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You searched for: Publishing Institution Arab Reform Initiative (ARI) Remove constraint Publishing Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI) Political Geography Africa Remove constraint Political Geography: Africa Publication Year within 10 Years Remove constraint Publication Year: within 10 Years Publication Year within 5 Years Remove constraint Publication Year: within 5 Years Topic Arab Spring Remove constraint Topic: Arab Spring
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  • Author: Intissar Kherigi
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: An account of the Arab uprisings of the last decade would be incomplete without an understanding of regional inequalities. While each country’s protests were driven by a distinct combination of grievances, a common factor has been the marginalisation of “peripheries”. The Sidi Bouzid region of Tunisia from which the Arab Spring started is a region rich in agricultural resources yet poor in infrastructure and economic opportunities. Its connection rate to running water is half the national average. A similar story can be seen across the flashpoints of unrest in the Arab world, a story of widening urban-rural divides, uneven regional development and political and economic exclusion of entire regions. Can decentralisation address these grievances? Since the 1980s, decentralisation has been championed as a driver for both democratisation and development, promising to empower regions, granting them political representation and enabling them to create their own economic strategies. However, a key fear among many, from politicians and bureaucrats to ordinary citizens, is that decentralisation is a means for the central state to withdraw from its traditional functions and transfer responsibility for service provision to under-resourced and over-burdened local government. Yet, the demands for freedom, dignity and social justice voiced by the Arab uprisings require the central state to be more present in peripheries, not less. Can decentralisation help achieve greater local development in peripheral regions without allowing the central state to withdraw from its obligations to citizens? Is it even possible to envisage new forms of local development within the framework of highly centralised Arab states? How can Arab states reconfigure their relations with local communities in the context of severe political and economic crises? This article explores these questions in the Tunisian context, where a major decentralisation process is taking place in response to demands for inclusion and development. It argues that in order to produce new modes of local development in peripheries, central state institutions need to fundamentally reform the way they function.
  • Topic: Inequality, Arab Spring, Decentralization , Bureaucracy
  • Political Geography: Africa, North Africa, Tunisia, Tunis
  • Author: Nadine Abdalla
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Various forms of local activism in Egypt are challenging the shortcomings in local governance and the lack of any developmental urban vision. This paper examines three examples from different neighbourhoods in Giza and Cairo. All three share the goal of resisting exclusionary policies while trying to overcome the absence of political means to register their frustrations given the absence of local councils since 2011.
  • Topic: Social Movement, Arab Spring, Urban, Local
  • Political Geography: Africa, North Africa, Egypt, Cairo, Giza
  • Author: Amine Al-Sharif
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: The Arab Spring was to sound the death knell of the decades-old authoritarian regimes plaguing the Arab world. In the end, only Egypt and Tunisia underwent a democratic transition, and only the Tunisian people succeeded in establishing a real, albeit still fragile, democracy. This regional experience illustrates the difficulty to spur democratic change in Arab countries. A lot of actors are involved in these complex processes, such as the political elite, the army, and foreign states. On top of these, Arab diasporas are also an important player, who can play an even more influential role by self-organizing. What are their actual and potential means of action, and how can self-organizing enhance their influence? Arab diasporas consist of all the Arab people permanently settled in a foreign country who have kept ties with their motherland. These populations, estimated at around 50 million individuals, are highly heterogenous: they are concentrated in Brazil, Western Europe, the United States and Gulf countries; some hold businesses that have thrived, others hold blue-collar jobs; some are conservatives, others modern-minded. And sometimes, they represent an important share of their motherland’s population. The Lebanese and Palestinian diasporas are estimated to comprise more than half of their own populations, making them de facto important players in national politics. Full-fledged democratization in the Arab world is the result of a popular uprising, a transition from authoritarianism to democracy, and a consolidation of democracy. Arab diasporas can contribute to all these stages by engaging in six strategic fields, namely: the civic, media, artistic, entrepreneurial, political, and intellectual ones.
  • Topic: Democratization, Social Movement, Arab Spring, Protests
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East
  • Author: Ishac Diwan, Nadim Houry, Yezid Sayigh
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Egypt’s recent security and macro-economic stabilization has been built on weak foundations and Covid-19 has further exposed this fragility. Egypt is now back to a situation broadly similar to that before the 2011 revolution: stable on the surface, but with deep structural problems and simmering social grievances, and little buffers to mitigate them. This paper argues for a major shift in the ways the country is currently governed in favour of greater openness in politics and markets, and for the international community to seriously engage Egypt on the need to reform economically and politically.
  • Topic: Security, Arab Spring, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Alex Walsh
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Since 2011, the police have been at the centre of the contestation rocking the Arab world. Part 1 mapped out some of the main modes of contestation and provided a preliminary assessment of their impact on police practices. This paper examines what is still holding up police reform attempts, presents possible future scenarios for policing practices in the region, and assesses the role of donor states, notably Europe, in supporting security sector reforms in MENA
  • Topic: Social Movement, Reform, Arab Spring, Protests
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East
  • Author: El Mouhoub Mouhoud
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: With ongoing protests in Algeria and wide calls to boycott the presidential poll in July, Algerians’ demands for radical regime change remain relentless. The army’s announcement it is considering all options to resolve the current crisis does not resonate well in a country where the army has been closely tied to regime interests. In this interview, Professor Mouhoud provides a much-needed context to better understand how the protests started and the potential scenarios that may unfold in Algeria over the coming months.
  • Topic: Social Movement, Arab Spring, Military Intervention, Protests
  • Political Geography: Africa, Algeria, North Africa, Mediterranean, Algeris
  • Author: Abdülrahman Ayyash
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: On 28 January 2011 – as hundreds of thousands of Egyptians demonstrated on the day dubbed the “Friday of Anger” – Muslim Brotherhood member, Sameh, was demonstrating with several thousand others in Mansoura in the Nile Delta (120 km north of Cairo). As demonstrators began to throw stones at the State Security Investigations building, Sameh stood in front of them shouting “peaceful”. He was hit in the chest by a stone meant to hit the building in one of the city's most prestigious neighbourhoods. Two years later, Sameh was arrested on an array of charges, including joining the Brotherhood and committing acts of violence against the state. A few months later, he told a friend waiting on death row that he considered the Muslim Brotherhood to be apostates and that he had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (Daesh) and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Sameh's case is not unique. According to several detainees – including current prisoners spoken to over the phone – there are ongoing changes among detainees who have spent most of their lives as Muslim Brotherhood members. Egyptian prisons host tens of thousands of political detainees – perhaps more than 60,000 according to Human Rights Watch.2 Arrests have mainly targeted members of the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters. However, with increased armed attacks against the army and police, arrests have also targeted alleged supporters of Daesh, al-Qa’ida, and Islamists affiliated with smaller organizations. The Egyptian National Council for Human Rights documented prison overcrowding at a rate of at least 160%,3 forcing the authorities to build 20 new prisons since the military coup in the summer of 2013.4 Importantly, this has led to an increased exchange of influences and ideologies among detainees from diverse backgrounds. Detainees – those held after referral to the judiciary or sentencing – are often relocated during their detention, including frequent transfers to temporary detention centres during court hearings, or when brought before the Public Prosecution or for medical treatment. This further facilitates communication with different prison populations and discussion and exchange of ideas between detainees. This paper does not dwell upon traditional classifications imposed on Islamic movements in terms of moderate and extremist trends. Nor does it go into detail regarding the mechanisms of individual radicalization, though it does encourage further study. Instead, we focus on the developmental dynamics of Muslim Brotherhood youth and sympathizers in Egypt, especially those who were arrested during the breakup of sit-ins supporting former President Mohamed Morsi. Developmental dynamics refer to the conditions and contexts which Brotherhood members and sympathizers experience in prison. These inform broader understandings of issues including state and society relations, and social mobility through jihad as opposed to social mobility through the Brotherhood. This paper also discusses the ways in which the Muslim Brotherhood manages its members inside prison, and its attempts to maintain the Brotherhood's administrative and intellectual organization. It is based primarily on information collected during 10 rare phone interviews with current prisoners. It is also based on additional phone and face-to-face interviews with former prisoners inside and outside Egypt. The interviewees come from five different cities and have been in at least seven prisons, including Tora, Wadi al-Natroun, Mansoura and Gamasa; for security and technical reasons, it was not possible to expand the research cohort. The paper is also based on reviews of articles written by detainees, press reports, opinion pieces, and research papers dealing with the complex social phenomenon of the Muslim Brotherhood from different angles.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Prisons/Penal Systems, Arab Spring, Protests, Ideology
  • Political Geography: Africa, North Africa, Egypt, Mediterranean
  • Author: Lamia Zaki
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: In the wake of the Arab Spring, Morocco witnessed street protests demanding, among other things, for the “King to reign but not to rule”. Adopted by referendum on 1 July 2011, the latest Moroccan Constitution was prepared through a year-long participatory process led by a consultative commission. Although it did not fundamentally change the balance of powers at the highest levels of the State, it gave a new impulse to the decentralization process. Article 1 of the new Constitution states “the territorial organization of the Kingdom is decentralized”. It also enshrines the two principles of “free administration” of Local Governments (LGs) and subsidiarity and aims at reinforcing transparency, citizen participation, and governance. The new Constitution has also introduced the principle of “advanced regionalization” to make regions, in addition to municipalities, key levels of LGs in Morocco. In 2015, three Organic Laws (OLs) were issued to specify and operationalize the spirit of the Constitution at the municipal, regional, and prefectural levels.1 The decentralization process has quite a long history in Morocco. It has consistently been put at the core of the policy agenda for several decades and represented an important research topic for many observers of the political scene. Three different analytical perspectives have been put forward (in conjunction with contextual factors) to explain why and with what consequences decentralization has been put at the core of the policy agenda. The first points to the authoritarian management of LGs, based on the alliance built after independence between the monarchy and rural elites to counter the influence of urban and partisan elites.2 Using sophisticated tools (including postponing elections, successively reorganizing electoral maps, increasing the role of deconcentrated authorities), this approach led to the creation of domesticated local elites. Behind the decentralization reforms initiated through municipal charters of 1960 and 1976, researchers have pointed at the centralized and often brutal management of the Moroccan territory and of cities in particular in a context of rapid urban growth.3 A second analytical perspective highlights how decentralization has been presented and used since the 1990s by the Moroccan government as a tool to implement “democratization reforms”. The relative opening up of the political field in the late 1990s and early 2000s led to the emergence of new elites in different fields (entrepreneurship,4 real estate,5 partisan field,6 civil society,7 etc.), who have used their local base to claim rights and/or a political role at the local or national level. The third analytical perspective links decentralization to (“good”) governance reforms that focus more on the rationalization of resources, effective investment and the respect of management rules to promote local development rather than on representative democracy.8 By 2011, Moroccan municipalities were already entrusted with a wide range of mandates pertaining to the creation and management of a wide range of key services.9 Studies have shown how municipalities lack the financial and technical means to implement their missions and remain subject to the strong control of central and deconcentrated authorities.10 Yet other research has also highlighted the impact of these reforms on local notabilities and mobilization. The development of Hirak al-Rif, a protest movement born in Northern Morocco in 2016 and focused on demands for local and regional development, shows that the issue of local policies and decentralization remain at the core of the political agenda in a post-Arab Spring era. This article closely examines the recent legal reforms (2011 Constitution and Organic Laws) and looks at the technical and normative arrangements that have been developed in the wake of the Arab Spring to promote decentralization both at the municipal and regional levels. This approach has hardly been used, yet these often-neglected technical arrangements are the fruit of a bargaining process and have a direct political effect. I will show below that beyond the reforms brought by the Constitution and OLs to encourage local democracy and ensure more autonomy for LGs, important uncertainties remain as to their effective implementation on the ground. In addition to the lack of financial resources, the lack of a clear framework and implementing provisions explain that these legal changes remain largely theoretical (despite the fact that about 40 decrees and circulars that have been produced by the Directorate General for Local Governments (DGCL) at the Ministry of Interior to allow for the effective enforcement of the reforms). Contrary to many studies which consider deconcentration (i.e. administrative decentralization)11 as a way to neutralize decentralization reforms, 12 I will also argue that the deconcentration reforms simultaneously initiated with the “régionalisation avancée” (advanced regionalization) could enhance the scope and impact of the decentralization reforms in Morocco.
  • Topic: Social Movement, Arab Spring, Protests, Decentralization
  • Political Geography: Africa, North Africa, Morocco, Rabat
  • Author: Nadine Abdalla
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Social movements in Egypt and Syria played a central role in sparking the 2011 revolutions. Yet, despite their profound influence both before and during these critical moments of popular mobilization, they have since been sidelined. In Egypt, the role of social movements has been severely diminished because of the now-restricted political sphere, which has become increasingly inaccessible since the 30 June 2013 revolution and the subsequent military intervention. In Syria, civil society groups and political movements have become less important as a result of the militarization of the revolution, which the Syrian government successfully transformed into armed conflict. This policy paper, which is based on various research papers conducted under the Arab Research Support Programme, provides insight on social movements in these two countries, three main factors that affect a movement’s ability to mobilize communities and that help explain how social movements are affected by increased state repression. These include movement’s ability to understand the changing political context and shift strategies and tactics accordingly; organizational structure and flexibility; and patterns of repression and oppression by the state. This paper finds that social movements grow or decline depending on the strategies chosen to navigate given political contexts, as well as their ability to organize and appeal to a wide audience. For social movements to succeed, they must also be cognizant of a community’s unique characteristics and strengths. This includes its collective memory and fears, dynamics of cohesion and integration, and its historical relation with authoritarian regimes. Understanding these dynamics is essential for a movement to expand and to grow sustainably, especially as tensions rise within a community.
  • Topic: Social Movement, Arab Spring, State Violence, Revolution, Repression
  • Political Geography: Africa, North Africa, Syria, Egypt