Why Now? Micro Transitions and the Arab Uprisings

by Joshua Tucker on October 24, 2011 · 1 comment

in Comparative Politics,Newsletters,Transitions

We are pleased to welcome the American Political Science Association’s Comparative Democratization Section as the second section to take up our offer to provide a selection of articles from their newsletter free to the public here at The Monkey Cage. (See here for past posting of articles from Section newsletters.) Over the next three days we will post articles from the current issue of the Comparative Democratization Section Newsletter; if you like these, you should consider joining the section so you can have access to the full content of the newsletter!

As these articles are longer than a typical Monkey Cage post, we will put first few paragraphs on the main page and then have a click through for the rest of the article. We will also make the article available in .pdf format. Our first article is by Ellen Lust of, Yale University[i]. The full version of the article can be downloaded here

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Events that shook the Arab world since January 2011—variously termed the Arab Awakening (al-sahwah al-arabiyya), Arab Spring (al-rabyi’ al-arabi), Arab Revolution (a-thawra al-arabiyya), or the uprising (intifada)—are unprecedented, unparalleled, and unexpected.[ii] Never before have people across the Arab world taken to the streets in such numbers, demanding the end to deep-seated, autocratic regimes. Never before has the region experienced such transformation driven from within . Whatever the immediate outcomes of these movements, citizens have witnessed the almost unthinkable become reality, in turn expanding their horizons and increasing demands. And never before have scholars and close observers of the Middle East had to confront their own failure to predict that such momentous, widespread change would be realized at dizzying speed.[iii]

The Arab awakening thus raises once again a question at the heart of the study of comparative democratization: Why now? Why has the Arab world, which appeared so resistant to change, seen such widespread unrest and transformation?  Specialists on Africa, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union engaged in the same soul-searching after similar transformations shook those regions. That this question animates discussions today, as it did then, reminds us that we have far to go before we understand the conditions promoting such significant ruptures in seemingly stable authoritarian regimes.

In this essay, I suggest the answer lies in shifting our focus from a search for immediate causal factors to a greater recognition of micro- and meso-level transitions—that is, gradual, interrelated changes in political, economic and social spheres that, like slowly moving tectonic plates, eventually create the conditions conducive to earth-shattering events. The point is not simply to recognize the incrementalism of change or unintended consequences of social, economic and political reforms that have often been implemented in the region, but to urge us to pay greater attention to the “shifting web of conditions that define the terrain on which new institutions and actors arise, old actors activate or change their claims, and all pursue iterative contests.”[iv] Attention to these factors does not pinpoint precisely the emergence of uprisings across the Arab world, but it certainly makes them less surprising.

The essay begins by exploring how gradual, interrelated changes in political, economic, and social spheres contributed to the current uprisings. Given space constraints, it cannot provide an exhaustive discussion of the dynamics at play or delineate in detail important differences in the on-going struggles across the region.  Rather, by sketching the broad outlines of these changes, it demonstrates how focusing on interrelated transitions can contribute to a better understanding of the current uprisings and, as discussed in the conclusion, of comparative democratization more generally.

Weakened Political Institutions

The Middle East is populated primarily with “sultanistic dictatorships,” or as Jack Goldstone noted recently, “paper tigers” which often appear fiercer than they are.[v] Yet, explaining the Arab awakening requires us to explore why seemingly invincible, more cohesive regimes became the embattled “paper tigers” they are today. We need to consider the possibility (and I would argue, probability) that the regimes were not as fragile two decades ago as they were today. What processes were at play that undermined these regimes?

To examine these interrelated processes, let us start by recognizing how inevitable life-cycles of long-standing dictators weakened the regimes in recent years. The majority of Arab regimes gained power by the early 1970s, with many morphing from then until now from military/single party systems toward increasingly entrenched personalistic regimes. By 2010, most thus faced leadership crises, in some cases because elderly rulers who had held office for decades were nearing the end of their natural lives, and in other cases, because relatively young, inexperienced rulers had just succeeded their fathers.

The impending succession crisis associated with elderly leaders appears to have made regimes most vulnerable to challenge. Indeed, where such rulers were in power at the end of last year –Ben Ali in Tunisia, Mubarak in Egypt, Salih in Yemen, and Ghaddafi in Libya—regimes met stiff opposition early. This is not entirely surprising. Age raises the specter of succession, making palpable a vision of the regime without its leader. At the same time, this generation of leaders was especially invested in grooming their progeny for office. Controversy over potential contenders heightened conflict among elites, contributing to moments in which, as O’Donnell, Schmitter and Whitehead would remind us, critical elite defections are likely.[vi]

The new generation of leaders may be slightly more secure, but they too have reason to fear. The relatively young and inexperienced rulers who inherited their positions (e.g., Bashar al-Asad of Syria, Abdullah II of Jordan, Mohammad VI of Morocco) have not yet weathered the challenges their fathers faced, nor gained  reputations as invincible. Even regime elites may thus question whether the regime can survive the crisis, and thus be more likely to defect to the opposition. Of these cases, only Syria’s Bashar al-Asad has faced serious challenges. There, most elites within the regime have not defected – in stark contrast to what we have witnessed in Libya and Yemen. Yet, this may be due as much to the minority basis of the regime which limits exit options for elites, a less professionalized military, or incomplete state development, as it is to the belief that regime survival is assured.[vii]

The brittleness induced by succession crises can only be fully understood in the context of the development of political institutions. Indeed, the development of sultanistic autocracies went hand-in-hand with the underdevelopment of political institutions. Elites basing their rule on personalistic, patronage politics were best served if political parties, parliaments and other institutions remained weak. Yet, while weak political institutions buoyed these leaders in their heyday, they could do little to shore up the regime in their decline.

Even in dominant party states, ruling elites weakened political parties to the point that they were of limited use in either settling elite conflict or mobilizing effectively against the opposition.[viii] Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) had lost the organizational strength to control its slate in parliamentary elections, let alone to mobilize in defense of the regime. The same was largely true in Tunisia, where the ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) was dissolved even before former regime loyalists were removed from power. Syrian and Yemeni ruling parties appear to play a greater role – at least in rubber-stamping regime offers of reform, but even there the party is not a primary locus of political struggle or defending the regime. Opposition parties, too, are of limited use in either averting or navigating crises. Indeed, even where agreements between opposition parties and the regime seek to strike an agreement, as we saw between the Yemeni opposition coalition, the Joint Meeting Parties, and President Ali Abdullah Salih, they have little ability to control the people on the streets.[ix]

Elections and parliaments are also increasingly limited in their ability to help stabilize regimes, whether by distributing patronage resources, navigating elite conflict or cooptation, or policymaking.[x] There are two reasons for this. First, declining state resources and neo-liberal reforms weakened the links between patronage and parliament. Constituents continue to expect services from parliamentarians, but they have become increasingly disappointed as their representatives failed to meet their demands. This contributed to discontent and popular unrest, especially in rural areas.[xi] Second, and partly in response to the political pressures discussed above, the regime narrowed the playing field. To maintain elite cohesion and undermine opposition forces, governing elites constrained parties’ participation and limited seats that went to the opposition. However, such efforts were often counterproductive; constraining the playing field led to declining participation, limited the reach of patronage distribution, prompted disaffection of political elites and at times the formation of broad boycott coalitions, and undermined legitimacy.[xii]

The 2011 parliamentary elections in Egypt provide an excellent example of these dynamics. Anticipating the 2012 presidential elections, for which it was widely rumored Gamal Mubarak would be his father’s favored contender, Hosni Mubarak sought to ensure the legislative elections returned a docile parliament. The ruling circle was taking no chances that the Muslim Brotherhood would win a substantial number of seats, as it had in the 2005 elections. It thus harshly repressed the Brotherhood, manipulated first round elections to effectively shut out the opposition, and then ridiculed the opposition as it united first to boycott second round elections and then to form a shadow parliament.[xiii] This ultimately contributed to Mubarak’s downfall in four ways: 1) manipulating the elections heightened antipathy toward the regime; 2) eliminating  the Muslim Brotherhood from parliament made it more willing to join the opposition forces that mobilized in January; 3) repressing the opposition prompted coordinated efforts that served as a dress rehearsal for the uprising;[xiv] and 4) responding flippantly to their efforts only escalated opposition to the regime.

Thus, elections in the Arab World were not a focal point for revolution (as they were for the Colored Revolutions of Eastern Europe), but they did provide a catalyst for the uprisings. Across the region, elections have become increasingly constrained, opposition parties frustrated by constraints have often boycotted in response, and citizens have remained skeptical about the entire exercise. By constraining the electoral playing field more tightly in an attempt to hold onto power, leaders unwittingly undermined their regimes.

Domestic political challenges coincided with a changing international environment.[xv] As Jason Brownlee and Joshua Stacher noted in the last newsletter, the Arab world may suggest a rethinking of the relationship between linkage and leverage. Yet while linkage may not create pressures for democratization, in a world of increasing communication, it may limit repression. Close ties with the West did not put pressure on Ben Ali and Mubarak to democratize, but they may have helped tie their hands in the face of increasing unrest. In contrast, one reason that regimes in Syria and Libya found it easier to fight their opponents so harshly has been that calls from the White House to refrain from using force are relatively inconsequential.

Ironically, at the same time as ties with the West (and particularly the US) may have constrained the regimes, it is likely that the apparently declining role of the US in the region encouraged the opposition. Floundering American engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq suggested that the Americans were overextended and incapable of fully controlling events in the region. This expectation seemed confirmed as events in Egypt unfolded; despite early attempts to emphasize that Mubarak was a close ally and portray him as a dedicated reformer, the US lost the bid to contain unrest in the region. This does not explain events in Tunisia and Egypt, of course, but it did contribute to the spread of the uprising across the region.[xvi]

Economic Reforms and Transformations

Long-term economic transformations, closely linked to the political pressures discussed above, also contributed to the intifadah. They did so more than abject conditions or economic shocks. Indeed, GDP per capita (which is higher than that in Africa and South Asia and only slightly behind Latin America and East Asia) has been increasing steadily over the past two decades.  Economic growth has not been limited to the oil-wealthy states; Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and the Sudan saw economic growth rates nearing 6 percent from 2005-2010, while Libya, Syria and Tunisia enjoyed 5 percent average growth.[xvii]

The growth may have been spurred partly by economic reforms of the last two decades, which had earned many of these governments international kudos (Egypt and Tunisia were among the celebrated reformers). Yet, the neo-liberal reforms followed an increasingly familiar path: autocratic regimes, seeking to shore up their regimes, found in the reform process an “opportunity to transfer welfare responsibilities to the private sector, establish new patterns of patronage by favoring selected clients during bidding processes and privatization schemes, and enrich their military allies by granting them access to major businesses and investments.”[xviii]

Thus, despite economic growth, popular dissatisfaction rose significantly. Several factors appear to explain this. First, despite the growth, in many cases economies had failed to rebound to pre-crisis levels. Second, and related, economic conditions thus failed to meet expectations, particularly for the ever-larger population of educated youth who sought to do not only as well, but better, than their parents had before them.[xix] As Davies noted long ago, it is the failure of conditions to meet rising expectations, rather than the conditions per se, that often generates unrest.[xx] Finally, the political insecurity of existing regimes increased elites’ incentives to funnel economic opportunities to their supporters, only exacerbating inequality. In countries such as Egypt, the little progress that had been made in the 1990s to reduce poverty, malnutrition and youth unemployment appears to have reversed.[xxi] Reforms that enriched upper classes while failing to solve the problems facing the vast majority of citizens created a general outrage against inequality.

The result has been a gradual ratcheting up of protest against the regime, often in the form of strikes and demonstrations. Egypt saw 19 labor strikes in 2001 and 46 in 2005, which rose to 122 in 2008;[xxii] Tunisia saw 380 strikes in 2001, 466 strikes in 2005, and 382 in 2007.[xxiii] Even Jordan, the relatively quiet, stable kingdom of less than 6 million citizens, witnessed at least 140 workers’ strikes in 2010.[xxiv] Egypt and Tunisia also witnessed increasing resistance from non-blue collar workers, in both rural and urban areas.[xxv]

Reshaped Opposition Landscapes

Another meso-level transformation fostering the Arab uprisings is found in the changing nature of civil society and social movements, more generally. Formal civil society organizations appeared to play a minor role in the uprisings – unions, professional associations, and social movements (including most notably the Muslim Brotherhood) mobilized in Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen, but they were almost non-existent in Libya and Syria. This is not entirely surprising; many have questioned the necessarily transformative role that such organizations would play in challenging regimes and promoting the initiation of democratization.[xxvi]

However, more gradual but transformative social changes took place, largely under the radar, which facilitated the uprisings. A growing network of activists engaged in new movements – at the national, international and, to a lesser extent, regional level. In many cases, they formed cross-ideological, fluid networks with little organizational structure or central leadership, and fluid, overlapping memberships. This helped to sustain the oppositions in spite of heavy-handed repression and also shifted the focus of contestation.  As Maha Abdelrahman notes, “These activists have taken ‘politics’ outside the confined spaces of political parties and institutions which have time and again failed the masses. More significantly, they have been trying to re-appropriate political activism for the general masses from the clutch of professionals, or what della Porta calls the ‘emphasis of participation (versus bureaucratization), the attempt to construct values and identities (verses managing existing ones)’.”[xxvii]

Technological advances facilitated this, but their role should not be exaggerated. Some have suggested that these technologies have fundamentally altered relationships between states and societies, and within society as well, by widening the public space through which debates take place and demands are made,[xxviii] by giving activists tools by which they can link with each other and the outside world more effectively, and by creating a generation of youth who not only believe that they are smarter than their parents (as perhaps all youth do), but have also developed superior technological skills and thus shouldered new responsibilities for their parents.[xxix] Others have argued that the role of technology is exaggerated – that it is used by a small percentage of the population,  is as much a tool in the hands of regime elites as it is  in the oppositions’.[xxx] Possibly a more accurate position is that Facebook, Twitter, Al-Jazeera, cell phones and other technologies contributed to gradual, changing dynamics of states and oppositions, but they are not responsible for the change. They are part of the symbiotic interchange of resources and skills between activists on the ground and bloggers, and then increasingly between the lower and middle classes, who brought their individual skills and tools together to challenge the regime.[xxxi]

An equally critical transformation was the gradual construction of bridges between Islamists and secularist oppositions,[xxxii] and the diminishing/dissolving fear of the “Islamist threat.’ The fear that emerged among many secularists (and was promoted by the regimes) was that Islamists would hijack a political opening by using elections to push a rigid theocratic agenda. “One person, one vote, one time” – echoing the fear that Islamists would use elections to create an Iranian-style Islamist theocracy—mobilized international and domestic support for the abrupt halt to the 1990 Algerian elections where the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) had been leading. This threw Algeria into a long, bloody civil war, also cooling enthusiasm for change.[xxxiii]

Yet, in the past decade, fear of Islamists has diminished for several reasons. The radical jihadi movement lost some steam, while public opinion polls consistently showed that on many issues – including attitudes toward democracy – Islamists and secularists were not significantly different.[xxxiv] Islamist parties were also given more room to participate in the political system in many cases (e.g., Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen) and Islamist-secularist coalitions have formed with increasing frequency and strength over a range of issues. Whether this contributed to the moderation of Islamists remains to be seen,[xxxv] but certainly these groups and their leaders became known entities, which diminished secularists’ fear. As one Egyptian secularist activist noted shortly after the revolution, “We just got to know, trust and like each other, even—believe it or not—the Brothers.”[xxxvi]

Broader Lessons

Exploring the political, economic and social micro- and meso-level transitions helps us understand how widespread uprisings emerged in 2011. The Arab awakening was not produced by dramatic shocks, but rather by gradual, interlinked, dynamic processes that produced small but significant changes. These existed at the levels of elites and average citizens, in what are often (but artificially) differentiated into political, economic and social realms. Together, they undermined existing regimes, bolstered opposition and eventually created a sea change in behaviors and beliefs across the region.

Importantly, the lessons from this discussion are not limited to understanding the Arab uprising, or “refo-lutions,’ as Assef Bayat called them.[xxxvii] We should pay renewed attention to the interlinked, micro- and meso-level transformations that often converge to affect fundamental change. This is not only true of events leading to rupture, but also should guide us as we study the continued reform in the Arab world, as well as when we address similar questions elsewhere.

The uncertainty and fluidity in the processes at hand should also caution us about studying

political unrest, revolution, military coups, regime change and democratic transitions as separate types of events.  Indeed, the on-going dispute over whether we are looking at uprisings, revolution, an awakening or an Arab Spring demonstrates how parsing them into separate categories to be studied independently may be misleading.  There is no question that distinctions between the conditions of emerging transitions are important in affecting subsequent dynamics, as are the endpoints at which they arrive.  Yet, we must guard against arbitrarily separating studies of protest, revolution and democratization—often driven by processes that are indistinguishable from each other—as if they are fundamentally different events.

Most importantly, we should adjust our expectations for the region today, and for democratization more broadly. The events at hand are part of long-term processes. The vast majority of authoritarian regimes that fall do not turn overnight to democracy; it usually takes a great deal of time and often several attempts for democracy to take root, when it does. Nevertheless, the uprisings do put in place new transformations which – as those before them – may alter coalitions, shape new expectations, create possibilities of further change and potentially contribute to major shifts. If today’s efforts to create thriving democracy do not pan out in the near run, we should not be surprised. Neither, though, should we read it as an inherent contradiction between Arab, Muslim societies and democratic politics. Rather, we should turn our attention to the micro- and meso-level changes that will continue shaping political


[i] I gratefully acknowledge Lisa Anderson, Emily Beaulieu, Eva Bellin, Michael Bernhard, Tabitha Decker, Rabab El-Mahdi, Amaney Jamal, Tarek Masoud, Stephen Ndegwa, Philippe Schmitter, Benjamin Smith and Leo Villalon for insightful comments and assistance.


[ii] I use the term ‘uprising’ rather than “Arab Spring” or “revolution,” since both suggest outcomes that have not yet been realized.


[iii] F. Gregory Gause, III. “Why Middle East Studies Missed the Arab Spring,” Foreign Affairs 90 (July 2011): 81-90. Some specialists did note rumblings for major change, yet none predicted such widespread uprisings. C.f. Rabab El Mahdi and Philip Mayfleet, eds., Egypt: The Moment of Change (London: Zed Books, 2009) and Joel Beinin and Frederic Vairel, Social Movements, Mobilization and Contestation in the Middle East and North Africa (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2011).


[iv] Ellen Lust and Stephen Ndegwa,“The Challenge of Governance in Africa’s Changing Societies,” in Ellen Lust and Stephen Ndegwa, eds., Governing Transforming Societies; the Challenge of Governance in Africa (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Press, forthcoming). See also Societal Challenges and the Transformation of Governance in the Middle East, Journal of Middle East Law and Governance, 2 (August 2010).


[v] Jack Goldstone, “Understanding the Revolutions of 2011,” Foreign Affairs 90 (May/June 2011): 8-16. See also Houchang E. Chehabi and Juan Linz, eds., Sultanistic Regimes (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988).  Of course, not all sultanistic regimes fall equally easily, as the vast differences between Ben Ali and Mubarak’s exits and those of Ghaddafi, Salih and Asad demonstrate.


[vi] Guillermo O’Donnell, Philippe Schmitter, and Lawrence Whitehead, Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Tentative Conclusions about Uncertain Democracies (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1986); Philippe Schmitter, “Twenty Five Years, Fifteen Findings,” Journal of Democracy 21 (January 2010): 17-28.


[vii] On important differences in civil-military relationships across the region, see Eva Bellin, “The Robustness of Authoritarianism Reconsidered: Lessons of the Arab Spring,” Comparative Politics (forthcoming, January 2012), and on state development, see Lisa Anderson, “Demystifying the Arab Spring,” Foreign Affairs 90 (May/June 2011): 2-7.


[viii] Jason Brownlee, Authoritarianism in an Age of Democratization (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)


[ix] Vincent Durac, “The Joint Meeting Party and Politics of Opposition in Yemen,” British Journal of Middle East Politics (forthcoming).


[x] For a review of the role of elections in autocracies, see Jennifer Gandhi and Ellen Lust, “Elections under Authoritarianism,” Annual Review of Political Science 12 (2009): 403-422. See also Stafan Lindberg, ed., Democratization by Elections: A New Mode of Transition (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 2009), Lisa Blaydes, Elections and Distributive Politics in Mubarak’s Egypt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010); Tarek Masoud, “Why Islam Wins: Electoral Ecologies and Economies of Political Islam in Contemporary Egypt.” Ph.D. Dissertation Yale University (2009).


[xi] Mustafa Hamarneh, “Ma’an: An Open Ended Crisis,” University of Jordan, Center for Strategic Studies, September 2003 and Charles Schmitz, “Yemen’s Spring: Whose Agenda?” in Revolution and Political Transformation in the Middle East, Volume 1 (Washington, DC: Middle East Institute, August 2011).


[xii] On the role of boycotts in undermining autocracies, see Emily Beaulieu, “Protesting the Contest: Election Boycotts around the World, 1990-2002.” Ph.D. Dissertation. University of California San Diego (2006).


[xiii] Tarek Masoud, “The Upheavals in Egypt and Tunisia: The Road to (and From) Liberation Square,” Journal of Democracy 22 (July 2011): 20-34; Stephen Zunes, “Fraudulent Egyptian Election,” Foreign Policy in Focus, 7 December 2010; Jason Brownlee and Joshua Stacher, “Change of Leader, Continuity of System: Nascent Liberalization in Post-Mubarak Egypt,” APSA Comparative Democratization Newsletter 9 (May 2011).


[xiv] The roots of coordinated efforts extend long before the 2010 elections it started in 2004 with Kefaya and others , SeeRabab El-Mahdi, “Enough! Egypt’s Quest for Democracy,” Comparative Political Studies, August 2009, 42 (8): 1011-1039, Michelle Browers, Political Ideology in the Arab World: Accommodation and Transformation. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), Maha Abdelrahman, “The Transnational and the Local: Egyptian Activists and Transnational Protest Networks,” British Journal of Middle East Studies (forthcoming).


[xv] See Steven Levitsky and Lucan Way, “Linkage versus Leverage: Rethinking the International Dimension of Regime Change,” Comparative Poltiics 38 (July 2006): 379-400 and Jason Brownlee and Joshua Stacher, “Change of Leader, Continuity of System: Nascent Liberalization in Post-Mubarak Egypt.”


[xvi] On diffusion in MENA, see David Patel, Valerie Bunce and Sharon Wolchik, “Fizzles and Fireworks: A Comparative Perspective on the Diffusion of Popular Protests in the Middle East and North Africa” unpublished manuscript, May 2011.


[xvii] Clemens Breisinger, Olivier Ecker, and Perrihan Al-Riffai. “The Economics of the Arab Awakening: From Revolution to Transformation and Food Security,” IFPRI Policy Brief 18 (May 2011): p. 2, accessed online on August 21, 2011 at http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/bp018.pdf.


[xviii] Richard Javad Heydarian, “The Economics of the Arab Spring,” (Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, April 21, 2011)


[xix] Navtej Dhillon, Paul Dyer, and Tarik Yousef. “Generation in Waiting: An Overview of School to Work and Family Formation Transitions,” in Navtej Dhillon and Tarik Yousef, eds., Generation in Waiting: The Unfulfilled Promise of Young People in the Middle East. (Washington DC: Brookings Institute Press, 2009) and Diane Singerman, “The Economic Imperatives of Marriage: Emerging Practices and Identities among Youth in the Middle East,”  Middle East Youth Initiative Working Paper 6 (Wolfenson Center for Development at the Brookings Institution and the Dubai School of Government, 2007)..


[xx] James Davies, “Towards a Theory of Revolution,” American Sociological Review 27 (1962): 5-18.


[xxi] Breisinger et al., p. 2


[xxii] Data is from Markaz al-‘Ard li-Huquq al-Insan (Land Centre for Human Rights), Silsilat al-huquq al-iqtisadiyya wa’l- ijtima‘iyya, as cited in “Justice For All: The Struggle for Worker’s Rights in Egypt,” (2010), The Solidarity Center.


[xxiii] International Labor Organization, LABORSTA, accessed on August 21, 2011: http://laborsta.ilo.org/


[xxiv] Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies, Jordanian Labor Movement Report, 2010 (Amman, Jordan: 2010): 8.


[xxv] See, for example, Ray Bush, “The Land and the People,” in Rabab El –Mahdi and Philip Marfleet (Eds.), Egypt: the Moment of Change (London: Zed Books, 2009): 51-67.


[xxvi] See for examples, Amaney Jamal, Barriers to Democracy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009); Francesco Cavatorta and Vincent Durac, Civil Society and Democratization in the Arab World (New York: Routledge, 2010):  David Lewis argues that formal NGOs often overstated their roles in transitions of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and Philippe Schmitter suggests their roles may be more significant after ruptures than in provoking the process.  See “The Dynamics of Regime Change: Domestic and International Factors in the ‘Tulip Revolution,’ Central Asian Survey 27 (September – December 2008): 265-277; Schmitter, “Twenty Five Years, Fifteen Lessons.”


[xxvii] Maha Abdelrahman, “The Transnational and the Local: Egyptian Activists and Transnational Protest Networks,” British Journal of Middle East Studies (forthcoming).


[xxviii] Marc Lynch. “From Tahrir: Revolution or Democratic Transition,” Presentation at American University of Cairo conference, June 4-6, 2011,  available on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0vVYf5Y6QU)


[xxix] Lisa Anderson, “Change in the Middle East? Democracy, Authoritarianism and Regime Change in the Arab World,” lecture delivered to London School of Economics, July 13, 2011 (podcast available at http://www2.lse.ac.uk/newsAndMedia/videoAndAudio/channels/publicLecturesAndEvents/player.aspx?id=1081)


[xxx] Stephen Zunes, “The Power of Strategic Nonviolent Action in Arab Revolutions.” in Revolution and Political Transformation in the Middle East: Agents of Change Volume 1. Middle East Institute Viewpoints (August 2011): 9-13.


[xxxi] Basem Fathy, “A ‘Cute’ Facebook Revolution?” in Revolution and Political Transformation in the Middle East. See also interventions by Hossam El Hamalawy, Rabab El-Mahdi and Dina Shehata at the American University of Cairo conference, June 4-6, 2011, “From Tahrir: Revolution or Democratic Transition,” available on Youtube ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyNR0SUxil4.) These positions are bolstered by Pew Surveys, which find that more than 75% of Egyptians do not have access to internet.  (http://pewglobal.org/2010/12/15/global-publics-embrace-social-networking/)


[xxxii] See Janine A. Clark, “The Conditions of Islamist moderation: unpacking cross-ideological cooperation in Jordan,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, 38 (2006): 539-560, and more generally, Hendrik Kraetzschmar,“Mapping Opposition Cooperation in the Arab World: From Single-Issue Coalitions to Transnational Protest Networks,” British Journal of Middle East Studies (forthcoming).


[xxxiii] See Ellen Lust, “Missing the Third Wave: Islam, Institutions and Democracy in the Middle East,” Studies in Comparative International Development (June 2011): 163-190, and Lisa Blaydes and James Lo. “One Man, One Vote, One Time? A Model of Democratization in the Middle East,” Journal of Theoretical Politics (forthcoming).


[xxxiv] Mark Tessler, “Religion, Religiosity and the Place of Islam in Political Life: Insights from the Arab Barometer Surveys,” Middle East Law and Governance 2 (2010): 221-252, Eva Wegner and Miguel Pellicar, “Left-Islamist Opposition Cooperation in Morocco,” in British Journal of Middle East Studies (forthcoming),


[xxxv] This question sparked a vast literature.  See most recently Jillian Schwedler, “Can Islamists Become Moderates?: Rethinking the Inclusion-Moderation Hypothesis,” World Politics 63 (April 2011): 347-376.


[xxxvi] “The Muslim Brothers.” Wall Street Journal, 16 February 2011:15.


[xxxvii] Asef Bayat,  The Post-Islamist Revolutions: What The Revolts in the Arab World Mean,” Foreign Affairs, 26 (April 2011).


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