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Arab Uprisings: Between Regime Breakdown and Endurance of Authoritarianism

The Arab uprisings of 2010-2011 generated hopes for democratizing the region. Within a few short years, however, those hopes were dashed as the tumultuous period paved the way for a brutal civil war in Syria, a return of old regime figures in Tunisia, and a new authoritarian crackdown in Egypt. So why did popular uprisings produce different political trajectories in Egypt, Tunisia, and Syria? To investigate such diverged paths of social and political struggles in the Arab region, I focus on three main factors: 1-) the legacy of state building processes in the post-colonial period; 2-) the shift of socio-economic alliances of the Arab states since the late 1980s; and 3-) the patterns of interaction between political opposition in the aftermath of the uprisings. The analysis suggests that variations along these three dimensions are heavily contingent on myriad processes of coalition-building, civil-military relations, and intensity of secular-Islamists divides.

  • Professor Shimaa Hatab, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Cairo University; Visiting Fulbright Professor at Stanford University

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