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  • Author: W. Robert Pearson
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Director General of the Foreign Service, 2003-2006 United States Ambassador to Turkey, 2000-2003 July 15, 2016 will live in the minds of Turks the way 9/11 is fixed in the minds of Americans. That evening a small group of mostly military officers attempted to forcibly overthrow the government and possibly assassinate Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Air Force planes bombed Turkey’s parliament while it was in session. A FaceTime call from President Erdogan mobilized thousands of citizens, who poured into the streets, directly confronting troops participating in the coup attempt, and within a short period of time, the coup collapsed. President Erdogan described the crushing of the coup as a “gift from God.”
  • Topic: Power Politics, Military Affairs, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Author: Daniel H. Rubinstein
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Though I came to Tunisia as Ambassador in the Fall of 2015, my relationship with the country and its people actually began in the late 1990s. In some ways, the Tunisia I returned to in 2015 is the one I knew years before—the Arabic and French linguistic mélange, the stambeli and malouf music, the local soccer and handball rivalries, the pine nuts floating atop mint tea. Yet alongside those resilient traditions, the Tunisia I returned to is now in its fifth year of the post-Ben Ali era, and is a country in the midst of an exciting but difficult transition. That transition is replete with a challenging self-realization, as the country and its citizenry redefine themselves and learn what it means to be a democracy in the wake of the 2011 revolution. Tunisians are still deciding how they want to incorporate democratic principles into day-to-day life, and through their decisions are defining what it means to be Tunisian for future generations. As a longtime friend—our diplomatic relations with Tunisia date to 1795—and strategic partner, the United States will continue to support the new Tunisia as it looks to the future.
  • Topic: Democratization, Regime Change, Popular Revolt, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Tunisia
  • Author: Lauren Baker
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: On October 9, the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its work shepherding a peaceful transition of power. This accolade highlighted Tunisia’s success creating compromise and building coalition, while avoiding much of the violence and authoritarian backsliding of its neighbors. What lessons can be learned from its example, and what challenges still await this fledgling democracy? POMEPS Briefing 27 “Tunisia’s Volatile Transition to Democracy” brings together 20 essential articles published by the Project on Middle East Political Science and the Monkey Cage that illuminate this small but important state’s internal politics and regional impact. The National Dialogue came at a pivotal moment for the nascent Tunisian democracy. As trust in its first democratically elected government waned, the nation had to navigate the resignation of the Troika government, without following Egypt’s path to anti-Islamist authoritarianism. The parliamentary and presidential elections of 2014 marked a democratic milestone as the centrist Nidaa Tunis took over from Islamist Ennahda, then — to the frustration of some members in both parties — brought it into a coalition government. The contrast between the fate of Islamists in Tunisia and Egypt on one hand and Turkey on the other is marked. However, despite these notable achievements, the Tunisian democracy has failed to represent a significant portion of the population and overall confidence in the democratic process is slipping. Many of the revolutionaries who initially participated in the uprisings remain disenchanted with their options for representation. Meanwhile, citizens in the interior continue to struggle with staggering levels of unemployment, as elites work the outdated system to their advantage. Though it was the main motivator for the revolution, the economic situation in the country has made little progress. Citizens must also balance their desire for personal freedoms with the need for security, and recent terror attacks have done little to assuage these concerns.
  • Topic: Democratization, International Affairs, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: Tunisia