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 is the third 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 actors and opponents of 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.

The military and the state in Egypt: class formation in the post-Arab uprisings

By: Angela Joya

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 47, Issue 5 (2020)

Abstract: Since the revolution of 2011, the Egyptian military has emerged as agent of capital accumulation, engaging with international financial institutions and global investors, and simultaneously reorganizing the various fractions of the ruling class inside Egypt. While the military had established a significant degree of influence in the economy prior to the revolution, it has become increasingly active in the political realm raising alarms about the democratic possibilities in Egypt. While these concerns have been highlighted in the literature, there is still a lack of research that examines how the military has evolved into a dominant economic and political actor in the context of the current global economy. Using class analysis, I reinterpret the military’s role as an emerging dominant fraction of the ruling class under the contemporary phase of neoliberal development. As such, its ascension to power does not signify a threat to economic liberalization, but is rather an attempt to secure the conditions of its further expansion.

The Egyptian human rights movement and the 2011 Revolution: the implications of a missed opportunity

By: Bosmat Yefet

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

Abstract: The 2011 uprising that led to the overthrow of Mubarak was perceived as an expression of the awakening of civil society in the face of authoritarian rule, leading to a re-examination of its role as an agent for democratic change. Nevertheless, the re-entrenchment of authoritarianism confirmed prior critical discussions regarding civil society limitations. This paper focuses on the role of the human rights movement during the revolution and its aftermath and reveals the activists’ reflections on its failure. The discussion refers to the limitations of human rights organizations but also exposes the possibilities created by the revolution and the impact of the ‘new civic activism’, which extricated human rights activism from the enclaves of the professional organizations. This analysis requires us to reconsider the definitions of civil society, which focus on formal organizations, and view it as a space in which various actors, including fluid and horizontal forms of activism, engage through contention and cooperation. Such an analysis drew our attention to the activists themselves and exposes the variety of actors working for reform, their various interpretations of the anti-democratic reality, and their potential to establish an anti-hegemonic narrative.

Governing uncertainty: challenges for the first Tunisian provisional administration of 2011 and its impacts in 2012-2014

By: Sabina Henneberg

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 47, Issue 3 (2020)

Abstract: The first Tunisian provisional administration (TPA) formed in an ad hoc manner in the wake of President Zayn al-͑Abidin bin ͑Ali’s departure on 14 January 2011. Due to its nature as a first provisional administration (or interim government) as well as the constraints and circumstances it faced, the TPA confronted many challenges. This article discusses four main types of challenges with which it struggled: representation and legitimacy, state building and national identity, media and electoral reform and transitional justice and judicial reform. The ways the TPA dealt with these challenges had an impact on later phases of post-authoritarian governance. The article demonstrates the importance of studying initial decisions taken (and the constraints shaping them) during attempted transition from authoritarian rule.

Transnationalism and exceptional transition processes. The role of the Libyan diaspora from Qadhafi’s Jamahiriyya to post-revolutionary civil war and state collapse

By: Peter Seeberg

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 47, Issue 5 (2020)

Abstract: The article analyses to what extent the Libyan diaspora was able to influence political processes in Libya under Muammar Qadhafi during the revolution in 2011 and after the fall of the regime. It is shown that the Libyan diaspora played a limited role when the Jamahiriyya, a repressive system of congresses and committees invented by Qadhafi, controlled the Libyan state. The regime drove most of the opposition out of the country, and from abroad a weak Libyan diaspora attempted to influence the development in Libya. The revolution in 2011 resulted in a different reality, where it was possible for the Libyan diaspora to return and play a significant role in the political transformation. However, the situation never stabilized, and a deteriorating security situation led to the creation of a renewed diaspora, which lost influence in Libya. UN-initiated attempts at reconstructing a Libyan polity created a process from which the Libyan diaspora seemed to be alienated. Taking its analytical starting point in the notion of political transnationalism, the article argues that the exceptional character of the Jamahiriyya contributed to marginalizing the diaspora during the Qadhafi regime and in the course of the Libyan transformation after the revolution.

The military and the state in Egypt: class formation in the post-Arab uprisings

By: Angela Joya

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 47, Issue 5 (2020)

Abstract: Since the revolution of 2011, the Egyptian military has emerged as agent of capital accumulation, engaging with international financial institutions and global investors, and simultaneously reorganizing the various fractions of the ruling class inside Egypt. While the military had established a significant degree of influence in the economy prior to the revolution, it has become increasingly active in the political realm raising alarms about the democratic possibilities in Egypt. While these concerns have been highlighted in the literature, there is still a lack of research that examines how the military has evolved into a dominant economic and political actor in the context of the current global economy. Using class analysis, I reinterpret the military’s role as an emerging dominant fraction of the ruling class under the contemporary phase of neoliberal development. As such, its ascension to power does not signify a threat to economic liberalization, but is rather an attempt to secure the conditions of its further expansion.

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.

Gaddafi’s Legacy, Institutional Development, and National Reconciliation in Libya

By: Youssef Mohammad Sawani

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 13, Issue 1 (2020)

Abstract: Since the fall of Gaddafi’s forty-two years of rule, Libya has been facing tremendous challenges of instability and insecurity reflecting and characterized by both a political impasse and a lack of legitimate state institutions. Ad-hoc and non-state formations grew outside the legitimate state boundary and became the real actors, polarizing politics and society while rendering any political dialogue ineffective, especially when confined to exclusionary power-sharing arrangements. Official bodies remain weak and divided, while peripheral actors reject/resist submitting to its authority. While acknowledging that the current Libyan crisis is the product of the interaction of several factors including the Islamists and non-Islamist contestation, regional and tribal dimensions, and foreign interventions, this paper concentrates on the effects of the state approach of the Gaddafi era as well as the failure to adopt and implement reconciliation post the 2011 conflict. Therefore, it is argued that the first step towards realizing peace, security, and development is a departure from the current approach and the necessity of bringing in the real players to agree on a roadmap to reclaim the state by launching state-building processes that have national reconciliation as an essential component at their core. State-building cannot be purely a technical exercise of defining, designing, building, or reforming public institutions, while ignoring reconciliation. No matter how successful such technical state-building processes may be, some parts of the population will remain excluded and major segments of the population are likely to remain highly mistrustful of the (new) state and its institutions. Therefore, addressing this gap is central to a transformative approach to state-building that includes reconciliation in which dealing with the Gaddafi legacy is central to preventing future conflict relapse.

Foreign Correspondents between the Hammer and the Anvil: The Case of Egypt during Political Transitions 

By: Alamira Samah Saleh

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 13, Issue 3 (2020)

Abstract: For many decades, Egypt has been considered a distinctive society in which individuals from different nations with different backgrounds and ideologies can live. However, it seems that the Egyptian political, social, and media landscape has witnessed considerable shifts in the dimensions of such diversity. This study examines the contemporary Egyptian perspective on the presence of foreign correspondents and the radical change in Egypt’s regulations toward their work, and moreover, the repercussions of such policies that might be affecting the safety, level of freedom, and sometimes the whole identity of foreign correspondents in Egypt. Moreover, it examines the tactics with which the government seeks to accentuate the discourses of “Othering” in Egyptian public perceptions via whipping up hype in the media. Undoubtedly, the events experienced by Egypt between 25 January 2011 and the present have changed the idea the state and society have of foreigners, in general, and foreign correspondents, in particular. Some indicators confirmed that a state of “xenophobia” has been escalating over the past nine years. Foreign correspondents and journalists have been among the groups harmed by this sentiment, to the detriment of their working conditions. Results show that the transitional period that followed Hosni Mubarak’s toppling in 2011 until today has witnessed many transformations in the handling of foreign correspondents’ work in Egypt. There have been attacks on and expulsions of journalists from Al Arabiya, Al Jazeera, The Associated Press, the BBC, CBS, CNN, Danish television, and others.

The role of digital media in the 2011 Egyptian revolution

By: Shingo Hamanaka

Published in Democratization Volume 27, Issue 5 (2020)

Abstract: The Egyptian uprising in January 2011, widely known as the 25 January Revolution, was initially claimed to have been caused by the internet. However, the relationship between social media and participation in the anti-regime demonstrations is contested and opaque. This article explores this relationship through both a theoretical and empirical approach. More concretely, by using two survey data sets, we examine a hypothesis derived from a diffusion model of information and social movement theory. The two key findings are: (1) vanguards of the demonstrations were more active on social media than followers during the revolution, and (2) active bloggers tended to participate in demonstrations against the Mubarak regime. These findings contradict previous findings of social media’s limited effect and indicate that social media diminishes the collective action problem in anti-government protests. They also indicate that the concept of political opportunity structure is useful for understanding the revolution.

Cross-ideological coalitions under authoritarian regimes: Islamist-left collaboration among Morocco’s excluded opposition

By: Alfonso Casani

Published in Democratization Volume 27, Issue 7 (2020)

Abstract: The 2011 popular uprisings across the MENA region demonstrated the organization of broad cross-ideological collaborations that were able to overcome some of the political cleavages that have traditionally characterized these societies, and more remarkably, the division between left-wing and Islamist actors. However, political tensions soon arose in the new post-uprising scenarios, with secularist-Islamist polarization increasing once again across the region. Contrary to this trend, Morocco saw an increase in collaboration between the opposition Left and Islamist movements. This article delves into the reasons why the opposition in Morocco has been able to avoid polarization, with, instead, an increase in cross-ideological coalitions opposing the regime. To that end, it analyses the rapprochement between the Islamist association Al-Adl wa-l-Ihsane and the country’s left-wing parties, more noticeably the Democratic Way party. It argues that it is due to the excluded nature of these actors and their lack of electoral interests, that they have overcome political pressures and found new forms of collaboration. By drawing on an extensive corpus of in-depth interviews carried out in the Rabat-Casablanca region, this article examines the development of cross-ideological coalitions in the Moroccan opposition, while contributing, more broadly, to the study of cross-ideological coalitions under authoritarian regimes.

Explaining the Kurdish Democratic Union Party’s Self-Governance Practices in Northern Syria, 2012–18

By: Burcu Özçelik

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

Abstract: On 17 March 2016 the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (Partîya Yekîtî ya Dêmokrat, PYD) unilaterally proclaimed the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria in three cantons, Afrin and Kobane in northern Aleppo province, and Jazira in Hassakeh. The party’s ideology claims to endorse the participation of civilians and certain Arab tribes and minorities in its governance councils. However, the PYD and its armed militia, the People’s Protection Units (Yekîneyên Parastina Gel, YPG), have been accused of committing human rights violations against civilians and installing one-party rule. Given its stated normative commitments and ideas on democracy, this ideology–practice gap begs the question: what factors facilitated the PYD to conform to its democratic pronouncements on power-sharing and inclusivity under certain conditions and, conversely, what factors permitted their abandonment or violation? By analysing the PYD’s governance record and strategies in northern Syria between 2012 and 2018, this article argues that the PYD displayed a mix of democratic adherence and transgression in its governance practices. This has meant that the PYD engaged hybrid mechanisms of democracy-building, coercion, displacement and violence in order to consolidate territorial control and assert ideological hegemony. I argue that complex networks of local, state and third-party interests complicate Kurdish self-rule in Syria, requiring a multilevel approach to understand the interrelated challenges to democratization in the post-war transition. I identify four major types of relations that have influenced the PYD’s hybrid governance practices: intra-organizational factionalism; civilian–rebel relations, especially in mixed demographic areas; international sponsors and rivals; and rebel–regime relations.

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.

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.

Authoritarian resilience and democratic representation in Morocco: Royal interference and political parties’ leaderships since the 2016 elections

By: Thierry Desrues

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 25, Issue 2 (2020)

Abstract: After the ‘Arab Spring’ and the second electoral victory of the Islamist party of Justice and Development in 2016, Moroccan King Mohammed VI had to find new ways to reduce the uncertainty of transparent elections and, as a result, his loss of control over the winner of the House of Representatives elections and the choice of the Head of Government. This profile will analyse a few of the paradoxical implications of the 2011 constitutional reform and the royal narrative for democratic transition, and how these have impacted the political practice of the relevant actors. More precisely, the profile will attempt to clarify the various accommodations by both the King and the political parties, to contextualize the reform and better understand the persistence of authoritarian features despite the democratic hybridization of the Moroccan political system.

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.

“In the Name of the People?” Understanding the Role of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court in Times of Political Crisis

By: Noura Hamdan Taha, Asem Khalil

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 12, Issue 2 (2020)

Abstract: Constitutional transformations frequently introduce and open up political spaces for new actors, as was shown during the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ when national movements emerged to demand the removal of long-established authoritarian regimes and instigated a series of institutional power struggles. Subsequent analysis of these events by academics has tended to overlook struggle conducted through and by legal institutions. This article directly addresses this oversight by considering the role of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court (scc) in the 2011 uprisings, with specific attention to its influence on the country’s political transformation/s. It seeks to apply new analytical tools that will assist understanding of the position of judicial institutions in the Arab world, their institutional limits and expected functions. It demonstrates how this can be achieved through a closer analysis of the scc’s structure and the factors that shape its current role.

After the Massacre: Women’s Islamist Activism in Post-Coup Egypt

By: Sarah AlMasry, Neil Ketchley

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

Abstract: This paper draws on event data and interviews to examine the effects of repression on the gendered dynamics of Islamist mobilization in Egypt following the 2013 military coup. Our analysis shows that women’s anti-coup groups were more likely to mobilize following the killing of up to 1,000 anti-coup protestors at Rabaa al-Adawiyya in August 2013. Women’s protests were also more likely in the home districts of those killed at Rabaa. Informant testimony indicates that the Rabaa massacre figured as a transformative event that female activists drew on to motivate their involvement in street protests. Taken together, our findings suggest that very harsh repression can enable women’s participation in Islamist street politics – but this activism can come at a considerable personal cost for participants. Women who joined anti-coup protests were subjected to calibrated sexual violence by Egyptian security forces as well as other social penalties.

Moments in Revolutionary Time

By: Noah Saloman

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 12, Issue 3 (2020)

Abstract: Written in the context of Sudan and Lebanon’s 2018–19 revolutions, this article examines the discourse of two religious movements that are intricately entangled with the state as they negotiate popular demands to rethink that state, weighing competing claims to revolutionary salience along the way. It argues that revolution, even when it is working to reimagine states construed on confessional lines, has a particularly religious character. This is both because it demands that we rethink religion, given its unavoidable imbrication in the workings of the modern state, and because phenomenologically it too advocates ethical and ontological transformation that has the power to transcend and outlive political reform.

Arabs Across Syria Join the Kurdish-Led Syrian Democratic Forces

By: Amy Austin Holmes

Published in Middle East Report Issue 295 (2020)

Abstract: A Profile of Arab Recruits from Aleppo, Al-Hasakah, Deir Ezzor, Homs, Ras al-Ayn and Raqqa.

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.

Networks, Informal Governance, and Ethnic Violence in a Syrian City

By: Kevin Mazur

Published in World Politics Volume 72, Issue 3 (2020)

Abstract: In cross-national studies, ethnic exclusion is robustly associated with the onset of violent challenge to incumbent regimes. But significant variation remains at the subnational level—not all members of an excluded ethnic group join in challenge. This article accounts for intra-ethnic group variation in terms of the network properties of local communities, nested within ethnic groups, and the informal ties that regimes forge to some segments of the ethnically excluded population. Mobilization within an excluded ethnic group is most likely among local communities where members are densely linked to one another and lack network access to state-controlled resources. Drawing on a case study of the Syrian city of Homs in the 2011 uprising, this article demonstrates how the Syrian regime’s strategies of managing the Sunni population of Homs shaped patterns of challenge. On the one hand, the state’s toleration of spontaneous settlements on the city’s periphery helped to reproduce dense network ties. On the other hand, the regime’s informal bargains with customary leaders instrumentalized those ties to manage local populations. These bargains could not withstand the regime’s use of violence against challengers, which meant that these same local networks became crucial factors in impelling and sustaining costly antiregime mobilization.

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.

The Syrian conflict and public opinion among Syrians in Lebanon

By: Daniel Corstange

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

Abstract: Whom do ordinary Syrians support in their civil war? After decades of repression, the Syrian uprising unleashed an outpouring of political expression. Yet the study of Syrian public opinion is in its infancy. This article presents survey evidence from a large, diverse sample of Syrian refugees in neighbouring Lebanon, one of the first of its kind, and examines their support for the different factions fighting in the civil war. In so doing, it demonstrates that many conventional narratives of the conflict are oversimplifications of a more complex reality. The survey shows that the majority of Syrian refugees support one faction or another of the opposition, but a large minority sympathizes with the government. In line with existing accounts of the war, the government draws its popular support base from wealthier and less religious Syrians, as well as minorities. Nonetheless, large numbers of Sunni Arabs also side with the government, belying sectarian narratives of the war. The survey also finds that supporters of the opposition Islamists and non-Islamists are similar in many regards, including religiosity. The main distinction is that the non-Islamist support base is far more politically attentive than are Islamist sympathizers, in contrast to existing narratives of the war.

Tunisia’s youth: awakened identity and challenges post-Arab Spring

By: Zouhir Gabsi

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

Abstract: This paper examines Tunisian youths’ sense of identity and how it is influenced by the economic malaise that the country has experienced since the revolution; this is despite the relative success of the Arab Spring at inciting the country’s political transition to democracy. Although young people appreciate new-found freedoms of expression and association in post-Arab Spring Tunisia, the economy, acquiescent to the neoliberal model and weighed down with corruption and political marginalization, has deprived many of a dignified existence. The research reported in this paper surveys over 100 youth chosen from northern, coastal, central and southern parts of Tunisia. It examines how Tunisian youth view the Arab Spring in the context of unstable socio-economic and political environments. To most surveyed youths, the Arab Spring is a failure in socio-economic terms, but it is also an occasion to reassert their Tunisian identity. 

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.

Now there is, now there is not: the disappearing silent revolution of AKP as re-entrenchment

By: Kumru Toktamis

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 46, Issue 5 (2019)

Abstract: Based on a continuous and relational understanding of state-formation, as conceptualized by Charles Tilly, and inspired by Gramsci’s formulation of ‘war of position’, AKP regime in Turkey can be identified as a process of (re)-entrenchment. The AKP’s original claim to de-securitize the state–society relationship in Turkey has re-entrenched, re-aligned and re-institutionalized positions of power and democratic participation within the state to overcome the old-guard and establish its own hegemonic rule. The conspicuous disappearance of a booklet from 2013, i.e. the Silent Revolution, that was supposed to be the historical documentation of the AKP’s ambitious original claims from all AKP-related media effectively indicates its abandonment of these goals. This document reveals the contentious (re)entrenchments while the party ascended to power challenging deep-rooted security-oriented positions of the statist nationalism. This ascent to power was indeed a ‘war of position’ during which international opportunities created by the EU were effectively navigated and legislation and executive actions a) pertaining rule of law, human rights and freedoms, administrative accountability and transparency, b) economic and social reforms regarding vulnerable social groups, anti-corruption measures and labour relations, c) de-securitization and civilianization of government agencies and d) issues of Kurdish citizens were utilized as ‘trenches.’

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.

Egypt’s Military Post-2011: Playing Politics without Internal Cracks 

By: Ebtisam Hussein, Claudia De Martino

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

Abstract: Seven years after the 2011 uprisings, the Egyptian military shows no evident signs of internal cracks. This article argues that the Egyptian army’s unrivalled dominance, both in politics and within the security apparatus, could be explained as the result of three combined factors: substantial economic interests, a long-time legitimacy buttressed by the army’s active involvement in welfare and development initiatives, and the reliance on universal conscription as the main avenue for the successful accommodation of class and social cleavages—key elements underpinning the army’s status of supreme political arbitrator in Egyptian politics.

Is there a Conflict between Security and Democracy in Morocco?

By: Ahmed El Morabety

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 12, Issue 4 (2019)

Abstract: This article explores the relationship between security and democracy in Morocco. It discusses the state’s behavior towards the popular uprisings, how it responds to the social movements demands, and how it manages the security unrests. Throughout, the discussion throws a light on the democratization process of the security sector, in particular, and on the trajectory of democratic transition in the kingdom, in general.

Mobilization of Moroccan Women: The Dialectics of Conflict and Empowerment

By: Al Habib Estati Zeineldin, Saeed Chekak

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 12, Issue 4 (2019)

Abstract: This article draws on the experience gained and the lessons learned during and after the Arab Spring protest movements that called for economic, social, and political change. It raises the issue of the role Moroccan women played in these movements. In attempting to address this issue, the article relies essentially on bibliographical information and data derived from studies and writings that dealt with the feminist struggle in Morocco as a whole. It suffers from the lack of openness to a sociological approach or a political viewpoint in Arab and foreign scientific productions concerned with the struggles of women in Arab or Maghreb countries. In parallel, the study uses ethnographic research discerningly, since accurate and sufficient information available on the local protest movements has not received the necessary follow-up and definition. The article first monitors the shift in the dynamics of women’s protests and focuses on the persistent manifestations within them; it also considers the motives that contribute to the growth of this dynamic while stressing the extent of women’s participation in the February 20 Movement and in rural areas. It then identifies the results and extensions of this participation in relation to the requirements of empowerment. Finally, it discusses the problem of development and democracy that prevent women from achieving the desired change in the short term.

The Dynamics of Egypt’s “Semi-opposition,” 2004–11

By: Mai Mogib Mosad

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 12, Issue 4 (2019)

Abstract: This paper maps the basic opposition groups that influenced the Egyptian political system in the last years of Hosni Mubarak’s rule. It approaches the nature of the relationship between the system and the opposition through use of the concept of “semi-opposition.” An examination and evaluation of the opposition groups shows the extent to which the regime—in order to appear that it was opening the public sphere to the opposition—had channels of communication with the Muslim Brotherhood. The paper also shows the system’s relations with other groups, such as “Kifaya” and “April 6”; it then explains the reasons behind the success of the Muslim Brotherhood at seizing power after the ousting of President Mubarak.

Divisions within post-2011 Tunisia’s secular civil society

By: Ragnar Weilandt

Published in Democratization Volume 26, Issue 6 (2019)

Abstract: Popular and academic discourses frame civil society as a key factor that prevented Tunisia from following the unfortunate path of other “Arab Spring” states. But while such discourses tend to portray it as a monolithic political force, Tunisian civil society comprises a diverse range of different types of actors with different backgrounds, interests, views and approaches towards activism. Drawing upon interviews with Tunisian activists, this article maps a range of tensions within Tunisian secular civil society along these lines and sets out to explain their origins. Notably, it identifies a generational division between those activists that started to engage in the late 2000s or during and after the 2011 ouster of Ben Ali and those who were already active before. This division is based on a range of factors, including a sense of entitlement to the leadership of post-2011 Tunisian civil society on both sides, a lack of mutual respect for and trust in each other as well as differences regarding practices and priorities of civil society engagement.

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.

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.

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.

The Obama administration and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab Revolutions. Taming political Islam?

By: Mohamed-Ali Adraoui

Published in International Politics Volume 56, Issue 4 (2019)

Abstract: This article deals with US policy towards the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. How has the leading world state power been dealing with the main Islamist movement, especially in the aftermath of the Arab upheavals? What is the intellectual approach to political Islam, specifically within the Obama administration? Has the anti-US potential been tamed or not? In light of the discourse held by US leaders and diplomats, I highlight the difficulties in addressing the Muslim Brotherhood. More specifically, I shed light on the way US policy of engagement towards the Islamist movement has been conducted.

Sudan’s Uprising: The Fall of a Dictator

By: Mai Hassan, Ahmed Kodouda

Published in Journal of Democracy Volume 30, Issue 4 (2019)

Abstract: This article traces the reign and downfall of Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s longtime autocrat. Like other autocrats, al-Bashir attempted to prevent coups against his rule by crafting a personalistic regime that weakened important political actors and tied their fates to his own. But Sudan’s 2018–19 popular uprising, which resulted in al-Bashir’s ousting by his own security forces, suggests that, under pressure, personalistic regimes may quickly evolve in a way that strengthens alternative power centers. In Sudan, the renewed strength of the security forces continues to threaten the nascent democratization process ushered in by the popular uprising.

Sudan’s Uprising: The Fall of a Dictator 

By: Mai Hassan, Ahmed Kodouda

Published in Journal of Democracy Volume 30, Issue 4 (2019)

Abstract: This article traces the reign and downfall of Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s longtime autocrat. Like other autocrats, al-Bashir attempted to prevent coups against his rule by crafting a personalistic regime that weakened important political actors and tied their fates to his own. But Sudan’s 2018–19 popular uprising, which resulted in al-Bashir’s ousting by his own security forces, suggests that, under pressure, personalistic regimes may quickly evolve in a way that strengthens alternative power centers. In Sudan, the renewed strength of the security forces continues to threaten the nascent democratization process ushered in by the popular uprising.

Egyptian Youth’s Digital Dissent 

By: Adel Iskandar

Published in Journal of Democracy Volume 30, Issue 3 (2019)

Abstract: Young people were at the forefront of the millions-strong 2011 uprising against the corrupt and authoritarian rule of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. Eight years since this uprising, many of these young people find themselves besieged, disengaged, and disgruntled amid a resurgence of militarized authoritarianism. This article examines the state of Egypt’s youth and argues that through the dynamics of dissociation, disenchantment, and desecration, these youth are creatively confronting and deflating the state’s propaganda using digital artistic productions such as suggestive caricatures, sarcastic memes, and video pranks. Although such expressions are often seen as lacking political resonance or outcomes, they take on a particular import against the backdrop of a stark and resilient youth boycott of invitations to state-sponsored electoral and political participation. Given that many scholars were blindsided by the rapid and sustained revolutionary mobilizations of 2010 and 2011, it would be wise not to overlook the effects of low-grade humorous online dissent on the long-term development of political culture, and particularly a burgeoning grassroots culture of democracy, in Egypt and other countries affected by the Arab Spring.

Can Egypt’s Democratic Hopes Be Revived?

By: Amr Hamzawy

Published in Journal of Democracy Volume 30, Issue 4 (2019)

Abstract: In today’s Egypt, commitment to democracy appears scarce among actors both within the regime and in civil society, and public-opinion polls further suggest that demands for democratic governance have been abandoned. An undemocratic political understanding and disenchantment with the concept of democracy seemingly prevail among a majority of the population. Rather than seeking a return to democratic government, Egyptians are once again hoping that an authoritarian regime will succeed in raising the standard of living. Only a few groups of activists are gradually articulating a peaceful democratic culture of resistance, found in universities and professional associations as well as on social media and in the underground music scene. Their efforts offer grounds for hope.

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.

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.

Coalitions for change in Egypt: Bridging ideological and generational divides in the revolution

By: Chaymaa Hassabo

Published in Mediterranean Politics
Volume 24, Issue 4 (2019)

Abstract: The Egyptian Movement for Change (Kifâya) was created in 2004 to raise ‘democratic’ demands voiced by a wide range of political actors: Islamists, radical leftists or liberals, as well as ‘independents’. Using a repertoire based on street demonstrations this movement centred its action on the issue of political change in Mubarak’s Egypt in the late 2000s.

Focusing on the emergence and trajectory of this movement, this article discusses the following questions: How did different political actors get together and sustain collective action, despite their ideological divergences and distinct generational belongings? How has the presence of young activists within these movements challenged the elder generations’ political action before the revolution? How has the revolutionary event of 2011 blurred the line between the political generations?
The article argues that generational differences were salient before 2011 and were reflected in different understandings of change. By contrast, the fall of Mubarak redefined these divisions along ideological orientations rather than generational lines. Two perspectives inform the issue of political change inside this coalition. Firstly, the contribution focuses on political change among cross-ideological networks and groups of politicians. Secondly, it underlines the definition of political change from the perspective of different generations of activists.

Outsourcing state violence: The National Defence Force, ‘stateness’ and regime resilience in the Syrian war

By: Reinoud Leenders, Antonio Giustozzi

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

Abstract: This article engages with and contributes to a nascent debate on state-sponsored militias by way of an analysis of the formation and deployment of the Syrian regime’s National Defence Force (NDF). This militia emerged from the regime’s rich repertoire in outsourcing violence and allowing ‘heterarchical orders’ to serve regime maintenance purposes at home and abroad. During the Syrian war (2011–…), the key rationale for using such militias is primarily to address manpower shortages. For an important but limited period, the NDF served this goal well as it contributed to the regime’s military advances. The regime’s devolution of its violence to militias including the NDF brought about a sharp contraction of its ‘stateness’ but this did not constitute ‘state failure’ or its collapse. In this context, the regime’s elaborate measures to manage or counter the risks and downsides of deploying non-state militias such as the NDF underscore its general adaptability in its authoritarian governance.

Like father like son: Libyan civil–military relations before and after 2011

By: Florence Gaub

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

Abstract: This article finds that in contrast to other cases of civil–military relations in the region, Libya does not fit a regular praetorian stereotype; rather, the interaction between its armed forces and their civilian counterparts has been paternalistic in nature. As a result, the Libyan military was the subject of destructive civilian interference throughout its modern history, and therefore incapable of delivering on its raison d’être, i.e., defence. This curious and ultimately negative interplay between civilian and military leaders in Libya draws attention to the generally understudied role of Arab civilians in the control of armed forces outside democratic structures – and highlights the state-fracturing consequences of this type of interaction.

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.

An Inglorious Revolution: The Syrian Opposition’s Compromises

By: Ibrahim Zabad

Published in Middle East Policy Volume 26, Issue 4 (2019)

Abstract: Not available

Who Is Sisi of Egypt? A Salafi.

By: Ramy Aziz

Published in Middle East Quarterly Volume 26, Issue 2 (2019)

Abstract: Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power in July 2013 through a military coup, supported by many sectors of Egyptian society that wanted to rid themselves of the religious rule imposed by Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government. Yet religion has loomed large in Sisi’s identity, from a 2006 research paper written while studying at the United States Army War College,[1] to his consistent emphasis in speeches and interviews on the importance and necessity of religion, and his direct presidential responsibility for protecting religion and morality in Egyptian society. Has Egypt exchanged one religious regime for a similarly disposed but Salafist ruler?

Who Is Sisi of Egypt? A Reformer.

By: Cynthia Farahat

Published in Middle East Quarterly Volume 26, Issue 2 (2019)

Abstract: In August 2012, Mohamed Morsi, Egyptian president and leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, appointed general Abdel Fattah as-Sisi, then head of military intelligence, as minister of defense in place of Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi. Given his leadership position in the largely Islamist Egyptian army and his family ties to one of the Brotherhood’s cofounders, Abbas as-Sisi,[1] the new minister of defense was widely expected to promote the Brotherhood’s agenda.[2] Instead, not only was Sisi to engineer the overthrow of the Brotherhood regime in July 2013, but he has turned out to be the most moderate president in Egypt’s modern history, and among the most enlightened of Muslim politicians anywhere.

The Egyptian Revolution’s Fatal Mistake

By: Aly El Raggal

Published in Middle East Report Issue 291 (2019)

Abstract: Not available

Trauma as a Counterrevolutionary Strategy

By: Vivienne Matthies-Boon

Published in Middle East Report Issue 292/3 (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.

The politics of consensus: al-Nahda and the stability of the Tunisian transition

By: Rory McCarthy

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

Abstract: Tunisia’s transition away from authoritarianism has been shaped by a politics of consensus, which has brought together representatives of the former regime with their historic adversary, the Islamist movement al-Nahda. This article argues that consensus politics was a legacy of the authoritarian regime that was re-produced during a democratizing transition. The politics of consensus was encouraged and enabled by al-Nahda, which prioritized its inclusion within this elite settlement to provide political security for itself and the broader transition. However, this came at a cost, engineering a conservative transition, which did not pursue significant social or economic reform. The Tunisian case shows that historical legacies, such as consensus politics, can shape a transition as much as contingent, pragmatic decisions by political leaders.

Military Insubordination in Popular Mass Uprisings

By: Holger Albrecht

Published in Political Science Quarterly Volume 134, Issue 2 (2019)

Abstract: Holger Albrecht explores the effects of popular mass uprisings on civil-military relations in authoritarian regimes. Drawing on cases from the Arab Spring, he examines different types of military insubordination and the conditions catalyzing military coups, mutinies, officer defections, and mass desertions. 

Co-optation, Counter-Narratives, and Repression: Protesting Lebanon’s Sectarian Power-Sharing Regime

By: Carmen Geha

Published in The Middle East Journal Volume 73, Issue 1 (2019)

Abstract: This article focuses on how the Lebanese government and political establishment reacted to two waves of protest movements that used slogans decrying the country’s sectarian system of government. Much of the literature on Lebanon’s power-sharing regime has focused on internal schisms and the challenges of mobilization against it, but little has been done to understand how it responds to anti-sectarian mobilization. I argue that the government and sectarian establishment employ co-optation, counter-narratives, and repression to demobilize protests that challenge the core pillars of sectarian representation.

The End of the Battle for Bahrain and the Securitization of Bahraini Shi’a

By: Simon Mabon

Published in The Middle East Journal Volume 73, Issue 1 (2019)

Abstract: Since protests shook Bahrain in 2011, the Saudi-backed regime there has embarked on a series of strategic moves, crushing dissent both at home and abroad. This article explores the methods the regime used to ensure its survival. It argues that by framing Bahrain’s Shi’i majority as a security threat within broader regional challenges, the regime was able to solidify its core bases of support.

Egyptian Youth: Networked Citizens But Not Fully Engaged Politically

By: Naila Hamdy, Mohamed Gameel

Published in Arab Media & Society Issue 26 (2018)

Abstract: One lesson learned from Egypt’s 2011 uprising was that young people are highly active politically as witnessed by the emergence of the networked young citizen. As the country became more stable it was feared that members of this participatory culture would reject formal politics in favor of alternative forms of participation or disengage all together. This article relies on a survey of representative youth, to seek answers to questions about their political involvement. The findings indicate that Egyptian youth are active, in online political participation, albeit more cautiously. They are also engaged with formal political participation and civic engagement.

Opposition visions for preserving Syria’s ethnic-sectarian mosaic

By: Rustum Mahmoud, Stephan Rosiny

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 45, Issue 2 (2018)

Abstract: The excessive violence that has spread across virtually all of Syria since the 2011 uprising against the regime of Bashar al-Asad has so far prevented a serious debate about feasible solutions. Together with internal power struggles and the intervention of external actors, ideational factors and identity construction are playing a key role in shaping the dynamics of the Syrian conflict. Fear of exclusion in a future order dominated by radical Islamist forces is keeping the minority groups and some secularists close to the regime. However, there are also grounds for cautious optimism: as this paper shows, most actors from the moderate opposition acknowledge the need to take the minorities’ fears seriously and to provide them with guarantees of participation in a future political order, while stopping short of the option of a power-sharing arrangement between community representatives.

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.

Islamists in Power: The Experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

By: Ahmed Zaghloul Shalata

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 11, Issue 1-2 (2018)

Abstract: In the first parliamentary elections after Mr. Mubarak’s overthrow in February 2011, the Muslim Brotherhood’s newly formed Freedom and Justice Party had won nearly half the seats in the People’s Assembly. The Muslim Brotherhood, had, over the two previous years, gained political expansion in parliament. The Brotherhood entered into a coalition with other Islamist parties including two Salafist parties, forming an Islamist bloc, but their experience ended with their removal from power and significant changes in the structure of the Brotherhood.
Based on the political programs of the Islamist parties in Egypt, this article seeks to analyze the experience of Islamists in power by focusing on their practical perceptions of the Islamist political system. The article concludes that the political Islamist organizations lacked a coherent mechanism to propel them from the stage of the organization’s (political party) management to a stage of state administration. Egyptian Islamist groups had no specific perception of the nature of the state, or of an applied model to implement the “Islamic state.” Although these groups had a declared project, which they had been attempting to establish for decades, their focus was solely on discussing the expected outcome they had hoped to achieve, while neglecting to elaborate on how their affairs could be run, once in power. This shortfall was due to an accumulation of the multiple problems the groups had faced, whether they be conceptual reasons of state, power issues, or the organizational obstacles strewn along the paths of the components that comprised the group, which had prevented them, over decades, from overcoming them. Hence, the traditional mechanisms they continued to apply while in power proved inadequate in responding to the crises inherent in the experience of government. They failed to introduce new mechanisms to address the issues as dictated by the necessity for practical experience and solutions once they had attained power.

Islamist and Non-Islamist Currents and the Struggle for Post-Gaddafi Libya

By: Youssef Mohammad Sawani

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 11, Issue 1-2 (2018)

Abstract: This paper examines the origin and the relationship between Islamist and non-Islamist political trends in Libya, highlighting the development of the contestation between the two before and after the fall of Gaddafi’s rule. The relationship appears to be that of a contestation between Islamists and liberals but this may be misleading. Islamists are not united but they share an adherence to the establishment of a Muslim society and some form of a khilafa. However, non-Islamists may not easily be identified as “on current.” Indeed, the “current” includes an array of political factions of various dispensations with some not necessarily subscribing to liberal models of democracy. Some belong to pre-Gaddafi-era political parties or were political and human rights’ activists during Gaddafi’s reign. They range from leftist, nationalist, and liberal orientations to populist Arab nationalist forces (including the Ba’th, Pan-Arabists, and others with socialist or communist orientations). When the uprising took place in 2011, the positions each trend took differed before some tactical unity was deemed necessary. When the regime fell, however, differences remerged and became more evident once the transitional structures were put in place. Just before and during the first elections in 2012, Islamists broke ranks with their struggle comrades and fired their cannons at the leaders of the liberal, nationalist, and other elements within the non-Islamist orientations. Islam then became crucial in political expression and rhetoric, especially for Islamist actors. Focusing on the development of this contestation, this paper analyzes the reaction of both Islamist and non-Islamist trends to the policies and tactics adopted by each side in the aftermath of the 2011 uprising and the post-Gaddafi phase. It suggests that although ideology, specifically references to Islam, became crucial in the political contention between Islamists and non-Islamists, the cleavage was not entirely ideological, as both trends considered the Islamic identity of Libya central to their political programs. The interviews with leading representatives of both trends that the author conducted for the purpose of writing this article confirm such a view on the role of ideology in the contestation. As the following discussion indicates, ideology is evidently part and parcel of each sides’ tools, ready to be employed against the other. However, when it does not suit all their purposes, they claim ideology has no role, offering insights into the instrumental and tactical approach to the ongoing contestation of both sides. The article therefore examines the struggle between the two factions as a political competition for the control of resources and positions of power, yet it also argues that ideology and ideas have a role to play, as they constitute the instruments deployed in this struggle, which has, with foreign involvement and backing of different sides, reduced Libya to a “failed state.” In fact although ideological contraposition figures in the contestation, political factionalism and contention in post-2011 were actually fuelled by political factors related to the struggle over access to power and resources, which are instrumental in enabling each side to shape the future state and its political order according to their plans. The struggle between Islamists and non-Islamists may have been the most visible, but it is certainly not the most significant factor in explaining the political dynamics and contention in the country since the fall of Gaddafi.

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.

Rethinking the Tunisian miracle: a party politics view

By: Şebnem Yardımcı-Geyikçi, Özlem Tür

Published in Democratization Volume 25, Issue 5 (2018)

Abstract: Five years on from the Tunisian revolution, Tunisia stands as the sole success story of the Arab Spring. The country since then has managed to adopt a pluralist and democratic constitution, and held three free and fair elections. Accordingly, in the eyes of several observers, Tunisia is now in the process of consolidating its new democracy. However, the reality on the ground seems much gloomier, as most recent opinion surveys suggest that there is a significant degree of dissatisfaction, not only with political parties and Parliament but also with the very institution of democracy. Nevertheless, what accounts for this change? After the collapse of the long-lasting and oppressive Ben Ali regime, how, just in five years, has Tunisians’ confidence in the democratic process changed? This article accounts for this state of affairs from a party politics view, arguing that political parties, which are the main protagonists of the consolidation process, fail to fulfill their role of acquiring legitimacy for the new regime. While party–state relations seem to be stabilized due to the inclusiveness of the constitution-making process, both inter-party relationships and the relationship between parties and society suffer from numerous flaws which, in turn, hamper the democratic consolidation process.

Between Scylla and Charybdis: religion, the military and support for democracy among Egyptians, 2011–2014

By: Mazen Hassan, Elisabeth Kendall, Stephen Whitefield

Published in Democratization Volume 25, Issue 2 (2018)

Abstract: Democracy as a form of civilian rule must navigate a path between clerical and military powers, both of which are highly engaged in the politics of post-Mubarak Egypt. The authors ask in this article how mass support for democracy changed in Egypt between 2011 and 2014, and how this support is connected with views on religion and the role of the military. This question is important for understanding the prospects for democracy in a major state in the Arab world. It is also of comparative interest because of what change in the social and ideological drivers of mass attitudes may tell us about the nature of democratic support more generally. The authors’ analysis is based on nationally representative surveys of Egyptians in 2011 after the country’s first post-Mubarak parliamentary elections and in 2014 after the removal of the Islamist President Morsi. The findings indicate that Egyptians in large numbers favour both democracy and unfettered military intervention in politics. The authors also observe important shifts in the social bases of support for democracy away from religion but also from economic aspiration. Negative political experience with democratic procedures in 2011–2013 seems to be the strongest factor behind the observed decrease in democratic support.

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.

End of moderation: the radicalization of AKP in Turkey

By: Galib Bashirov, Caroline Lancaster

Published in Democratization Volume 25, Issue 7 (2018)

Abstract: Turkey’s Justice and Development Party, AKP, was for many years believed to be paramount in ushering in a new era of moderate Islamism. However, in recent years, AKP has troublingly reversed course. From violent repression of the Gezi protests of 2013 to the 2016 abortive coup and subsequent crackdown on opposition, the party has lost all semblance of moderate Islamism and radicalized. If AKP had truly moderated, how could the party have changed in such a short period of time? What explains the radicalization of AKP? First, we argue that the strategic benefits of moderation far outweighed its costs, rendering it analytically improbable to determine whether AKP’s actions were genuine or merely strategic. Second, we show that AKP has been in a process of radicalization characterized by the adoption of anti-system, anti-democratic, and violent tactics and rhetoric since 2011. The disappearance of domestic and international structural constraints created the requisite background conditions for the party’s radicalization. Radicalization was facilitated by what we call ‘Erdoganization’, an ongoing de-institutionalization process within which Tayyip Erdogan gained complete control over the party. Additionally, a series of four “external shocks” threatened the party’s primary goal of gaining hegemony and caused the party to radicalize.

Opposition dynamism under authoritarianism: the case of Yemen, 1994–2011

By: Jens Heibach, Mareike Transfeld

Published in Democratization Volume 25, Issue 4 (2018)

Abstract: In contrast to the empirical conditions in large parts of the authoritarian world, the systematic literature on political opposition under authoritarianism either treats the opposition as a static entity or fails to comprehensively address its dynamic character. On the basis of a critical literature review and an ensuing analysis of the Joint Meeting Parties, a cross-ideological opposition alliance that gradually evolved to become the main competitor of the Salih regime in Yemen, we suggest that political opposition in electoral authoritarian regimes is an intrinsically dynamic institution in terms of its organizational shape, its goals and its modes of contestation. We also show that, while authoritarian structures do set the basic conditions defining opposition action, much of what motivates this action and contributes to opposition dynamism emerges from within the opposition. In addition, our findings on the Yemeni case suggest that opposition dynamism peaks when the strength of the opposition is nearly on par with that of the regime.

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.

Justice and Development Party’s Understanding of Democracy and Democratisation: Cultural Relativism and the Construction of the West as the ‘Other’ 

By: Birgül Demirtaş

Published in Iran and the Caucasus Volume 22, Issue 3 (2018)

Abstract: The perception of Turkey as a model of attractive country in the region has started to change in the recent years. In the first decade of the JDP rule Turkey was seen as an emerging power with its strong economy, improving democracy and inspiring foreign policy. However, the developments since the Arab Uprisings in the neighbourhood, Gezi movement at home, end of the Kurdish peace process, as well as coup attempt and subsequent de-democratisation harmed the soft power of Turkey. This study argues that the JDP’s understanding of democracy and democratisation has been full of flaws from the very beginning of its rule. The Turkish example shows that countries can experience subsequent processes of de-democratisation and de-democratisation if governing parties did not endogenise the basic norms of democracy. Therefore, it is argued that the reverse wave of de-democratisation characterises Turkey more than the “selective” processes of democratisation. It is also argued that JDP elite via its discourse has been constructing the West as the ‘Other’.

‘Dégage RCD!’ The rise of internal dissent in Ben Ali’s Constitutional Democratic Rally and the Tunisian uprisings

By: Anne Wolf

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

Abstract: This article examines the historical evolution of Tunisia’s Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) from its beginnings in 1987, when President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali took power, until his ousting in 2011 when the party was outlawed. I argue that the RCD evolved from a political force with wide popular support during a short democratic era (1987–89) into a repressive interest group in the 1990s, when the regime cracked down on political dissidents and popular freedoms whilst rewarding party members with lucrative benefits. In the 2000s the RCD adopted a quasi-mafiosi structure that profited the Ben Ali family, which increasingly monopolized economic and political power. Tunisia’s transformation into a near dynasty marginalized many RCD members and its wider networks, a central dynamic to understand Ben Ali’s ousting in 2011.

A history of Turkey’s AKP-Gülen conflict

By: Hakkı Taş

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

Abstract: Although organized independently, both the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) and the Gülen Movement (GM) have primarily addressed the same base and acted as mediums of upward mobility for Sunni Anatolian conservatives. Targeted by the old secular establishment, AKP and GM forged a mutually beneficial relationship in 2000s, with the former’s political office reinforcing the latter’s social and bureaucratic power and vice versa. Nevertheless, with the demise of their common enemy, this marriage of convenience gradually turned into a brutal fight, as epitomized in the abortive coup of 15 July. This profile provides a critical history of AKP and GM relations, illustrating how and why the image of Gülenists has changed in AKP’s projection from a faith-based community to a terrorist organization.

Egypt’s 2011–2012 parliamentary elections: Voting for religious vs. secular democracy?

By: H. Ege Ozen

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 23, Issue 4 (2018)

Abstract: This study investigates whether individuals’ attitudes towards democracy and secular politics have any influence on voting behaviour in Egypt. Based on data from survey conducted immediately after the Egyptian parliamentary elections in January 2012, this study finds that Egyptians’ attitudes towards democratic governance were quite negative around the parliamentary elections, yet Egyptians still endorsed democracy as the ideal political system for their country. However, empirical findings suggest that support for democracy has a limited impact on electoral results. On the other hand, the main division in Egyptian society around the first free and fair parliamentary elections was the religious–secular cleavage. As people support secular politics more, they become significantly less likely to vote for Islamist parties. These results illustrate that preferences in regard to the type of the democracy – either a liberal and secular or a religious democracy – were the main determinant of the historic 2012 elections in Egypt.

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.’

The Pre-2011 Roots of Syria’s Islamist Militants

By: Line Khatib

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

Abstract: Islamist militancy is not a new phenomenon in Syria; indeed, many of the groups active since the outbreak of the popular uprising in 2011 have existed since the early 2000s. The emergence of these Islamists and the Islamization of the Syrian conflict can primarily be traced to the earlier foreign policy of the regime of Bashar al-Asad, of which harboring and collaborating with Islamist militants was an integral part. The outcome of this policy was the rise of a radical and apocalyptic type of Islamist movement that the regime cannot effectively control and that is at odds with Syria’s more ecumenical and intellectual Islamic tradition.

When Islamists Lose: The Politicization of Tunisia’s Ennahda Movement

By: Rory McCarthy

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

Abstract: This article is a case study of how Tunisia’s Islamist party, the Ennahda Movement, responded to new political opportunities that opened up after the 2011 Arab uprisings. It argues that Ennahda chose to make a hard-to-reverse commitment to politicization in the pursuit of electoral legitimacy, as protection from repression, and for fear of marginalization. The article demonstrates how the context of a democratic transition exposed internal debates within the movement over ideology, strategy, and organizational structure, ultimately dislocating the relationship between political ambitions and the religious social movement.

Bahrain’s February 14 Coalition: Deconstructing a Revolutionary Youth Movement

By: Kylie Moore-Gilbert

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

Abstract: This article examines Bahrain’s February 14 Coalition, an anonymous and decentralized youth movement that was formed during the small Gulf state’s 2011 Arab Spring–inspired uprising. Drawing on fieldwork interviews and a content analysis study of the group’s Facebook page, this article explores how the group uses its opaque organizational structure and strong social media presence to promote its off-line activities. In providing empirical data on the ideology, aims, and approach to activism of this important yet understudied group, this article questions prevailing sectarian narratives and makes the case for a more nuanced understanding of Bahrain’s ongoing civil unrest.

Managing Contention: Divergent Government Responses to Youth Protests in the Arab World

By: Kressen Thyen

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 10, Issue 1 (2018)

Abstract: Why do some authoritarian governments respond beneficently to political protest while others opt for repression? This article argues that beneficent government responses in the form of concessions or institutional inclusion are fostered by three interrelated mechanisms working at three distinct levels: institutionalization of political protest within the polity, external certification of protest demands by legally legitimized authorities, and interest polarization between protesting groups and the government. Empirical comparison of government responses to youth protests before and during the 2011 uprisings in Morocco and Egypt proves that the divergent strategies in the two countries were not the result of spontaneous decision-making in times of heightened regime contention. Rather, they mirror established patterns of protest politics that are relatively resistant to ad-hoc manipulations. By extending the focus beyond a particular episode of contention, this study offers important insights into government-challenger relations in authoritarian regimes.

Civil Society and the Rise of Unconventional Modes of Youth Participation in the MENA
By: Nadine Sika

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

Abstract: Why are there variances in young people’s civic and political participation in the aftermath of the Arab Uprisings, and what are the implications of these types of participatory modes on authoritarian rule in the region? Based on quantitative and qualitative fieldwork from five countries in the Middle East – Egypt, Palestine, Morocco, Tunisia and Lebanon – this paper demonstrates that young people in the region are increasingly drawn to independent and unconventional forms of participation to varying degrees, depending on each country’s authoritarian structure and institutional arrangements. Though the rise of unconventional participation is a manifestation of the presence of a vibrant Arab street, these participatory modes lead to civil society’s weakness and fragmentation. This adds to the volatility of new civic and political actors and provides the regimes with more authoritarian strategies for resilience.

Activism Amid Disappointment: Women’s Groups and the Politics of Hope in Egypt

By: Nermin Allam

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

Abstract: In this paper, I provide preliminary answers to two main questions, namely: How did the politics of disappointment unfold among female activists after the 2011 Egyptian uprising and specifically under the current regime? And what were the effects of the strong sense of emotional disappointment on women’s activism and collective action? The study is situated within the literature on emotions and contentious politics. Utilizing the rich theoretical tools found in the literature, I argue that disappointment did not mark the end of politics and activism among women’s groups in Egypt. The data for this paper was gathered from semi-structured interviews with female activists, protestors, and leaders of women’s rights groups. The data gathered was analyzed within the prism of critical discourse analysis in an attempt to empirically investigate how activists move both forward and backward as they navigate their own emotions in addition to a crippling political system. It is true that the situation is complicated and activism is restricted in Egypt, however, the essence of this research is ignited by participants’ affirmation that their experience in the uprising has changed them, and that “things cannot go back to the old days,” notwithstanding their disappointment over the turn of events. A focus on hope and disappointment places the experiences of activists squarely in our analysis. It allows researchers to reclaim the voices of female activists in explaining the challenges and opportunities that developed post the uprising and how these developments influenced and shaped their experience, movement, and mobilization.

New Social Movements: The Case of Youth’s Political Project in Egypt – Comparing the 1919 and 2011 Revolutions

By: Dina El-Sharnouby

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

Abstract: With the 2011 Revolution in Egypt, new forms of social mobilization and new possibilities for political interaction surfaced. The manifestation of these events suggested a different understanding of politics among particularly revolutionary youth. How do their values and practices affect political imaginaries? How are those imaginaries different from previous revolutionary struggles? This article highlights the political projects of the 2011 revolutionary youth versus previous revolutionary struggles by looking at youth activists and the case of the leftist Bread and Freedom party. Contrasting the Revolution of 1919 to 2011 in Egypt reveals a renewed call to social justice imagined to be practiced through the state and state institutions while minimizing ideology and a singular leadership in their mobilization strategies. Drawing on fieldwork done in 2014 and 2015, this paper suggests that the 2011 political project from youth’s perspective is about the importance of political practices of social justice over an ideology.

Voting in Transition: Participation and Alienation in Egypt’s 2012 Presidential Election

By: Caroline Abadeer, Alexandra Domike Blackman, Scott Williamson

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 10, Issue 1 (2018)

Abstract: How does voter turnout change as countries transition to democracy? Using district-level data from Egypt’s 2012 presidential election, we show that turnout was higher in more educated and urban districts—a stark reversal from voting patterns under the authoritarian Mubarak regime, when less educated and poorer areas were more likely to participate. However, this pattern weakened in the second round of the 2012 election, when the choice was restricted to two candidates who reflected Egypt’s primary pre-revolution political divide. Urban and educated districts experienced a decline in turnout and a rise in protest voting during the second round relative to the first, suggesting that key political groups were alienated from the electoral process. These results indicate that who participates in elections can shift quickly as institutions change, but this is conditional on the choice of candidates available to voters.

Yemen’s Women Confront War’s Marginalization

By: Afrah Nasser 

Published in Middle East Report Volume 48, Issue 289 (2018)

Abstract: Despite advances gained from women’s strong participation in the 2011 uprisings against the dictatorship of Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Salih, and despite the fact that they continue to play an essential role in the day-to-day survival of their communities, three years of war and militarization have resulted in a significant setback for Yemeni women and increased their marginalization from formal political and conflict-resolution channels. Yet they continue to struggle for their rights and representation.

Song and rebellion in the Syrian uprising

By: Joel D. Parker

Published in Middle Eastern Studies Volume 54, Issue 6 (2018)

Abstract: Not available

Humanitarianism, State Sovereignty, and Authoritarian Regime Maintenance in the Syrian War

By: Reinoud Leenders, Kholoud Mansour

Published in Political Science Quarterly Volume 133, Issue 2 (2018)

Abstract: Reinoud Leenders and Kholoud Mansour discuss the war in Syria. They argue that since 2011 the Syrian regime has used UN-led humanitarian assistance to bolster its claims on state sovereignty and to support its wider efforts of authoritarian regime maintenance. 

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.

Between feminism and unionism: the struggle for socio-economic dignity of working-class women in pre- and post-uprising Tunisia

By: Loes Debuysere

Published in Review of African Political Economy Volume 45, Issue 155 (2018)

Abstract: Generally seen as a pawn in the identity struggle between so-called secular and Islamist political actors, the women’s question in Tunisia has received little attention from a class perspective since the 2010–11 uprising. Yet, over recent years, working-class women have been highly visible during protests, strikes and sit-ins of a socio-economic nature, implicitly illustrating how class and gender grievances intersect. Against the background of the global feminisation of poverty and a changing political economy of the North African region over recent decades, this article builds on Nancy Fraser’s theory of (gender) justice to understand if and how women’s informal and revolutionary demands have been included in more formal politics and civil society activism in Tunisia. The article finds that disassociated struggles against patriarchy (feminism) and neoliberal capitalism (unionism) fail to efficiently represent women workers’ own aspirations in Tunisia’s nascent democracy.

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.

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.

The Birth and Death of 25TV: Innovation in Post-Revolution Egyptian TV News Formats

By: Dina Ibrahim 

Published in Arab Media & Society Issue 23 (2017)

Abstract: This case study highlights an experiment that aimed to disrupt traditional television news production and presentation models in post-revolution Egypt. It is a snapshot of a brief moment in Egyptian television history when an attempt was made at innovating news production and content, but much like the Egyptian revolution, ultimately failed to change the status quo. The case study of 25TV examines how political, social, and economic dissatisfaction among Egyptian youth inspired innovation in news formats that gave more content production power to younger and less experienced news presenters and producers. Through the brief lifespan of 25TV, this article will discuss the role of social media and television in the immediate aftermath of the revolution, the contentious relationship between freedom of speech and military rule, and the innovative ways in which television formats in Egypt were nurtured, grew and perished in the post-revolution era.

Middle Eastern Minorities in Global Media and the Politics of National Belonging

By: Elizabeth Monier

Published in Arab Media & Society Issue 24 (2017)

Abstract: Since the Arab uprisings began in 2010, some communities have experienced increased levels of violence or insecurity on the basis of their ethnic, religious, or linguistic identity. This article examines how such communities have mobilized and developed their media strategies in order to protect themselves and adapt to their changing circumstances. Through investigating the cases of Coptic Christians in Egypt and Ezidis in Iraq, this article demonstrates that both of these communities have begun to connect their community interests with international political concerns and narratives through engaging with global media. Recent scholarship on indigenous media shows globalizing trends in media production and consumption have led indigenous media to increasingly tap into both national and global media to support their advocacy. In my case studies, the move to engage global media has particularly flourished since 2014 but the emphasis is on direct engagement with international political discourses through global media. Most notable is the mobilization of a campaign to recognize violence against Christians and Ezidis in the Middle East as genocide. The aims in engaging the international level differ between the Coptic and Ezidi cases. For Copts, there is a balance between raising the profile of violence against Copts in global media while employing narratives that support Egyptian state policies and strengthen pre-existing Coptic discourses of national belonging. Ezidi diaspora activists seek international protection and potentially an autonomous area in Iraq. This article argues that the differences in the terms and aims of global media engagement stem partly from the way the community perceives its status within the home nation, particularly with regards the notion of being a minority, as well as experiences of national belonging.

The rewards of failure: persisting military rule in Egypt

By: Robert Springborg

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 44, Issue 4 (2017)

Abstract: The Egyptian military, having been bogged down for almost five years in a losing war in Yemen, had to deal with a crushing defeat in June 1967. Similar defeats elsewhere, such as in Argentina and Greece, have led to militaries being removed from power. In Egypt, however, Nasser salvaged his and the military’s rule by purging elements of the High Command, by repressing the nascent protest movement and by calling in the Soviets to rebuild and essentially command his armed forces. Half a century later, the military is even more firmly in control of Egypt. Having ridden out successive challenges to its authority, including Sadat’s attempted civilianization, the global Third Wave of democracy, Mubarak’s effort to establish a family dynasty, the uprising of 2011 and the Muslim Brothers’ one-year interregnum, the Egyptian military’s political persistence is virtually unmatched in the region or indeed, the world. After tracing the historical evolution of military rule from 1967, this article explores the structural bases for the persistence of its power before assessing the overwhelmingly negative consequences of this remarkably protracted military rule of what was once the leading Arab country.

Political parties in MENA: their functions and development

By: Raymond A. Hinnebusch

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 44, Issue 2 (2017)

Abstract: This article provides an overview of the development of parties and party systems in the MENA region from early oligarchic pluralism to the mass single-party systems of the populist era and the limited multi-party experiments of the 1990s era of political liberalization. The survey shows how parties develop in parallel with the deepening of politicization and become nearly indispensable adjuncts in the construction of political order. The article then examines parties in the post-2010 period, with case studies of Turkey, Egypt, and Tunisia demonstrating how very different configurations of party development dramatically impact on regime trajectories, ranging from democratization to hybrid regimes.

Repression and Activism among the Arab Spring’s First Movers: Evidence from Morocco’s February 20th Movement

By: Adria K. Lawrence

Published in British Journal of Political Science Volume 47, Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract: Why are some people willing to initiate protest against authoritarian regimes? How does repression affect their willingness to act? Drawing on data from the Arab Spring protests in Morocco, this article argues first that activism is passed down from one generation to the next: first movers often came from families that had been punished for opposing the regime in the past. Secondly, repression during the Arab Spring was also counterproductive: those connected to first movers via Facebook supported renewed pro-democracy protests when informed of the regime’s use of repression in 2011. A regime that jails and beats political dissidents creates incentives for its citizens to oppose it; these abuses can come back to haunt the regime long after repression occurs.

“Conventional” and “Virtual” Civil Societies in Autocratic Regimes

By: Mark R. Beissinger,

Published in Comparative Politics Volume 49, Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract: In recent years many non-democracies have witnessed the rapid growth of new social media that have, in a number of instances, become vehicles for civic activism, even in the presence of anemic “conventional” civil society association. Using evidence from Russia, Tunisia, Egypt, and Ukraine, this article explores the implications of “virtual” civil society for opposition politics in autocratic regimes. The rise of “virtual” civil society potentially presents autocratic regimes with new challenges for control over the streets. But a robust “virtual” civil society combined with a weak “conventional” civil society has a series of less positive consequences for oppositional politics, reinforcing weak political organization, breeding a false sense of representativeness, diluting collective identities within oppositions, and rendering mobilization over extended periods of time more difficult.

Regime-change agenda: the Egyptian experience from 2011 to 2015

By: Mediel Hove, Enock Ndawana

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

Abstract: This article discusses the role of the United States of America in the failure of the democratic revolution in Egypt during the Arab Spring. While appreciating the role of internal actors and the domestic dynamics, it demonstrates that regime change in Egypt was largely a consequence and a reflection of the US’s interests in Egypt and the region in general. It argues that the seemingly successful removal of the Hosni Mubarak regime by popular uprisings and the rise of Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood signalled the success of democracy. However, Morsi’s controversial overthrow and imprisonment, notwithstanding his weaknesses, led to the backfiring of the regime-change strategy. The subsequent rise to power of a former military man, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and his administration has, thus far, demonstrated a contradiction to all the promises of the Egyptian revolution. It concludes that the drivers of regime change should re-examine the merits of their strategy in an effort to establish lasting peace in the country.

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).

A question of faith? Islamists and secularists fight over the post-Mubarak state

By: Bjørn Olav Utvik

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

Abstract: Since the military coup of July 3, 2013, guns and batons have, broadly speaking, taken the place of open debate and elections in deciding the political future of Egypt. How can the political struggle be understood with regard to the shape and content of the reformed post-Mubarak state that took place during the period of relative free debate and of tentative steps towards a democratic system between February 11, 2011 and July 3, 2013. In light of the deepening polarization between the Muslim Brothers and the more secular political tendencies that characterized the period, the conflict is often portrayed by the media and by some researchers as between a project of Islamization and a secularist agenda. To what extent does this hold true? In this article I will argue (1) that what took place was rather a power struggle involving competing elites as well as what is sometimes termed the ‘deep state’, i.e., the entrenched power holders from Mubarak’s time, especially in the military, the police and the judiciary; and (2) to the extent that secularization was at stake, in some important aspects Islamists turned out to be, if anything, more secularizing than their secularist competitors. What follows is nothing near a full treatment of the transitional period. Neither is it a formal study of constitutional issues, although it does dwell on some important aspects of the new constitution finalized in 2012. The primary interest here is what the struggle over the new constitution, and more broadly over the path to be followed in the transition process, can tell us about the main forces at work at the heart of the intense political conflict that developed.

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.

Conquering versus democratizing the state: political Islamists and fourth wave democratization in Turkey and Tunisia

By: Murat Somer

Published in Democratization Volume 24, Issue 6 (2017)

Abstract: What do we learn from Turkey and Tunisia regarding the relationship between political Islamism and democratization? Variables identified by current research such as autonomy, “moderation”, and cooperation with secular actors can cut both ways depending on various political-institutional conditions and prerogatives. Particularly, the article argues that preoccupation with “conquering the state from within as opposed to democratizing it” has been a key priority and intervening variable undermining the democratizing potential of the main Turkish and Tunisian political Islamic actors – primarily the AKP and Ennahda. These actors have prioritized acceptance by and ownership of their respective nation states over other goals and strategies, such as revolutionary takeover or Islamization of the state and confrontations with state elites. This has led to a relative neglect of designing and building institutions, whether for Islamic or democratic transformation. Hence, while contributing to democratization at various stages, these actors have a predisposition to adopt and regenerate, reframe and at times augment the authoritarian properties of their states. Research should ask how secular and religious actors can agree on institutions of vertical and horizontal state accountability that would help to address the past and present sources of the interest of political Islamists in conquering rather than democratizing the state.

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.

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.

Turkey: How the Coup Failed

By: Berk Esen, Sebnem Gumuscu

Published in Journal of Democracy Volume 28, Issue 1 (2017)

Abstract: On 15 July 2016, Turkey was shaken by an attempted coup. For the first time in modern Turkish history—a history littered with attempted coups—the elected government thwarted the putsch. We suggest that the success of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in defeating the coup attempt is part and parcel of its competitive authoritarian regime. On the one hand, AKP’s extensive access to public and private resources, as well as its control over conventional and social media, bolstered its capacity to mobilize during the time of crisis. On the other hand, the regime’s electoral features have armored the AKP with political (not to mention popular) legitimacy, and have incentivized opposition parties to remain committed to the regime, rather than opt for an uncertain future under military rule. We conclude that the failure of the coup attempt not only indicates the resilience of competitive authoritarianism in Turkey, it may also pave the way for a more stable authoritarian regime under the AKP’s rule.

The Egyptian Muslim Sisterhood between Violence, Activism and Leadership

By: Erika Biagini

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

Abstract: On 25 January 2015, the fourth anniversary of the uprising that toppled Hosny Mubarak and brought the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) into power, Egyptian security forces arrested Aya Alaa Hosny in front of the Journalists Union in central Cairo. Aya is one of the spokeswomen and leader of the Women against the Coup, one of the most active women-only movements established by the Muslim Sisterhood following the Egyptian coup d’état in 2013. Since then, thousands of Islamist women and sympathisers have joined the Sisters in street demonstrations, human rights advocacy and anti-regime protests, notwithstanding the high risk associated with political activism in a context of retrenched authoritarianism. This article offers a gendered analysis of the Egyptian MB by examining the activism of the Muslim Sisterhood, its female wing, post July 2013. Contrary to mainstream academic literature on Islamist women’s activism, which considers Islamist movements’ conservative gender ideology and sexual division of labour as an impediment to female political leadership, this study argues that Islamist informal networks can be conducive to female leadership under ‘negative’ political circumstances. As the case of the Muslim Sisterhood demonstrates, the repression of Islamists following the coup favoured the emergence of women’s leadership, firstly within women-only movements and subsequently, as the very survival of the MB became increasingly compromised, in the MB movement as a whole.

Between social contention and takfirism: the evolution of the Salafi-jihadi movement in Tunisia

By: Fabio Merone

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

Abstract: This article analyses the evolution of the international jihadi movement during the Arab uprisings. It is based on the case study of Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia, which emerged in 2011 and disappeared in 2013, after it went through a process of failed institutionalization. I argue that, under certain circumstances, the jihadi movement can be institutionalized, i.e. transformed into a radical social movement in which violence is an undesirable option. In analysing the Tunisian case, I examine the ideology and social practices of the movement, showing how within the jihadi movement there coexists two tendencies: a social-political movement (social and popular consensus/ nationally based/ political strategy of the Islamic front) and a takfiri tendency (apocalyptic/ internationalist/ non-compromising). I finally use Hafez’s political process approach to show how the prevailing of one tendency over another depends on political opportunities.

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.

Of Monarchs and Islamists: The ‘Refo-lutionary’ Promise of the PJD Islamists and Regime Control in Morocco

By: Mohamed Daadaoui

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

Abstract: The article engages the literature on political parties in semi-authoritarian regimes to examine the state and Islamists’ strategies in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab uprisings in Morocco. The pace of state reforms and the regime’s institutional flexibility pre-Arab spring, the cosmetic reforms in the new constitution, and the 2011 legislative elections so far have insulated the Moroccan regime against any meaningful constitutional and institutional changes. However, the electoral contests produced an opportunity for the Islamist Party of Justice and Development (PJD) to enter the Moroccan political scene at the helm of the government. Using extensive field research and interviews with PJD members, I argue that the party is pursuing a pragmatic ‘refolutionary’ strategy within the regime’s constitutional rules of the game, aiming to mitigate the authoritarian features of the government while tackling, with limited success, Morocco’s major socio-economic issues. Ultimately, the regime’s control over the political system continues to influence Moroccan politics. The monarchy has a long tradition of managing opposition parties through cooptation and confinement, allowing opposition parties some stake in power, while the king and the palace’s shadow government of advisers are firmly in control.

The Tunisian Revolution & Governance of Religion

By: Teije Hidde Donker, Kasper Ly Netterstrøm

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

Abstract: This article examines how the Tunisian revolution and subsequent political transition has influenced the relationship between state power and Islam. It aims to provide an in-depth and historically informed analysis of these relations through an exploration of one specific case: The attempts by successive Ministers of Religious Affairs to reform the state’s management of Tunisian religious institutions after January 2011. The article builds on multiple fieldwork visits to Tunisia by both authors, in addition to an extensive set of primary and secondary sources. The authors argue that relations between state and religious authority have changed considerably throughout the 2011–2015 period, and that a wide variety of actors, interests and political conflicts intersected with the question of state-religion relations. The fact that non-Islamist actors played such a crucial role in shaping the governance of Tunisian religious institutions underlines the necessity for scholars to give more attention to the role non-Islamist actors play in the institutionalization of public religion in Arab and Muslim majority countries.

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.

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 Nour Party: Weathering the Political Storm in Post-Revolutionary Egypt

By: Maha A. Ghalwash, Lawrie Phillips

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

Abstract: This article addresses the role of the Salafi Nour party in the current Egyptian political arena, examining its ability to survive in a tumultuous environment by investigating three junctures in the revolutionary and post-revolutionary period: the January 2011 demonstrations, the ouster of President Muhammad Morsi, and the 2015 parliamentary elections. The investigation relied on two theoretical approaches. The first, framing theory, enabled us to investigate the party’s frames and how these were modified in response to unfolding events. Second, because frame ideas frequently are produced and modified through discourse, we employed discourse analysis to explore these issues. The combination of these approaches allowed us to examine the statements issued by party leaders on their Facebook pages and in their interviews with local newspapers. Based on our analyses, we make three claims: First, that the Nour party’s central frame contained two major components, nationalist and Islamist concerns, which were developed in order to expand party supporters. Second, the development of the party’s major ideas constituted a contested and shared process, with different leaders articulating diverse views. The ensuing disagreements contributed to the contraction of the party’s support base, as reflected in the 2015 parliamentary elections. Third, the party’s ideational trajectory reflects its pragmatism.

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).

Aiding Activism? Humanitarianism’s Impacts on Mobilized Syrian Refugees in Jordan

By: Rana B. Khoury

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

Abstract: A common narrative of the Syrian conflict suggests that it began with a grassroots uprising and devolved into a violent war between armed actors, leaving civilians to become victims or warriors. A more careful consideration of developments in and around Syria uncovers evidence of continued unarmed mobilization among civilians. Indeed, refugees in neighboring countries like Jordan are deeply engaged in humanitarian, developmental, and political endeavors. In this study, qualitative research and a unique survey together demonstrate that Syrians in Jordan have engaged in abundant activism on behalf of the Syrian cause. Still, the overwhelming militarism and humanitarianism that have characterized the Syrian crisis have had their impacts: activist organization is constricted and configured by security imperatives and, paradoxically, by the aid regime assisting civilians in the conflict. In turn, activism has evolved from grassroots mobilization to a formal and aid-based response to a humanitarian crisis.

Turkey’s Slide into Authoritarianism

By: Burak Bekdil

Published in Middle East Quarterly Volume 24, Issue 1 (2017)

Abstract: Not available 

The Egyptian Muslim Brothers’ ideal state model: a religious state – out; a civil state – in

By: Limor Lavie

Published in Middle Eastern Studies Volume 53, Issue 6 (2017)

Abstract: This article examines the change in the discourse of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt regarding the model of a civil state. It outlines a transition in the doctrine of the movement from an all-Islamic state to a modern nation state with Western norms and institutions. The paper traces milestones in the process that led to the acceptance of the civil model into the Muslim Brothers’ rhetoric and political platform albeit a creative interpretation of the concept. Due to the movement’s inconsistency and vagueness using this vision, the article focuses on the post-Mubarak era and the Morsi administration in order to test this shift in practice.

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.

Policing neoliberalism in Egypt: the continuing rise of the ‘securocratic’ state

By: Maha Abdelrahman

Published in Third World Quarterly  Volume 38, Issue 1 (2017)

Abstract: This article examines the increasing power of the police, their centrality to the reproduction of the neoliberal global order and their dynamic relationship with various elements of the ruling elite. It focuses on the case of the post-2011 uprising in Egypt to examine how the police institution has taken advantage of the uprising to increase its power and relative autonomy. The article demonstrates the centrality of the police to the Sisi regime’s efforts at reducing political discourse to an inflated and simplistic concept of ‘security’ in an attempt to establish its long-term legitimacy.

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.

Foreign Policy as a Source of Legitimation for “Competitive Authoritarian Regimes”: The Case of Turkey’s AKP

By: Cengiz Günay

Published in Georgetown Journal of International Affairs Volume 17, Issue 2 (2016)

Abstract: Turkey’s ruling party, AKP, has used foreign policy as one of its primary instruments for consolidating domestic political support and monopolizing power in the hands of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Defiance of Western hegemony and references to the imperial Ottoman past have helped to replace Kemalist narratives and to override growing social divides within the country. As a result, Erdoğan’s hold on power is strengthened, since the AKP’s political contestation has been almost exclusively limited to elections.

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.

Yemen’s enduring resistance: youth between politics and informal mobilization

By: Atiaf Z. Alwazir

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

Abstract: This paper investigates the impact mobilized publics have had on Yemen’s domestic political environment by examining two case studies initiating collective action, with autonomous agency, yet with distinct differences in access to resources. The first case is the Marib Cause, a semi-organized, non-registered community group that protests corruption and demands basic services, employment opportunities and resource redistribution for the benefit of a marginalized region. The second is al-Watan (Homeland), a registered political party established by youth activists who had been involved in the 2011 movement. Both groups emerged as a result of the transformation period, which resulted in an opening up of the political sphere allowing these actors the opportunity to engage in collective action with the goal of impacting policy. The role of these two mobilized publics is analysed by examining their resources and strategies within the political context and tactical interactions between them and the PRE. The two cases represent levels of popular mobilization specific to an exceptional time. Although they were not able to directly influence Yemen’s transformation process, their potential impact on the long-term political, social and cultural environment is significant.

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.

Managing change: how Egypt’s military leadership shaped the transformation

By: Stephan Roll

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

Abstract: Egypt’s military has been the real winner of the country’s political transformation. It was not only successful in preserving the overall power structure, which was challenged by young revolutionaries and Islamist opposition between 2011 and 2013. It also expanded its power within the political relevant elite. The article argues that the gradual approach chosen by the Generals in managing change as well as their ability to maintain a cohesive corporate structure and act therefore as a strong institutional player explain this outcome. However the military’s dominance will hinder socio-economic progress and makes the political order unsustainable over the long run.

Youth movements in the Egyptian transformation: strategies and repertoires of political participation

By: Nadine Abdalla

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

Abstract: The accumulated research on youth movements in general, and on Egyptian ones in particular, analyses the characteristics of the youths who triggered the Arab Spring as well as the particular forms of activism and structures they adopted. Academic work focused on youth activism in Egypt, however, thus far lacks research on how the youth movements modified their strategies according to the political context and the repercussions this had on the transformation process. Hence, through the analysis of the strategies pursued by four youth movements during the course of the Egyptian transformation, this article will show that on one hand, the choice of a certain strategy could be successful in one political context but could fail to yield influence in another. On the other hand, it will show that the choice of a certain strategy can enable the movements to induce political change in the short term, but it can be liable to become ineffective in the longer term and vice versa.

Tunisian Women at the Crossroads: Antagonism and Agonism between Secular and Islamist Women’s Rights Movements in Tunisia

By: Loes Debuysere

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

Abstract: The recent rise in Islamist-inspired women’s activism is posing challenges to the longstanding secular women’s movements in post-Ben Ali Tunisia. Starting from the conviction that cohesive, cross-class women’s coalitions are better suited to achieve gender justice for women of all walks of life, this article draws on the concept of ‘agonistic pluralism’ (Chantal Mouffe) to understand how Tunisia’s women’s movements can deal with the new, multifaceted conflict in their ranks. Through a discussion of the ‘Dialogue of Tunisian Women’, the grounds for strategic coalition-building and ‘agonistic’ engagement between secular and Islamist women’s rights actors are illustrated.

Mobilized publics in Post-Qadhafi Libya: the emergence of new modes of popular protest in Tripoli and Ubari

By: Rafaa Tabib

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

Abstract: As the formal transformation process in Libya faltered and political and local elites were locked in contestation over shares of power and resources, spaces opened for non-formal movements of citizens pushing to exert influence on the political sphere, and to pursue their interests vis-à-vis state institutions with hitherto unknown forms of contentious action. This article investigates two distinctively different examples of such initiatives: on the one hand, the movement against militia rule and the extension of the mandate of the General National Congress (GNC) that emerged in Tripoli in the fall of 2013 and organized demonstrations for new elections throughout the spring of 2014. On the other, a movement for more equitable access to resources and citizenship rights that emerged in the provincial town of Ubari in the Fezzan region and gained momentum in late 2013 through the (largely peaceful) disruption of oil production. The chapter argues that through their mobilization capacities and innovative forms of contentious action, both movements compelled political and institutional actors to recognize mobilized publics as a force to reckon with, and modify the ways they interact with citizens and the general public.

Sisi, the Sinai and Salafis: Instability in a Power Vacuum

By: Lyndall Herman

Published in Middle East Policy Volume 23, Issue 2 (2016)

Abstract: Not available

Libya since 2011: Political Transformation and Violence

By: Hanspeter Mattes

Published in Middle East Policy Volume 23, Issue 2 (2016)

Abstract: Not available

The feminist movement during the AKP era in Turkey: challenges and opportunities

By: Melinda Negrón-Gonzales

Published in Middle Eastern Studies Volume 52, Issue 2 (2016)

Abstract: This article explores women’s rights activism in Turkey during the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) time in power (2002–present). A comparative analysis of three feminist campaigns for policy reform shows that in a context in which majority public opinion and the policy preferences of the ruling party militate against feminist policy proposals, a strong political ally (the European Union) was necessary to generate a policy change. The article also argues that the political opportunity structures within which feminists are embedded have been reconfigured over the course of the AKP’s three terms in power, leaving the AKP in a stronger position to resist feminists’ demands. This explains the paradox of an internally stronger and more dynamic social movement that, nevertheless, appears to have weakened vis-à-vis the state. Furthermore, because some recent legal reforms do not significantly reflect the AKP’s or much of the public’s preferences, the movement has been less able to generate implementation of recent policy changes.

Sisi’s Egypt

By: Hazem Kandil

Published in New Left Review Issue 102 (2016)

Abstract: Not available

New National Discourses: Tunisian Women Write the Revolution

By: Douja Mamelouk

Published in Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics Volume 35 (2015)

Abstract: Not available

Egypt Under SCAF and the Muslim Brotherhood: The Triangle of Counter-Revolution

By: Gamal M. Selim

Published in Arab Studies Quarterly Volume 37, Issue 2 (2015)

Abstract: This article seeks to examine the dynamics of counter-revolution in Egypt following the January 2011 revolution and their corresponding impact on the path of democratization in post-Mubarak Egypt. It argues that the popular calls for change that followed the Egyptian revolution have fallen repeatedly and quickly into the hands of a structural alliance of reactionary and constancy-oriented actors operating at the internal and external levels. These included the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the Muslim Brotherhood, and the United States with its intrusive global structure, all of which have emerged as agents of continuity and counter-revolution in post-Mubarak Egypt, in turn complicating any proposed genuine democratic transition.

Mechanisms of Authoritarian Rule in Bahrain

By: Nebil Husayn

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

Abstract: This investigation identifies the different elements in Bahraini society and government that indicate the existence of authoritarian rule and the mechanisms which perpetuate it. Hardliners in the royal family have strategically obstructed democratization in the country by controlling Bahrain’s ideological and coercive state apparatus. The ideological apparatus encourages public disavowal of political reform and marginalizing Bahrain’s Shī’ī heritage. The coercive state apparatus regularly punishes, imprisons, and physically abuses political activists and those who are suspected of encouraging civil unrest. Bahrain’s alliance with Saudi Arabia has encouraged hardliners in the government to particularly promote anti-Shī’ī agendas that stigmatize, disenfranchise, and repress the majority of its citizens. Representatives of the Bahraini government have consistently accused Iran of providing logistical support to Bahraini activists. However, evidence suggests the claims of Iranian involvement in the 2011 demonstrations or an alleged coup attempt in 1981 to be false. Finally, this article identifies developments in 2011, both inside and outside of the country, that encouraged the reduction of repression of its citizens.

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).

From Reform to Resistance: Universities and Student Mobilisation in Egypt and Morocco before and after the Arab Uprisings

By: Florian Kohstall

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 42, Issue 1 (2015)

Abstract: University students played a pivotal role in the Arab uprisings in 2011. This article explores the link between reform policies and social mobilisation through a comparison of university reforms and student protests in Egypt and Morocco. It argues that both—the fabrication of social policies and the formation of protest—are rooted in the specific political configuration of authoritarian regimes. Egypt and Morocco have both embarked on internationalising higher education, but the monarchy was more successful in embracing change through a more pluralistic type of governance. Hence, Morocco was able to escape the disruptive dynamics of the uprising, unlike Egypt, which was more reluctant to establish a new type of governance.

Labour Demands, Regime Concessions: Moroccan Unions and the Arab Uprising

By: Matt Buehler

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 42, Issue 1 (2015)

Abstract: This article investigates how public employee unions mobilised to take advantage of Morocco’s Arab uprising. Leveraging their positions as operators of public institutions, these unionists exploited the unrest to strategically advance their interests. Two points emerge from this account of state—labour relations in Morocco. First, a spike in labour contestation began in early 2010, presaging the unrest that rocked Moroccan cities in 2011. Second, the unions secured their demands through traditional tactics of labour mobilisation—joining street protests, exaggerating material demands, and threatening negotiation walkouts. This strategy, however, became more efficacious during the Arab uprising. Fearing urban riots that had historically grown from labour protests since the 1980s, regime elites conceded to union demands, many of which they had previously rejected in the 2000s.

Constitutions against Revolutions: Political Participation in North Africa

By: Gianluca P. Parolin

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 42, Issue 1 (2015)

Abstract: This article looks into the genesis of Madisonian factions (or Elster’s interests) in the constitution-making process. The North African constitutional transitions offer prime insights into the appetites of political forces to appropriate the key decisions on how to write the constitution, which ultimately leads to undue advantages in the drafting stage. Tunisia, Egypt and Libya show different ways of appropriating that moment and the involvement of different forces. These appropriations, however, all involve limitations to political participation, with various degrees as evidenced in the three experiences. If distortions of constitution-making are deemed inappropriate, then appropriations need to be avoided.

Explaining Divergent Revolutionary Coalitions: Regime Strategies and the Structuring of Participation in the Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions

By: Mark Beissinger, Amaney Jamal, Kevin Mazur

Published in Comparative Politics Volume 48, Issue 1 (2015)

Abstract: This study seeks to explain why the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions mobilized different constituencies. Using original survey data, we establish that while participants in both revolutions prioritized economic concerns and corruption over civil and political freedoms, Tunisian revolutionaries were significantly younger and more diverse in class composition than the predominantly middle-aged and middle-class participants in the Egyptian Revolution. Tunisian revolutionaries were also less likely to be members of civil society associations and more likely to rely on the internet as their source of information during the revolution. We explain these differences by reference to disparate incumbent regime strategies for coping with similar structural pressures for state contraction and political reform, which created different patterns of societal grievance and opposition mobilizing structures in their wake.

Small farmers and the revolution in Egypt: the forgotten actors

By: Saker El Nour

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 8, Issue 2 (2015)

Abstract: This paper analyses the relationship between small farmers and revolution in Egypt by describing their role in the current uprising and redefining the track and stages of the revolution’s development, as well as evaluating the historical relationship between small farmer uprisings and the urban elite. The paper provides a historical reading of the peasant uprisings and the way in which the urban elites have ignored their struggles. The study confirms that revolution is not a moment but a long process socially constructed and the peasant uprising in 1997 was the first spark of a protest wave that culminated in January 2011.

Ḥizb al-Nahḍah: from revolution to government and to a second referendum

By: Mohammad Dawood Sofi

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 8, Issue 3 (2015)

Abstract: The year 2011 witnessed watershed events in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), resulting in long-awaited political and social transformation, with Tunisia acting as catalyst and modus operandi for the other countries of the region. Although the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ now seems to be gripped in a stalemate in Egypt, where vagueness still prevails, and in Syria and Libya, where the security situation continues to be extremely precarious and unstable, there seems to be a wind of change in the political context in Tunisia, where on 26 October 2014 the population witnessed the second post-revolution elections. The political party Ḥizb al-Nahḍah (Renaissance Party), officially founded in 1981, has been having a considerable impact on the political milieu of the region since its political career has experienced a renewed boost. Furthermore, Salafism has emerged as a legitimate force in the country demanding al-Nahḍah to redefine its role and strategy. While in power al-Nahḍah faced multifarious political, social and economic challenges that compelled it to devise new strategies and policies to suit the changing socio-political climate. In addition to exploring post-revolution transitions and transformations in Tunisia, this paper focuses on Ḥizb al-Nahḍah, the issues and challenges it encountered while in power, and those that lie ahead.

Women’s Rights Movements during Political Transitions: Activism against Public Sexual Violence in Egypt

By: Vickie Langohr

Published in International Journal of Middle East Studies Volume 47, Issue 1 (2015)

Abstract: The most famous demand raised by protesters in the “Arab Spring” was “al-shaʿb/yurīd/isqāṭ al-niẓām” (the people/want /the fall of the regime). Three years later, little progress has been made—outside of Tunisia—in permanently replacing authoritarian regimes with the formal institutions of democracy. However, new forms of activism have emerged that increase citizens’ ability to directly combat pervasive social problems and to successfully pressure official institutions to alter policies. The evolution of activism against public sexual violence in post-Mubarak Egypt is a concrete example. Sexual harassment of women on the streets and in public transportation, widespread before the 25 January uprising, has likely since increased.1 Many women have been subjected to vicious sexual assault at political protests over the last three years. But activism against these threats has also expanded in ways unimaginable during the Mubarak era. Groups of male and female activists in their twenties and early thirties exhort bystanders on the streets to intervene when they witness harassment, and intervene themselves. Satellite TV programs have extensively covered public sexual violence, directly challenging officials for their failure to combat it while featuring the work of antiharassment and antiassault groups in a positive light. These new practices facilitated two concrete changes in the summer of 2014: amendments to the penal code on sexual harassment, and Cairo University’s adoption of an antiharassment policy which was developed by feminist activists.

Multiplicities of Purpose: The Auditorium Building, the State, and the Transformation of Arab Digital Media

By: David Faris

Published in International Journal of Middle East Studies Volume 47, Issue 2 (2015)

Abstract: Digital media played a key role in a number of uprisings that later became known as the Arab Spring. Now that this moment of resistance has largely given way to a tumultuous and unsettled regional order, we can ask what role these media forms are playing in the new ecology of the postuprisings Middle East. I would argue that we are witnessing a period of experimentation—journalists are attempting to generate both revenue and dissent under circumstances that range from unsettled (Tunisia) to increasingly repressive (Jordan), while proto-state actors and transnational jihadis are exploiting social media to attract supporters and influence diverse audiences. What is clear is that in many states the digital arrangement that characterized the 2000s—activist bloggers squaring off openly with recalcitrant and often clueless states—is gone. States are now more aware of and careful about the strategies they employ vis-à-vis digital dissent. In places such as Egypt, some of the most vocal activists are in prison. In Jordan, they have returned to producing journalism that skirts the line between tolerated and forbidden. Across the region digital media activists are grappling with disillusionment about the trajectory of the Arab Spring, while digital spaces are sites for transnational contestation, including by the most successful challenger to the state system since Jamal ʿAbd al-Nasir in the 1950s, the Islamic State (IS). ʿAbd al-Nasir famously used radio to breach the information firewalls erected by new Arab states. IS has similarly employed the technologies of the day to execute a plan of even greater ambition and reach—far from reaching out only across national boundaries within the subsystem, IS militants have crafted a transnational media operation of remarkable scope, one that has drawn tens of thousands of recruits not only from the Middle East but also from Europe, the United States, and Asia.

Cartooning and the Democratic Transition in Tunisia: Lilia Halloul

By: Lilia Labidi

Published in Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies Volume 11, Issue 3 (2015)

Abstract: The Arab Spring in Tunisia brought with it new rights for women, such as allowing them to wear the hijab for a photo ID, establishing gender parity in political elections, and lifting Tunisia’s reservations on the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which was signed by the government in August 2011. This has produced a proliferation of groups and viewpoints that are often in conflict with one another and sometimes attack women and women’s rights promoted under previous postcolonial authoritarian regimes. The free and democratic elections of October 2011 led to a coalition of Ennahdha, the Islam-oriented majority party, and two secular parties. This opened the way for preachers from the Mashreq and Arab Gulf countries to present their support for practices that had not previously been part of public discussion…

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.

Plus ça Change? Observing the Dynamics of Morocco’s ‘Arab Spring’ in the High Atlas

By: Sylvia I. Bergha*, Daniele Rossi-Doria

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

Abstract: This contribution focuses on the ‘Arab Spring’ in Morocco and on the interactions between the mainly urban-based activists that made up the 20 February Movement (F20M), and the population in rural areas. Based on six weeks of fieldwork between November 2013 and March 2014, mostly in the areas in and near Marrakech, we find that while the urban F20M events stimulated and inspired protests in rural areas, in practice there were only sporadic contacts based on the activists’ personal feelings of belonging rather than their organizational membership. This is mainly due to discursive disconnects between the centre and periphery. As for the outcomes, in particular the new constitution, many respondents believe that nothing has changed so far.

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.

Territorial Stress in Morocco: From Democratic to Autonomist Demands in Popular Protests in the Rif

By: Ángela Suárez Collado

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

Abstract: This article analyses the evolution of popular protest in the Rif within the Moroccan context of contention. It considers the specificity of the demands expressed and the strategies for mobilization adopted as a result of a long-term process of regional activism. The article finds that protesters in the Rif have had agency to conduct their own strategies, using the opportunity structure opened at state level to advance their own agenda. The pre-existing mobilizing structures and the reproduction of patterns of centre–periphery tension in the course of the contention have fostered a progressive localization of protest in the region, which has strengthened regional identity and regionalist activism in the Rif.

Secular Autocracy vs. Sectarian Democracy? Weighing Reasons for Christian Support for Regime Transition in Syria and Egypt

By: Mark Farhaa, Salma Mousa

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

Abstract: With the spectre of post-Spring Islamist rule looming, Christians in Syria and Egypt were forced to choose between quasi-secular autocracy and sectarian populism. The status quo ante under al-Assad and Mubarak, though democratically deficient, temporarily contained civil hostilities and afforded Christians with a modicum of secular protection and even prosperity, the degree of which sheds light on the relative absence of Syrian Christian protestors and the salient Coptic presence during the Egyptian revolution. This article explores how socio-economic and religious peripheral designations intersected with state policy to determine political (in) action amongst Christian minorities in two crucial countries of the region.

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.

The Impact of the Arab Spring on the Political Future of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East: Jordan as a Case Study

By: Abdelmahdi Alsoudi

Published in Middle East Review of International Affairs Volume 19, Issue 3 (2015)

Abstract: The events of the Arab Spring have led to new political realities in the Arab world and paved the way for the Muslim Brotherhood to form short-lived governments in Tunisia and Egypt. Encouraged by these developments, the Brotherhood in Jordan played a leading role in the uprising there, adopted extreme positions, and boycotted the 2010 and 2013 parliamentary elections. The movement today is in open confrontation with the Jordanian regime and suffers from internal division and conflict. The disastrous outcome of the Arab Spring for Syria, Libya, and Yemen, as well as the banning of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE has weakened the movement’s political influence in the region, especially in Jordan. Its political future in Jordan now depends on government policy and the unfolding of internal crisis within the movement. This article argues that the Arab Spring has had a serious negative impact on the Brotherhood both in Jordan and in the region and that serious efforts would be required to restore its previous political role and influence.

Unexpected Brokers of Mobilization: Contingency and Networks in the 2011 Egyptian Uprising

By: Killian Clarke

Published in Comparative Politics Volume 46, Issue 4 (2014)

Abstract: Before 2011, Egyptian society was seen as weak and fragmented, capable only of mounting limited collective challenges to a powerful and repressive authoritarian state. The uprising of 2011 therefore came as a shock, raising profound questions about how such an ostensibly weak society could generate the kind of mobilization necessary to overwhelm the Egyptian regime’s feared security apparatus. In this article, I argue that this unexpected uprising was made possible by a sudden and ultimately contingent set of changes in the configuration of Egypt’s social structures. I show how the success of the revolution in neighboring Tunisia catalyzed a rapid shift in the perceptions and considerations of a set of strategically positioned actors, who began serving as brokers between three otherwise autonomous social sectors.

“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.

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.

Perspectives for change in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria: the military factor and implications of previous authoritarian regimes

By: Federico Battera

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 7, Issue 4 (2014)

Abstract: This article argues that differences in Arab authoritarian regimes were mainly linked to the relationship between the state, the political party in power and the military. By exploring such differences in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria prior to the 2011 crisis, they are explained in the context of the political changes that ensued in the wake of the crisis. How the army played the dual role of instigating change while impeding it at crucial points in the transitional process is described. The mutual lack of autonomy between the state, the party and the military appears to have been a key factor in impeding change, whereas a clear separation of the functions of these institutions was more likely to enable political change to come about.

Arabs and democracy: an analysis of the findings of the survey of Arab public opinion towards democracy

By: Youssef Mohammad Sawani

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

Abstract: A survey commissioned by the Center of Arab Unity Studies (CAUS), and carried out in late 2009 and early 2010, was the first Arab public opinion survey on democracy of its kind. This article presents its findings and contextualizes the analyses in the debate that has marked Arab political thinking on democracy as a system of good governance. The purpose of the survey was to shed light on the attitudes of ordinary Arabs with respect to democracy. Contrary to approaches that sought to explain the democratic deficit in the Arab world by virtue of its inherently ‘undemocratic’ culture and the Islamic religion, democratic elements are not absent from Arab culture and Arab people are yearning for democracy. The article analyses and compares the results with those of other surveys to conclude that contemporary Arabs are no exception and they have the same attitudes shared by humanity at large with respect to democracy as a solid political base for a fair system of governance.

Egyptian Salafism in Revolution

By: Jacob Høigilt, Frida Nome

Published in Journal of Islamic Studies Volume 25, Issue 1 (2014)

Abstract: The political breakthrough of Salafism during and after the revolts in the Arab world in 2011–12 has challenged established descriptions of Salafism as an apolitical form of Islamic activism. Nowhere is the political breakthrough clearer than in Egypt where, in 2011–12, three Salafi parties contested the first free elections in decades. This article charts the impact that entry into politics has had on Egyptian Salafism, and how it has related to other political actors. We conclude that despite homogeneity on the ideological and theological level, Salafism as a social movement in Egypt presents several different faces, and that it is just as prone to the influence of the political context as other social and religious movements. Salafism has proven remarkably flexible in its adaptation to the new political reality in Egypt—something that contradicts established accounts that categorize it as a rigid, theology-focused movement.

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.

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.

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

Arab Uprisings May Doom Middle East Christians

By: Hilal Khashan

Published in Middle East Quarterly Volume 21, Issue 4 (2014)

Abstract: Not available

What Egypt’s President Sisi Really Thinks

By: Daniel Pipes

Published in Middle East Quarterly Volume 21, Issue 4 (2014)

Abstract: Not available

Small Farmer Uprisings and Rural Neglect in Egypt and Tunisia

By: Habib Ayeb, Ray Bush

Published in Middle East Report Volume 44, Issue 272 (2014)

Abstract: Not available

Taking Back the Village: Rural Youth in a Moral Revolution

By: Lila Abu-Lughod

Published in Middle East Report Volume 44, Issue 272 (2014)

Abstract: Not available

Potholes in the Road to Revolution

By: Michael Marcusa

Published in Middle East Report Volume 44, Issue 272 (2014)

Abstract: Not available

A Poor People’s Revolution: The Southern Movement Heads Toward Independence from Yemen

By: Susanne Dahlgren

Published in Middle East Report Volume 44, Issue 273 (2014)

Abstract: Not available

The Wretched Revolution

By: Yasmin Moll

Published in Middle East Report Volume 44, Issue 273 (2014)

Abstract: Not available

Class and Politics in Turkey’s Gezi Protests

By: Erdem Yörük, Murat Yüksel

Published in New Left Review Issue 89 (2014)

Abstract: Successive mass protests have erupted seemingly out of nowhere since the financial crisis. The Arab uprisings of 2011 were fast followed by mobilizations across the Eurozone periphery, from Greece to Spain, and by Occupy in the us. Anti-corruption sit-ins paralyzed Indian cities; Brazil and Turkey erupted in 2013, while counter-mobilizations polarized Ukraine. What social forces and what politics have been in play? Earlier contributions to this journal have analyzed the emergence of 21st century ‘oppositional’ strata and examined the confluence of classes in the Brazilian protests— ‘new proletarians’, typically telemarketers with degrees, and the inflation-hit middle class. In this text, we focus on the social and political character of Turkey’s ‘Gezi’ protests, named after the small park in central Istanbul whose threatened demolition sparked a nationwide uprising that would last for more than a month.
The Gezi protests have already inspired an extensive literature on the causes, form, and content of this upsurge. There is a widespread assumption in much of this literature that the protesters were drawn largely from the ‘new middle class’, and that participation from those further down the social scale was either low or non-existent. Turkey’s protest movement has been seen as a manifestation of a new middle-class politics—democratic, environmentalist—whose global import is predicted to grow. Here, we test these assumptions through analysis of four sets of quantitative data: three surveys and a newspaper-based protest dataset. In contrast to many accounts, which concentrate largely on the central core of protesters inside Gezi Park itself, we examine the Turkish uprising at its height, when the greatest numbers were mobilized across the country, and look at levels of passive support as well as activist cadre. In the sections that follow, we briefly outline the arc of the protests, explore the arguments concerning their nature, sketch the broader economic and political context in which they took place and conclude with our own analysis, based on survey and protest data.

Tribal Politics in Contemporary Jordan: The Case of the Hirak Movement

By: Sean L. Yom

Published in The Middle East Journal Volume 68, Issue 2 (2014)

Abstract: During 2011/12, East Bank tribal youths in Jordan mobilized a new wave of political opposition through the Hirak movement. Reflecting generational change in their communities, as well as the historical erosion of tribal-state relations, these protest groups demanded sweeping democratic reforms from the monarchy. They also utilized language and methods more radical than the established legal opposition. This changing dynamic of tribal politics holds enormous implications for politics and stability within the Hashemite kingdom.

From TUNeZINE to Nhar 3la 3mmar: A Reconsideration of the Role of Bloggers in Tunisia’s Revolution

By: Amy Aisen Kallander

Published in Arab Meda & Society Issue 17 (2013)

Abstract: Not available

A Revolutionary Role or a Remnant of the Past? The Future of the Egyptian Journalist Syndicate after the January 25th Revolution

By: Miriam Berger

Published in Arab Media & Society Issue 18 (2013)

Abstract: Not available

The Arab Spring and the Uncivil State

By: Jacqueline S. Ismael, Shereen T. Ismael

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

Abstract: This article examines the ongoing Arab Spring uprisings. The Arab Spring is characterized as a fundamental challenge to the postcolonial political order of the Arab world. The postcolonial Arab world has been defined by its oppressive nature and its subjugation within the international system. This autocratic and peripheral order represents the political legacy of colonial rule, where the postcolonial regimes inherited and refined the repressive techniques of the colonial regimes while, owing to international developments, reinforcing their subjugated status within the international system. The Arab Spring has, thus, represented an attempt to chart an independent path in Arab politics, marked by efforts towards democracy and civil rights. The successes and failures of the Arab Spring are critically evaluated, paying special attention to the role played by Islamist political actors. Beyond an evaluation of the domestic factors behind the various protests, the regional significance of the uprisings is evaluated, providing discussion of counterrevolutionary forces and political-sectarian developments.

Unusual Suspects: “Ultras” as Political Actors in the Egyptian Revolution

By: Robbert Woltering

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

Abstract: The Egyptian revolution that started on January 25 engaged many people who theretofore had not been considered political actors. Among them were the Ultras, a particular group of football fans who are widely credited to have played a part in the more physical aspects of the uprising. In this article the Ultras are studied by means of an analysis of their own written material, their internet presence, and fieldwork conducted in Cairo. It is argued that the Ultras have quite naturally developed into a revolutionary social movement.

The Trickster in Egypt’s January 25th Revolution

By: Walter Armbrust

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

Abstract: The term “counter-revolution” evokes a straightforward contestation of political claims in a revolutionary situation. But contestation is not a zero-sum game: this side wins; the other side loses, and power remains the same. A revolutionary situation is unpredictable. New formulations of political claims may emerge in a protracted moment of “liminal crisis”—a kind of political ritual with no master of ceremonies capable of ending it. Indeed, the meaning of the political prize itself might be open to reinterpretation. My paper examines counter-revolution through the lens of Taufiq ‘Ukasha, an Egyptian talk show host and former member of the deposed National Democratic Party. Since the Revolution ‘Ukasha has become increasingly prominent as an unacknowledged spokesman for Egypt’s Military Council, which assumed executive powers in the wake of the Mubarak regime’s collapse. I argue that ‘Ukasha should not be understood simply as a filul—a remnant of the old regime. He is rather a “trickster,” a creature at home in the betwixt-and-between of open-ended liminality, and as such not an instrument of a socially grounded political power. In an environment in which the usual points of social and political orientation are called into question, the significance of a trickster is that he or she can become an object of emulation, an instrument of “schismogenesis”—the creation of a new social formation. A trickster, as a creature of pure liminality, is particularly prone to generating perverted forms of social knowledge. In ‘Ukasha’s case, this new social formation is an unprecedented formulation of Egyptian militarism.

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.

Breaking out of Authoritarianism: 18 Months of Political Transition in Egypt

By: Ibrahim Awad

Published in Constellations Volume 20, Issue 2 (2013)

Abstract: Not available 

Youth and the revolution in Egypt: what kinship tells us

By: Zina Sawaf

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 6, Issue 1 (2013)

Abstract: Studies of youth in Arab societies have tended to posit and explore their social exclusion, marginalization and even de-politicization. Events sparked by the January 25 uprising in Egypt have reconstructed youth in a contradictory light, hailing them as new symbols of the nation. Careful consideration of current thinking in the anthropology of kinship and the nation, however, cautions the audience of the revolution to think twice. Taking for granted the ‘blurred boundaries’ between kinship and the nation, this paper suggests that the transformation from ‘totalizing and patricentric rule’ in Egypt evokes the symbolism of kinship and its wider metaphorical uses, manipulations and transformations. It uses kinship to re-examine the role of youth in the Egypt revolution, on the one hand, and the end of Hosni Mubarak’s totalizing and patricentric regime, on the other. Firstly, it shows how a discursive concern with youth’s place in the revolution is simultaneously and more strongly a concern with kinship. It then sheds light on the kinship idiom that has defined the Egyptian nation since its birth to its ‘demubarakization’. Finally, it shows how kinship and nation are mutually susceptible to manipulations and transformations in the aftermath of the revolution. The paper concludes by noting the relevance of kinship to contemporary political events.

Relationship between state and religion: Egypt after the revolution

By: Tarek El-Beshry

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 6, Issue 3 (2013)

Abstract: According to Tariq Al-Bishri, it is not true that it is the Islamic current that controls the state in Egypt as a political project is in the process of crystallizing. His main proposal is for the three forces dominating the structure and dynamics of political life in Egypt – namely the army and judiciary, the Muslim Brotherhood, and liberals – to collaborate and avoid posing religion and the state as two opposing entities. Having to deal with the Shari’a as the source or reference for legislation need not be a polarizing issue as religion is being dealt with as ‘the dominant culture’; moreover, much work has already been done along this line throughout the 20th century. Al-Bishri argues that democracy within a society becomes vacuous if it is detached from solving its socio-economic challenges. To this end he prioritizes four main issues: (1) freeing the Egyptian national will from American and Israeli pressures; (2) reforming and rebuilding government administrative bureaucracy; (3) organizing civil society; and (4) drafting a constitution. Al-Bishri considers that ‘after Islamists assume power in Egypt’ it is imperative for the existing political and cultural forces in Egypt to cooperate as none of them has enough power to negate the others or lead on his own.

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.

Engaging the Authoritarian State: Voices of Protest in Syria

By: Waed Athamneh, Caroleen Marji Sayej

Published in Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies Volume 13 (2013)

Abstract: This paper captures the discursive interaction between the Syrian regime and the protesters during the revolt that began in March 2011. The purpose of this study is two-fold. First, we trace the use of symbolic rhetoric as a method of control long used by the Syrian regime to shape permissible discourses in society. The Assad family has long relied on the powerful symbols of Baathism, Pan Arabism, and resistance to colonialism to justify its rule with an iron fist. Second, we demonstrate that the protesters are using the same tactics to challenge the regime, as a form of reverse indoctrination, to undermine and counter its dominant narratives. They have engaged the authoritarian state through the use of poetry, music and slogans. The power of their words represents a symbolic collapse of the regime as the protesters negate and reinvent their political identity.

Youth, Gender, and Dignity in the Egyptian Uprising

By: Diane Singerman

Published in Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies Volume 9, Issue 3 (2013)

Abstract: Uprisings are complex, rare phenomenon, and this article suggests that the shared regional diffusion of protest in the Arab Spring was lubricated by the economic inequalities of neoliberalism. Young people in Egypt and the larger Middle East have been disproportionately disadvantaged by neoliberalism and a demographic youth bulge. They were economically excluded by high unemployment and insecure jobs in the informal sector; they were politically excluded by authoritarianism and state repression; and they were socially excluded by the limbo of “waithood,” or prolonged adolescence as marriage and entry into adulthood was delayed, in part due to the high cost of marriage. Yet, at the same time, these commonly shared grievances facilitated weak ties linking diverse constituencies together, as creative leaders built a “movement of movements.” The April 6 movement, and Kefaya before it, creatively adopted a non-hierarchical model of collective action that was organically suited to the vast informal and subterranean networks already dominant within Egyptian life. Young women and men risked their lives pursuing regime change, and one of the master frames of the uprisings that demanded “dignity” may provide particular opportunities for the women’s movement. A gendered concept, dignity suggests that the state must respect the integrity, safety, and autonomy of the body. Despite massive challenges to the women’s movement and its allies in Egypt as conservative forces are also emboldened by the Arab Spring, the master frame of dignity may resonate across the Egyptian public since it is a revolutionary frame, as well, yet lays bare longstanding grievances of the diverse Egyptian women’s movement.

The ‘Arab Uprising’, Islamists and Democratization

By: Jeffrey Haynes

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 18, Issue 2 (2013)

Abstract: This article surveys political activities of selected Islamists in three Arab countries in the Mediterranean region: Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco. Each is notable for recent growth in Islamist political activity in the context of democratization (Tunisia, Egypt) and political liberalization (Morocco). Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco are undergoing political changes consequent to the recent ‘Arab uprising’. The ‘Arab uprising’ involved country-specific yet variable outbursts of popular political anger, although not necessarily with a clear and consistent democratizing focus. Generally, protests focused on interrelated political and socio-economic demands, including: greater ‘freedoms’, improved human rights, better social justice and economic progress, especially more jobs for millions of unemployed youths. The aim of the article is to explain recent developments in relation to the ‘Arab uprising’ in three Mediterranean Arab countries – Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco. The purpose is to complement the individual foci on these countries in subsequent papers in this special issue by providing a thematic overview and to locate the activities of Islamist entities in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco in comparative context.

Scratching the Democratic Façade: Framing Strategies of the 20 February Movement

By: Anja Hoffmann, Christoph König

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 18, Issue 1 (2013)

Abstract: This article tentatively assesses the role of the 20 February Movement in current Moroccan politics. Drawing on social movement theory, the analysis focuses on the ways in which the movement has attempted to challenge the legitimacy of the system in place. The article first provides a thorough description of the movement’s characteristics. Subsequently, the frame analysis in the main part studies how the movement has sought to deconstruct the self-portrayal of the incumbent regime. It argues that the relevance of the challenge mounted by the 20 February Movement derives from its transgressions of red lines formerly delimiting political discourses in the kingdom.

Secularizing Islamism and Islamizing Democracy: The Political and Ideational Evolution of the Egyptian Muslim Brothers 1984–2012

By: Sumita Pahwa

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 18, Issue 2 (2013)

Abstract: The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) emerged in Egypt in the early twentieth century to resist secularism and political pluralism in favour of religious revival and a unitary Islamic state. After three decades of political participation culminating in its formation of a government in Egypt, the MB has prioritized electoral paths to power, while claiming to defend individual rights, popular majorities and a civil state. Nevertheless, the MB’s discourse continues to straddle religious and secular terrain: in recent election campaigns, MB leaders promised to build an ‘Islamic state’ and a ‘caliphate’, all the while insisting that the people, not God are the source of all power. What explains these contradictions, and what do they tell us about the Brotherhood’s apparent adoption of political and ideational pluralism and democratic values? The article contends that the MB’s ambivalence about democracy is not a sign of dissimulation or lack of ideological evolution. Instead, it has its roots in a 30-year process of partially adapting to democratic and ‘secular’ political ideas by reframing them in religious terms which, however, resulted in creating what the article discusses as a hybrid ‘secularized’ Islamism. This hybridization has both enabled and constrained the Brothers’ adaptation to democracy in the post-Mubarak period.

Democracy, Civil Liberties and the Role of Religion after the Arab Awakening: Constitutional Reforms in Tunisia and Morocco

By: Emanuela Dalmassoa, Francesco Cavatorta

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 18, Issue 2 (2013)

Abstract: The electoral results following the Arab Awakening have rewarded Islamist parties in Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco. Their arrival in power sparked once more intense scholarly and policy debates related to the relationship between Islamism, democracy and individual rights. This article examines that relationship in the context of the constitutional debates in Morocco and Tunisia, which have seen the prominent role of Islamist parties in attempting to shape the new constitutional charters. What emerges from this analysis is that, in the parties examined, pragmatism plays a greater role than fixed ideological positions.

The Threat to Un-Moderate: Moroccan Islamists and the Arab Spring

By: Matt Buehler

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 5, Issue 3 (2013)

Abstract: Across the Islamic world, Islamist groups have chosen to join popular protests stemming from the 2011 Arab Spring. In Morocco, however, an exception emerged. The country’s main Islamist opposition political party – the Justice and Development Party (hizb al-a’dala wa al-tanmia) – declined invitations to join demonstrations organized by the February 20th Movement for Change. Under what conditions do Islamist movements support Arab Spring uprisings? Why did the PJD choose to stay outside these protests demanding greater reform? The PJD, some scholars argue, did not support Arab Spring unrest because it is a co-opted Islamist movement. In contrast, I argue that the PJD refused to join the protests because it thought it could leverage them to its advantage. By threatening the Moroccan regime to leave formal party politics for the street, the Islamist party used the unrest to increase its bargaining power, sideline its rivals, and win its policy demands. This threat to “un-moderate” empowered the PJD to get what it wanted from the regime during the Arab Spring.

Salafist Movement and Sheikh-ism in the Tunisian Democratic Transition

By: Fabio Merone, Francesco Cavatorta

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 5, Issue 3 (2013)

Abstract: The article examines the complexity of Tunisian Salafism in the context of the Tunisian transition to democracy. Building on primary sources and original field work, the article highlights the theoretical and practical divergences that affect the Salafist camp in Tunisia in its struggle to continue a revolutionary project for a sector of disenfranchised youth unwilling to support a process of renewal of political institutions that they perceive as contributing their marginalization. In addition, the article explores the ways in which, paradoxically, the emergence and public presence of Salafism can contribute to the strengthening of democratic debate in the country.

Can Assad’s Syria Survive Revolution?

By: Eyal Zisser

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

Abstract: Not available

Between Grievances and State Violence: Sudan’s Youth Movement and Islamist Activism Beyond the “Arab Spring”

By: Khalid Mustafa Medani

Published in Middle East Report Volume 43, Issue 267 (2013)

Abstract: Not available

Gender and the Revolutions: Critique Interrupted

By: Norma Claire Moruzzi

Published in Middle East Report Volume 43, Issue 268 (2013)

Abstract: Not available

Gender and Counterrevolution in Egypt

By: Mervat Hatem

Published in Middle East Report Volume 43, Issue 268 (2013)

Abstract: Not available

This Is Our Square: Fighting Sexual Assault at Cairo Protests

By: Vickie Langohr

Published in Middle East Report Volume 43, Issue 268 (2013)

Abstract: Not available

Generation Y in Gezi Park

By: Marcie J. Patton

Published in Middle East Report Volume 43, Issue 268 (2013)

Abstract: Generation Y has figured large in the global pattern of protest beginning at the tail end of the 2000s. In marches against the fraudulent presidential election in Iran, against austerity in southern Europe, against autocracy in places from Morocco to Bahrain, and against greed and corruption in the United States, people born between 1980 and the late 1990s, aged 15-30, have been a driving force. Generation Y, also known as the millennials or the We Generation, is more than 2 billion people, roughly a third of the world’s total population.

Revolutionary Salafi Islamists in Egypt: An Analysis and Guide

By: Barry Rubin

Published in Middle East Review of International Affairs Volume 17, Issue 2 (2013)

Abstract: While the ruling Muslim Brotherhood has received a great deal of attention in Egypt, the varied Salafi groups have been far less studied. At times allies and at times rivals of the Brotherhood, the Salafists are widely varied. Whether the two groups can cooperate will determine the future of Islamist rule in Egypt. The Salafists pull the Brotherhood to take stronger action more immediately and may have faith in the larger organization or consider it to have betrayed the revolution. Moreover, the Salafists operate with a wide deal of autonomy, being able to take extraparliamentary action ranging from terrorist armed struggle to violent attacks on Christians and other opponents of the regime. The fact that there are now four competing Salafi parties shows the different streams of ideology and strategy. This article was written prior to the army action, but still shows how the Salafists are organized and their different camps.  

Of Lawyers and Samsars: The Legal Services Market and the Authoritarian State in Ben ‘Ali’s Tunisia (1987–2011)

By: Eric Gobe

Published in The Middle East Journal Volume 67, Issue 1 (2013)

Abstract: The recent history of the Tunisian Bar was symptomatic of repeated attempts by President Ben ‘Ali’s authoritarian state to subjugate a profession which was meant to guarantee respect for the rule of law and defendants’ rights. To this end, the state established an apparatus intended to control the workings of the legal services market and reduce the profession’s capacity for self-regulation. This situation led to the development of illegal practices and influenced a majority of lawyers to support the mobilization against Ben ‘Ali’s regime.

Understanding the Success of Mass Civic Protest in Tunisia

By: Michele Penner Angrist

Published in The Middle East Journal Volume 67, Issue 4 (2013)

Abstract: On the surface, the 2011 Tunisian Revolution seems attributable primarily to economic causes, social media, and the army’s refusal to back the regime of President Zine El-‘Abidine Ben ‘Ali. A deeper look reveals that its success depended on the interaction between the structural brittleness of a regime that had alienated many key civilian constituencies and the emergence of sustained, cross-class, geographically widespread, mass demonstrations. These demonstrations were facilitated by Islamist moderation, secularist-Islamist rapprochement within the opposition, and the actions of the Tunisian General Union of Labor (Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail, or UGTT). In the wake of Ben ‘Ali’s departure, Islamist moderation and the fruits of secularist-Islamist rapprochement facilitated the holding of elections and the drafting of a new constitution

Poetry and the January 25 Revolution: Introduction and Selected Poems

By: Shaaban Yusuf

Published in Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics Volume 32 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

No Longer a Bargain: Women, masculinity, and the Egyptian uprising

By: Sherine Hafez

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

Abstract: Although, according to eyewitness accounts, women made up 20 to 50 percent of the protesters in Tahrir Square, the events immediately following the Egyptian uprising revealed that women would not be part of the political deliberations between various contending parties and the Supreme Military Council in charge of the country. In this essay, I take a close look at the sociocultural dynamics behind the inclusion–dis‐inclusion of women in the political sphere to question how this contradiction has, in recent years, characterized the nature of gender relations in Arab countries like Egypt. Multilayered, rapidly changing, and challenged patriarchal power lies at the very core of the uprising in Egypt. What the events of this uprising have revealed is that notions of masculinity undermined by a repressive regime have observably shifted the terms of the patriarchal bargain. [Egypt’s uprising, gender relations in the Middle East, masculinity, patriarchy, patriarchal bargain, state patriarchy, women and revolution]

Living the “revolution” in an Egyptian village: Moral action in a national space

By: Lila Abu-Lughod

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

Abstract: Media coverage of the uprising in Egypt in 2011 focused almost exclusively on Tahrir Square in Cairo. How was the revolution lived in other parts of Egypt, including the countryside? I offer a glimpse of what happened in one village in Upper Egypt where, as elsewhere, daily lives were deeply shaped by devastating national economic and social policies, the arbitrary power of police and security forces, and a sense of profound marginalization and disadvantage. Youth were galvanized to solve local problems in their own community, feeling themselves to be in a national space despite a history of marginalization. They also used a particular language for their activism: a strong language of social morality, not the media‐friendly political language of “rights” and “democracy.

The Privilege of Revolution: Gender, class, space, and affect in Egypt

By: Jessica Winegar

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

Abstract: In this commentary, I challenge assumptions about political transformation by contrasting women’s experiences at home during the Egyptian revolution with the image of the iconic male revolutionary in Tahrir Square. I call attention to the way that revolution is experienced and undertaken in domestic spaces, through different forms of affect, in ways deeply inflected by gender and class.

Beyond Secular and Religious: An intellectual genealogy of Tahrir Square


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.

Beyond Egypt’s “Facebook Revolution” and Syria’s “YouTube Uprising:” Comparing Political Contexts, Actors and Communication Strategies

By: Sahar Khamis, Paul B. Gold, Katherine Vaughn

Published in Arab Media & Society Issue 15 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

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.

The Arab revolutions; the emergence of a new political subjectivity

By: Sari Hanafi

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

Abstract: Since late 2010, the Arab World has witnessed regime changes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya; and revolts by Arab citizens are still underway in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, along with reform initiatives at different levels. These processes cannot be accurately be described by Orientalist terms such as ‘Arab Spring’, ‘Arab unrest’ or the ‘Facebook Revolution’, where such categorizations fail to account for the radical transformation in politics and values that the Arab World is undergoing and the significance that resides in the confluence of social and democratic demands. The ultimate fate of these popular uprisings remains in the balance, but it is all too clear that they have produced the most dramatic changes in the region since the mid-twentieth century which marked the end of the colonial era. This article aims to elucidate the import of term ‘the people’ and to whom it applies in the popular slogan: ‘The people want the overthrow of the regime’ (al-shaʿb yurīd isqāṭ al-niẓām). It aims to identify the actors involved in the revolution, particularly the youth and participants among the labour movement. Through this analysis the study explores the new political subjectivity ushered in by these revolutions, in the specific form of individuality, or what is termed here reflexive individualism. This individualism, which is different from the neoliberal concept, is not a straightforward one predicated on anti-patriarchal authority, anti-tribe, anti-community or anti-political party sentiments. The political subjectivity of the individuals who have taken part is formed and shaped both within and across the shadowy edges of political institutions and their production of legitimacy and knowledge.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the January 25 Revolution: new political party, new circumstances

By: Mona Farag

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

Abstract: This paper highlights the Muslim Brotherhood’s experience in Egyptian elections since the 1980s with an emphasis on their last attempts during the Hosni Mubarak era in 2010 and in light of their most recent showing in the 2011 elections. This summary reveals how past electoral activities and failures have positioned this organization the better to capitalize on the newfound democratic climate in a post-revolution Egypt and perform well during the 2011 parliamentary elections. Drawing on these and more recent sources, an attempt is also made to bring the features of today’s Egypt’s political field into clear focus in the wake of the January 25 revolution and the subsequent emergence of newly formed political parties on the Egyptian scene. The paper concludes with a broad assessment of the prospects for the political future of the Muslim Brotherhood in view of its showing in the initial phase of elections for the People’s Assembly that took place in November 2011.

Beyond 1979 and 2011: When Comparisons Distract

By: Arang Keshavarzian

Published in International Journal of Middle East Studies Volume 44, Issue 1 (2012)

Abstract: In the midst of several research trips to Iran in the 1990s, I spent one year living and conducting exploratory research in Cairo. In Tehran, revolution seemed unfinished if not perpetual, yet in Egypt it was unimaginable. In spite of the entrenched support for the Leader and the political status quo, at this time Iran’s reformist movement was robust. The policies of the Islamic Republic and consequences of the eight-year war with Iraq unleashed new social conditions that combined with established forces to push for women’s rights, freedom of speech, independent civil associations, and exposing contradictions in the postrevolutionary order.

New Findings on Arabs and Democracy

By: Mark Tessler, Amaney Jamal, Michael Robbins

Published in Journal of Democracy Volume 23, Issue 4 (2012)

Abstract: Examined with data from the first and second wave of Arab Barometer surveys are support for democracy, understandings of democracy, desires for reform, values associated with a democratic political culture, views about the political role of Islam, and the relationship between support for political Islam and the embrace of democratic values. Broad continuing trends include strong support for democracy, understandings of democracy that emphasize economic considerations, and a division of opinion about Islam’s political role. Findings from surveys in Egypt and Tunisia in 2011 are discussed in greater detail in relation to post–Arab Spring developments in the two countries.

Tunisia after the Uprising: Islamist and Secular Quests for Women’s Rights

By: Doris H. Gray

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 17, Issue 3 (2012)

Abstract: In the wake of the popular uprising in Tunisia, secular women’s rights activists and Islamists have to come to terms with past privileges and injustices. Despite individual persecution, secular groups generally benefited from state support for women’s rights, while most Islamists were jailed, went underground or were in exile abroad for decades. This paper is based on personal interviews conducted in the summer of 2011 with representatives of various women’s and human rights organizations and Islamists from the An-Nahda party. As post-revolution events are still unfolding, the paper offers insights into the current state of gender discourse.

Islamist Parties Post-Arab Spring

By: Khalil Al-Anani

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 17, Issue 3 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

Why did the Egyptian Middle Class March to Tahrir Square?

By: Hazem Kandil

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

Abstract: Building on the extensive literature on relations between the state and social classes, this article examines the reasons leading important sectors of the middle class to revolt against Egypt’s Mubarak regime. The role of the middle class in the Egyptian uprising is both crucial and somewhat paradoxical. It is crucial because it was the middle class that overwhelmingly mobilized against Mubarak, with workers and peasants remaining, at least initially, on the sidelines. It is also paradoxical because the Mubarak regime had courted the middle class for a long time and the latter did benefit from its privileged relations with the regime. However, the neo-liberal reforms undertaken more recently undermined many of the material and political achievements of the middle class, favouring instead a new class of tycoon capitalists linked to the regime. This created extensive dissatisfaction within the middle class, which seized on the opportunity provided by the circumstances of the Arab Spring to demand political change.

The 2011 Parliamentary Elections in Turkey and Challenges Ahead for Democratic Reform Under a Dominant Party System

By: Canan Aslan-Akman

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 17, Issue 1 (2012)

Abstract: The sweeping electoral victory of the centre-right Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey’s parliamentary elections of 2011 constitutes a milestone in the governing party’s consolidation of political dominance. This article discusses the significance of the recent elections for the challenge of reconciling majoritarian dynamics in the Turkish political system with the need to reach an enduring consensus among parliamentary parties. It is argued that, in the aftermath of the elections, this challenge has become more acute than ever in view of the likely emergence of a dominant party system under intensified political conflict around constitutional reform, despite a relative stabilization of party competition.

The Armed Forces and the Arab Uprisings: The Case of Jordan

By: Curtis R. Ryan

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 4, Issue 1 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

The Youth and the Arab Spring: Cohort Differences and Similarities

By: Michael Hoffman, Amaney Jamal

Published in Middle East Law and Governance Volume 4, Issue 1 (2012)

Abstract: The Arab Spring has been described as a youth rebellion driven by grievances about unemployment and dissatisfaction with existing regimes. In this article, we assess these claims by examining the characteristics of the current youth generation in the Arab world in comparison with earlier cohorts. We find that some of the conventional assumptions about this generation—that they are less religious, more likely to be unemployed, and more likely to protest—are true, but others—that they are more supportive of secularization, more interested in politics, and more dissatisfied with their regimes—should be reconsidered. Using the first wave of the Arab Barometer survey, we discuss how patterns of political attitudes and behavior vary across cohorts, and cast doubt upon the claim that the Arab Spring was the result of an angry youth cohort that was especially opposed to the old regimes

Jordan’s Arab Spring: The Middle Class and Anti-Revolution

By: Sarah A. Tobin

Published in Middle East Policy Volume 19, Issue 1 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

Reconstituting the Coptic Community Amidst Revolution

By: Paul Sedra

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

Abstract: Not available

The Arab Spring: Progress Report and Conclusions

By: Ziad AbuZayyad

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

Abstract: Not available

Perceptions of the “Arab Spring” Within the Salafi-Jihadi Movement

By: Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Tara Vassefi

Published in Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume 35, Issue 12 (2012)

Abstract: This article provides a detailed examination of how the Salafi-jihadi movement perceives the “Arab Spring” revolutionary events. Although Western scholars almost unanimously agree that these events will have an enormous impact on Al Qaeda and other groups that share its ideology, the voice of the jihadis has not been examined in detail. This article addresses this critical gap in the literature through an analysis of 101 significant documents produced by jihadi thinkers within a year following the movement’s very first statement on the uprising in Tunisia. These include statements released by jihadi spokesmen, interviews with the movement’s intellectual leaders, and discussions on jihadi Web forums. The article concludes that Al Qaeda and the jihadi movement largely believe that the uprisings provide them a great deal of new opportunities, and outlines the movement’s developing strategy to capitalize on rapidly changing events on the ground.

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.

Cyberactivism in The Egyptian Revolution: How Civic Engagement and Citizen Journalism Tilted The Balance

By: Sahar Khamis, Katherine Vaughn

Published in Arab Media & Society Issue 14 (2011)

Abstract: Not available

Opposition Cooperation and Uprisings in The Arab World

By: Ellen Lust

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 38, Issue 3 (2011)

Abstract: What affects the possibilities and success of opposition cooperation in the Arab world? This piece examines the various contributions to the special issue, highlighting their insights into the types of opposition cooperation prevalent in the region, and the factors that influence the formation, endurance and success of cooperative arrangements. Understanding the structure and dynamics of opposition cooperation, as well as its success and failure, is critical in developing an analytic framework from which to launch further research on the evolving political and sociological realities in the Arab world. Drawing from the contributions in this special issue, this piece concludes by exploring how the uprisings of 2011 are likely to affect cooperation across opposition groups in the future.

The Transnational and The Local: Egyptian Activists and Transnational Protest Networks

By: Maha Abdelrahmana

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 38, Issue 3 (2011)

Abstract: Egypt’s 2011 revolution will remain a landmark in the modern history of Arab politics as a model of peaceful political protest which succeeded in toppling one of the most resilient authoritarian regimes in the region. While the dramatic events astounded the world, what would be truly surprising is to assume that the 25 January revolution did not have its provenance within Egypt’s opposition politics prior to this event. This contribution examines one crucial aspect of Egyptian opposition politics during the first decade of the twenty-first century: the process of networking between informal protest groups and movements and the linkages a new generation of activists within them have forged with transnational protest networks. The contribution takes the case study of the Egyptian Anti-Globalisation Group (AGEG) and its links with the Global Justice Movement (GJM) as a starting point for understanding processes of ‘diffusion and brokerage’ in launching projects of political transformation.

Will The Real Tunisian Opposition Please Stand Up? Opposition Coordination Failures Under Authoritarian Constraints

By: Rikke Hostrup Haugbøllea, Francesco Cavatortab

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 38, Issue 3 (2011)

Abstract: This contribution examines the reasons behind the failure of Tunisia’s opposition to forge effective coordination and collaborative links during Ben Ali’s reign, focusing specifically on the inability and unwillingness of political parties to act in concert in order to challenge his authoritarian rule. Focusing on two attempts at opposition coordination in the 2000s (Rencontre Démocratique and 18 October Collectif), it demonstrates that a number of interconnected explanations are at the heart of this failure, ranging from ideological differences and strategic divergence to personal rivalries among opposition leaders. The key contention of this study is that divisions within the political opposition were as important as regime repression in sustaining the Ben Ali regime for over 20 years. In addition, the present study contends that these intra-opposition divisions and past coordination failures explain the absence of political parties at the helm of the 2011 uprising.

Does It Take Democrats to Democratize? Lessons From Islamic and Secular Elite Values in Turkey

By: Murat Somer

Published in Comparative Political Studies Volume 44, Issue 5 (2011)

Abstract: Do political-Islamic elites need to be democrats for participation in democracy, how do their values compare to secular elites’, and how do their values change through participation and affect democratization itself? A comparative-systematic content analysis of three Islamic-conservative and two pro-secular Turkish newspapers over nine years shows that, overall, political-Islamic elites adopt democratic political values. Furthermore, they began to view that liberal-democratic rights and freedoms serve their interests. However, value democratization, and, thus, moderation and democratization, is not a linear and inexorable process automatically resulting from participation or socioeconomic development. It occurs through ruptures such as conflicts with secular actors, and interdependently through the interactions of secular and religious actors. Hence, religious actors’ adoption of more democracy may paradoxically make some secular actors less democratic. The consolidation of pluralistic democracy requires the emergence of both religious and secular democrats by resolving complex problems of commitment, and of clashes in areas like social pluralism where Islamic values are less open to change.

Views from The Arab Gulf On The ‘Arab Spring’ and Its Repercussions

By: Mohammed Iben Sunitan, Jasem Khaled Al-Sadoun, Ali Mohammed Fakhro

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

Abstract: This opinion piece of different Arab views and perspectives on the ‘Arab Spring’ and its significance and repercussions in the Arab Gulf region comprises three papers: ‘Repercussions of the Arab movements for democracy on the Saudi street’, by Mohammed Iben Sunitan; ‘Arab Spring … fleeting or perpetual?’, by Jasem Khaled Al-Sadoun; and ‘Repercussions of the Arab movements for democracy in Bahrain’, by Ali Mohammed Fakhro. Iben Sunitan posits a framework for a reading of the repercussions of the current movements on the Arab street in Saudi Arabia in a brief but highly informative account of the various Saudi opposition groups since the inception of the state under King ‘Abd al-’ Aziz bin Sa’ud. The author details the various strategies that have been employed by Saudi monarchs for dealing with or assimilating various opposition groups that have appeared and he examines the new dynamics of a situation in which the youth figure prominently and the house of Al Sa’ud is at a crossroads where it must successfully adapt to the new objective conditions and atmosphere engendered by the climactic and momentous events of 2011. Al-Sadoun deals with numerous issues that pertain to the Gulf region in general such as age demographics, unemployment, economic issues, and the question of what he terms the dichotomy of ‘projects of rule’ as opposed to modern ‘projects of state’, where the former have tended to characterize the Arab world at the expense of both efforts to modernize and democratize. In the global context al-Sadoun sees hope for democratic transition provided that various Gulf rulerships and governments arrive at the conclusion that voluntary democratic reform is considerably less costly than suppression of the popular will. With regard to Tunisia and Egypt – despite serious socio-economic challenges in the latter – he sees promise in the models of Malaysia and Turkey. Fakhro deals with the particular situation in Bahrain characterized by ‘missed opportunities’as well as regional military intervention, where peaceful demonstrations with initial moderate, legitimate demands pertaining to parliamentary representation and housing concerns that started in public areas such as the Pearl Roundabout were handled ineptly by the government, which chose to deal with them by force from the outset. Both sides crossed ‘red lines’ as demands escalated and demonstrators were gunned down not far from the royal palace. The King has called for an unconditional national dialogue; and while the situation has apparently calmed down for the moment, there remains grave concern over the future course of events. All three articles provide useful information and insight into the sociopolitical and economic dynamics of opposition movements in the Arab Gulf and the nature of their interaction with different types of political authority where it remains to be seen whether or not the prevailing climate of the ‘Arab Spring’ will persist in bringing about structural and genuine democratic reforms or whether protests will ultimately dissipate or assimilated through traditional means.

Arab Revolutions and The Study of Middle Eastern Societies

By: Asef Bayat

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

Abstract: The speed, spread, and democratic thrust of Arab revolutionary uprisings conjure up the revolutionary waves of 1848 and 1989 in Europe. Spearheaded by educated youth, the Arab uprisings have been brought to fruition by the masses of ordinary people (men, women, Muslims, and non-Muslims) who have mobilized at an astonishing scale against authoritarian regimes in pursuit of social justice, democratic governance, and dignity. If this broad observation is valid, then these social earthquakes are likely to unsettle some of the most enduring perspectives on the region. To begin with, they should undermine “Middle East exceptionalism,” with its culturalist focus informed by assumptions of “stagnant culture,” “fatalist Muslims,” and “unchangeable polity.” In political science, students of “regime stability” and the “authoritarian resiliency” of Arab states may have to reevaluate their conceptual premises. The analytical relevance of the concept of “rentier state” as the political basis of authoritarian stability might likewise need serious reformulation. The blatant cash handouts by some Arab Gulf states to “buy opposition” during the wave of protests in February and March 2011 do not seem to have worked.

Engendering Democracy

By: Valentine Moghadam

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

Abstract: The year 2011 will forever be known as the year of mass protests for regime change and democratization in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Opinions on causes and outcomes have focused on the role of young people, the demands of “the Arab street,” and the possible transition to a liberal, Islamist, or coalition type of governance. Middle East specialists have long been aware of the problems of authoritarian regimes, widening inequalities, high rates of youth unemployment, deteriorating infrastructure and public services, and rising prices attenuated only by subsidies. But something has been missing from recent discussions and analyses. Let us pose it in the form of a number of (socialist-feminist) questions. We have seen that “the Arab street” is not exclusively masculine, but what kind of democratic governance can women’s rights groups expect? To what extent will Tunisian women shape the democratic transition and the building of new institutions? In Egypt, will an outcome be—to use a phrase coined by East European feminists in the early 1990s—a “male democracy”? How can a democratic transition benefit working women and the poor?

Stalemate and Stagnation in Turkish Democratization: The Role of Civil Society and Political Parties

By: Ş. İlgü Özler, Ani Sarkissian

Published in Journal of Civil Society Volume 7, Issue 4 (2011)

Abstract: Both civil society organizations (CSOs) and political parties are expected to be vital actors in democratic societies, yet the ideal relationship between the two types of groups has not been fully explored. This article analyses how the interaction between CSOs and political parties has affected democratic consolidation in contemporary Turkey. Through personal interviews with leaders of both types of groups, the study finds that traditional power relations have shifted to include a greater number of political actors. Islamists, who were previously peripheral in politics, have joined the traditionally dominant secular nationalists at the ‘centre’ of political power. However, instead of increased pluralism, the study finds Turkish society now polarized along secularist/Islamist lines, both in political parties and among CSOs. While restrictions against non-governmental organizations have been lifted in recent years and the number of groups has grown, most are still viewed as ‘arms’ of political parties, lacking an independent voice and political power. These findings suggest that the civil society sector in Turkey is underdeveloped and unable to contribute positively to the democratization process.

‘Let them Have Some Fun’: Political and Artistic Forms of Expression in The Egyptian Revolution

By: Farida Makar

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

Abstract: Not available

The Monarchy Vs. The 20 February Movement: Who Holds The Reins of Political Change in Morocco?

By: Irenefernández Molina

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 16, Issue 3 (2011)

Abstract: Not available

The Tunisian Uprising and The Precarious Path to Democracy

By: Emma C. Murphy

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

Abstract: Not available

From Subjects to Citizens? Civil Society and The Internet in Syria

By: Roschanack Shaery-Eisenlohr

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 20, Issue 2 (2011)

Abstract: Not available

The Muslim Brotherhood and Democratic Transition in Egypt

By: Carrie Rosefsky Wickham

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

Abstract: Not available 

Back On Horseback: The Military and Political Transformation in Egypt

By: Holger Albrecht, Dina Bishara

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

Abstract: Though there are many expectations regarding the interim character of the current political order, the future of Egyptian democracy remains highly uncertain. A closer look at the take-over of power by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is imperative to an understanding of a political system at a decisive crossroads, but also of the path-dependent implications of the military’s engagement in politics. We project that, irrespective of the institutional framing and the results of the current political transformation, the military will play a decisive role in the country’s political future. In addressing its role during the current revolutionary events, we account for the reason for the military’s engagement in politics, the path of the take-over of political power, and the military’s management of politics. Thus, our analysis will attempt to provide preliminary answers to three questions: When and how did the Egyptian military intervene directly in revolutionary politics? Why did it intervene? And how does it manage the transformation?

Families, Tribes and Cities in The Libyan Revolution

By: Wolfram Lacher

Published in Middle East Policy Volume 18, Issue 4 (2011)

Abstract: Not available

Not Your Parents’ Political Party: Young Sunnis and The New Iraqi Democracy

By: Katherine Blue Carroll

Published in Middle East Policy Volume 18, Issue 3 (2011)

Abstract: Not available 

Tunisian Labor Leaders Reflect Upon Revolt

By: Chris to ensing

Published in Middle East Report Volume 41, Issue 258 (2011)

Abstract: Not available

The Praxis of The Egyptian Revolution

By: Mona El-Ghobashy

Published in Middle East Report Volume 41, Issue 258 (2011)

Abstract: Not available

Troubadours of Revolt

By: Ted Swedenburg

Published in Middle East Report Volume 41, Issue 258 (2011)

Abstract: Not available

Gender and Revolution in Egypt

By: Mervat Hatem

Published in Middle East Report Volume 41, Issue 261 (2011)

Abstract: Not available

The Syrian Opposition Before and After the Outbreak of the 2011 Uprising

By: Jonathan Spyer

Published in Middle East Review of International Affairs Volume 15, Issue 3 (2011)

Abstract: One of the most notable aspects of the revolt against the Asad regime in Syria has been the proliferation of opposition movements and the various attempts to join them into a single unified opposition movement. This article will observe the state of the opposition prior to the uprising, note the key new alignments in the opposition, and critically assess the attempts at unification

Revolt in Egypt

By: Hazim Kandil

Published in New Left Review Issue 68 (2011)

Abstract: An Egyptian sociologist gives an in-depth account of Mubarak’s overthrow, from the social tensions of the dictatorship’s final years to the present ferment of transition. The old regime’s structures of rule, and the prospects for the new dispensation emerging from its shadow.

Women and The Egyptian Revolution: A Dream Deferred

By: Althea Middleton-Detzner, Jillian Slutzker

Published in Palestine-Israel The Journal of Politics, Economics and Culture Volume 17, Issue 3-4 (2011)

Abstract: Not available

ReInterpreting Authoritarian Power: Syria’s Hereditary Succession

By: Joshua Stacher

Published in The Middle East Journal Volume 65, Issue 2 (2011)

Abstract: When Hafiz al-Asad died in 2000, his son Bashar became Syria’s president. By examining an unresolved inconsistency in the leading accounts about Syria’s succession, this article reveals the limitations of single-person rule analysis as the causal explanation for Syria’s hereditary leadership selection. I provide an alternative explanation by emphasizing the role of senior elites in forming regime consensus around Bashar al-Asad’s candidacy. Hereditary successions, therefore, reveal an instance of authoritarian continuity rather than one likely to end in regime breakdown.

The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted

By: Jon B. Alterman

Published in The Washington Quarterly Volume 34, Issue 4 (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.

Islamism and Democracy in The Modern Maghreb

By: Jnc Hill

Published in Third World Quarterly Volume 32, Issue 6 (2011)

Abstract: This paper examines the legitimacy of the restrictions the Moroccan and Algerian governments have placed on democracy in their countries. In each case the democratic process is subject to a range of limitations. These controls are justified on the grounds that they help prevent Islamist parties from winning power and that, if in government, these parties would roll back many of the political and civil rights enjoyed by Moroccan and Algerian citizens. Yet is this the case? By looking at the PJD’s and MSP’s manifesto pledges from the most recent parliamentary elections, the paper uncovers a different attitude. Far from opposing democracy and the various rights and liberties commonly associated with it, the PJD and MSP are working to strengthen it. Their commitment to democracy has grown, not diminished, over the past decade.

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.

Preserving Non-Democracies: Leaders and State Institutions in The Middle East

By: Mehran Kamrava

Published in Middle Eastern Studies Volume 46, Issue 2 (2010)

Abstract: Authoritarian elites often prolong their tenure in office by engaging in wholesale institutional change. Whether inherited or created from scratch, state institutions in non-democracies are meant to solidify elite cohesion and political control, pacify potential opponents, and create coalitions that support the state. Nevertheless, autocrats keep a watchful eye on these institutions, and if they change internally in directions that may seem threatening to state leaders, the institutions are changed or even disbanded. Change to the institutions of the non-democratic state is caused by a combination of deliberate decisions and institutional crafting by state leaders on the one hand, and by institutional layering and changes initiated from within the institutions rhemselves on the other. As the cases of the National Assembly in Kuwait, the Revolutionary Command Council in Egypt, and the Revolutionary Council in Iran demonstrate, when and if state institutions become inefficient or are seen as a threat by authoritarian leaders, then state leaders once again take control in determining their shape and configuration. Non-democracies are often preserved through purposive institutional change.