Roots of the Arab Spring
Contested Authority and Political Change in the Middle East
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
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In the mid-2000s, I lived in Morocco, Tunisia, and Bahrain, conducting research on the political strategies enabling authoritarian governments to persist in the Middle East and North Africa.1 Middle East comparative politics specialists considered the endurance of authoritarianism in this region a puzzling anomaly. Most of the developing world had at least experimented...
Introduction: Authority in Flux: Three Drivers of Change in the Middle East and North Africa
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The self-immolation of a fruit and vegetable vendor in a central Tunisian town in December 2010 seemed an unlikely spark for revolutions across three continents. Tunisia’s populist uprising initially began as local affairs— workers and youth congregating in the town square to express years of pent-up frustration against petty bureaucrats considered corrupt and abusive. The demonstrations began in towns far removed from Tunisia’s...
Chapter 1. The Demand for Free Expression and the Contested Public Sphere
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Over the course of the 1990s, in some countries in the Middle East and North Africa, authorities began to relax the previously strict media censorship laws, often informally, allowing the emergence and broader dissemination of independent print media. The slightly more permissive environment inspired individuals and journalists to test the limits, probing the regimes'...
Chapter 2. De-democratizing through the Rule of Law
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Tunis’s main thoroughfare, Avenue Bourguiba, is a broad avenue lined with ficus trees, where men and women in business suits walk briskly across the grassy divide, navigating the lively open-air cafes and stately embassies. Until January 2011, twin billboards flanked each end of the avenue, each with a picture of the country’s president, Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, smiling...
Chapter 3. New Sons and Stalled Reforms
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Chapter 2 addressed a political change born of the deliberate, top-down contraction of political rights and civil liberties. This chapter argues that some rulers of the Middle East and North Africa over the past two decades introduced limited liberalizing reforms that advanced educational, economic, and social rights. In a few cases, these reforms expanded political...
Chapter 4. The Drivers of Change and the U.S. Response
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This book has argued that three macro-level drivers of change transformed domestic politics in the Middle East and North Africa over the past two decades, changing the interaction between regime authorities and the public. None of these political changes alone independently ‘‘caused’’ any one particular Arab Spring revolution, and in many countries some, but not all...
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Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2013