Perspectives #2 May 2011, Special Issue: People's Power - The Arab World in Revolt



Available in print at Heinrich Boell Foundation - Middle East Office in Beirut

The self-immolation of young and jobless Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi in the provincial town of Sidi Bouzid, being deprived of his vegetable stand and humiliated by the authorities, triggered popular movements and historic events in the Arab World completely unexpected in their magnitude…

… but were they really that unexpected? Have not generations of activists, journalists, and ordinary citizens for decades tirelessly pointed to the repressive practices of their governments? Was it not common knowledge that thousands were executed, imprisoned, exiled, and dissent silenced in many other ways; was not testimony after testimony collected, and report after report submitted? Did not countless experts, Arab and foreign, repeatedly stress the need for comprehensive political reforms, for economic opportunities for the growing youth population, for a redistribution of wealth, and the establishment of accountable and transparent governance?

Since the events started to unfold in December 2010, much has been speculated about the Arab “Spring,” “Awakening” or “Renaissance.”

Will these popular revolts translate into sustainable change? Will counter-movements emerge, once citizens do not feel that their lives have improved? In what way will foreign interests determine the course of events?

The authors in this special edition of “Perspectives Middle East” address the above questions and many more. The edition seeks to offer a forum for a diversity of voices and viewpoints – ranging from in-depth analytical insights to opinion pieces and testimonies.

Product details
Date of Publication
May 2011
Heinrich Boell Foundation - Middle East
Number of Pages
Language of publication
Table of contents

Editorial - People’s Power: The Arab World in Revolt - 7

A Revolution of Ideas

The Arab Revolts: Ten Tentative Observations - Mouin Rabbani - 10

Revolutions Bring Down Ideas As Well! - Fawaz Traboulsi - 14

The Revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt: The People Without Populism - Ahmad Beydoun - 22

What the People Want… - Mohammed Ali Atassi - 28

Revolutions for Democracy - Hussein Yaakoub - 35

Arab Streets and Arab Publics: A New Political Culture?

The “Arab Spring:” Rebirth or Final Throes of Pan-Arabism? - Yassine Temlali - 46

A New Arab Street in Post-Islamist Times - - Asef Bayat - 50

What Next for the “Arab Street?” - Muhammad Ali Khalidi and Terry Regier - 54

The Other Face of the January Revolution: The People’s Desire to Liberate Their Language! - Mansoura Ez-Eldin - 58

Revolutions in Real Time: The Mediatization of Political Struggle

The Role of Al-Jazeera (Arabic) in the Arab Revolts of 2011 - Aref Hijjawi - 68

Media Lives Up to Its Name as Game Changers in Spreading Arab Revolutions - Magda Abu-Fadil - 74

Social Media and the Revolutions: How the Internet Revived the Arab Public Sphere and Digitalized Activism - Doreen Khoury - 80

Digital Activism: Arabs Can Do It Themselves - Interview with Sami Ben Gharbia - 86

Portrait: Slim Amamou – From Digital Activist to State Secretary - Eva Lehnen - 90

The Social Costs of Authoritarianism

Whither the Political and Social Movement in Arab Countries: Can We Expect a New Arab Renaissance? - Adib Nehme - 96

Arab Leaders and Western Countries: Swapping Democracy for Business Interests - Ibrahim Saif - 106

The Revolutions of the Arab Region: Socio-economic Questions at the Heart of Successful Ways Forward - Ziad Abdel Samad and Kinda Mohamadieh - 112

Feeding the Arab Uprisings - Rami Zurayk - 119

Freedom Is the Prerequisite for Bread - Interview with Ibrahim Awad - 126

“The People Demand...” the Downfall or the Reform of the Regime?

The Youth Revolution: A First Reading of the Social and Cultural Conditions Surrounding the Tunisian Revolution - Mehdi Mabrouk - 132

What Kind of Transition for Egypt? - Issandr El Amrani - 145

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the 25 January Revolution - Dalal Bizri - 150

Yemen’s Revolution: The Lack of Public Reasoning - Nadia Al-Sakkaf - 159

Bahrain: Change of the Regime or Changes Within the Regime? - Mostafa Abdulla - 163

A Tense Syria in a Changing Arab World - Yassin al-Haj Salih - 170

It is Imperative that the International Community Sends a Clear Message - Interview with Anas Abdah and Astepho Ablahad - 180

Libyan Re-independence and Reclaiming the Revolution - Ghazi Gheblawi - 188

Algeria, or the Desire for a Future - Ghania Mouffok - 192

The Arab Revolutions-in-the-Making and Palestine - George Giacaman - 198

Distorted Democracy: Democratic Transformation and Sectarian Identities in Iraq after 2003 - Anbara Abu-Ayyash - 202

The Lebanese “Secularist” Movement in the Shadow of the Arab Democratic Movements - Hassan Abbas and Hussein Yaakoub - 208


Heroic Resolve in the Face of the Omnipresent Machine of Oppression: Recounting the Events of the Tunisian Revolution - Malek Sghiri - 214

Fear and Revolution in Libya - Nahla Daoud - 220

The Price of the Divide on Libya: Why I Support the No Fly Zone - Tasnim Qutait - 224

Encounters on the Margin of Revolution - Muzna Al-Masri - 228

Participation and Justice

In the Wake of Arab Revolts: Women’s Rights in the Balance - Interview with Hanan Abdel Rahman-Rabbani - 234

We Are Not Accomplices to Power! A New Role for the Judiciary - Interview with Nizar Saghieh - 242

A Chronicle of Legislative Developments in the Aftermath of the Tunisian Revolution: A Revolution Seeks the Means to Succeed! - Wahid Ferchichi - 248

Nothing Was Ever Brought to Trial - Interview with Magda Adly - 258

International and Security Politics

American Policies: Debating National Interests - Raed Fakeeh - 262

EU-Libya Agreements on Refugees and Asylum Seekers: The Need for a Reassessment - Urs Fruehauf - 270

Goodbye Free Libya? A Report from Benghazi - Nicolas Pelham - 276

The Securitization of Political Rule: Security Domination of Arab Regimes and the Prospects for Democratization - Mouin Rabbani - 282