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[Istanbul, 15 April 2017. Photo by Ayça Çubukçu.]

Turkey After the Referendum: A Roundtable

Turkey Page Editors’ Introduction On 16 April 2017, amidst widespread reports of electoral fraud, a slim majority of those casting votes in Turkey voted to approve a referendum, which has as its main goal the overhaul of the executive ...

Arab Studies Journal Announces Spring 2017 Issue: Editor's Note and Table of Contents

Arab Studies Journal Volume XXV, no. 1 (Spring 2017) EDITOR'S NOTE Since the November 2016 elections, the dying gasps of US exceptionalism has meant the intensification of attacks on the lives and movement of people from the Arab ...

[novinite المصدر: موقع]

ما التنوير؟ غوغل، ويكيليكس، وإعادة تنظيم العالم

هاري هالبن Harry Halpin هل ساعد الإنترنت البشرية على الخروج من اللانضج كي يستعبدها مرة ثانية نظامُ مراقبةٍ شامل؟ سواءً كان الناس يعون هذه المسألة أم لا، يتردّد صدى هذا السؤال في تجربتنا الرقمية اليومية، وفي الطريقة التي تُفْرَز وتُرْصَد ...

[Cover of Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, Foucault in Iran: Islamic Revolution after the Enlightenment]

Foucault, the Iranian Revolution, and the Politics of Collective Action

Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, Foucault in Iran: Islamic Revolution after the Enlightenment. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016. [This is part five of a book symposium on Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi's Foucault in Iran: Islamic ...


Egypt on the Brink: The Arab World at a Tipping Point?

[Image from unknown archive]

Hosni Mubarak is still President of Egypt but his days in power are numbered. There will be no Mubarak dynasty either. The authoritarian order in Egypt and throughout the Arab world has been profoundly shaken. The ousting of Ben Ali in Tunisia, a remarkable event in itself, now appears to have been the trigger for a far broader upheaval that is shaking regimes across the region.   Since Muhammad Bouazizi set himself alight in Tunisia on December 17, self-immolations have taken place in Egypt, Algeria, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Unprecedented demonstrations have since spread to Algeria, Jordan, and Yemen.  Remember too that all ...

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Egypt and the Future of the Corporate Grid

[Internet Cafe in Egypt, Image from Unknown Archive]

Many analysts have been commenting on the broader significance of the astonishing and awe-inspiring events that have swept Egypt by storm over the past six days. From Tunisia to Yemen, the Arab world is in open revolt against the sclerotic, corrupt and vicious dictatorships that have held power with the tacit support of the US and EU for decades. The status quo in the region – in the form of received wisdom about ‘the Arab street’, the Islamist ‘menace’ and business-as-usual in the corridors of corporate and political power whether in Washington DC or Cairo – has shattered into pieces once and for all. But the significance of the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt is not ...

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The Poetry of Revolt

Tahrir Square, January 30. Photo: Asmaa Youssef (al-Masry al-Youm)

[This post was selected as one of three winners in Three Quarks Daily Arts & Literature Prize] It is truly inspiring to see the bravery of Egyptians as they rise up to end the criminal rule of Hosni Mubarak. It is especially inspiring to remember that what is happening is the culmination of years of work by activists from a spectrum of pro-democracy movements, human rights groups, labor unions, and civil society organizations. In 2004, when Kefaya began their first public demonstrations, the protesters were usually outnumbered 30 to one by Central Security Forces. Now the number has reversed—and multiplied. No less astonishing is the poetry of this moment. I ...

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Let's Not Forget About Tunisia

[Sit-in Protestors in Qasbah Square. Image from uknown archive]

Now that world attention has irresistibly moved on to the next hotspot, Egypt, it is crucially important not to forget Tunisia. In the very same manner that revolutionary change in Tunisia has spread to Egypt and Yemen and, hopefully, will continue to travel to other parts of the Arab world, any setback in Tunisia may set in motion a reverse effect and may prove counterproductive in the long run. Failure is no less contagious than freedom. While our hearts and minds are with our brothers and sisters in Egypt, let’s not forget Tunisia lest the new interim government should intimidate Tunisians into submission to more of the same old new police state. The latest cabinet ...

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Saudi Arabia's Silent Protests

[Saudis protesting their overdue land grants at Shaqra' Municipality. Image taken from www.alriyadh.com]

Riyadh feels a little less stale since the Tunisian people toppled their dictator-president Zine El Abidine Bin Ali on 15 January 2011. In cafes, restaurants, and salons (majalis), friends and colleagues greet me with a smug smile, congratulations, and a ‘u’balna kulna (may we all be next). On my daily afternoon walks, I overhear Saudis of all ages and walks of life analyzing the events that led to the overthrow of the Tunisian regime. Everywhere I go, people are hypothesizing on whether the same could happen to “them,” referring to the possibility of a Saudi Arabia not headed by the Al Sauds. Although most concur that it is highly unlikely, they are nonetheless more ...

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Egypt Now: Moving to the Next Level as Protests Continue (Updated)

[Image from unknown archive]

[This post will be regularly updated: 7:10 am, San Francisco; 5:10 pm, Cairo]   Egypt is ablaze with protesters' passion, from north to east to south, with signs that the streets are no longer in the government's control, though the regime has not yet deployed the army fully, or, worse, the various special forces at its disposal.   At this point, Alexandria is nearly fully under the protesters' control with very few government officials/police (of any sort) in sight--upwards of 300,000 to 400,000 protesters are roaming the streets. this is confirmed by more than one source as of yet. Protesters there are arresting policy officers, according to a ...

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Impromptu: A Word

[Al-Tahrir Square,Cairo, January, 25th. Image from unknown archive]

We were told, time and again, that “revolution” and “the people” were obsolete terms, irrelevant in a post-revolutionary world, especially in the Arab world. This, after all, was a place where the burden of the past weighed so heavily and the cultural DNA somehow preconditioned those who carried it to feel more at home with tyrants and terror. Too many trees were killed theorizing about the region’s inhospitability to democracy. “Reform” was the most one could hope for. Revolution? No way! That was the stuff of outmoded leftists and dreamers left behind as history marched forward. The referent for “revolution” resided in the past (or in the west), but never in the ...

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Cartoons: Tunisia and Recent Events

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Original cartoons for Jadaliyya by Khalil Bendib.    [Jadaliyya is inaugurating its cartoon and arts sections. We encourage the submission of cartoons and other art work. Email your material to post@jadaliyya.com]                     

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Protests and Economic Development in Jordan

[Image from csmonitor.com]

For the second week in a row, a diverse array of Jordanians mobilized in the streets of Amman and other cities to protest economic conditions in Jordan. Similar to last week’s Jordanian Day of Anger, the recent protests were organized and followed through with despite government attempts to appease popular discontent in the days preceding the planned protests. Contrary to last week’s mobilizations which focused on rising prices, protesters this week were much more direct in decrying “policies that impoverish and starve” the citizens of Jordan. Furthermore, unlike last week, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) participated in the protests. As mentioned in a previous post, the ...

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What Happens in Tunisia Stays in Tunisia

[Tunisia's President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali is greeted by France's President Nicolas Sarkozy and Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak , July 13, 2008: Image from Reuters]

Hope is in the air—or so it seems. The overthrow of (now) former Tunisian President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali has created some guarded optimism among close observers of Arab politics inside and outside the region. The people of Tunisia have rid themselves of 23 years of Ben Ali’s rule, paving the way for an opportunity for meaningful political change in a region that once seemed so resistant to democratic development. The events in Tunisia also tempt us to ask whether what we are observing in Tunis is a prelude to similar developments elsewhere in the region: Is Ben Ali’s regime the first domino to fall in a series of Arab autocracies? There are many reasons to believe ...

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The Tunisian Revolution: Initial Reflections [Part 1]

[Image from unknown archive]

At the moment it is abundantly easy to sense everywhere in the Arab World elation at what appears to be one of greatest events in modern Arab history. A genuine popular revolution, spontaneous and apparently leaderless, yet sustained and remarkably determined, overthrew a system that by all accounts had been the most entrenched and secure in the whole region. The wider implications beyond Tunisia are hard to miss. Just as in the case of the Iranian revolution more than three decades ago, what is now happening in Tunisia is watched by all in the Arab world--as either a likely model of the transformation to come in their respective countries, or at least as a badly needed ...

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Jordan's "Day of Anger"

[Protesters at Jordanian Day of Anger. Image from Reuters.]

On Friday, January 14th 2011, protests of varying sizes were held across Jordan as part of a call for a “Jordanian Day of Anger.”  While undoubtedly a response to the failed promise of economic reforms enacted in Jordan over the past twenty years, the call specified the series of government increases in the price of gasoline, diesel, and gas. Government control of these commodity prices are some of the last vestiges of the social safety guarantees offered by the Jordanian state in the face of economic reforms underpinned by neoliberal prescriptions that “privilege markets over communities.” Thus, while the social unrest in other Arab states - most notably Tunisia - ...

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Why Mubarak is Out

The “March of Millions” in Cairo marks the spectacular emergence of a new political society in Egypt. This uprising brings together a new coalition of forces, uniting reconfigured elements of the security state with prominent business people, internationalist leaders, and relatively new (or newly reconfigured ) mass movements of youth, labor, women’s and religious groups. President Hosni Mubarak lost his political power on Friday, 28 January. On that night the Egyptian military let Mubarak’s ...

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Singing for the Revolution

So was it Wikileaks, Facebook, or Twitter? Perhaps all three contributed to the revolutionary winds in the Arab world? This is one of the questions repeated ad nauseam by a great number of commentators and parroted by many in the United States and elsewhere in the “civilized world.” Others wonder if perhaps it was Obama’s speech in Cairo or even the Bush doctrine (for Fox-infested minds and they are many)? Yes, new technologies and social media definitely played a role and provided a new space and mode, ...

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Omar Suleiman, the CIA's Man in Cairo and Egypt's Torturer-in-Chief

On January 29, Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s top spy chief, was annointed vice president by the tottering dictator, Hosni Mubarak. By appointing Suleiman, part of a shake-up of the cabinet in a (futile?) attempt to appease the masses of protesters and retain  his own grip on the presidency, Mubarak has once again shown his knack for devilish shrewdness. Suleiman has long been favored by the US government for his ardent anti-Islamism and willingness to talk and act tough about Iran, and he has been the ...

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Dead-Enders on the Potomac

Every US administration has its mouthpiece in Washington’s think tank world, its courtier that will slavishly praise its every utterance. For the blessedly bygone Bush administration, that echo chamber was the American Enterprise Institute and the neo-conservative broadsheets in its orbit. For the Obama administration, it is the National Security Network, an operation founded in 2006 to bring “strategic focus to the progressive national security community.” With one US-backed Arab despot dislodged and ...

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Why Mubarak Won't Go

After a long day full of (pleasant) surprises and marked gains by Egyptian protesters, President Hosni Mubarak shocked observers with a speech that made little sense from the perspective of many audiences who are watching the situation carefully in Egypt. In what should have been a farewell speech by the 82-year old Egyptian president, Mubarak announced that he will appoint a new government that will respond to the demands of the protesters, except for the most important one: Putting an end to 30 years ...

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“Our Assessment Is That the Egyptian Government Is Stable”: Thinking of Cairo from New York (Updated)

As Jadaliyya's Tough Niece reminds us (My Mother and My Neighbor's Dog on the Tunisian Revolution and Its Aftermath), there has been a lot of fairly uninformed stuff written in the blogosphere about Tunisia and its aftermath, rhapsodies about the revolutionary role of social media and overconfident assessments about what will happen next. I hesitate to contribute to this outpouring. And yet I find it impossible not to write something about Cairo, something for Cairo, just before the breaking of dawn ...

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Tunisia's Glorious Revolution and its Implications

Last December 17th disturbances erupted in Tunisia after Mohamed Bouazizi, a young unemployed high school graduate who was condemned to sell fruits and vegetables on a street stall for a living, immolated himself in protest after authorities had beaten him and impeded him from exercising his unlicensed activity. His act crystallized and incarnated the Tunisians’ feelings of humiliation and lack of justice to which they had been subjected by one of the most brutal Arab authoritarian regimes that strived ...

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The Other Coup?

Lebanon has not had a government since January 12th , when ministers allied to the March 8 opposition movement withdrew from Cabinet, precipitating the collapse of the Sa`ad al Hariri led majority government. For months prior to the collapse of the Hariri-led government, the cabinet had been at a stalemate and had not been performing its constitutionally defined duties towards Lebanese citizens. The reason for that stalemate was the inability of the majority and the opposition to come to an agreement ...

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The Tunisian Revolution: Initial Reflections [Part 2]

[This is the second and last installment. See Part 1 here]  The revolution in Tunisia was a response to a sense of closed possibilities. Nowhere do we see any identifiable “structure of opportunities” that could have made it possible. Everywhere we see the opposite—absence of any opportunities whatsoever. The pre-revolutionary climate displays a scene of extreme desperation and exasperation. And it is precisely that scene that was so poignantly allegorized in the protest-suicide of a young man ...

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It’s Not The Morality Police, Stupid

It is becoming increasingly more common to blame Saudi Arabia’s social, economic, and political ills solely on Wahabiyya and its official enforcers, the Commission for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, also known as al hai’a, al mutawa’a, or simply the morality police. In Washington D.C., London, Beirut, Damascus, or Riyadh, we learn that Saudi Arabia is stuck in the Dark Ages because of the conservatism and “backwardness” of Wahabiyya. That is, until king Abdullah assumed the throne ...

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Why, What, Where To, and How? Tunisia and Beyond

[Admittedly, I wrote this post before Bin Ali fled, and before the Tunisian protests escalated. It was kind of interrupted by the events on the ground and, so, not much due jubilation here. I added some references posthumously but kept its pre-government collapse spirit at the expense of dampening the mood: Where to? . . . even if dictatorships fall. Where to? Oh, I don’t provide an answer]   The problem is that once it happens [when a dominant form of oppression collapses], it might happen for ...

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Tunisia Unraveling: "I Got You" Was Two Decades Too Late Mr. Zein al-`Abideen

Last night (Thursday, January 13th) Zein al-`Abideen Bin `Ali addressed the Tunisian people and said: انا فهمتكم, “I got you,” or more literally, “I understood you.” I started writing this post while watching his address, and titled it “Too Late.” But I did not imagine what would transpire directly after the speech, at least not the speed in which it took place. Watching the brutal Tunisian regime unravel at 9:30 pm (2:30 pm, Washington DC time) from the Syrian capital, Damascus, is surreal to say the ...

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