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People Power Revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt- Implications for Regional Security and Democratization in the Middle East

People Power Revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt- Implications for Regional Security and Democratization in the Middle East

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Published by: Gibby Gorres on Mar 27, 2011
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11/28/2011

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People Power Revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt: implications for regional security and democratization in the Middle East

By: Javad Heydarian

QuickTimeΠand a decompressor are needed to see this picture.

The Middle East¶s Berlin Wall Moment? 

An analysis of the set of factors, which contributed to the emergence of unprecedented levels of massive prodemocracy protests in Egypt and Tunisia 

Situating the mass uprisings within an international context: comparison with revolutions and people power movements in other comparable countries

The Middle East on the Cusp of Change 
A comparative analysis between mass uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, on one hand, and the simmering or existing protests in other Arab countries in the Levant, and Persian Gulf.  The implications of a systemic change in Egypt on the foreign policy of the United States, Israel¶s national security, and Iran¶s regional standing

A Revolution long in the making? 
Revolution: ³an overall system change, often through violence, where an existing political regime and dominant social order is replaced with a radically new sets of institutions, inter-class relations, and political system.´  People Power: ³non-violent mass uprisings, which led to the downfall of autocratic regimes, characterized by a relatively stable and orderly transition to democracy.´

Indications of Growing Discontent: 
       The Kefaya Movement in 2004 The 2005 elections - Ayman Nour incident The April 6 movement Food Riots in 2008 The National Association for Change in 2010 Protests in Alexandria due to police brutalities The killing of Coptics and mass protests The 2011 parliamentary elections

The Façade of Stability: A Myth Behind Autocratic Regimes in the Middle East 

Tahrir Square and October 6th bridge (Jan 2010)

Tahrir Square by Feb 2011

An Active Political Volcano: 
In March 2010, in an Article, entitled ³Egypt¶s Impending Political Earthquake´, I laid down the following arguments: Egypt, one of the most powerful U.S. allies in the Arab world, is sitting on a political volcano ready to erupt at any moment.

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2. The United States can play a productive role in the transformation of Egyptian politics by pressuring the government towards reform and preventing hardline Israel from interfering in Egypt¶s politics. 

Despite decades of stability and economic growth, there is rampant poverty, huge inequality, and a society-wide yearn for political change: the 2011 upcoming elections serving as a watershed.  Prominent personalities such as Elbaradei and Amr Mousa will seek presidency.  Egypt¶s complicity in the µGaza siege¶ is a potential rallying point, while Islamic consciousness is shaping the growing pluralism in the social landscape. 

The upcoming election is also the perfect opportunity for progressive forces, inside and outside Egypt, to advance democratic ideals that are more likely than ever to translate into concrete political results. People in Egypt have continuously shown their willingness to embrace a more democratic and even more liberal society. The 2011 elections could be the perfect opportunity for real political change. 

A democratic political transition could very well take place in Egypt in 2011. But it will happen only if the United States shifts to a non-interventionist policy vis-à-vis Egypt«

Arab World¶s Exceptionalism 
Democratic movements and political dynamism in non-Arab ME countries:

1. Iran: - The popular revolution in 1979 - The rise of reformist movement in 1997: ³IslamDemocracy´ Synthesis - The Green Movement in 2009

The Iranian Model: Independence and Pluralism 
31st anniv. of the revolution

The green mov¶t rally

The 1979 Revolution: Toppling of a pro-US Autocracy 
A revolution that ended the reign of US¶ most powerful Ally in the region.  Greatest number of mass protests/participation in human History  A site of numerous competitive presidential elections

Qui

i i i ure.

The Turkish Model: Economic Dynamism and Islamic Democracy  The election of Justice and Development Party AKP in 2002 ushered in a new era of politics  A decisive move towards µcivilian politics¶, political reform, and social pluralism  Successful rates of sustained economic growth

Israel 
µApartheid¶ regime or liberal democracy? 1. The country claims to be the only democratic country in the region 2. Invited by the OECD to be a member country 3. Resembling many aspects of liberal democracy along Western European lines, albeit plagued by serious defects. 4. Political leaders voted based on elections: µelite circulation¶ and organized electoral uncertainty

Arab World: troubled democratic vestiges 
The 1991 elections in Algeria  The Lebanese system: ethnic-sectarian conflict, and foreign intervention  The 2006 election in Palestine

The Egyptian and Tunisian Revolutions in 2011: the Arab World on the Cusp of transformation 
Unprecedented, spontaneous, and ³promising´ - it broke the barrier of fear and intimidation  US and the military played a constructive role during the course of the uprising  Led to the collapse of autocratic top US¶ regional allies  Largely secular, non-violent, broad-based, domestic-politics-oriented, and swift in µsuccess¶

The Role of Social Media 
Egyptian Youth: Admittedly inspired by the Green Movement in Iran in 2009  Facebook becoming a platform for debates, organization of protests, and mobilization of the public  Caught global attention: international media putting pressure on the state to refrain from massive crackdown

The Egyptian and Tunisian Revolution 
Both Southern Mediterranean and in proximity to the E.U.  Aggressively liberalized economies, high levels of corruption, rampant unemployment and poverty, huge income inequality, and non-oil-rich.  Autocratic leaders reliant on µinternal security forces¶, but, with relatively µprofessionalized¶ armies.

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ric s record in  Global food prices it a r cord ig i Agricultur January, t e U.N Food and Agriculture Organisation said on T ursday, adding t at ric s, already prices, alr ady above t e 2008 levels w ic sparked s arked riots, were likely to rise furt er. ont  U for t e sevent mont in a row, t e closely Up watc ed FAO Food Price Index touc ed its ig est since records began in 1990, in nominal terms, and topped t e ig of 224.1 in June 2008, during t e food crisis of 2007/08. T e index, w ic measures mont ly price c anges for a food basket composed of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, averaged 230.7 points in January, up from 223.1 points in December.

The Spark 
The Self-Immolation QuickTimeΠand a decompressor of Mohamed are needed to see t is picture. Bouazizi of Sidi Bouzid in December 17  Led to massive outrage at the government and the system across Tunisia, ending in the ouster of the president  then protests spread across the region

Comparables 
The Iranian Revolution in 1979  EDSA Revolution in 1986  Suharto¶s demise in 1998 after - after 30 years of leadership  People Power Revolution in Eastern Europe and Caucasus

The Road Ahead: Precarious and Uncertain 
Tunisia and Egyptian economies are still riding from the impact of the chaos, global food price hike, and economic downturn.  Tunisia: the remnants of the RCD party are still in the government;

Egypt: military tutelage or pluralistic democracy? 
Egypt¶s pivotal role in maintaining the regional order means that the military - the key to the revolution¶s success - could play a decisive role in the post-Mubarak era.  Depending on the military¶s maneuvers, the revolution could take different directions. 

The Turkish model ± the state makes a transition to a post-Mubarak scenario, but the military retains a central political role. In case the democratic process fails to create a stable political consensus or seems to be exploiting populism at the expense of the state, the military will step-in. The military will also do its best to retain control on or influence the defense and foreign policy (e.g. ties with the U.S. and Israel)  The Pakistani model ± there would be a transition to a post-Mubarak situation, but the elections would only bring-in a µsham¶ civilian government, which is not in control of all key organs of the state. In reality, a parallel state would run all intelligence, security, and defense organs of the state - the threat of coups would constantly threaten the governemnt.

The Military Steps aside 
The Indonesian model ± there would be a µregime change¶, and the introduction of popular elections would usher in a period of stable democratic politics ± probably under the leadership of Elbaradei and other secular democrats - and gradually democratization would turn the military into a more µprofessionalized¶ institution.  The Iranian model - a new regime with a markedly different ideology takes over the regime, and fundamentally alters the domestic political order and the foreign policy.

Ripple Effects Across the Region 
Types of states:

1. Oil-rich US¶ allies 2. Resource-poor US¶ allies 3. Non-US allies

Some basic points: 
Oil-rich countries, especially Qatar, Kuwait, and UAE, have strong µfiscal leverage¶ to stave-off a momentum for growing protests  Meanwhile, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have serious unemployment, inequality, and sectarian concerns - trouble in the Persian Gulf is even more µalarming¶  Libya, caught between Tunisia and Egypt, might have a more precarious situation: high unemployment, overstretched budget, and low income.

The Situation outside the oil-rich Persian Gulf: 
Yemen, Jordan, and Algeria are in a more difficult situation: - preexisting sectarian and secessionist movements - Deep economic woes - Limited room for µfiscal appeasement¶ - Unpopular alliance with the US  On the other hand, Syria - with a protected economic system and booming ties with Turkey and Iran - has been remarkably µsilent¶ so far.

Bahrain and Libya: deepening crisis 
Both are relatively large oil exporters  So far, the only major oil producing countries witnessing ongoing protests and violence  The unrest is already having a considerable impact on oil prices - affecting global economic recovery and food prices  Libya is a case of humanitarian crisis

Qui i e and a de o p e o a e needed o ee hi pi u e

The Perils of Transition 
Bahrain - it is at the intersection of Iran-Saudi/US rivalry  The element of Shia-Sunni issues  Libyan military in tatters - lack of professionalism  Tribal societies - lack deep democratic-civic traditions; threat of inter-tribal conflict

Qui i e and a de o p e o a e needed o ee hi pi u e

Qui i e and a de o p e o a e needed o ee hi pi u e

Qui i e and a de o p e o a e needed o ee hi pi u e

Qui i e and a de o p e o a e needed o ee hi pi u e

The Changing Balance of Power 
In 1979, US¶ top ally, Iran, makes a radical shift in its orientation, while Egypt becomes a staunch ally with its peace treaty with Israel in the same year.  Mubarak and Ben Ali out of power, and other US allies in Algeria, Jordan, Yemen, and Bahrain under increasing popular pressure  Turkey and Iran - bolstered by its rising allies in Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq - as the pivotal, independent, and assertive indigenous powers in the region

The Israeli Variable: 
Ensuring Cold War with Iran  The Mavi Marmara Incident and impact on Israel-Turkey Relations  Fall of Mubarak and rise of democratic leaders - most with µcritical¶ views on µsiege of Gaza¶

Reconfiguring US¶ Foreign Policy 
Need to re-examine the false doctrine of µstabilitydemocracy trade-off¶  Supporting democratization beyond Israel-US bilateral security partnership  Accept the possibility of more µindependent¶ and democratic governments with popular-based foreign policies

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