarianism. I argue that this position reflects biases that assume “Arab exceptionalism” more than fair and objective assessments of data quality. Based on cross-national data analysis, I found evidence of systematically missing data in all regions and political regimes globally. These challenges and the increasing openness of some Arab countries to survey research should spur studies on the data-collection process in the Middle East and beyond.

Negotiating statist neoliberalism: the political economy of post-revolution Egypt

By: Heba Khalil, Brian Dill

Published in Review of African Political Economy Volume 45, Issue 158 (2018)

Abstract: This article explores the reproduction of Egypt’s post-revolutionary political economy under the military regime. Through an examination of tax and fiscal policy, the authors argue that a strategic wedding of seemingly contradictory state types allows the current regime to create a hybrid they call ‘statist neoliberalism’. The article argues that this hybrid form is not accidental, but is an intentional project that allows the state to sustain neoliberal reforms, whilst maintaining its long-standing control over society and the economy.

Social Signals and Participation in the Tunisian Revolution

By: David Doherty, Peter J. Schraeder

Published in The Journal of Politics Volume 80, Issue 2 (2018)

Abstract: Revolutionary protests can spread surprisingly rapidly. Social contagion may play a key role in this process: people who observe others participating may be more likely to do so themselves, thus reinforcing the proparticipation signal. We leverage data from two surveys to assess the relationship between exposure to proparticipatory social signals and individual-level participation in the Tunisian revolution. We benchmark these effects to those associated with individual-level characteristics, including those tied to political and economic grievances. We find robust evidence of the importance of social signals: those who reported having friends who participated and those who lived in neighborhoods where others participated in the protests were substantially more likely to participate, even after controlling for an array of individual-level and contextual confounds. We find scant support for the expectation that participants and nonparticipants were distinguished by their commitment to democracy or by economic grievances.

Security Networks, Deep States, and the Democratic Deficit in the Middle East

By: Oren Barak

Published in The Middle East Journal  Volume 72, Issue 3 (2018)

Abstract: This article argues that part of the reason why some Middle Eastern states remain democratically challenged is the emergence, operation, and political influence of “security networks” and “deep states”—informal actors in the area of national security. The article explains what these actors are, situates them in a broad theoretical and comparative perspective, assesses their impact on democratic development, and provides examples from Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, and Egypt.

Global international relations and the Arab Spring: the Maghreb’s challenge to the EU

By: J. N. C. Hill

Published in Third World Quarterly  Volume 39, Issue 10 (2018)

Abstract: This article contributes to the Global International Relations project by critically evaluating the roles ascribed to Europe and the EU by Levitsky and Way in their model for explaining regime transitions. Focusing primarily on their international dimensions of linkage and leverage, it assesses both the normative geopolitical underpinnings and explanatory power of their thesis, drawing on the North African cases of Tunisia and Mauritania at the start of the Arab Spring to illustrate and substantiate its observations and arguments. It concludes that the EU’s failure to discipline either country’s competitive authoritarian regime raises important questions about the validity of the privileged role in which they cast Europe.

Unlikely Democrats: Economic Elite Uncertainty under Dictatorship and Support for Democratization

By: Michael Albertus, Victor Gay

Published in American Journal of Political Science Volume 61, Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract: Influential recent scholarship assumes that authoritarian rulers act as perfect agents of economic elites, foreclosing the possibility that economic elites may at times prefer democracy absent a popular threat from below. Motivated by a puzzling set of democratic transitions, we relax this assumption and examine how elite uncertainty about dictatorship—a novel and generalizable causal mechanism impacting democratization—can induce elite support for democracy. We construct a noisy signaling model in which a potential autocrat attempts to convince economic elites that he will be a faithful partner should elites install him in power. The model generates clear predictions about how two major types of elite uncertainty—uncertainty in a potential autocratic successor’s policies produced by variance in the pool of would-be dictator types, and uncertainty in the truthfulness of policy promises made by potential autocratic successors—impact the likelihood of elite-driven democratization. We demonstrate the model’s plausibility in a series of cases of democratic transition.

Spontaneous Collective Action: Peripheral Mobilization During the Arab Spring

By: Zachary C. Steinert-Threlkeld

Published in American Political Science Review Volume 111, Issue 2 (2017)

Abstract: Who is responsible for protest mobilization? Models of disease and information diffusion suggest that those central to a social network (the core) should have a greater ability to mobilize others than those who are less well-connected. To the contrary, this article argues that those not central to a network (the periphery) can generate collective action, especially in the context of large-scale protests in authoritarian regimes. To show that those in the core of a social network have no effect on levels of protest, this article develops a dataset of daily protests across 16 countries in the Middle East and North Africa over 14 months from 2010 through 2011. It combines that dataset with geocoded, individual-level communication from the same period and measures the number of connections of each person. Those on the periphery are shown to be responsible for changing levels of protest, with some evidence suggesting that the core’s mobilization efforts lead to fewer protests. These results have implications for a wide range of social choices that rely on interdependent decision making.

“Arab Culture”: From Orientalist Construct to Arab Uprisings

By: Andrew Hammond

Published in Arab Media & Society Issue 23 (2017)

Abstract: Any attempt to write an account of popular culture in the Middle East must face the question of how to define Arab and the Arabs? This might seem an odd statement at first glance: some 350 million people speak the language, ergo they are Arabs, and Arab, the Arabs, the Arab world are terms used so ubiquitously today that the issue is rarely raised. But the need for qualification becomes clear when considering political institutions, regional diversity, historical and cultural patrimony, and the multiple discourses on identity of the region. The political institution par excellence that houses the Arabs is the Arab League, an organization formed in 1944 when its founding countries were still subject to British and French colonial tutelage. Its 22 members include a country in which hardly any Arabic is spoken (Somalia) and countries in which a significant section of the population speak another language as their mother tongue and resist identification through the term Arab (Berbers in Morocco and Algeria; Kurds in Iraq and Syria). Others have lost the language of a previous identity and remain divided over ‘Arab’ (Egyptian Copts). Others do not attempt to define themselves as Arab yet control territory in which around half the population is Arabic-speaking and embrace the Arab identity marker (Israel and the occupied territories). What we are dealing with then is a contingent identity, a complex political and cultural formulation, deployed politically and embraced culturally at various stages of the past and present.

Revolutionary Art or “Revolutionizing Art”? Making Art on the Streets of Cairo

By: Rounwah Adly Riyadh Bseiso

Published in Arab Media & Society Issue 23 (2017)

Abstract: In an article published on December 17, 2014, Surti Singh, an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the American University in Cairo (AUC), wrote that “a new set of questions is crystallizing about the role of art in contemporary Egypt” and posed the following questions: “Can art still preserve the revolutionary spirit that spilled out in the graffiti and murals that covered Egypt’s streets?  Should this even be art’s focus?”  (Singh, 2014). Singh’s questions at the time were indicative of a growing debate in Egypt over what constitutes a legitimate “art” and what its focus should be following the uprising of January 2011, given the emergence of new forms of art in public spaces. Public art is not a new phenomenon in Egypt – its modern history goes back to the late 19th century (Karnouk 2005; Winegar 2006), and street art also has a history prior to the uprising in Egypt (Charbel 2010; Jarbou 2010; Hamdy 2014, Abaza, 2016).  However, the form, content and even the players of public art and street art have changed as practices have become more visible and with this visibility come new questions – what is the role of art in uprising and post-uprising Egypt? Should art incite the public to act against a repressive government, should it serve as a form of awareness, and/or should it document the revolutions “real” history versus what is reported in state media?  Is overtly “political” art serving the “revolution” or undermining it? Is aesthetically pleasing, but seemingly content deprived art, a disservice to the revolution?

Unity on Palestine Without Arab Unity? US Policy and the Post-Maksoud Arab World

By: Khalil Mousa Marrar

Published in Arab Studies Quarterly  Volume 39, Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract: Taking off from Clovis Maksoud’s idea about the centrality of the Palestinians to Arab unity, this article traces out the historic struggle between secular nationalism and Islamism throughout and after the Arab Spring-turned-Winter and the complex interactions with American foreign policy. The trajectory of Middle Eastern and North African countries and politicized identity within them are analyzed in relation to that unsettled context. The article concludes with an evaluation of the possibilities for moving beyond the violence and authoritarianism in the Arab world using the lessons imparted by Maksoud.

Arabic Performance Poetry: A New Mode of Resistance

By: Muhammad Agami Hassan Muhammad

Published in Arab Studies Quarterly  Volume 39, Issue 2 (2017)

Abstract: Performance poetry, as a literary term, is known in the Western literature, although some critics may not consider it literary in the first place. This article assumes the applicability of this term to new attempts of some Egyptian youth whose poems share the common features of performance poetry in English literature. Their poetic works are passionate, rhythmic, using aural and visual effects in the background, and dialects in addition to the poet’s presentation of the poem face to face with the audience. Regarding the content, their verse has preceded and accompanied the political turmoil Egypt witnessed before, during, and after 25 January Revolution. For this reason, this poetic pattern loudly reflects the concerns, demands, and aspirations of the rebellious generation of youth and the whole Egyptian society. It can be considered the manifestation of the new challenging spirit of the youth in Egypt. The aim of the research is to highlight the similarities between the Anglo-American performance poetry and the literary works of two Egyptian young poets: Hisham al-Gakh and Amr Qatamish. As an interdisciplinary study, literary criticism, cultural criticism including socio-political analysis will be utilized to elucidate how performance poetry represents a new trend of resisting corruption and injustice, as well as a revolution against conventional poetic forms.

Participatory governance or deliberative disjuncture? Exploring the state–civil society policy nexus in the gender mainstreaming programmes of seven Middle Eastern states 2005–2015

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 44, Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract: To better understand why Middle Eastern states continue to languish at the bottom of world rankings on gender equality, this study presents critical discourse analysis of state and civil society organizations’ implementation of the Participative Democratic Model of gender mainstreaming. A requirement of the 1995 United Nations Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Participative Democratic Model entails state–civil society engagement to embed gender equality concerns in every stage of the policy process. It is in this context that the original contribution of the article is twofold. In methodological terms, it is argued that contemporary analysis of mainstreaming needs to examine the formative phase of policy implementation and the discourse between state elites and civil society organizations. This is integral to effective agenda-setting and coordinated action—and thus to securing successful gender-equality outcomes. In empirical terms, the study findings show how presently, across the Middle East, there are marked contrasts in state and civil society policy framing and issue prioritization. The resulting disjuncture is a hitherto under-examined pathology preventing the realization of the normative vision of gender equality in the region.

Ties to the Rest: Autocratic Linkages and Regime Survival

By: Oisín Tansey, Kevin Koehler, Alexander Schmotz

Published in Comparative Political Studies Volume 50, Issue 9 (2017)

Abstract: The relationship between international linkages and the nature and survival of political regimes has gained increasing attention in recent years, but remains one that is poorly understood. In this article, we make three central contributions to our understanding of international linkage politics and autocratic regime survival. First, we introduce and develop the concept of “autocratic linkage,” and highlight its importance for understanding the international politics of autocratic survival. Second, we use event history analysis to demonstrate that autocratic linkage has a systematic effect on the duration of authoritarian regimes. Finally, we complement our quantitative analysis with a focused comparison of autocratic linkage politics in the Middle East. We show that variation in Saudi Arabian support for autocratic incumbents in the wake of the Arab Spring protests can be explained in significant part by variation in linkage relationships.

Geopolitics of identity: Egypt’s lost peace

By: Amr G. E. Sabet

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 10, Issue 1 (2017)

Abstract: This paper attempts to provide a conceptualization of Egypt’s current predicaments by process-tracing historical critical junctures and sequences of causal mechanisms that contributed to bringing about the January 2011 events. Focusing on the period between the July 1952 Revolution led by Gamal Abdel Nasser and the events of 2011, it traces the developments and changing political and strategic trajectories of the three presidents Nasser, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak. The case of Egypt is examined here as ‘an instance of a class of events’ focusing on phenomena related to the tracing of causal factors or critical junctures, and mechanisms leading to a particular outcome on 25 January 2011. It further links the uprising to that country’s 1979 ‘Peace Treaty’ with Israel. This treaty ‘de-securitized’ the latter, allowing it significant regional freedom of action. This had a causal effect on challenging Egypt’s identity-motivated action, contributing, in the process, to undermining its identity structure. An increasing awareness among many Egyptians of the link between the treaty and their identity formation is one of the main reasons for summoning the legacy of Nasser’s leadership as a source of ‘ontological security’.

Urban political culture in the Arab world: the relationship between orientation towards democracy and political protest

By: Ben Ahmed Hougua

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 10, Issue 4 (2017)

Abstract: The main hypothesis of this study is based on a causal relation between certain forms of emerging political culture in urban ecology, among the dissatisfied democrats, and the political protest in Arab capitals. This hypothesis is based on an implicit implication that the modernization factors provided by the capitals’ urban ecology contribute to cultural transformations in emerging generations. These transformations are determined by the adoption of modern value systems represented by independence, self-expression and freedom. The demographic succession of generations – in addition to the transformations of economic and cultural conditions of socialization within the urban ecology – contributes to the deep and slow transition at the same time to new forms of meanings where modernity plays a significant role in their formulation. Therefore, it is expected that these transformations will take a more visible shape among the young and educated social groups, as they are the most exposed to waves of modernization. This paper studies the relationship between emerging political culture in Arab capitals and the engagement in political protest. It uses statistical analysis to see if there are substantial differences between the dissatisfied cultural trends and the allegiant trends, in light of demographic, value, moral and political variables. The methodology used is based on a synthesis between the authoritarian/democratic trends and self-esteem for institutional achievement (confidence in democratic political institutions such as parliament and government).

Security sector reform, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of militias: the challenges for state building in Libya

By: Youssef Mohammad Sawani

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 10, Issue 2 (2017)

Abstract: Even though the rebels, later turned ‘revolutionaries’, actually had an insignificant role as combatants in the violent downfall of the Gaddafi regime in Libya in 2011, they became involved in acts of war in many parts of the country in what came to resemble a civil war. Their militias flourished thanks to the lucrative financial handouts that governments paid to them. To complicate matters, additional militias sprang up in the absence of any sort of viable state/institutional control on the part of the nascent ‘state’ or an inability to restrict and monopolize the use of force. Therefore, disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and security sector reform have not been possible, and the Libyan case demonstrates the failure to emulate international best practices, thus hindering any state-building. This paper seeks to analyse the Libyan case and provide an approach and framework for dealing with the genuine causes of the current situation in order help put the appropriate disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) and security sector reform (SSR) policy in place, while simultaneously not ignoring other major, contributing factors. This study suggests that the case of Libya is unique and likely to prove challenging to both established and evolving theoretical approaches to both DDR and SSR. Experiments in the country that have ignored the holistic security sector reform will be examined and its programmes analysed to ascertain whether these have produced any effective state-run structures and mechanisms, norms and procedures, or whether they have only served to reinforce the de facto roles of militias. The article argues that unless the state-building approach is revitalized and national reconciliation made a top priority, Libya’s current debacle and instability is most likely to continue.

Weathering the storm: why was there no Arab uprising in Algeria?

By: Gianni Del Panta

Published in Democratization Volume 24, Issue 6 (2017)

Abstract: This article re-opens the discussion of why there was “no Arab Uprising in Algeria.” After critically reviewing previous findings, the paper suggests that the stability of the Algerian regime was mainly a result of the non-formation of a cross-class and cross-ideological coalition. Splitting this hypothesis into its two main parts, it will be shown, first, that the working class was the missing element. Two factors explain this: (a) the numerical and strategic marginalization of productive workers – in turn, an effect of the process of de-industrialization that hit the country from the late 1980s onwards; and (b) the presence of an aristocracy of labour in the hydrocarbon sector, from which a tiny minority of workers produced an overwhelming amount of wealth. Secondly, the enduring distrust among opposition groups – a direct legacy of the still-too-recent civil war, as well as an effect of the specific institutional environment that developed from the mid 1990s onwards – prevented the establishment of a “negative coalition” through which all opposition forces could jointly mobilize against the regime.

Online clustering, fear and uncertainty in Egypt’s transition

By: Marc Lynch, Deen Freelon, Sean Aday

Published in Democratization Volume 24, Issue 6 (2017)

Abstract: Does the uncertainty associated with post-authoritarian transitions cause political and social polarization? Does ubiquitous social media exacerbate these problems and thus make successful democratic transitions less likely? This article examines these questions in the case of Egypt between the 11 February 2011 fall of President Hosni Mubarak and the 3 July 2013 military coup, which overthrew President Mohamed el-Morsi. The analysis is based on a Twitter dataset including 62 million tweets by 7 million unique users. Using a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods, we demonstrate how clusters of users form and evolve over time, the density of interactions between them, and the flow of particular types of information through the clustered network structure. We show that the Egyptian Twitter public developed into increasingly isolated clusters of the like-minded which shared information unevenly. We argue that the growing distance between these clusters encouraged political conflict and facilitated the spread of fear and hatred, which ultimately undermined the democratic transition and won popular support for the military coup.

From the web to the streets: internet and protests under authoritarian regimes

By: Kris Ruijgrok

Published in Democratization Volume 24, Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract: This article systematically investigates the relationship between internet use and protests in authoritarian states and democracies. It argues that unlike in democracies, internet use has facilitated the occurrence of protests in authoritarian regimes, developing a theoretical rationale for this claim and substantiating it with robust empirical evidence. The article argues that whereas information could already flow relatively freely in democracies, the use of the internet has increased access to information in authoritarian regimes despite authoritarian attempts to control cyberspace. The article suggests this increased access to information positively affects protesting in authoritarian states via four complementary causal pathways: (1) by reducing the communication costs for oppositional movements; (2) by instigating attitudinal change; (3) decreasing the informational uncertainty for potential protesters; and (4) through the mobilizing effect of the spread of dramatic videos and images. These causal pathways are illustrated using anecdotal evidence from the Tunisian revolution (2010–2011). The general claim that internet use has facilitated the occurrence of protests under authoritarian rule is systematically tested in a global quantitative study using country-year data from 1990 to 2013. Internet use increases the expected number of protests in authoritarian states as hypothesized. This effect remains robust across a number of model specifications.

What does democracy mean? Activist views and practices in Athens, Cairo, London and Moscow

By: Armine Ishkanian, Marlies Glasius

Published in Democratization Volume 24, Issue 6 (2017)

Abstract: We shed light on the discontent with and the appeal of democracy by interviewing some of the most committed critical citizens: core activists in street protests. Based on interviews in Athens, Cairo, London, and Moscow, we found that they rejected representative democracy as insufficient, and believed democracy to entail having a voice and a responsibility to participate intensively in political decision-making. Activists saw themselves as engaged in prefigurative politics by fostering democratic practices within the movement and, ultimately, in society, but also raised concerns about internal power dynamics reproducing existing inequalities and exclusions. The insistence by activists that citizens have both a right and a duty to participate should be taken more seriously by political scientists and policymakers, not just as a threat to democracy and democratization, but as an opportunity. However, contemporary social movements are not straightforward sites of prefiguration, but sites of struggle between experimental and traditional forms of organizing, between inclusive aspirations and exclusive tendencies.

Coups and nascent democracies: the military and Egypt’s failed consolidation

By: Hicham Bou Nassif

Published in Democratization Volume 24, Issue 1 (2017)

Abstract: Why do coups happen in some nascent democracies but not in others? To answer this question, I probe four interconnected variables in democratizing regimes: the military’s ethos; the military’s corporate interests; the military’s perception of the new civilian ruling elite; and the correlation of force between the military and the founding democratic government. My argument is twofold: first, I maintain that ideational variables are central to shaping the military’s political behaviour; and second, I argue in favour of merging insights from cultural, corporate, and structural theories to understand the consolidation, or breakdown, of nascent democracies.

Pathways of Islamist adaptation: the Egyptian Muslim Brothers’ lessons for inclusion moderation theory

By: Sumita Pahwa

Published in Democratization Volume 24, Issue 6 (2017)

Abstract: The Muslim Brothers’ transition from religious movement to majority-seeking party in Egypt’s post 2011 democratic experiment offered a key test of the inclusion-moderation hypothesis. While the MB’s increasing religious and organizational conservatism at new electoral thresholds appears to challenge the hypothesis, I argue that it was the result of strategic adaptation based on functional alternative interpretations of political opportunity that did not require a trade-off between power-seeking and expressive goals, constrained by prior pathways of electoral adaptation, and shaped by the ambiguous political incentives of democratic transition. This article shows that the MB, like other religious parties, has alternated between strategies for electoral adaptation, challenging expectations of linear evolution; that majority-seeking sometimes encourages intra-movement dynamics that are radicalizing as well as moderating; and shows that expressive goals and identity remain important to religious parties even in office, and make some paths of adaptation more attractive while precluding others. While the case affirms the relevance of political learning mechanisms predicted by inclusion-moderation theory, the divergent outcomes of this learning suggest the need to focus on the contexts and motivations that set movements along one of multiple possible adaptive pathways.

Support for political mobilization and protest in Egypt and Morocco: an online experimental study

By: Anthony F. Lemieux, Erin M. Kearns, Victor Asal, James Igoe Walsh

Published in Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict Volume 10, Issue 2-3 (2017)

Abstract: Why do individuals engage in or support acts of contentious politics? Building from previous work, this article uses a 2 (high/low grievance) × 2 (high/low risk) × 2 (high/low opportunity) online experimental design to examine the impact of these factors on political action with participants from Egypt (n = 517) and Morocco (n = 462). Participants assumed a first-person perspective as a member of a fictional oppressed ethnic minority group in one of eight vignettes. Participants then indicated the extent to which they would engage in various forms of protest and violence, and how justified such actions were. Participants answered several social-personality measures: Social Dominance Orientation (SDO), Right Wing Authoritarianism (RWA), and Activism and Radicalism Intentions Scale (AIS and RIS). Analyses show that higher SDO and RIS scores largely drive violent engagement and justification for these actions. Higher AIS scores predicted protest engagement and justification, while SDO negatively influenced non-violence. RWA scores decreased engagement in and support for any form of political action. In contrast with previous experimental findings, grievance did not impact decisions about political mobilization.

Contentious Borders in the Middle East and North Africa: Context and Concepts

By: Raffaella A. Del Sarto

Published in International Affairs Volume 93, Issue 4 (2017)

Abstract: The recent upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have exerted pressure on the regional state system and its borders. Exploring the altered nature and function of borders in a comprehensive and theory-informed manner, together with their domestic, regional and international implications, is long overdue. As a starting point to this endeavour, this article provides the historical context to the problem of contested borders in the MENA region since the formation of the modern state system in the region until today. While problematizing a number of key concepts, the article proposes to analyse the currently contentious nature of many MENA borders by considering the often deeply conflicting configuration of state authority, legitimacy and territoriality over time; the Arab uprisings mark the most recent of a series of critical junctures. Developments at the international, regional and domestic levels are considered while attention is paid to their intersection. The article concludes by raising the question of whether prevailing conceptualisations of the state and its borders are adequate for a real understanding of past and present developments in the region, suggesting that alternative or additional approaches may be helpful.

States and Sovereignty in the Middle East: Myths and Realities

By: Louise Fawcett

Published in International Affairs Volume 93, Issue 4 (2017)

Abstract: To many observers the Middle East state system since the Arab uprisings stands at a critical juncture, displaying contradictory patterns of fragility and durability. The uprisings, which started late in 2010, were revolutionary in their initial impact, but beyond Tunisia, it is the counter-revolutionary movement which has proved more durable. However, the region has witnessed regime changes alongside intense levels of popular mobilization, violence and transnational activism. The results have been highly destabilizing, resulting in challenges, not only to regimes, but to the very sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. This, in turn, has contributed to a shifting regional power balance and repeated episodes of external intervention. Some commentators have argued that the whole regional system, always fragile and contested, is finally undergoing radical transformation; others point to its resilience. This article evaluates the latest wave of instability and its consequences for Middle Eastern states, their sovereignty and regional order, introducing themes and discussions taken up in other articles in this special issue. It argues that despite recent upheavals (and multiple predictions to the contrary), the Middle East system of states and borders will likely remain intact—at least in the medium term. This does not mean that states are necessarily ‘strong’ in a Weberian sense or that sovereignty at different levels is uncontested, but that continuity—state survival and border preservation—is likely to prevail over major change.

Cleansing the Nations of the “Dogs of Hell”: ‘Ali Jum’A’s Nationalist Legal Reasoning in Support of the 2013 Egyptian Coup and its Bloody Aftermath

By: David H. Warren

Published in International Journal of Middle East Studies  Volume 49, Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract: This article contributes to an emerging scholarly debate over the support displayed by key Azhari ʿulamaʾ for the 3 July 2013 coup in Egypt and the subsequent massacres of anticoup protesters. I focus on the Islamic legal justifications articulated by the former grand mufti of Egypt ʿAli Jumʿa, which academics have contextualized primarily in relation to quietist precedents from late medieval Islamic political thought or his Sufi background. By contrast, I consider Jumʿa’s justifications as representative of a nationalist discourse that has its historical origins in the protonationalism of Rifaʿa al-Tahtawi (d. 1873). My argument has wider implications for our conceptualization of the contemporary Islamic tradition. If, as scholars have argued, the Islamic tradition is a framework for inquiry rather than a set of doctrines, then in the 19th century a concern for the nation and its future became a key part of that framework. I contend that these additions came to redefine the worldview and politics of the ʿulamaʾ in terms of national progress and its horizon of expectations.

Egyptian Comic and the Challenge to Patriarchal Authoritarianism

By: Jacob Høigilt

Published in International Journal of Middle East Studies  Volume 49, Issue 1 (2017)

Abstract: Adult comics are a new medium in the Arab world. This article is the first in-depth study of their emergence and role within Arab societies. Focused on Egypt, it shows how adult comics have boldly addressed political and social questions. Seeing them as part of a broader cultural efflorescence in Egypt, I argue that, against patriarchal authoritarianism, adult comics have expressed an alternative ideology of tolerance, civic rights and duties, individualism, creativity, and criticism of power. Specifically, they present a damning critique of Egypt’s authoritarian order, as well as of the marginalization of women and broader gender dynamics in Egyptian society. Through frank humor, a playful style, and explicit graphics, they give voice to the concerns of young Egyptians. Connecting comics to other art forms such as music, graffiti, and political cartoons, I situate them within a critical cultural movement that came to the fore with the Egyptian uprising of 2011.

Political militaries in popular uprisings: A comparative perspective on the Arab Spring

By: Kevin Koehler

Published in International Political Science Review Volume 38, Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract: What determines whether militaries will defect from authoritarian incumbents during regime crises? Variance in military behavior in the Arab Spring has given rise to a debate around this issue. This article highlights weaknesses of the dominant explanation and develops an alternative account of military behavior in ‘endgame scenarios’. If militaries are politicized institutions that play a major role in regulating access to power under authoritarianism, they are more likely to intervene during normal times, but less likely to defect during mass uprisings. I quantitatively test this argument against data on military coups between 1975 and 2000 drawing on a new variable that allows me to explicitly model the impact of major regime crises. I illustrate the emergence of different forms of political–military relations and their consequences in the Arab Spring by drawing on evidence from Syria, Egypt, and Tunisia.

Religious Freedom, the Arab Spring, and US Middle East Policy

By: Nilay Saiya

Published in International Politics Volume 54, Issue 1 (2017)

Abstract: This article examines the critically important but often neglected topic of religious freedom in the Middle East and North Africa in the context of the Arab Spring. While conceding that the Arab world generally suffers from a dearth of religious freedom, it argues that religious freedom is both achievable and necessary for regional peace and stability. The article concludes with some recommendations for American policymakers, proposing that one of the key ways the USA can foster climates conducive to American security interests is by taking religious freedom seriously as an instrument of foreign policy.

Subversive Writing: Mona Prince’s ‘Laughing Revolution’ from pre- to post-2011 Egypt

By: Patrizia Zanelli

Published in Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies Volume 17, Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract: Although it may seem absurd, it is no exaggeration to say that humour is a very serious matter in Egypt, where dozens of intellectuals have analysed this phenomenon, often linking it to their national identity. This article presents various opinions on Egyptian satire to introduce a 2015 novel by Mona Prince, one of the Egyptian writers of the 1990s generation. In 2012, the author published a memoir of the January 25 Revolution. This study tries to explain the relationship between her political activism and her literary career; the role of humour in her oeuvre; and how she deals with gender and religious issues in her 2015 work, which is also autobiographic. Moreover, since the novelist wrote the text between 2008 and 2014, this article offers some notes on satiric literature in pre- and post-2011 Egypt.

Rethinking Global Civil Society and the Public Sphere in the Age of Pro-democracy Movements

By: Ramón A. Feenstra

Published in Journal of Civil Society Volume 13, Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract: Pro-democracy movements have recently emerged in various places worldwide. The Pots and Pans Revolution (Iceland), Arab Spring, 15M and the Occupy movement, Yo Soy132, and the Gezi Park, Hong Kong, and Nuit Debout protests are all movements which, despite their differences, share a number of dynamics, links, frames, and repertoires. Paradoxically, in the academic field, we have witnessed a strong critical positioning against the concept ‘global civil society’. The objective of this article is to reflect on the utility of this concept once again in light of recent developments and to respond to some sceptical positions. To meet this objective, a dialogue is established between civil society theories and progress made in the study of social movements. The public sphere notion (particularly its transnational dimension) becomes especially relevant for our discussion.

Neoliberalism, the State and Economic Policy Outcomes in the Post-Arab Uprisings: The Case of Egypt

By: Angela Joya

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 22, Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract: Despite the radical upheavals during the revolution of 2011 whereby the Egyptian public rejected neoliberalism and authoritarianism, Egypt has reverted back to the neoliberal model of economic development. This paper discusses the reasons behind the resilience of neoliberalism focusing on the role of dominant economic ideas, the influence of international financial institutions in policy making and the challenging domestic political environment, which has so far precluded a break from the neoliberal model. The paper ends with a critical assessment of current policies and their broader social implications for different classes and groups in Egypt.

Democratization in the Middle East and North Africa: A More Ambidextrous Process?

By: Philippe C. Schmitter, Nadine Sika

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 22, Issue 4 (2017)

Abstract: Democratization is always an ambidextrous process. On the one hand, it triggers a universalistic set of norms, events, processes and symbols. On the other hand, democratization involves a much more particularistic set of ‘realistic’ adaptations to the structures and circumstances of individual countries. In analysing the structures and conjunctures of countries in the Arab World during the past decades, scholars looked at them from the perspective of persistent authoritarianism. This essay exploits democratization theory – as well as its converse ‒ by analysing the universalistic set of events, processes and symbols of democratization elsewhere in the world, and then identifying the particularistic characteristics of timing, location and coincidence that seem likely to affect the political outcome of regime change in the countries affected by recent popular uprisings in the Arab World.

The Constrained Institutionalization of Diverging Islamist Strategies: The Jihadis, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Salafis between Two Aborted Egyptian Revolutions

By: Jerome Drevon

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 22, Issue 1 (2017)

Abstract: This research analyses the comparative institutionalization of the strategies of three major components of the Egyptian Islamist social movement family: the jihadis, the Muslim Brotherhood and the salafis. It uses historical institutionalism to amend rational choice paradigms and to investigate the constraints and opportunities posed by these actors’ past trajectories on their subsequent strategic choices. This article argues that 1981 and 2011 were two critical junctures that have shaped these actors’ ideational and organizational construction through path-dependent causal mechanisms regulating their mobilization and socialization processes. It contends that these mechanisms have shaped these groups’ evolution and mediated the institutionalization of their strategies.

The Ends of Revolution: Rethinking Ideology and Time in the Arab Uprisings

By: Sune Haugbolle, Andreas Bandak

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 26, Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract: Not available

Beyond Structure and Contingency: Toward an Interactionist and Sequential Approach to the 2011 Uprisings

By: Mounia Bennani-Chraïbi

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 26, Issue 4 (2017)

Abstract: Taking as its starting point the mental earthquake produced by the 2011 uprisings, this article tackles the epistemological questions of causality and contingency in an effort to foster dialogue between comparative political regime studies, the sociology of revolutions and social movement literature. Based on a comparative analysis of three ‘positive cases’ (Egypt, Syria and Tunisia), and a ‘negative case’ (Morocco), it follows an interactionist and sequential approach to revolutionary situations. Its main objective is to expand the scope of the attempts aimed at reconciling structure and contingency, by focusing on the formation of large coalitions and the spread of mobilization on division or defection from within the repressive apparatus, and on the impact of crisis management by the incumbents. More specifically, the article highlights the fact that uncertainty affects not only the ‘actors from below,’ but also all the actors present: the challengers as much as the incumbents and their international allies, the ordinary citizens as well as the officers and the recruits.

Trickster Defeats the Revolution: Egypt as the Vanguard of the New Authoritarianism

By: Walter Armbrust

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 26, Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract: Egypt’s January 25 Revolution often has been viewed as an explicit contest between the Hosni Mubarak regime and its cronies, who were able to prevail by pulling the levers of a ‘deep state,’ and revolutionaries espousing progressive visions, albeit visions divided between those of Islamists and non-Islamists, and often seen by each as mutually incompatible with the other. The defeat of the January 25 Revolution’s progressive aspirations can be understood, to a substantial degree, as a victory by the old regime. However, revolution understood as a Liminal Crisis allows us to see the rise of ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi not as a straightforward restoration of the old regime, but as both a revolutionary outcome and as an instantiation of a New Authoritarianism that has been making significant strides toward power in the wake of the 2011 revolutions. Liminality is understood here as the intermediate stage in a transition as described in Victor Turner’s Ritual Process and recently reinterpreted in the context of politics by Bjørn Thomassen. The potential dangers of liminality often are controlled by ritual, but this is not the case in revolutions, which become liminal crises precisely because there is no conventionalized means for closing off the state of being in-between. In such circumstances Tricksters—beings at home in liminality and often-elaborated in myth, folklore, and literature—become potentially dangerous in politics. Sisi can be seen as a Trickster politician. But more broadly, the structuring of liminality through the global political-economic order of contemporary capitalism both creates a generalized precarity outside the most elite levels of society, and at the same time predisposes those compelled to live in precarity to be attentive to political Tricksters. Hence liminality can be seen as both the beginning and the end of revolution.

Freedom, Power and the Crisis of Politics in Revolutionary Yemen

By: Ross Porter

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 26, Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract: In the study of revolutionary events, it is often assumed that ‘political crisis’ attests to the failure of revolutionary ideals. Accordingly, revolution is understood as the pursuit of political consensus and the institutionalization of freedom and equality at the level of the state. In contrast, this article describes how, during the recent revolution in Yemen, revolutionaries actively negated proposals for a ‘political solution.’ It explores how the desire to contain power within the imaginary of ‘the people’ and safeguard revolutionary freedom produced instead an ethical charter for perpetuating a crisis of politics. As such, it argues that revolution should be understood less in terms of a seamless teleology of political development and more according to the immediate ethics of living a revolutionary life.

The Most Beautiful Friendship: Revolution, War and Ends of Social Gravity in Syria

By: Thomas Vladimir Brønd

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 26, Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract: This article focuses on overlooked revolutionary friendship as a primary vehicle of revolutionary politics. It draws on ethnographic fieldwork among revolutionaries of Syria’s peaceful protest movements. The article depicts how friendships emerge in revolutionary moments. It analyzes the experience of friendship as a primary locus for revolutionary politics and as part of social transformations, which often occur during war and revolutions. Drawing on the anthropology of friendship and social theory, I demonstrate how new zones of social gravity were created in beautiful friendships challenging the neo-liberalism and authoritarianism of Ba’athist regime and installing social change.

The Saudi State as an Identity Racketeer

By: Ben Rich, Ben MacQueen

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 26, Issue 2 (2017)

Abstract: Although substantial research has examined the Saudi state’s symbiosis with the Islamic revivalist movement commonly known as ‘Wahhabism’, few studies have considered how the dynamics of state formation underpin this relationship. This article argues that a continuous and circular political logic lies behind the Saudi state’s patronage of the revivalist movement since 1744 and proposes a four-stage model that explains how and why the regime has maintained its support for the revivalist movement over such a prolonged period. This article first outlines the model, then presents a detailed analysis of its persistent presence in the development of Saudi state authority in order to highlight the recurrent manner by which the state often has constructed the spiritual concerns of revivalists to counter challenges to its authority, a pattern demonstrated most recently during the Arab Spring and the war in Yemen. The effects of this model will continue to shape the decisions, policies and perceptions of the Saudi political elite for the foreseeable future.

There will be Blood: Expectation and Ethics of Violence during Egypt’s Stormy Season

By: Samuli Schielke

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 26, Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract: How did bloodshed emerge as a promising solution to the tensions and troubles of the revolutionary period? And how did different people who were on a particular side of the events from 2011 to 2013 react to the bewildering violence of the victorious in summer and autumn 2013? With these questions, I want to contribute to a conversation opened by engaged academics writing about Egypt, in order to try to understand the wide-scale support for killing that emerged in Egypt in the summer of 2013. My core argument is that, although the violence unleashed after June 30, 2013, evidently was the result of intentional manipulation and escalation by the most powerful players involved, many Egyptians’ actual support for that violence was thoroughly moral in character, a consequence of an intensifying process of polarization where the need to defend right against wrong was caught up in an ongoing sense of tension, confusion, and anxiety. In this mood of ‘broken fear’—not the same as the overcoming of fear, the expectation that ‘there will be blood’ was a promise of reaching clarity, purity and truth through a decisive battle. The incitement to bloodshed and the spiral of violence can be described as a form of ethical cultivation where a sense of purity is established through dramatic and radical confrontation. Paradoxically, during the bloody summer of 2013, moments of irbak—confusion, bewilderment, loss of solid ground—sometimes were more likely to open up ways out of the circle of hatred and confrontation than firm and clear principles. Wickedness and violence are akin to righteousness and purity, and there are times when weakness and confusion can be the better ethical stance. In this vein, I argue that if commentators failed to notice the inherent cultivation of violence, it was not because it wasn’t there, but because we didn’t want to see it. It didn’t fit well into the beautiful picture of revolutionary resistance. But we cannot separate beautiful resistance from terrible bloodshed, just as we cannot isolate the flourishing of cultural life from the spread of violent street crime in and after 2011, as they belong to one and the same process.

Dignity and Humiliation: Identity Formation among Syrian Refugees

By: Basileus Zeno

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 9, Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract: Since 2011 half of Syria’s population has been forced to flee its homes. Much research has focused on the macro-level challenges and post-conflict reconstruction plans. In this article, I focus on the micro-level by examining the dialectic of “humiliation” and “dignity” as a dynamic that shapes and transforms Syrian refugees’ identities through sustained interaction, and sometimes through struggle, with others, who can be pro-regime or pro-opposition Syrians, or pro-refugees or anti-refugees in hosting countries. Methodologically, I use an interpretive approach which focuses on context-specific meanings and their relation to power, seeking multifaceted understandings of refugees’ lived-experience. This research is based on ethnographic fieldwork and ordinary language interviews conducted in the United States, and semi-structured, open-ended interviews with Syrians in Germany and Turkey. I show that researching participants’ meaning-making in their own settings reveals the dynamics of humiliation and dignity as dialectically interwoven in specific situational contexts and shaped by refugees’ lived-experience in both the country of origin (in the past) and the hosting country (in the present).

Well-Being Before the Arab Spring: Objective vs. Subjective Measurements

By: Tamer ElGindi

Published in Middle East Policy Volume 24, Issue 2 (2017)

Abstract: Not available

Street arts of resistance in Tahrir and Gezi

By: Hakkı Taş

Published in Middle Eastern Studies Volume 53, Issue 5 (2017)

Abstract: With the tremendous visibility of popular mobilization in the last decade, scholars have increasingly directed their attention to the streets to examine the dynamics of power and resistance. Among emerging venues of politics, this study examines street art and graffiti as a performance of resistance in the 2011 Tahrir Revolution and 2013 Gezi Protests in Egypt and Turkey, respectively. As re-appropriation of the urban landscape and modes of self-expression, street art and graffiti lie at the intersection of politics, space, and identity. Inspired by James C. Scott’s concept of ‘arts of resistance’, this study takes up these ‘street arts of resistance’ as revealing the hidden transcript, namely, the self-disclosure of subordinates under the politics of disguise. While unpacking that subversive power, this study rests on its claim that street art and graffiti not only seek to represent, but also to perform and interject. Thereafter, it examines how these modes of visual culture interrupt time, space, and the self, along with their respective effects.

Strategies for Reviving the International Relations/Middle East Nexus after the Arab Uprisings

By: Morten Valbjørn

Published in PS: Political Science & Politics Volume 50, Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract: Not available

Yemen: Between Revolution and Regression

By: Brian M. Perkins

Published in Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 40, Issue 4 (2017)

Abstract: Yemen once again descended into chaos in November 2014, when the Houthis seized control of Sana’a. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Cooperation Council partners, along with mainstream media, characterized the conflict as a sectarian proxy-war with Iran. However, this narrative fails to acknowledge the trajectory of Yemen’s Arab Spring revolt. This article refutes this narrative by using theories of revolution to connect the Arab Spring revolt to the current conflict. Situating Yemen within a broader revolutionary moment sheds light on patterns of revolution in Third World societies and the likely outcome of the current conflict.

Police Collapse in Authoritarian Regimes: Lessons from Tunisia

By: Merouan Mekouar

Published in Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 40, Issue 10 (2017)

Abstract: The quick unraveling of authoritarian systems specifically designed to bear social pressure during revolutions is puzzling. Building on the 2011 Tunisian revolution, this article analyzes the collapse of the police apparatus during the 2011 revolution. In line with Way and Levitsky’s study of authoritarian collapse, this article shows that the low cohesion and low scope of the security forces is one of the main factors explaining the rapid collapse of one of the Arab world’s seemingly most solid repressive systems. At the theoretical level, this article will demonstrate that preference falsification is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can nourish authoritarian resilience. On the other, it can also weaken repressive regimes by making core members of the regime overestimate the loyalty of the low-ranking members of the security apparatus.

Framing through Paradox: Egypt and the “Obama Supports Terrorism” Campaign

By: Marco Pinfari

Published in Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 40, Issue 2 (2017)

Abstract: This article presents and analyzes the “Obama supports terrorism” campaign, which was launched in Egypt in late June 2013 and was instrumental to the framing of some Islamist groups as terrorist both before and after the 3 July 2013 coup. The analysis of the visual material of the campaign highlights its reliance on various Western discourses from the War on Terror, including some whose religious and racial content is an odd fit for a non-Western, Muslim country like Egypt. Yet, despite the lack of a clear and unified causal narrative to justify such framing, the success of the campaign was crucially aided by the symbolic and rhetorical power its slogan, which provided a credible “schema of interpretation” for its supporters.

Predicting Revolt: Fragility Indexes and the Level of Violence and Instability in the Arab Spring

By: Kevin Neil Buterbaugh, Costel Calin, Theresa Marchant-Shapiro

Published in Terrorism and Political Violence  Volume 29, Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract: This article is one of the first to systematically assess the ability of state fragility measures to predict violent protests and adverse regime changes in countries. We focus on the Arab Spring as an example of a situation that such measures ought to predict. Through a variety of analyses, we find that none of the measures are predictive. We then create a simple model using the literature of protest and revolts to predict both the level of violence and the extent of regime change in the Arab Spring countries. This simpler model does a better job of predicting the level of involvement in the Arab Spring than any of the complex State Fragility Indexes. Thus, the goal of this article is not to explain the causes of the Arab Spring, but to add to the discussion of the predictive value of measures of instability.

Micro-moves in International Relations theory

By: Ty Solomon, Brent J. Steele

Published in The European Journal of International Relations Volume 23, Issue 2 (2017)

Abstract: This article posits empirical and political reasons for recent ‘micro-moves’ in several contemporary debates, and seeks to further develop them in future International Relations studies. As evidenced by growing trends in studies of practices, emotions and the everyday, there is continuing broad dissatisfaction with grand or structural theory’s value without ‘going down’ to ‘lower levels’ of analysis where structures are enacted and contested. We suggest that empirics of the last 15 years — including the war on terror and the Arab Spring — have pushed scholars into increasingly micropolitical positions and analytical frameworks. Drawing upon insights from Gilles Deleuze, William Connolly and Henri Lefebvre, among others, we argue that attention to three issues — affect, space and time — hold promise to further develop micropolitical perspectives on and in International Relations, particularly on issues of power, identity and change. The article offers empirical illustrations of the analytical purchase of these concepts via discussion of the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Arab Spring uprisings.

Tahrir Square, From Place to Space: The Geography of Representation

By: Zvi Bar’el

Published in The Middle East Journal Volume 71, Issue 1 (2017)

Abstract: Due to its role in the Egyptian Revolution, Tahrir Square in Cairo became synonymous with the Arab Spring. During the protests it was transformed from a physical place into a symbolic space and then into an abstract space. This article follows the stages of the square’s transformation and aims to expose the implications that this transformation has on public discourse and on the political legitimacy that abstract spaces might bestow on regimes in general, and particularly in Egypt.

The Idea of the Civil State in Egypt: Its Evolution and Political Impact following the 2011 Revolution

By: Limor Lavie

Published in The Middle East Journal Volume 71, Issue 1 (2017)

Abstract: The model of the “civil state” (dawla madaniyya) occupies a central place in the public debate over the character of Egypt following the January 25 Revolution of 2011. The demand to establish a civil state was ostensibly shared by all the political currents in Egypt. However, when these currents attempted to set out agreed-upon guidelines for Egypt’s future, it soon became clear that they were far from a consensus, and that defining the civil state was at the heart of the controversy. This article examines the roots of this concept in Western political philosophy, tracing its evolution in Egypt from its first appearance in the beginning of the 20th century until the recent debate on its inclusion in Article 1 of the 2014 constitution.

A failure of governmentality: why Transparency International underestimated corruption in Ben Ali’s Tunisia

By: Hannes Baumann

Published in Third World Quarterly Volume 38, Issue 2 (2017)

Abstract: This article critiques the Foucauldian approach to governance indicators. Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) underestimated Tunisian corruption levels under President Ben Ali: his regime was highly corrupt but foreign investors were less affected. CPI methodology meant it reflected primarily the needs of foreign investors. The Foucauldian approach specifically excludes analysis of governance indicators’ methodologies. It thus fails to demonstrate the effectiveness of governance indicators as a technology of government, and it fails to show how the production of the CPI is embedded in a wider global political economy.

Sovereignty, bare life and the Arab uprisings

By: Simon Mabon

Published in Third World Quarterly  Volume 38, Issue 8 (2017)

Abstract: Five years after people took to the streets in protest at political organisation across the Middle East, the consequences of these actions remain. As the protests gained traction, states began to fragment and regimes sought to retain power, whatever the cost. While a great deal of focus has been upon what happened, very little attention has been paid to the role of agency within the context of the fragmenting sovereignty and political change. This article contributes to these debates by applying the work of Giorgio Agamben to the post-Arab Uprisings Middle East, to understand the relationship between rulers and ruled along with the fragmentation of the sovereign state. The article argues for the need to bring agency back into conceptual debates about sovereignty within the Middle East. It concludes by presenting a framework that offers an approach building upon Agamben’s bare life.

Post-Islamism and fields of contention after the Arab Spring: feminism, Salafism and the revolutionary youth

By: Markus Holdo

Published in Third World Quarterly  Volume 38, Issue 8 (2017)

Abstract: In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, conflicts in Egypt and Tunisia over the authority to rule and the role of religion in society raised questions about these societies’ capacity for reconciling differences. In retrospect, the conflicts also raise questions about the theoretical tools used to analyse regional developments. In particular, the ‘post-Islamism’ thesis has significantly changed the debates on ‘Islam and democracy’ by bringing to light the changing opportunity structures, and changed goals, of Islamist movements. However, this paper argues that the theory underestimates differences within post-Islamist societies. Drawing on field theory, the paper shows how the actual content of post-Islamism is contingent on political struggle. It focuses on three fields whose political roles have been underestimated or misrepresented by post-Islamist theorists: Islamic feminism, Salafist-jihadism and the revolutionary youth. Their respective forms of capital – sources of legitimacy and social recognition – give important clues for understanding the stakes of the conflicts after the Arab Spring.

A Civilized Revolution: Aesthetics and Political Action in Egypt

By: Jessica Winegar

Published in American Ethnologist Volume 43, Issue 4 (2016)

Abstract: Acts of aesthetic ordering dominated Egyptian protest and civic activity in 2011, around the time of former president Hosni Mubarak’s downfall. They played a central role in motivating collective political action, giving form to a nationalist utopian vision and legitimizing ordinary Egyptians as active agents and upright citizens. Yet they also reproduced exclusionary middle-class aspirations tied up with state projects and related forms of citizenship that center on surveillance, individualism, and consumption. Examining such acts of aesthetic ordering reveals the tensions at the heart of many political movements, especially as people attempt to enact their utopian visions in public space. The precarity of both middle classness and utopian schemes of revolution render aesthetics a key battleground of political action.

Explaining the Arab Uprisings: transformations in Comparative Perspective

By: Steven Heydemanna

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 21, Issue 1 (2016)

Abstract: Drawing on the research presented by contributors to this special issue, this article assesses the analytic opportunities that emerge when the Arab uprisings are conceptualized as moments of transformation rather than as incipient, flawed or failed transitions to democracy. Highlighting critical issues that cut across and link the experiences of political relevant elites (PREs) and mobilized publics in the cases of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Yemen, it identifies three sets of issues that warrant further comparative research: the effects of stateness and patterns of state-society relations on the trajectory of Arab uprisings; the role of identity politics and non- state forms of solidarity as drivers of political mobilization and collective action, and the impact of these forms of collective action on possibilities for establishing stable, legitimate forms of governance; and the limits of civil societies and civic sectors in influencing transformational processes.

One Swallow Does Not Make Spring: A Critical Juncture Perspective on the EU Sanctions in Response to the Arab Spring

By: Andreas Boogaertsa, Clara Portelab, Edith Drieskens

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 21, Issue 2 (2016)

Abstract: This article examines to what extent the Arab Spring constitutes a critical juncture – a major turning point – for the EU’s sanctions policy towards Egypt, Libya, Syria and Tunisia. Based on a multidimensional critical juncture operationalization, we find that the Arab Spring only constitutes such a turning point for the EU’s sanctions policy towards Syria. Both the level and nature of measures differ substantially from previous years. By contrast, the EU’s sanctions practice towards Libya, Egypt and Tunisia shows more resilience. More generally, changes in the nature of the measures are prominent, whereas changes in the level of the policy instruments and in underlying norms and goals are limited.

Contested transformation: mobilized publics in Tunisia between compliance and protest

By: Anna Antonakis-Nashif

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 21, Issue 1 (2016)

Abstract: A variety of civil society actors played a major role in the 2011 uprisings in Tunisia that ousted President Ben Ali, but its influence waned in the course of the following transformation process. This article looks at different forms of expressions of contentious politics and non-institutionalized movements, framed here as ‘mobilized publics’, that have intervened in the political process in Tunisia. It proposes that there are significant differences in their respective views on the transformation and the role that they can play in it, and hence the approaches to activism that they chose. Three case studies of mobilized publics – in the field of gender justice, socio-economic justice and transitional justice- are examined according to their different degrees of institutionalization, resources and strategies. The analysis shows how struggles for socio-economic justice and transitional justice have been marginalized and discredited as disruptive by a political elite that wagered on increasing polarization.

Dynamics of transformation, elite change and new social mobilization in the Arab World

By: Muriel Asseburga, Heiko Wimmen

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 21, Issue 1 (2016)

Abstract: This article provides a conceptual framework for a special issue of Mediterranean Politics that investigates the transformation processes inaugurated in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen in 2011 in the wake of the uprisings commonly referred to as the “Arab Spring”. It proposes that these processes should not be conceptualized as linear and centrally crafted transitions from authoritarian orders towards preconceived outcomes, but rather, as contested and open-ended transformations. These are best understood through an actor-centered approach that focuses on the choices and strategies of the ‘Politically Relevant Elite’ (PRE) and its interactions with citizens intent on exerting influence, described here as ‘Mobilized Publics’.
Drawing on the results of eight research papers presented in this volume, this article argues that the PRE perceived the transformation processes as mechanisms to maximize political resources and monopolize power. The ensuing, increasingly polarized contestations hastened the cooptation and instrumentalization of mobilized publics by the PRE, thus spelling the end of their capacity to offer avenues for broad, bottom-up participation and preparing the ground for renewed top-down control in Egypt and Tunisia, and to state failure and civil war in Libya and Yemen.

The Arab Uprisings, the Liberal Civilizing Narrative and the Problem of Orientalism

By: Stefan Borg

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 25, Issue 3 (2016)

Abstract: This article engages the problem of Orientalism in Western elite foreign policy discourse on the Arab uprisings. Reconstructing discursive representations among US and EU foreign policy elites, it argues that the Arab uprisings were inserted into a liberal civilizing narrative that emphasizes the underlying identity of ‘the Arab world’ and ‘the West.’ In this narrative, human rights play a crucial role. Difference, to the extent acknowledged, is inscribed temporally rather than spatially. Such a narrative thus breaks with Orientalizing ways of representing the Arab world as irredeemably different. Having noticed the hierarchical rendition of subjectivity that the liberal civilizing narrative nevertheless enacts temporally, the article also discusses challenges to the liberal civilizing narrative. It concludes by arguing for a politics of rights claiming approach to make sense of the Arab uprisings.

Passive, Silent and Revolutionary: The ‘Arab Spring’ Revisited

By: Billie Jeanne Brownleea, Maziyar Ghiabi

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 25, Issue 3 (2016)

Abstract: To counter the trend toward mechanization of research and aridity of critical analysis, this article makes a case for an interdisciplinary quest. To borrow Felix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze’s phrase, we are convinced that ‘everything is political, but every politics is simultaneously a macropolitics and a micropolitics.’ With an eye to open-ended research questions, this article attempts to build a body of theoretical, political and anthropological considerations, which, it is hoped, could function as a case of enquiry into the mechanics of power, revolt and revolution. The objective is to draw comparative and phenomenological lines between the events of the 2011 ‘Arab Spring,’ in its local ecologies of protest, with its global reverberations as materialized in the slogans, acts and ideals of Greek and Spanish Indignados and the UK and US occupy movements. In order to do so, it proposes to clarify terminological ambiguities and to bring into the analytical scenario new subjects, new means and new connections. The article resolves to lay the ground for a scholarship of silence, by which the set of unheard voices, hidden actions and defiant tactics of the ordinary, through extraordinary people, find place in the interpretation of phenomena such as revolts and revolutions.

It Is Not Over Yet: The Arab Revolution between Culture and Political Economy

By: Giuseppe Tassone

Published in Arab Studies Quarterly Volume 37, Issue 4 (2015)

Abstract: In their assessment of the recent revolutionary turmoil in the Middle East, Hamid Dabashi and Tariq Ramadan argue that the Arab Revolution has opened up for the Arab peoples the possibility of reconnecting themselves with their own history. In their view, there is a creative potential in the Orient itself to question, from within its own tradition, the practices and conceptual categories by which the West has objectified it, so as to produce something new and original. In this article, I contend that Dabashi’s and Ramadan’s appeal to the Arab cultural tradition as a source of meaning for reconstructing Arab societies is a form of culturalization of politics that blots out the role played by political economy in the Arab Revolution. To gain a theoretical grip on this question, I suggest that the ties between culture and politics be severed and, in their place, the connection between the political and the economic be restored.

Exclusionary and Non-Consensual Transitions Versus Inclusive and Consensual Democratizations: The Cases of Egypt and Tunisia

By: Inmaculada Szmolka

Published in Arab Studies Quarterly Volume 37, Issue 1 (2015)

Abstract: The article analyzes the democratic transitions in Tunisia and Egypt, after the so-called “Arab Spring.” The working hypothesis is that the model of transition influences the result of democratization processes. The article is organized in three sections. The first one puts forward a theoretical and methodological framework, which includes a definition and classification of political regimes, a typology of the processes of political change and suggests models of democratic transition. Second, the models of transition in Tunisia and Egypt are compared in terms of four analytical dimensions: leadership of the transition, competition and interaction between political actors, consensus over the transition process, and the popular mobilization and the participation of the civil society. The third section assesses the outcomes of the research and concludes that the exclusion of political forces and the intervention of non-accountable actors can determine the result of democratic transitions (Egypt). In contrast, the agreements between political actors and the concessions of a predominant party can bring about a successful transition, even in a polarized scenario (Tunisia).

The issue of violence in revolution within Arab secular and Islamic political thought

By: Nazek Jawad

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 8, Issue 4 (2015)

Abstract: There seems to be a disparity between the ideas and goals of revolutionaries who struggle to end authoritarian rule and achieve liberty and the violent means they often use to achieve their ends. This paper first addresses how violent revolutions are positioned by secular Arab and Islamic Arab political scholars and, specifically, how they address the question of violence. It explores whether such scholars have been influenced by the French Revolution, and whether or not their thoughts derive from their own political experiences and political reality, or if they have merely been influenced by Western political experiences.

Epistemic (un)certainty in times of crisis: The role of coherence as a social convention in the European Neighbourhood Policy after the Arab Spring

By: Michal Natorski

Published in European Journal of International Relations Volume 22, Issue 3 (2015)

Abstract: Academic wisdom assumes that crises precipitate institutional and policy changes in domestic and international politics. However, the relation between crises and policy outcomes is under-theorised. This article conceptualises epistemic coherence as a factor that links crises and their consequences through policy continuity. Crises expose contradictions and inconsistencies, which create uncertainty. Therefore, actors seek to recover the epistemic certainty provided by coherence, which tacitly informs, structures and simplifies actors’ interpretation of reality, even during crisis. For this reason, the role of coherence in policy ideas and institutional rules remains essential to understanding policy continuity. This article illustrates the role of coherence in the policy continuity of the European Neighbourhood Policy in the context of the Arab Spring and the changes in the institutional architecture of European Union foreign policy during 2010–2011.

Does Coup-Proofing Work? Political–Military Relations in Authoritarian Regimes amid the Arab Uprisings

By: Holger Albrecht

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 20, Issue 1 (2015)

Abstract: The popular mass uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) call into question the assumption, widespread prior to the “Arab Spring”, that militaries in these countries were subservient to civilianized and consolidated authoritarian regime incumbents. In most countries militaries have stepped in to suppress uprisings, replace incumbents, or cause civil wars. The analysis of political-military relations explains the immediate outcome of popular mass mobilization in the MENA region and helps re-conceptualize coup-proofing as an important authoritarian survival strategy. Accounting for variation in the degree of officers’ loyalty toward incumbents provides an opportunity to test the efficacy of coup-proofing. The article accounts for questions largely ignored in the theoretical literature: which coup-proofing mechanisms work best, and under which circumstances? In a qualitative comparison of Egypt and Syria, the article illustrates that authoritarian regimes have applied fundamentally different coup-proofing strategies. The Syrian regime has engineered integrative strategies to tie officers closer to the incumbent, provoking a greater degree of loyalty during regime crisis than in Egypt where officers were excluded from politics.

Arab Spring: The Role of the Peripheries

By: Daniela Hubera, Lorenzo Kamel

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 20, Issue 2 (2015)

Abstract: The emerging literature on the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ has largely focused on the evolution of the uprisings in cities and power centres. In order to reach a more diversified and in-depth understanding of the ‘Arab Spring’, this article examines how peripheries have reacted and contributed to the historical dynamics at work in the Middle East and North Africa. It rejects the idea that the ‘Arab Spring’ is a unitary process and shows that it consists of diverse ‘springs’ which differed in terms of opportunity structure, the strategies of a variety of actors and the outcomes. Looking at geographical, religious, gender and ethnic peripheries, it shows that the seeds for changing the face of politics and polities are within the peripheries themselves.

The Peripheries of Gender and Sexuality in the ‘Arab Spring’

By: Maryam Khalid

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 20, Issue 2 (2015)

Abstract: In much of the world, those who do not perform ‘mainstream’ understandings of gender and sexuality find themselves on the ‘peripheries’: these individuals and groups are often located outside of institutionalized power, beyond state power structures and often lack the power of representation vis-à-vis those who wield discursive authority (actors such as the state and mainstream media). The power relations that underscore the production of knowledge and identities in this way are discursive, functioning to normalize and naturalize them. This article examines how some representations of gender and sexuality are privileged over others in both western and MENA mainstream discourses relating to the ‘Arab Spring’; how those whose voices have been underrepresented in the mainstream attempt to represent themselves; and how this impacts on the political activities of women and LGBT groups in the MENA.

Arab Spring: A Decentring Research Agenda

By: Lorenzo Kamelab, Daniela Huber

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 20, Issue 2 (2015)

Abstract: This article calls for a decentring research agenda and serves as a reminder to look beyond the centres when seeking to understand attempted or accomplished processes of transformation. The Arab Spring is not a unitary whole but part of a variety of processes which differs in terms of space (diverse countries, diverse areas in countries), time (the Ghedim Izik protests in Western Sahara started in October 2010, while protests in the Rif are still ongoing), substance (demands for civil and political rights, equality rights, material claims, autonomy), strategies (from violence to apathy), involved actors (social movements, civil society organizations or individual actors) and outcomes (from regime repression to empowerment of peripheries).

Transition and Marginalization: Locating Spaces for Discursive Contestation in Post-Revolution Tunisia

By: Edwige A. Fortier

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 20, Issue 2 (2015)

Abstract: Transitions to democracy nourish expectations for an expansion of space for political liberalization, redistribution and recognition. From 2011 to 2013, the landscape for civil society in Tunisia widened with the establishment of several thousand associations. However, during this period vulnerable groups, including sexual minorities, perceived and experienced increased degrees of marginalization. This article analyses the potentialities and boundaries for members of homosexual communities in Tunisia as they manoeuvre through a post-revolution transition characterized by rapid expansions and contractions of the public sphere. It highlights the competing priorities within the public sphere, in particular those voices left on the periphery as a multiplicity of issues are presented for discursive contestation and argues that some groups effectively stand to become more marginalized during the transition to democracy than previously under authoritarian rule.

A Classroom Approach to Embedded Librarianship: Arab Spring and the Embedded Librarian

By: Jaleh Fazelian

Published in MELA Notes Issue 88 (2015)

Abstract: Not available

Modeling Mechanisms of Democratic Transition in the Arab Uprisings

By: Bertold Schweitzer

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 24, Issue 1 (2015)

Abstract: While the Arab uprisings triggered momentous historical change, in many Arab countries the transition to more comprehensively democratic rule is unfinished or has stalled. Most explanations for the dynamics and the difficulties of democratic transition focus on a number of determinants, such as social, cultural, religious, and economic causes, combined with generalizations on empirical uniformities and actors’ propensities. An approach focusing on causal social mechanisms, including environmental, cognitive, and relational ones, promises to provide more complete explanations of how relevant factors interact, why democratic transition does or does not proceed, and what could be done to promote it more successfully. This article critically examines the fruitfulness of modeling democratic transition, for the case of Egypt, using the framework of causal social mechanisms.

Covering Libya: A Framing Analysis of Al Jazeera and BBC Coverage of the 2011 Libyan Uprising and NATO Intervention

By: Sumaya Al Nahed

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 24, Issue 3 (2015)

Abstract: This article examines the broadcast coverage by Al Jazeera and the BBC of the 2011 uprising in Libya and the ensuing NATO intervention in the country. Through a comparative analysis of Al Jazeera Arabic, Al Jazeera English, BBC Arabic, and BBC World News, the article evaluates the impact of these two networks’ political contexts on their coverage. Both Al Jazeera and the BBC are based in countries that were active participants in the 2011 NATO intervention, Al Jazeera in Qatar and the BBC in the UK. Thus, the 2011 Libyan uprising and NATO intervention presents a prime opportunity to evaluate how the political contexts of these two networks affected their coverage. The sample under study covered a period of roughly four weeks and was analyzed by means of a framing analysis, whereby framing refers to the way a news story is packaged, organized, and narrated. Ultimately, the study found that the coverage of both these networks was aligned with the national and foreign policy interests of their home countries, making their political contexts the main influence on their news agendas. News frames across the sample reflected coverage that was largely supportive of the aims of opposition and the intervention.

The European Mediterranean Policy after the Arab Spring: Beyond Values and Interests

By: Patricia Bauer

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 24, Issue 1 (2015)

Abstract: The article attempts to combine findings from transition studies, Middle East Studies and European Studies in the framework of a historical institutionalist approach in order to explain political output and interaction in Euro-Mediterranean relations. Its focus is on the impact of domestic political structures and processes of transition in the Arab world as well as inside the European Union on the interaction structures in Mediterranean politics. The approach aims to explain change and persistence in the Euro-Mediterranean policy arena not by single incidents but by drawing a complex picture of the development of political and social institutions and introducing the concepts of path dependency and critical junctures. The objective of the article is to formulate a theoretical research program for Euro-Mediterranean relations that identify the institutional structures behind the phenomenological level of analyzing politics as the interactions of interests and values.

The Thingified Subject’s Resistance in the Middle East

By: Govand Khalid Azeez

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 24, Issue 2 (2015)

Abstract: Colonization, I postulate, has a far more profound effect on the colonized than conceptualized in Aimé Césaire’s postcolonial equation, colonization = thingification. Rather, here I put forward a new postcolonial equation for tracing the infinite and insidious effects of colonialism: Colonization = thingification + re-appropriation of subjectivity. I argue that Western imperial narratives and what Edward Said calls its ‘evaluative judgment’ and ‘implicit program of action’ also subjectify the thingified subject’s Weltanschauung, cultural practices and more importantly, subjectivity. I present this equation through theorizing what I call Counter-Revolutionary Discourse (CRD). This discourse is an historicized, Eurocentric-Orientalist implicit program of action and an analytical tool, which functions as a manual that assists the colonial apparatus in surveillance, gauging, ranking and subjectifying Middle Eastern subjectivity and resistance according to imperial exigencies. Through tracking the matrix of Western statements, ideas and practices, this genealogical exploration demonstrates that imperial enthusiasts, from Napoleon, Renan, Le Bon and Stoddard to Winston Churchill and David Petraeus, in encountering Middle Eastern revolutions—from the Mahdi, Urabi, Zaghloul, Mossadegh, the PLO and the PKK to the ‘Arab Spring’—draw on four Counter-Revolutionary Discourse systems of thought, which, I argue, are responsible for interpellating Oriental subjectivity and resistance, and which I denominate as: Recrudescence of Fanaticism, Progress Fetishism, Outsourcing of Agency, and the bipolar cognitive device Revolutionary Narcissism-Red Peril.

Complex Politics in Single Numbers? The Problem of Defining and Measuring Democracy

By: Jan Claudius Völkel

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 24, Issue 1 (2015)

Abstract: Whether the Arab world has become more democratic since the Arab Spring is a heated debate. References in these discussions often are made to comparative democracy indices that are considered either with appreciation or skepticism. In this article, the regional coordinator for Middle East and North Africa of the Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI) discusses some insights from the assessment process of the most recent data for the BTI’s 2014 edition. It shows that the revolutionary changes since 2011 have brought major challenges to those who want to measure democracy. Case studies from certain Arab countries illustrate practical problems and methodological challenges that resulted from the dramatic changes for the BTI 2014 assessment. However, it concludes that the BTI weathered the storms convincingly well, and that the 2014 findings are a useful tool for a deeper understanding of the region’s current political dynamics.

Beyond Crisis Management: Governments, Academics, and Strategic Thinking about the Arab Uprisings

By: Jane Kinninmont

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 7, Issue 1 (2015)

Abstract: The Arab uprisings prompted the promise of a grand rethink of Western policy towards the region, but four years on there is still a lack of new thinking about new Western strategic approaches to the region, as policymakers have been stretched by the need for immediate, emergency responses to the subsequent series of interconnected crises. This paper lays out some of the differences and overlaps between academic researchers and government policymakers in terms of their interests and approaches. It goes on to identify some of the research that helped to explain – and sometimes presage – the uprisings, and the gaps that became evident in policy analysis. It considers how research interactions have changed as a result, but also how changes to policymakers’ research approaches or analytical frameworks have been limited, as policymakers have been preoccupied with short-term responses to pressing conflicts and crises. Given the different timescales that governments and academic researchers work to, much of the research on the Arab uprisings is only being published now, at a time when the policy agenda has largely moved on to counterterrorism and stabilisation. Yet it remains vitally important to understand the causes of the 2011 unrest, especially as many of the same grievances persist and continue to drive challenges to the status quo, even if these now take different forms to the large-scale, coalition-based and largely peaceful mass protests seen in 2011.

Comparative Politics and the Arab Uprisings

By: Jillian Schwedler

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 7, Issue 1 (2015)

Abstract: How have scholars working in the political science subfield of comparative politics approached the Arab uprisings in their analyses? Two dominant trends have been to explore the uprisings through the literatures on robust authoritarianism and on social movements. While each of these has produced rich and lively debates, scholars of Middle East politics have mostly drawn comparisons at the national level: for example, explaining variation between those state that experienced uprisings and those that did not, or between those uprisings that turned violent and those that did not. I suggest that adopting “states” and “movements” as objects of analysis can obscure some of the more unique dynamics of the uprisings—dynamics that might be leveraged in contributing new ideas to broader theoretical debates. I illustrate the ways in which research designs that focus on identifying and explaining variation between and across cases tend to assume discrete objects of study (i.e., regimes and movements) in ways that obscure other fascinating processes and practices at both the micro-level and in terms of the complex interconnections across states and regions. This focus has in turn led to a deficit in studies of in-case variation: how mobilization and state repression varied, for example, between Cairo, Alexandria, the Suez, rural regions, and other locations outside of Tahrir Square. Finally, I applaud and encourage the continuation of the lively and open debates within the field about the strengths and weaknesses of our earlier scholarship and the potential of various future research agendas.

From Dynamic Events to Deep Causes: Outcomes and Explanations of the Arab Spring

By: Jason Bownlee, Tarek Masoud, Andrew Reynolds

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 7, Issue 1 (2015)

Abstract: Attempting to understand the complexities of the Arab Spring is a challenge both methodologically and evidentially. Over a three year period we evolved a problem-driven attempt at theory building and came to see historically rooted structural factors as more satisfying explanatory variables than some of the more proximate arguments proposed to explain the causes and consequences of the Arab Spring. We found that antecedent variables could account for the contrast between countries that experienced successful uprisings and those countries that experienced no uprising at all or an unsuccessful uprising. We found two variables provided significant explanatory leverage. The first was the extent of non-tax hydrocarbon (mainly oil) rents, the second, the nature of the ruling elite and whether the incumbent had inherited power.

The Case for Cognitive Interviewing Techniques in the Post-Arab Spring Environment

By: Brandon Gorman

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 7, Issue 1 (2015)

Abstract: Many social scientists rely on survey data, such as the World Values Survey and the Arab Barometer, to measure individual political attitudes cross-nationally. Yet, research suggests that individuals’ political attitudes fluctuate and evolve, casting doubt on the validity of survey data when used alone. This is especially problematic during times of rapid change, when the political situation undergoes dramatic shifts and individual attitudes are easily influenced by current events. This essay proposes that using cognitive interviewing techniques, which involve asking respondents to answer a set of survey items along with follow-up probes about their answers, can help researchers better understand the content of political attitudes and the contexts that help shape them. To make this point, I first review the literature on the theoretical problems with measuring political attitudes during times of rapid political change. I then introduce cognitive interviewing as a mixed-method data collection technique, describe the challenges and difficulties associated with it, and offer a number of practical recommendations for researchers interested in using it in the post-Arab Spring environment. Finally, I demonstrate the effectiveness of cognitive interviewing techniques through examples drawn from my fieldwork in Tunisia between August 2013 and March 2014.

Neo-Orientation and the e-Revolutionary: Self Representation and the Post-Arab Spring

By: Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 7, Issue 1 (2015)

Abstract: The uprisings of 2011 in the Middle East and North Africa opened the way for a potential reimagining of the role of the Arab socio-political militant and the work of the public intellectual. Much change was achieved and the action of postmodern social activists played a central role in this historical undertaking. Deeper examination of the discourse and subsequent positioning of a large segment among these newer actors reveal, in the post-Arab Spring period, neo-Orientalist traits whereby Western metropolis concerns and phraseology overtake the domestic requirements of political transition. Self-representing themselves and their theatres by way of borrowed perspectives proceeding from external, paternalistic logics has led this new generation of actors to a series of contradictions as to the very democratizing rupture and rebirth of the region they have been advocating for. Borrowed prisms and subservient agency are the consequential drivers of this mode, which proceeds paradoxically on claims of independence and ownership.

Puzzles, Time, and Ethnographic Sensibilities: Research Methods after the Arab Spring

By: Wendy Pearlman

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 7, Issue 1 (2015)

Abstract: Parallel transformations in both the post-Arab spring Middle East and the publishing world present tests for scholars of the region. This essay suggests three strategies for reframing challenges as opportunities and reconceptualizing the seeming liabilities of academic work as resources. First, I propose that the surprising character of recent upheavals ought not demoralize scholarly inquiry but rather invigorate it by showcasing the kinds of difficult puzzles that propel innovation in research and theory-building. Second, I suggest that the fast pace of publishing over the Internet should renew our appreciation for its antithesis: the unique benefits of exploring and developing ideas slowly over time. Third, I argue that these two challenges-turned-opportunities come together to highlight the value of research methods with an ethnographic sensibility. These approaches can help us ground theory in a more nuanced understanding of the individual and the lived experience of change.

The Notions of Citizenship and the Civil State in the Egyptian Transition Process

By: Clement Stewer, Alexis Blouet

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 7, Issue 2 (2015)

Abstract: This article deals with two notions that have become central in the Egyptian political and constitutional transition process since 2011 – citizenship and the “Civil State” – and presents the struggle to define them that took place during the 2012 writing of the Constitution. Even though the principle of citizenship is not seriously contested by any of the important political players, its scope and relationship with Islamic normativity (subordination, preeminence, or independence) have both been fiercely debated. As for the notion of the Civil State, it is characterized by an important semantic haziness, which results in a political tension around the issue of its definition, although there is relative consensus in Egypt regarding the term itself. The political and legal struggles around the writing and the adoption of the 2012 Constitution reveal how the tension related to these two notions has been embodied in the discussions surrounding several constitutional articles.

The Arab Spring: A Quantitative Analysis

By: Andrey V. Korotayev, Leonid M. Issaev, Sergey Yu. Malkov, Alisa R. Shishkina

Published in Arab Studies Quarterly Volume 36, Issue 2 (2014)

Abstract: The quantitative analysis of the Arab Spring events is a rather difficult task. Respective difficulties are related to the variety of factors affecting social instability, and to individual peculiarities of historical, cultural, socio-economic, and political processes in the region. As a result of the research, we found out that the processes of social and political destabilization in the countries of Arab Spring were caused by a complex set of factors. The most significant factors that tended to reduce the scale of sociopolitical destabilization during the Arab Spring have turned out to be the following: the ability of the government to reduce social tensions and the presence of “immunity” to internal conflicts. However, such indicators as structural and demographical characteristics and external influences turned out to be less significant in the context of the Arab Spring. It should be mentioned that the significance of the external influences indicator notably increases when the model is used to account for the death toll resultant from anti-government protests. We also discuss the possibility of applying the developed model of sociopolitical destabilization to forecast sociopolitical upheavals in future.

The Martyrs’ Revolutions: The Role of Martyrs in the Arab Spring

By: Elizabeth Buckner, Lina Khatib

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 41, Issue 4 (2014)

Abstract: This article examines popular representations of modern martyrs in the Arab world, comparing national models of martyrdom representations prior to the Arab Spring, namely those from Iran, Palestine and Hizbullah in Lebanon, to portrayals of martyrs during and after the Arab Spring. It argues that the Arab Spring brought forth a new model for the martyr in the Arab world, which (a) moves the production of martyrs’ images from the state to the citizen; (b) personalises portrayals of martyrs through stories of their personal lives; and, (c) transitions from portrayals of victimisation to empowerment and agency. In the Arab Spring model, the martyr is both a symbol and narrative framework used to galvanise opposition to state regimes. Unlike the pre-Arab Spring models, which portrayed the martyr’s death as an honourable sacrifice for the larger national or religious community, the Arab Spring martyr is portrayed as a needless victim in the fight for the universal values of dignity and human rights, as both a product and producer of meaning associated with agency. As the meaning of the ‘martyr’ continues to evolve in the post-Arab Spring era, it has come to represent the power of the people more broadly.

Critics and Rebels: Older Arab Intellectuals Reflect on the Uprisings

By: Elizabeth Suzanne Kassab

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 41, Issue 1 (2014)

Abstract: Most Arabs, including intellectuals, agree that the recent uprisings have profoundly changed the realities they have known for decades since the independence of their states. The historical character of the moment, and the emergence of a youth capable of producing unprecedented changes, have together forced an older generation of Arab intellectuals, born roughly between the 1930s and the 1950s, to acknowledge the coming of a new generation of critics and rebels. This article looks at how thinkers of the older generation have written about the uprisings and its actors, by examining their public statements in the form of articles or interviews on television channels, in newspapers and journals, some of them newly launched. I focus on Lebanese poet Abbas Baydoun, Syrian philosopher Sadeq Jalal al-Azm, Lebanese novelist Elias Khoury, Egyptian novelist Baha’ Taher, Bahraini thinker Muhammad Jaber al-Ansari, Syrian poet Adonis and Tunisian sociologist Taher Labib. While most of them value the importance of intellectual work in the struggle for human dignity and freedom, they also admit its limitations. They reflect on the significance of the popular and youth participation in advancing the causes they militated for in previous decades.

“The army and the people are one hand!” Fraternization and the 25th January Egyptian Revolution

By: Neil Ketchley

Published in Comparative Studies in Society and History Volume 56, Issue 1 (2014)

Abstract: On 28 January 2011 the Egyptian army was deployed onto Cairo’s streets following three days of escalating protests. Upon entering Midan al-Tahrir, a column of newly arriving army tanks and APCs was attacked by protestors. Throwing stones and dousing the vehicles in petrol before setting them alight, protestors pulled soldiers out of their vehicles and beat them. Seizing ammunition and supplies, protestors even commandeered a tank. Minutes later those same protestors were chanting pro-army slogans, posing for photographs with soldiers and sharing food. How protestors respond to the deployment of security forces assumed loyal to a regime determined to end protest is often summed-up in the dyad of “fight or flight.” In this paper, I consider a third option: fraternization. Through a social interactionist lens, I explore the prevalence of pro-army chants, graffiti, the mounting of military vehicles, physical embraces, sleeping in tank tracks and posing for photographs with soldiers in and around Midan al-Tahrir during the 25th January Egyptian Revolution. I draw on the contentious politics literature, as well as micro-sociologies of violence and ritual, to suggest that fraternizing protestors developed a repertoire of contention that made immediate, emotional claims on the loyalty of regime troops. From initial techniques of micro-conflict avoidance, protestors and their micro-interactions with soldiers forged a precarious “internal frontier” that bifurcated governance from sovereignty through the performance of the army and the people as one hand in opposition to the Mubarak regime.

Inter-state tensions and regional integration: could the Arab Spring initiate a virtuous circle?

By: Khalid Sekkat

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 7, Issue 3 (2014)

Abstract: This paper draws on the economic and political sciences literature to examine the possibility that the Arab Spring could bring the region out of the past vicious circle by which regional integration is stalled by political tensions and the latter are exacerbated by the lack of integration. This analysis suggests that the outcome depends on a number of factors, among which democracy plays a major role. Arguments based on the relationship between human capital and the development of democracy are put forward to support the likelihood of a virtuous circle developing.

The ‘internationalization’ of social sciences as an ‘obstacle’ to understanding the ongoing Arab revolts

By: Jacques E. Kabbanji

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 7, Issue 1 (2014)

Abstract: This paper addresses two main topics. First, the ways in and extent to which scholars from, or originated from, the ‘Global South’ have avoided succumbing to the appeal of dominant ‘Western’ perspectives when practising their vocation as social scientists. Second, the price paid for lack of appropriate knowledge when social scientists adopt dominant paradigms in studying ‘undisciplined’ societies, i.e. the ones that do not ‘correspond’ to dominant ideal types. Approaches based on the Weberian paradigm will be specifically considered in this regard. Jacques Kabbanji concedes that there has indeed been a shift from the colonial era, which produced the Orientalism that Edward Said and others so effectively exposed as subjective and instrumental to Western hegemony. Yet, he argues, in the post-colonial era the way in which many Arab scholars have responded to the Orientalist critique, together with other critiques of mainstream social science by scholars from the Global South, has ended up endorsing a newly hegemonic social science that actually reinvents ‘Arab exceptionalism’. This poses a problem for would-be analysts of the Arab revolts that began in 2010.

Islamists between revolution and the state: an epilogue

By: Abdul Ghani Imad

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 7, Issue 2 (2014)

Abstract: The problematic addressed in this article is the challenge initiated by the Arab revolutions to reform the Arab political system in such a way as to facilitate the incorporation of ‘democracy’ at the core of its structure. Given the profound repercussions, this issue has become the most serious matter facing the forces of change in the Arab world today; meanwhile, it forms the most prominent challenge and the most difficult test confronting Islamists. The Islamist phenomenon is not an alien implant that descended upon us from another planet beyond the social context or manifestations of history. Thus it cannot but be an expression of political, cultural, and social needs and crises. Over the years this phenomenon has presented, through its discourse, an ideological logic that falls within the context of ‘advocacy’; however, today Islamists find themselves in office, and in a new context that requires them to produce a new type of discourse that pertains to the context of a ‘state’. Political participation ‘tames’ ideology and pushes political actors to rationalize their discourse in the face of daily political realities and the necessity of achievement. The logic of advocacy differs from that of the state: in the case of advocacy, ideology represents an enriching asset, whereas in the case of the state, it constitutes a heavy burden. This is one reason why so much discourse exists within religious jurisprudence related to interest or necessity or balancing outcomes. This article forms an epilogue to the series of articles on religion and the state published in previous issues of this journal. It adopts the methodologies of ‘discourse analysis’ and ‘case studies’ in an attempt to examine the arguments presented by Islamists under pressure from the opposition. It analyses the experiences, and the constraints, that inhibit the production of a ‘model’, and monitors the development of the discourse, its structure, and transformations between advocacy, revolution and the state.

The Production and Politics of Public Space Radical Democratic Politics and Public Space

By: Kaveh Ehsani

Published in International Journal of Middle East Studies Volume 46, Issue 1 (2014)

Abstract: These are critical times for democratic politics from Morocco to Iran, as heterogeneous popular movements for greater representation and social justice increasingly challenge established authorities. It is not surprising that these struggles have laid claim to symbolic urban places in the process of claiming their collective political demands. Politics is not purely discursive or institutional; it always has material and spatial dimensions, which for democratic politics is manifested through public space. For all the recent enthusiasm about the emancipating possibilities of the digital media, the fact remains that Tahrir Square (Cairo), Gezi Park (Istanbul), Revolution Street (Tehran), and Pearl Roundabout (Manama) are not virtual locations on the Internet.

Libya’s Arab Spring: The Long Road from Revolution to Democracy

By: Larbi Sadiki

Published in International Studies Volume 49, Issue 3-4 (2014)

Abstract: This article presents a critical account of Libya’s incipient democratization, contextualizing it within the Arab Spring élan. This first line of inquiry is twofold: it critically assesses the meaning of democratization in the context of the Arab Middle East (AME), and briefly considers issues related to democratic knowledge and the Orientalist–Occidentalist inputs into this debate. Then, it situates this debate within the ‘Arab Spring’, looking at Western negative impressions of Arab revolts. A second line of inquiry is also twofold: While assessing the steps taken on the road to democratic reconstruction, it offers an unorthodox perspective on the North African country’s transition. To this end, the article concludes that even violence is part and parcel of the process of power redistribution and reconstitution of a new polity. From this angle, whilst Libya’s first election in nearly 50 years represents a step in the right direction along the path of political renewal, forms of unruliness—regional, religious or tribal—challenge Euro-American views of democracy as a single and fixed type of regime that precludes forms of disorder. In fact, unruliness has accompanied Libya’s long and arduous process of ousting Gaddafi from power; this continues and will mark the transition process for sometime in the foreseeable future.

Metaphors of the Arab Spring: Figurative Construals of the Uprisings and Revolutions

By: Ludmila Torlakova

Published in Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies Volume 14 (2014)

Abstract: This paper presents some preliminary results of a project concerned with identifying and analyzing a number of Arabic metaphors used in political discourse to conceptualize the “Arab Spring.” It investigates how Modern Standard Arabic deals with new political and social issues. The study also deals with how particular metaphors were created. This requires examination from two directions: first, what kinds of language resources were used to communicate and evaluate what was happening and, second, what type of knowledge and experience was utilized as a source for the metaphors employed in the texts. Many of the metaphors are strongly connected with specific traditions, the Islamic context, and general cultural experience, and some details concerning these areas are supplied.

Gender and Citizenship Center Stage: Sondra Hale’s Legacy and Egypt’s Ongoing Revolution

By: Sherine Hafez

Published in Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies Volume 10, Issue 1 (2014)

Abstract: Sondra Hale’s deep and long-term relationship with Sudan has produced a substantial body of scholarship that has transformed the anthropology of gender in the Middle East. She argues in her work that a version of Islamic citizenship was articulated by Hassan al-Turabi’s Islamist government in Sudan in the 1990s to shape society’s notion of the ideal Muslim woman. This essay looks at Hale’s work on women’s citizenship in Sudan to examine the constitution of this notion and how it shapes women’s citizenship in post-Arab Spring Egypt. My aims are to explore the various conflicting powers through which ideals of women’s citizenship in Egypt after the revolution are produced and to problematize Hale’s notion of citizenship to better understand the role that Islamism plays in shaping these gendered political subjectivities.

Historical Sociology and the Arab Uprising

By: Raymond Hinnebusch

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 19, Issue 1 (2014)

Abstract: Historical sociology’s perspectives—co-constitution of the international and domestic, path-dependency, variegated regime types—help illuminate the state formation paths leading to the Arab Uprising. It also points to how contention between the mass mobilization unleashed by the Uprising and oligarchic inheritances is issuing in variegated hybrid outcomes.

The Arabism Debate and the Arab Uprisings

By: Christopher Phillips

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 19, Issue 1 (2014)

Abstract: This article explores how the Arab Uprisings have affected academic debates over the importance of Arab identity in regional and domestic politics. Does the spreading of protest from one Arab state to another in 2011 indicate Arabism’s continued salience, or does the subsequent rise of regional sectarianism represent its death-knell? Are older debates between ‘New Arabists’ and ‘post-Arabists’ still relevant or is a new framework needed that better reflects the post-2011 Arab world?

Power, Identity and Securitization in Middle East: Regional Order after the Arab Uprisings

By: Helle Malmvig

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 19, Issue 1 (2014)

Abstract: In 1998 Barnett argued against the grain of realist IR theory, contending that ‘the conflicts between Arab governments have concerned the norms of Arabism and not the balance of power’. Ever since, the debate on regional order has been marked less by realist perspectives based on materialist understanding of power, and more by pragmatic middle positions as can be found with the English School, Historical Sociology and soft constructivist approaches. This piece will argue along the same lines, contending that norms and identity politics remain central to the study of Middle East regional politics, also in the post-2011 era. In a second move it will however also suggest that the rise of identity politics and heightened regional insecurity related to these identities, calls for an introduction of insights from securitization theory.

Framing Political Revolutions in the Aftermath of the Arab Uprisings

By: Frédéric Volpi

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 19, Issue 1 (2014)

Abstract: What was revolutionary in the wave of revolutionary regime changes that began to sweep the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 was not a particular set of political ideas but a set of social practices. The unexpected popular uprisings that changed the very notion of effective political behaviour in the region introduced a new perspective on political revolutions and regime stability that still remains to be fully appreciated in contemporary theoretical perspectives on revolutions and Arab politics.

Three Ways of Revisiting the (post-) Democratization Debate After the Arab Uprisings

By: Morten Valbjørn

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 19, Issue 1 (2014)

Abstract: This contribution to the roundtable considers the evolution of the debate about democratization and post-democratization before 2011 and examines three different ways of revisiting this debate after the Arab uprisings.

Studying Islamism after the Arab Spring

By: Ewan Stein

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 19, Issue 1 (2014)

Abstract: This intervention argues that the events associated with the ‘Arab Spring’, particularly in Egypt, raise important questions for the study of political Islam as a discrete phenomenon or uniquely resonant set of ideas in Muslim societies. It stresses the need for a better understanding of how specific groups utilize Islamist ideas in reshaping the collective imagination over time, and how these processes in turn affect the popularity, strategies and political behaviour of state and non-state actors.

Who Represents the Revolutionaries? Examples from the Egyptian Revolution 2011

By: Noha Mellor

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 19, Issue 1 (2014)

Abstract: Recently, there has been a debate among Egyptian intellectuals about who ideally represents the Tahrir (liberation) revolutionaries. This article reflects on this debate with a focus on selected examples of middle-class liberal revolutionaries and their mediated accounts of the so-called Battle of Camel, which took place on 2 February 2011. The examples help illustrate how the mediation and construction of this event enforces the image of protestors as secular middle class, thereby relegating to the background the role played by religious groups such as the influential Muslim Brotherhood. The accounts also marginalized working-class voices, although this group significantly contributed to the success of the revolution. The selected examples indicate the dynamism of the protests as a multi-layered text and a cultural artefact, open to multiple interpretations with regard to the representation of the revolutionaries.

Foreign Aid and Security Sector Reform in Tunisia: Resistance and Autonomy of the Security Forces

By: Moncef Kartasa

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 19, Issue 3 (2014)

Abstract: Three years after the demise of the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia, the progress and state of security sector reform (SSR) is in limbo. What have been the main dynamics dragging the reform of the security sector? What role has foreign aid and assistance played in this process? By exploring these questions, this article makes the argument that the approach and vision of multi- and bilateral aid agencies is fundamentally flawed, producing effects at cross-purposes to their stated aims and values. The stalling of SSR reflects the ‘successful’ resistance of the security forces against oversight and accountability by instrumentalizing the deterioration of security and alleged rise of violent extremist threats. Against the backdrop of vocal calls for prioritizing security, the approach followed by foreign actors has thus far barely acknowledged that struggle, thereby unintentionally supporting the increasing autonomy of the security forces. Using the concept of military autonomy, the paper highlights the fact that in the current approach to reform, security risks to take precedence over the political.

Radical Transformations and Radical Contestations: Bahrain’s Spatial-Demographic Revolution

By: Omar Hesham Alshehabi

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 23, Issue 1 (2014)

Abstract: This article approaches the developments in Bahrain during the first decade of the twenty-first century through a geographical, historical materialism perspective. It moves away from emphasizing the traditional narratives of events in the island as dominated by identity-based (and particularly sect-based) politics, arguing that the interactions between space, capital, and people over time are also central to explaining local dynamics. It argues that this period has been defined by a radical transformation of the spatial-demographic landscape of Bahrain, and that this perturbed state of creation and destruction on the spatial and demographic fronts crucially was reflected in a radical contestation of social identity, values and discourses. These play an important role in explaining the political explosion that occurred on February 14, 2011 and the subsequent political mobilization along sectarian and nationalist lines.

The Study of Democratization and the Arab Spring

By: Amel Ahmed, Giovanni Capoccia

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 6, Issue 1 (2014)

Abstract: This paper proposes and illustrates a framework for analysis of the recent events in Middle Eastern and North African countries (the so-called Arab Spring) by bringing into dialogue recent theoretical advances in democratization theory with the comparative-historical literature on the political development of the MENA region. We advocate two analytical shifts from conventional approaches in the analysis of the Arab Spring: first, reconsider the temporalities of democratization processes; second, focus on struggles over specific institutional arenas rather than over the regime as a whole. The former recommendation draws attention both to the strategies used by key actors in the political, economic, and civil society spheres, and to the historical legacies that built the influence and resources of these actors over time. The latter allows us to consider the institutional safeguards for old elites that are likely to be included in the post-authoritarian regimes emerging in the region. Even though some of these safeguards are clearly anti-democratic, historical examples show that they do not necessarily preclude democratization. Indeed, in some cases, their introduction might be necessary to achieve democratic openings in other arenas. We illustrate these theoretical points with reference to the case of Egypt.

Islam, Democracy and Islamism After the Counterrevolution in Egypt

By: Muqtedar Khan

Published in Middle East Policy Volume 21, Issue 1 (2014)

Abstract: Not available

Resistance amid Regime Co-optation on the Syrian Television Series Buq‘at Daw’, 2001–2012

By: Rebecca Joubin

Published in The Middle East Journal Volume 68, Issue 1 (2014)

Abstract: This article examines saches from the Syrian television show Buq’at Daw’ (Spotlight). Once considered indicative of changes many hoped for during the early days of the Bashar al-Asad regime, Buq’at Daw’ remained popular through the reform process’s failure and the beginning of the recent Syrian uprising. While scholars have cast critical programming as an “airing” of public frustrations permitted by the regime in order to stave off popular protest, this article argues that focusing on government intent robs intellectuals of agency. Instead, this article looks at productions like Buq’at Daw’ as part of a continual attempt by drama creators to challenge limits of what is permissible through innuendo, stratagem, and word artistry.

How Social Media Can Shape a Protest Movement: The Cases of Egypt in 2011 and Iran in 2009

By: Felix Tusa

Published in Arab Media & Society Issue 17 (2013)

Abstract: This article will explore the effect of social media and Internet-based communication on social movements. It will do this by looking at two major processes of social movements—framing and organizing—in two case studies: the protests in Egypt from December 2010 to February 2011 (during the Arab Spring), and the post-election protests in Iran in 2009 that became known as the beginning of the Green Movement. The article will use this comparison and examination to determine how computer- mediated communication (CMC) was used in Iran in 2009 and in Egypt during the Arab Spring. These examples will also reveal whether CMC is most effective in framing a protest movement or organizing it; and to what extent this usage explains the success or failure of these protest movements

Online Mobilization in Times of Conflict: A Framing-Analysis Perspective

By: Mohamed Ben Moussa

Published in Arab Media & Society Issue 17 (2013)

Abstract: The pro-democracy popular uprisings gripping the Arab world have ended or are seriously threatening long-entrenched dictatorships and repressive regimes. The uprisings have also been dubbed Facebook and Twitter revolutions, highlighting the role of the Internet in political advocacy and change. The use of the Internet in collective action in the Arab region is not a recent phenomenon, since the technology has marked mediated politics in the region during the last decade. However, scholarly research on the subject remains insufficient and more important, largely under-theorized. To address these lacunas, this article analyzes the role of the Internet in political advocacy in a Muslim majority society (the Moroccan one) through social movement theory and framing analysis.This article differentiates between various levels of mobilization to which the Internet contributes, and sheds light on its potential as a technology and political medium for collective action framing. Focusing on the case of Moroccan social movements and their framing of the 2009 Gaza war, the piece aims to analyze how the Internet contributes to the capacity of oppositional civil society groups to challenge political, social and cultural injustices at the local, regional and international levels. This article argues that as the Internet becomes the central medium of political advocacy in the region, it increasingly shapes the organizational structure, boundaries and tactics of oppositional social movements and thus contributes to determining the outcome of their struggles.

Social Movement Theory and the Onset of the Popular Uprising in Syria

By: Reinoud Leenders

Published in Arab Studies Quarterly Volume 35, Issue 3 (2013)

Abstract: This article takes stock of my attempt to scrutinize the onset of the Syrian uprising with the help of some key analytical concepts derived from social movement theory, including “opportunity” and “threat,” “social networks,” “repertoires of contention,” “framing,” and “diffusion.” These tools allow me to identify and disentangle the mechanisms of early mobilization and the uprising and explain why they commenced in relatively peripheral areas. Social networks and framing processes are argued to have been key in mobilization, by transmitting opportunities derived from the “Arab Spring,” by mediating the nexus between repression and mobilization, by creating and feeding a rich new repertoire of defiant protest acts and claims-making, and by aiding the diffusion or agglomeration of mobilization throughout the country.

Democracy in Modern Islamic Thought

By: Nazek Jawad

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 40, Issue 3 (2013)

Abstract: Despite the hostility they exhibit towards each other, almost all Arab secularist and radical Islamists agree that democracy and Islam are irreconcilable, and that belief in one inevitably precludes belief in the other. In this article I will focus on the beliefs of the Islamist Rachid Ghannouchi regarding this issue. First I will examine his notion of how democracy can be achieved in an Islamic state. I will then explore issues of conflict that have arisen between traditional and modern Islamist thinking relating to the compatibility of democracy and Islam. Finally I will focus on two variables that are claimed to be major obstacles to liberal democracy in Muslim states: secularism and modernisation.

Urban Subalterns in the Arab Revolutions: Cairo and Damascus in Comparative Perspective

By: Salwa Ismail

Published in Comparative Studies in Society and History Volume 55, Issue 4 (2013)

Abstract: This paper investigates the role of urban subalterns both as participatory agents in the Arab revolutions and as mediating forces against revolutionary action. It argues that during revolutionary periods the positioning of subalterns as a political force should be understood in relation to their socio-spatial location in the urban political configuration. Looking at the protest movements in Cairo and Damascus, the paper examines the differentiated locations of subaltern actors in each to demonstrate how their positioning in relation to state and government has shaped their engagement in the revolutions. In Cairo, the mobilization of subaltern forces was anchored in spatialized forms of everyday interaction between popular forces and agents of government. These interactions were formative of urban subjectivities that entered into the making of “the people” as the subject of the Revolution. In Damascus, the configuration of the urban space and the Syrian regime’s modes of control made it difficult for subaltern forces to mobilize on the same scale as in Cairo or to form a unified opposition. The regime instrumentalized socio-spatial fragmentation among subalterns, in effect turning some segments, as buffers for the regime, against others. In analytical terms, the paper underscores the common conceptual ground between the categories of “urban popular forces” and “urban subalterns.” This ground covers their socio-spatial positionality, their bases of action, and the factors shaping their political subjectivities.

Anarchist Method, Liberal Intention, Authoritarian Lesson: The Arab Spring between Three Enlightenments

By: Mohammed A. Bamyeh

Published in Constellations Volume 20, Issue 2 (2013)

Abstract: Not available

The Islam and Democracy Debate after 2011

By: Saïd Amir Arjomand

Published in Constellations Volume 20, Issue 2 (2013)

Abstract: The debate on Islam and democracy sharply shifted in the direction of neo-conservativism after and in constant reference to the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran, and the contention that Islam was incompatible with democracy received a tremendous boost from 9/11. The proponents of a clash of civilizations waxed eloquent. Samuel Huntington refused to make any distinction between Islam and Islamic fundamentalism as the source of global trouble after the Cold War,1 and Bernard Lewis sought to demonstrate what went wrong with Islam under Western impact.2 The establishment of a new political order purporting to embody the rule of God in the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran, it is true, was a watershed in the history of modern Middle East. And indeed, it provided great ammunition for the proponents of the incompatibility of Islam and democracy. The 1979 Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran made Shi‘ite Islam the cornerstone of constitutional reconstruction in a way that was far more substantive and far-reaching that the largely symbolic declaration of God’s sovereignty in the 1956 Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the first state to be designated as Islamic in history. It would indeed be impossible to understand the constitutional placement of Islam after subsequent revolutions of the Muslim world without reference, positive or negative, to the historical watershed consisting of the entrenchment of Islam in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Wave of change in the Arab world and chances for a transition to democracy

By: Abdelkader Abdelali

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 6, Issue 2 (2013)

Abstract: This article looks at the literature on democratization in the Arab world, and links it to the ongoing political change since the ‘Arab Spring’. Whereas assessing the ongoing events in the Arab world as an ‘Arab Spring’ or revolution is still a matter of speculation, there is a need to re-examine the literature on democratization which is dominated by the hypothesis of Arab and Islamic exceptionalism. This article aims at presenting possible explanations for these theoretical perspectives in light of the ongoing debate on definition, characterization and interpretation of what is actually happening in the Arab world, amidst contradicting representation of facts and data. The study concludes that defining the ‘Arab Spring’ as democratic transformation is a premature judgement. What is happening, instead, can be considered a ‘transition from authoritarianism’. Democratic transition depends on a number of factors that allow for building democratic political institutions and at the same time, diminishing the possibilities of renewal of autocracy and authoritarianism in the Arab world.

News Coverage Analysis of SNSs and the Arab Spring: Using Mixed Methods

By: Chung Joo Chung, Sung-Ho Cho

Published in Global Media Journal Volume 12, Issue 23 (2013)

Abstract: This study evaluates the role of mass media messages and social network services (SNSs) in the Middle East, a region largely ingroed in this context, by considering four major U.S. newspapers covering the Arab spring and the issue of SNS-driven changes in authoritarian countries. It uses a mixed method approach combing the traditional content and the semantic network analyses. the results indicate a dramatic increase in recent years in attention to Facebook and Twitter as instruments for political revolution in the Arab world and several authoritarian countries in Asia and Africa. Newspaper varied in the presentation, but all framed the advents of SNSs as new media and technologies for information seeking and communication.

Al-Jazeera, Advocacy and Media Value Determinism Re-conceptualizing the Network’s Coverage of the Arab Spring of Revolutions

By: Mahmoud M. Galander

Published in Global Media Journal Volume 12, Issue 22 (2013)

Abstract: This article uses a new theoretical perspective developed by an Arab scholar to investigate the news coverage of the Arab spring in Al-Jazeera (Arabic), in search of a style of coverage that may be qualified as socioreligiously based brand of advocacy journalism. Two news genres, news cast and news report are analyzed to demonstrate that the coverage does not fit “objective” news reporting as defined in journalism literature, but much resembles advocacy style. Rationale for the channel’s adoption of the style is discussed within the theory of “media value determinism,” (MVD).

From revolutions to constitutions: the case of Egypt

By: Anthony F. Lang Jr.

Published in International Affairs Volume 89, Issue 2 (2013)

Abstract: This article explores the transition from revolutions to constitutions in Egypt. In order to understand the current transition, the article compares events since 2011 to the 1919 constitutional revolution and the 1952 Free Officers’ Movement. In comparing these three revolutionary periods and the constitutions they produced, the article makes two overarching claims: first, a constitution does not arise from the fiat of wise lawgivers or experts in the rule of law. Rather, it emerges from a contentious political process in which competing agents and institutions seek to promote their own interests. This competitive process, however, is actually beneficial to constitution-making, constitutional politics and political life more widely. Second, the article highlights that while the political dynamics of constitution-making in Egypt reveal domestic politics, the process of constitution-making also demonstrates how such dynamics take place in a global political context. Together, these two claims point up that constitutionalism is just as much a political movement as a legal doctrine.

Violence, Resistance, and Gezi Park

By: Yesim Arat

Published in International Journal of Middle East Studies Volume 45, Issue 4 (2013)

Abstract: As a student of politics whose primary research interest is in women’s political participation in Turkey, my engagement with the study of violence is through the lens of gender. In gender studies, “violence” is arguably the most important critical concept for the articulation of the personal as the political. Women’s recognition that violence in their personal lives and intimate relationships needed to be problematized in the political realm and transformed through public debate was a revolutionary development. Bringing this recognition into the canon of political thought has been a major contribution of feminist theorists.

Transition, Flow, and Divergent Times

By: Avinoam Shalem

Published in International Journal of Middle East Studies Volume 45, Issue 3 (2013)

Abstract: The Western academy’s growing interest in the contemporary arts in the Arab world illustrates the desire to map “Islam”—problematic as this term is—within the global history of cultures and to integrate it into “Western” models of the writing and documenting of the past. As positive and corrective as these academic approaches may seem, the notion of recording time—that is, writing history—is still firmly bound at the beginning of the 21st century to the idea of continuity, and the pattern of “Western”-centric thinking imposes that notion upon contemporary artists and art historians. Yet the political changes and spontaneous eruptions that the Middle East and North Africa are experiencing, especially since the beginning of 2011, defy and resist conventional interpretations of historical processes and therefore demand a rethinking of the configuration of the past.

Tunisia and Syria: Comparing Two Years of Revolution

By: Leyla Dakhlia

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 22, Issue 3 (2013)

Abstract: This article aims to reconstruct the connection between the uprisings in Tunisia and Syria—or rather provide the means for characterizing it—by comparing two extremes that could be defined as opposites: that of the particular moment of contestation; and also the circulation and communication of ideas. The purpose of this exercise is not only to challenge the common discourse but also to provide other possible lines of approach regarding the moment itself, what stirs it up, what shifts it, of what it is made, and what can blur the lines. This exercise also provides the opportunity, albeit paradoxical, to reflect on pressing concerns that have arisen from observing what has been occurring in the region since early 2011.

Tahrir: Politics, Publics and Performances of Space

By: Derek Gregory

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 22, Issue 3 (2013)

Abstract: One of the iconic sites of the Arab uprisings that started in December 2010 was (and remains) Tahrir Square in Cairo. This is also a site that makes it possible to trace the entanglements of a digital public sphere with a physical public space. Many commentators on events in Egypt have insisted on the power of digital social media, and especially Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, to activate and co-ordinate political opposition to the Mubarak regime. But conventional means of communication also played a crucial role, and the presence of large crowds gathered together in public spaces was vital to the immediate gains made in by what was a remarkably heterogeneous revolution. Using the work of Judith Butler, it becomes possible to clarify the ways in which the animation of a diverse public was inseparable from its ability to appropriate and in some substantial sense ‘gather’—to re-claim and re-appropriate—a properly public space. In short, it was through both their digital platforms and their bodily presence that so many people collaborated in a series of political performances that were also performances of space.

Squaring the Circle: Bahrain’s Pearl Roundabout

By: Amal Khalaf

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 22, Issue 3 (2013)

Abstract: From 14 February – 16 March 2011 Bahrain’s Pearl Roundabout was the site of some of the most significant anti-government demonstrations in Bahrain’s history. On 18 March 2011 the roundabout was razed to the ground, and within an afternoon, the space and symbol of the uprising were apparently erased. This paper traces representations, appropriations and symbolism of the Pearl Roundabout tracing its history from creation through to its after-life, while touching on issues of public space, both real and virtual, as the once insignificant Pearl Roundabout is renamed and recast, making it the unwitting symbol of a movement.

Creating democrats? Testing the Arab Spring

By: Ashley Barnes

Published in Middle East Policy Volume 20, Issue 2 (2013)

Abstract: Not available

Revolution in Bad Times

By: Asef Bayat

Published in New Left Review Issue 80 (2013)

Abstract: Euphoric celebrations of the Arab uprisings have skated over their profoundly ambiguous character. Asef Bayat explains the failure to make a clean sweep of the old order in terms of a self-limiting programme that stems from the discredit of traditional revolutionary models.

Beyond Secular and Religious: An intellectual genealogy of Tahrir Square

By: Charles Hirschkind

Published in American Ethnologist Volume 39, Issue 1 (2012)

Abstract: Competing visions of Egypt’s future have long been divided along secular versus religious lines, a split that both the Sadat and Mubarak regimes exploited to weaken political opposition. In this context, one striking feature of the Egyptian uprising that took place last spring is the extent to which it defied characterization in terms of the religious-secular binary. In this commentary, I explore how this movement drew sustenance from a unique political sensibility, one disencumbered of the secular versus religious oppositional logic and its concomitant forms of political rationality. This sensibility has a distinct intellectual genealogy within Egyptian political experience. I focus here on the careers of three Egyptian public intellectuals whose pioneering engagement with the question of the place of Islam within Egyptian political life provided an important part of the scaffolding, in my view, for the practices of solidarity and association that brought down the Mubarak regime.

Reflections on Secularism, Democracy, and Politics in Egypt

By: Hussein Ali Agrama

Published in American Ethnologist Volume 39, Issue 1 (2012)

Abstract: I reassess dominant understandings of the relations between secularism, democracy, and politics by comparing the Egyptian protests that began on January 25, 2011, and lasted until the fall of Mubarak with some of the events that occurred in their aftermath. The events that occurred after these protests demonstrated the obliging power of what I call the “problem‐space of secularism,” anchored by the question of where to draw a line between religion and politics and the stakes of tolerance and religious freedom typically attached to it. By contrast, the protests themselves displayed a marked indifference to this question. Thus, they stood outside the problem‐space of secularism, representing what I call an “asecular” moment. I suggest that such moments of asecularity merit greater attention.

Youth Political Engagement in Egypt: From Abstention to Uprising

By: Nadine Sika

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 39, Issue 2 (2012)

Abstract: This study analyses the dynamics of youth political engagement in Egypt in the light of ‘dual motivation’ theory, which defines political engagement in terms of both citizens’ interest in changing the outcome of elections and the prevalence of social capital conducive for political engagement. The first part of the article focuses on the dynamics of political mobilisation in general, prior to the uprising of 25 January 2011. The second part examines the political attitudes and levels of political participation of young people prior to the uprising. The study found that the youth believed in democratic values but did not participate politically. This is explained not by a lack of social capital but rather by an understanding of the dynamics of authoritarian rule and corruption, leading to a general abstention from civic and political engagement. Nevertheless, with the changing international circumstances, especially the Jasmine revolution in Tunisia, youth movements in Egypt have proved capable of framing the issue of regime change effectively, leading ultimately to contention on the streets and the toppling of Mubarak. Dual motivation theory, therefore, might not be applicable in authoritarian regimes but in democratising regimes both elements of the theory appear relevant.

Making Sense of the Constitutional Revolution

By: Gary Jeffrey Jacobsohn

Published in Constellations Volume 19, Issue 2 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

Middle Eastern Constitutional and Ideological Revolutions and the Rise of Juristocracy

By: Said Amir Arjomand

Published in Constellations Volume 19, Issue 2 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

Palestinian youth and the Arab Spring. Learning to think critically: a case study

By: Nadia Naser-Najjab

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 5, Issue 2 (2012)

Abstract: The subject of this paper is a case study based on evidence gathered informally through delivery of a course at Birzeit University entitled ‘Modern and Contemporary European Civilization’ and from end-of-semester evaluations that asked students to reflect on the impact of the course on their lives. The author is, naturally, aware of the limitation of the methodology used in this study, and does not claim that its findings can be generalized authoritatively to a wider group of people in the Arab world. What is clear, however, if one considers reviews of internet blogs and media programme debates, is that extrapolations from this evidence have wider reference, revealing commonalities and similarities between Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories and Arab youth involved in the Arab Spring on the subject of political reform. The discussions engaged in by my students actually parallel the debates generated by traditionalists and secularists in post-revolution Egypt and Tunisia. These debates revolve around what it means to live in a civil, democratic state that grants social justice and freedoms, and crucially, at present led by scholars and politicians, address the possibility of reconciling the concept of modernity with Islam and the legislative framework of Islamic law (sharīʿah). It could be argued that the data collected are specific to this one case study, since Palestinians living under Israeli occupation form a unique group in the Arab world and probably are more concerned with basic issues of daily life and more sensitive to Western concepts of modernity. The significance of this data is, however, that gathered during the Arab Spring, they were based on reactions to material covered in a class which related to issues raised by the Arab revolutions, such as democracy, liberalism and revolution. Furthermore, these tentative findings suggest that more research is needed into issues such as the role of education, gender, tolerance and the reconciliation of Islam with modernity – areas of interest which are of particular importance at a time when Islamic groups are winning elections and debates on concepts of authority, democracy and liberalism occupy the foreground of media programmes in countries such as Egypt and Tunisia.

The Arab ‘demonstration’ effect and the revival of Arab unity in the Arab Spring

By: Roger Owen

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 5, Issue 3 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

The ‘end of pan-Arabism’ revisited: reflections on the Arab Spring

By: Youssef Mohamed Sawani

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 5, Issue 3 (2012)

Abstract: This article draws on implications of the Arab Spring so as to elucidate the dynamics that characterize its revolutions. The analysis builds upon the results of major public opinion surveys conducted in the Arab world, both immediately before and after the Arab Spring, in order to facilitate the identification of developments that shape the relationship between Arabism and Islamism in the context of mass media, the demographic ‘youth bulge’ and Arab ongoing intellectual debates. The argument advanced here is that the Arab Spring consolidates the view that Arabism and Islamism have maintained their position and hold on public opinion and prevailing attitudes as the primary and inseparable trends of Arab thought. The interaction and shifting relative weights of both trends provide the context for the identity, conceptual outlook and reciprocal framework of contemporary Arabs; and the Arab Spring seems only to confirm the two trends as constituting the essential point of reference and departure for Arabs. Within this context and scope of analysis this article traces the emergence of a ‘historical mass’ for change that, coupled with an indelibly engrained link between the two trends is opening up a new conceptual sphere and public space for the emergence of a new Arabism. Such development is also supported by the role of mass media and the thoughtful intellectual contributions that have been advancing a new Arab paradigm which further refutes the ‘End of Arabism’ thesis.

War of Creative Destruction: the central tendency in the globalized Arab revolutions (a study in the formation of the future)

By: Fatī al-ʿAfīfī

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 5, Issue 3 (2012)

Abstract: The Arab world in the 2010–2011 period was subject to a massive and unprecedented process of ‘creative destruction’. Despite its highly pernicious effects at numerous levels, including the distortion of political life and the stark polarization and increasing disparities between rich and poor, creative destruction is the instrument of choice in the process of globalization run by the major powers, and functions in place of more costly direct military interventions but can be used to serve similar ends. Major western powers engage in trafficking in protection, and American policies impose international axes conflicting by design for the purposes of managing their concerns whether such be through playing off political rivals against one another or running low-intensity wars that serve vested interests or grander imperial designs. Savage capitalism is an overt instrument and consequence of authoritarianism and corruption that justifies chaos, which also, in the context of globalization, gives just cause for revolution when it affirms social–Darwinian concepts that suggest ‘victims deserve their fate’ and ‘whoever can save himself does’. The Neo-liberalism derivative of Adam Smith that is at the core of globalization and its logic vigorously promotes individualism at the expense of collectivism and group interests and encourages individual initiatives—all of which led to the major global financial collapse of September 2008, and it is this same logic that underpins the strategy of creative destruction. This article provides a theoretical framework as well as specific means for analyzing the process of creative destruction specifically in the Arab world during the period of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ and deals with the various social matrices and movements along with the role of Arab satellite media, electronic chaos and cyber-mobilization. Additionally projects, justifications for, and hierarchies of creative destruction are detailed across various axes and different modalities including the American mode, the Arab authoritarian state mode and the popular mode. The force of creative destruction in the Middle East, in the final analysis, is more than a US scheme for dismantling the old Arab order; the Arab revolts constitute the catalyst and central tendency towards taking responsibility—as a concept and plan for the unleashing of the tremendous power and mobilization that are permitting Arab peoples to do more than react, but to have their say in history.

When Conflict Spreads: Arab Spring and the Limits of Diffusion

By: Stephen M. Saidemana

Published in International Interactions Volume 38, Issue 5 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

The Arab Spring, Winter, and Back Again? (Re)Introducing the Dissent-Repression Nexus with a Twist

By: Christian Davenporta, Will H. Mooreb

Published in International Interactions Volume 38, Issue 5 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

Music and the Aura of Revolution

By: Mark LeVine

Published in International Journal of Middle East Studies Volume 44, Issue 4 (2012)

Abstract: It has become something of a commonplace to argue that music played an important role in the revolutionary upheavals that overthrew the Bin ʿAli regime in Tunisia and forced Husni Mubarak from power in Egypt. This recognition let the larger scholarly community—indeed, the world—in on a secret that a small group of MENA scholars have for decades been trying to share: it’s not merely that music is society, as Jonathan Shannon argues in his contribution to this roundtable; it’s society in “Real 3D,” at once a microcosm, mirror, and prism of “all the social forces and contradictions of culture, politics, and history.” As a mirror, music reflects society’s contending forces back onto itself. Under the right conditions it also refracts them prismatically, acting as a filter and an amplifier that brings (and sometimes forces) subaltern sentiments into the public consciousness. Music, like other art forms, can help foster and sustain social and political change.

Discourses of the 2011 Arab Revolutions

By: Ken Seigneurie

Published in Journal of Arabic Literature Volume 43, Issue 2-3 (2012)

Abstract: This essay explores cultural discourses that framed the crucial first months of the uprisings that swept through the Arab world beginning in 2011. Methodologically, the essay seeks to show how the techniques of literary analysis can be used to understand the motivating factors of revolution. Three discourses in particular—human rights, progressive commitment and elegiac humanist—provided the practical, political and moral wherewithal for protestors to face overwhelming odds. These discourses were drawn from both Arab culture and world culture, and were a driving force in the revolutionary fervor that swept Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and Bahrain.

The Arab Spring Meets the Occupy Wall Street Movement: Examples of Changing Definitions of Citizenship in a Global World

By: Mervat F. Hatem

Published in Journal of Civil Society Volume 8, Issue 4 (2012)

Abstract: The essay takes the logic of Empire/multitude as a starting point for the study of forms of citizenship in an increasingly global world. The neo-liberal models of development that emerged in the South and the North in the 1980s have contributed to high levels of exclusion, expensive national security states, and economic crisis. While there are many historical economic and political differences between these models, there are also important similarities that can be seen in the protest movements that responded to them. The comparative study of the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street movement offer interesting insights into the development of the multitude as a global actor. The results are economic and political agendas that reflect the specificities of these different regions of the global world and their intersection

The Transformation of the Arab World

By: Olivier Roy

Published in Journal of Democracy Volume 23, Issue 3 (2012)

Abstract: In order to grasp what is happening in the Middle East, we must set aside a number of deep-rooted prejudices. First among them is the assumption that democracy presupposes secularization: The democratization movement in the Arab world came precisely after thirty years of what has been called the “return of the sacred,” an obvious process of re-Islamization of everyday life, coupled with the rise of Islamist parties. The second is the idea that a democrat must also, by definition, be a liberal. What is at stake is the reformulation of religion’s place in the public sphere.

The Languages of the Arab Revolutions

By: Abdou Filali-Ansary

Published in Journal of Democracy Volume 23, Issue 2 (2012)

Abstract: The upheavals that have been shaking the Arab-Muslim world are revolutions in discourse as well as in the streets. Arabs are using not only traditional and religious vocabularies, but also a new set of expressions that are modern and represent popular aspirations. We now seem to be at a moment when large strata in Arab societies (and in developing countries more broadly) have reached a state of real disenchantment with utopias, and seem to be ready for other forms of political participation. The conviction that there are alternatives to the kinds of regimes that have for so long imposed themselves on Arab societies—that life under this or that brand of dictatorship and unaccountable rule emphatically does not have to be the Arabs’ fate—seems to have taken hold of the collective imagination.

Surfing the Democratic Tsunami in Morocco: Apolitical Society and the Reconfiguration of a Sustainable Authoritarian Regime

By: Emanuela Dalmasso

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 17, Issue 2 (2012)

Abstract: The democratic wave seems to have finally reached the shores of the Middle East. Nevertheless, some countries have been less affected than others. Morocco in particular is singled out as an ‘exception’ and, despite large protests beginning in February 2011, the country seems not to have experienced significant democratic change. This article questions the degree to which Morocco is indeed an exception. Building on an analysis of the political context prior to the protests, it explores the political adjustments that the Moroccan regime has been forced to undertake following the demonstrations inspired by the Arab Spring. Largely unnoticed by international observers, Morocco has also undergone what may well be a watershed moment in its history. This article argues that changes to the political system as a result of the Arab uprisings may have far greater long-term significance than it appears at first glance. The case of Morocco exemplifies the paradox of analysing Arab politics as if the paradigms of democratization and of authoritarian resilience are in opposition to each other. This is not the case, as many of their assumptions can be collapsed in a single explanatory framework which can genuinely account for regional developments.

Beyond Lies the Wub: The Challenges of (Post)Democratization

By: Andrea Teti

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 21, Issue 1 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

The Political Geography of Protest in Neoliberal Jordan

By: Jillian Schwedler

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 21, Issue 3 (2012)

Abstract: Studies of protest activities predominantly have focused on police- protestor dynamics and the political opportunity structures of the regime. This article goes beyond those studies by examining two new perspectives about protest activities, using Jordan as a case study. First, I posit that Jordan is less a case of ‘resilient authoritarianism’ than it is an example of new forms of non-democratic governance, with economic rights advanced while political rights are restrained. In this context, Jordan remains a security state, ‘liberal’ economically but not politically. It is also a state in which the reach of security  is highly varied spatially. Second, protest activities in Jordan are affected not only by the non-democratic nature of the state, but also by the country’s physical changes that are the direct result of rapidly expanding neoliberal economic reforms. This article links these two insights to provide a new framework for understanding the political geography of protest in a neoliberalizing authoritarian state.

Egypt’s Music of Protest

By: Ted Swedenburg

Published in Middle East Report Volume 42, Issue 265 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

Narratives of Resistance: Comparing Global News Coverage of the Arab Spring

By: Alexa Robertson

Published in New Global Studies Volume 6, Issue 2 (2012)

Abstract: A rapidly evolving media ecology is posing significant challenges to actors in the halls of power, on the streets of popular dissent, and in the global newsrooms that connect these sites to the imaginations of media users throughout the world. It is a complicated tangle of relations, and difficult questions arise about which theoretical instruments are most useful when trying to unpick it. Global news coverage of the “Arab Awakening” of 2011 is fertile terrain for an exploration of some of these questions. The article compares how popular resistance is narrated by newsrooms with different reporting traditions, and reflects on how global audiences are positioned in relation to such events. The theoretical discussion is organized around the notions of media witnessing and cosmopolitanism. The empirical analysis is based on reports from over 1000 news stories broadcast on Al Jazeera English, which claims to give a voice to the voiceless, and BBC World, which has a tradition of reporting the world from the vantage point of elites. The results indicate that the reporting gaze is gendered differently, and that there are also intriguing differences in the way audiences are situated by the two broadcasters.

The Arab Spring and the Future of Democracy in the Middle East: Rethinking Middle Eastern Studies

By: Miriam Elman

Published in Palestine – Israel The Journal of Politics, Economics and Culture Volume 18, Issue 1 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

The Arab Spring: Why the Surprising Similarities with the Revolutionary Wave of 1848?

By: Kurt Weyland

Published in Perspectives on Politics Volume 10, Issue 4 (2012)

Abstract: Prominent scholars have highlighted important similarities between the Arab Spring of 2011 and the “revolutions” of 1848: Both waves of contention swept with dramatic speed across whole regions, but ended up yielding rather limited advances toward political liberalism and democracy. I seek to uncover the causal mechanisms that help account for these striking parallels. Drawing on my recent analysis of 1848, I argue that contention spread so quickly because many people in a wide range of countries drew rash inferences from the downfall of Tunisia’s dictator. Applying cognitive heuristics that psychologists have documented, they overrated the significance of the Tunisian success, overestimated the similarities with the political situation in their own country, and jumped to the conclusion that they could successfully challenge their own autocrats. This precipitation prompted protests in many settings that actually were much less propitious; therefore problems abounded. Cognitive shortcuts held such sway because Arab societies were weakly organized and repressed and thus lacked leaders from whom common people could take authoritative cues. The decision whether to engage in emulative contention fell to ordinary citizens, who—due to limited information access and scarce experience—were especially susceptible to the simple inferences suggested by cognitive heuristics.

Democratic Islamization in Pakistan and Turkey: Lessons for the Post-Arab Spring Muslim World

By: Juris Pupcenoks

Published in The Middle East Journal Volume 66, Issue 2 (2012)

Abstract: This article compares and contrasts democratic Islamization in Pakistan and Turkey, two countries where Islamic parties came to power through electoral means. Based on a comparative analysis of these experiences, this article will make the case that democratic Islamization can be best understood through a three-fold approach focusing on Islamization of educational systems, economies, and social policies. This analysis introduces two models of Islamic democracy: the “Conflicted Repressive Islamization” of Pakistan, and the “Subtle Islamization” of Turkey. It also suggests that the Turkish model will serve as the inspiration for future reformers in the Muslim world.

Institutional and Ideological Re-construction of the Justice and Development Party (PJD): The Question of Democratic Islamism in Morocco

By: Ashraf Nabih El Sherif

Published in The Middle East Journal Volume 66, Issue 4 (2012)

Abstract: An analysis of fieldwork research on the deliberations, policy option debates, and outcomes of the 2008 Sixth National Convention of the Justice and Development Party (PJD) crystallizes issues relevant to the party’s recent transformations, with focus on the balance between its Islamist character and its democratic/governance merits, central to the leadership transition that occurred during convention. This investigation presents potential scenarios of this ambivalent Islamist democratic experiment in Morocco amid rapidly changing national and regional contexts in the wake of the Arab Spring in 2011 and the new politics that resulted.

The ‘Arab Spring’: Breaking The Chains of Authoritarianism and Postponed Democracy

By: Mohammed Noureddine Affaya

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 4, Issue 4 (2011)

Abstract: While the events of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ constitute movements of vast social significance within the Arab world, they have at the same time raised as many questions as they have hopes and expectations. Among the most pressing causes for concern and further research are the roles that Arab audiovisual media and satellite broadcasting have played in not only covering events, but also in possibly even fomenting them through selectivity, timing, high-technology decoupage of images culled from the internet and new forms of social media, as well as the introduction of themes and slogans into various Arab public arenas even before the locals have taken such up themselves. The connection of Arab media to the political agendas of their sponsors as in the case of Aljazeera, for instance, has also been brought to the fore and writ large, leading to questions over whether or not media discourse is dialogic and genuinely responsive to multiple voices in the sense envisioned by Habermas or whether it is a Machiavellian enterprise directed towards very specific political ends. The political role of the media and individual newscasters has assumed new dimensions during the course of the upheavals of the ‘Arab Spring’ where it has been difficult if not impossible to characterize the media as strictly a passive observer of events and not also an active participant in initiatives for ‘democratic transition’ and other. Finally, while previous incarnations of state control and censorship of Arab media have been diminished or shed outright in a number of Arab countries – including Egypt and Tunisia – there are questions about what sort of conditionalities new corporate sponsorship may evolve. This article examines the philosophical and sociological dimensions of the Arab media of the ‘Arab Spring’, which like the events that it has covered have taken the Arab world into uncertain and uncharted territory

Transgovernmental networks as catalysts for democratic change? EU function cooperation with Arab authoritarian regimes and socialization of involved state officials into democratic governance

By: Tina Freyburg

Published in Democratization Volume 18, Issue 4 (2011)

Abstract: With the European Neighbourhood Policy, the European Union (EU) intensified functional cooperation in a wide range of sectors. This contribution investigates whether this kind of transnational exchange can trigger subtle processes of democratization. It argues that third state officials become acquainted with democratic governance by participating in transgovernmental policy networks implementing functional cooperation between state administrations of established democracies and authoritarian regimes. In this vein, it enriches the governance model of democracy promotion by adding a new level, the micro-level of democratic socialization. Empirically, the argument is tested taking two Twinning projects that the EU has set up in Morocco, that is, the projects on competition policy and on the environment. The conclusion is that in some non-politicized policy fields, such as the environment, EU transgovernmental policy networks can successfully yield processes of democratic socialization in the context of a stable authoritarian regime, like that in Morocco.

Literature and Revolution

By: Samah Selim

Published in International Journal of Middle East Studies Volume 43, Issue 3 (2011)

Abstract: The three-week uprising in Egypt that ended with the removal of Husni Mubarak on February 11 happened to coincide with the section of my spring course syllabus on the Egyptian novel from Najib Mahfuz to Ahmed Alaidy. As was the case for many of my colleagues and their students, the rapid and awe-inspiring events unfolding daily before us pushed purely academic concerns to the margins of class discussion. This tidal wave of revolutionary politics erupting into the classroom forced me to the realization that my larger syllabus was not simply some neutral or systematic survey of half a century’s worth of Arabic literature. I began to think about the largely invisible dystopic intellectual and historical paradigms through which modern Arabic literature is often framed, at least in the United States. The nahḍa/naksa narrative, which compelled many of us to read Arab cultural history of the 20th century as a story of brief “awakening” followed by irredeemable decline and corruption, is clearly no longer tenable in the wake of February 11. This same narrative underpinned the highly self-conscious postmodernism that began to emerge in Egypt in the 1990s and that reached its apogee a couple of decades later at the end of the 2000s, a postmodernism that was celebrated (though by no means universally) as the true beginning of literary modernity and the emancipation of the subject from the dead weight of a past ideological age.

Middle East Masculinity Studies: Discourses of “Men in Crisis,” Industries of Gender in Revolution

By: Paul Amar

Published in Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies Volume 7, Issue 3 (2011)

Abstract: This article examines how everyday theories of masculinity and vernacular discourses of “masculinities in crisis” play crucial roles in misrecognizing, racializing, moralistically-depoliticizing, and class-displacing emergent social forces in the Middle East. Public discourses and hegemonic theories of male trouble render illegible the social realities of twenty-first-century multipolar geopolitics and the changing shapes of racialism, humanitarianism, nationalism, security governance, and social movement. In order to help generate new kinds of critical research on Middle East masculinities, this article creates a larger map of discourses and methods, drawing upon studies of coloniality and gender in and from the global South. This mapping puts masculinity studies into dialogue with critiques of liberalism and security governance and with work in postcolonial queer theory, public health studies, and feminist international relations theory.

Imagining The State Through Social Protest: State Reformation and The Mobilizations of Unemployed Graduates in Morocco

By: Koenraad Bogaert

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 16, Issue 2 (2011)

Abstract: This article discusses the transformation of the Moroccan state under contemporary neoliberal globalization, and considers what this transition means for the ways in which scholars view state–society interplay in Morocco and the Arab world more generally. Specifically, it examines the protest of unemployed graduates in Morocco, suggesting that public demonstrations are not only a means to communicate and mobilize demands, but also a technology to reclaim and reproduce a particular ‘truth’ in public. This truth does not necessarily equate with the reality of the neoliberal state as a dispersed material force. As such, by looking at the case of Morocco, we hope to instigate further debate on the nature of the state and its specific relation to phenomena as globalization, society and social protest.

A Turkish Model for The Arab Spring?

By: Aslı Bâli

Published in Middle East Law and Governence Volume 3, Issue 1-2 (2011)

Abstract: The revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests across the Arab world – known collectively as the Arab Spring – have ushered in a period of unprecedented change to the region. To what extent are non-Arab regional players relevant to this process? This essay considers two dimensions of the potential significance of Turkey to the events underway in the Arab world. Turkey has at times been invoked as a regionally appropriate example on which to model Arab democratization in a post-authoritarian context. This essay critically examines such claims, pointing out both the democratic deficits of the Turkish model and the intrinsic challenges of applying external models to indigenous democratization efforts. On the other hand, there is a second sense in which Turkey may have a role in the Arab Spring – namely, as an actor in its own right. With respect to this second dimension, this essay considers evolving Turkish policy towards the Arab world and examines the potential for Turkey to play a constructive role as a pro-democratic force in the region.

Modernist Islamic Political Thought and The Egyptian and Tunisian Revolutions of 2011

By: Mohammad Fadel

Published in Middle East Law and Governence Volume 3, Issue 1-2 (2011)

Abstract: As revolution in the Arab world became clear, questions were raised whether political Islam had or would hae any role in the revolutions. The popular press seemed to minimize or deny the role of Islam in the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. The attempt to minimize the role of Islam in these revolutions does little to help us understand the course of Islamic political thought over the last 150 years in the Arab world, its relationship to the democratic demands of the Arab peoples, and the prospects for a reconciliation between modern Islamic political thought and certain forms of democratic secularism. The central hypothesis of this essay is that neither the Tunisian nor the Egyptian Revolutions can be properly understood without the contributions of Islamic modernism to modern political thought in the Arab world.

The Philosophy of The Middle East Revolution, Take One: Nonviolence

By: Chibli Mallat

Published in Middle East Law and Governence Volume 3, Issue 1-2 (2011)

Abstract: Against the sceptics, who see nonviolence as a serendipitous occurrence of the Middle East Revolution, the reality is that of a powerful, conscious determination of the revolutionaries in at least three countries where repression was immense, and where people refused to take up arms after the nonviolent precedents in Tunisia and in Egypt. In Bahrain, Yemen and Syria, the refusal to resort to violence is a conscious choice of hundreds of thousands of people. That clear appreciation of the power of nonviolence, in contrast to the revolutionaries in Libya, is the leitmotive of the Middle East Revolutions. The rebels in Libya made a mistake in taking up arms against Qaddafi , and lost Tripoli on the very day when the military front was constituted. Yet the rule remains, across the ME Revolution from the beginning of the paradigmatic shift in January 2011, in the attachment to nonviolence as the privileged means to revolutionary success.

Understanding The Political Economy of The Arab Revolts

By: Omar S. Dahi

Published in Middle East Report Volume 41, Issue 259 (2011)

Abstract: Not available

Constituting Liberty, Healing The Nation: Revolutionary Identity Creation in The Arab World’s Delayed 1989

By: Abdelwahab El-Affendi

Published in Third World Quarterly Volume 32, Issue 7 (2011)

Abstract: The amazing scenes that were beamed from Cairo’s Tahrir Square in January and February 2011 conveyed an important revelation about the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the human spirit. In particular, they highlighted the miraculous power of joint public action not only to carve out spaces for freedom, but to forge a new shared identity which is indispensable for the establishment of a durable democratic order. No less significant, however, is that revolutionary action by pro-democracy insurgents has provided concrete answers to many puzzles that had exercised democracy theorists and Middle East experts for decades. By showing how such action can overcome the divisions and obstacles theorists have seen as an impediment to democratisation, the preoccupation with ‘prerequisites’ for democracy has been revealed as a diversion. From the American Revolution to Tahrir Square, pro-democracy revolutionary action has the power not just to overthrow tyranny, but also to refashion the nation, starting with the revolutionaries themselves. It can also ‘overthrow’ theory.

Authoritarian Government, Neoliberalism and Everyday Civilities in Egypt

By: Salwa Ismail

Published in Third World Quarterly Volume 32, Issue 5 (2011)

Abstract: This contribution explores how authoritarian governmental practices come to inform everyday civilities—manners and forms of interaction among the subjects of government. With a focus on Egypt it examines how forms of government and rule deployed by the state give rise to particular modes of action, norms of interaction and socio–political dispositions among the citizenry. Central to this analysis is the examination of political subjectivities that develop in regular encounters with the agents and agencies of the state. These subjectivities generate understandings of self in relation to the apparatuses of power—out of intimate knowledge of their workings and of the multiple orders at which they operate. Integral to citizen subjectivities are civilities cultivated in interaction with the state and with fellow subject-citizens.

Leader Survival, Revolutions, and The Nature of Government Finance

By: Bruce Bueno De Mesquita, Alastair Smith

Published in American Journal of Political Science Volume 54, Issue 4 (2010)

Abstract: Leaders face multiple threats to their political survival. In addition to surviving the threats to tenure from within the existing political systems, which is modeled using Bueno de Mesquita and colleagues’ (2003) selectorate theory, leaders risk being deposed through revolutions and coups. To ameliorate the threat of revolution, leaders can either increase public goods provisions to buy off potential revolutionaries or contract the provision of those public goods, such as freedom of assembly, transparency, and free press, which enable revolutionaries to coordinate. Which response a leader chooses depends upon existing institutions and the structure of government finances. These factors also affect the likelihood and direction of institutional change. Tests of leader survival indicate that revolutionary threats increase the likelihood of deposition for nondemocratic leaders. Leaders with access to resources such as foreign aid or natural resource rents are best equipped to survive these threats and avoid the occurrence of these threats in the first place.

Framing Arab Socio-Political Space: State Governmentality, Governance and Non-Institutional Protestation

By: Sari Hanafi

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 3, Issue 2 (2010)

Abstract: This article proposes a framework for understanding the reconfiguration of socio-political space in the Arab world in the last 15 years through the interplay between states’, civil societies’ and contestation movements’ actors which correspond respectively to state governmentality, governance and non-institutional protestation. A special focus will be on the emergence of the figure of the expert who will compete with the elected elite. This reconfiguration has occurred in a context of transformation of nation-state sovereignty and citizenship and the emergence of new elites which cohabit and compete with the old ones. Citizenship has taken different forms including the emerging form of flexible citizenship and non-citizenship in the Arab world.

Islam and Democracy

By: Fahmy Howeidy

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 3, Issue 3 (2010)

Abstract: This paper reviews how the civilizational discourse of Islam differs from that of democracy but doesn’t necessarily mean that it contradicts it. Knowing that this juxtaposition promotes diversity and distinction, this paper elucidates the factors of ambiguity that surround this religion and system in order to uncover the real dimension of their distinction. The paper is organized as follows: first, it presents seven characteristics of the Islamic state. Next, it discusses the importance of consultation (al‐shūrā) and the necessity of questioning the rulers in Islam. Third, the article answers the question “Where does democracy correspond to Islam and where does it differ?”. Several prominent opinions are examined in the fourth part, before displaying the main positions from the 1980s, vis‐à‐vis democracy, in part five. Part six exhibits the fatwas of al‐Qaradawi. At the end of the article, the paper emphasizes the approaches that can be taken towards Islamic ruling (sharīʿah).

When Democratization Radicalizes: The Kurdish Nationalist Movement in Turkey

By: Günes Tezcür

Published in Journal of Peace Research Volume 47, Issue 6 (2010)

Abstract: This article addresses a historical puzzle: Why did the insurgent PKK (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan), which was militarily defeated, which renounced the goal of secession, and whose leader was under the custody of the Turkish state, remobilize its armed forces in a time when opportunities for the peaceful solution of the Kurdish question were unprecedented in Turkey? The PKK’s radicalization at a period of EU-induced democratization in Turkey counters the conventional argument that fostering democracy would reduce the problems of ethnic conflict. Explanations based on resource mobilization, political opportunity structures, and cognitive framing fail to provide a satisfactory answer. The article argues that democratization will not necessarily facilitate the end of violent conflict as long as it introduces competition that challenges the political hegemony of the insurgent organization over its ethnic constituency. Under the dynamics of competition, the survival of the organization necessitates radicalization rather than moderation. As long as the insurgent organization successfully recruits new militants, democratization is not a panacea to violent conflict. The findings indicate that research on the micro-level dynamics of insurgency recruitment will contribute to a better understanding of ethnic conflict management. Data come from multiple sources including ethnographic fieldwork, statistical analyses of quantitative data (i.e. spatial clustering and ecological inference), and systematic reading of original documents.

Wither Arab ‘Republicanism’? The Rise of Family Rule and The ‘End of Democratization’ in Egypt, Libya and Yemen

By: Larbi Sadiki

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 15, Issue 1 (2010)

Abstract: The spectre of succession (or khilafah) seems to perennially haunt Arab polities. In the past it was succession that caused the most durable schism within the house of Islam. In the present, succession threatens many Arab polities with instability. A set of questions on political succession in Arab republics are in order. To what extent is the Arab Middle East (AME) witnessing the unmaking of Arab ‘Republicanism’ by way of transfer of power from father to son? How plausible is it to argue that a new brand of ‘dynastic republicanism’ is on the rise? What grounds are there for correlating the rise of ‘dynastic republicanism’ with a return of the family to political centre stage? Is family solidarity (or asabiyyah) sufficient or does it require the back-up of coercion (or jah as Ibn Khaldoun calls it)1 in order to secure its stranglehold over political power? These are the key questions that define this paper’s chief analytical agenda.