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Middle East ‘revolutions’: Hopes and Fears

01.26.27

Middle East 'revolutions': Hopes and fears

This year’s uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa came out of the blue.  Beginning with the ‘Jasmine revolution’ in Tunisia, and spreading to Egypt and Yemen, popular protests called for freedom and democracy, with further political drama following in Syria and Libya.  While the success of the uprisings has been varied, the toppling of apparently stable regimes challenged many assumptions.  So is this truly a new revolutionary moment and will the overthrow of authoritarian governments lead to democratic alternatives?  Filmed at the Battle of Ideas, speakers include Dr Maha Azzam, associate fellow, Middle East and North Africa programme, Chatham House; Ghazi Gheblawi, author; blogger, Imitdad; former cultural editor, Libya Today, Dr George Lawson, lecturer in international relations, LSE; author, Negotiated Revolutions: the Czech Republic, South Africa and Chile, and Karl Sharro, architect; writer; Middle East commentator.

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Related topics: Debates, Democracy, International

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Randolph Ferry said:

Good comment that these are not yet social revolutions and that the uprisings were mainly against dictators – the unfolding of the post-WW2 order in the middle east!

Jo T said:

Great line up of speakers and valuable assesment of strengths and weeknesses of wannabe revolutions.

Mamood said:

I’m not sure what Ghazi is arguing although his observations are interesting and I think the international relations guy is talking nonsense. Interesting point made by Karl Sharro I think that the West is bigging up democracy in Middle East but doesn’t believe in it back here eg Europe.

Sarah K said:

Terrific debate, sadly Karl Sharro seems to be the only one really questioning Western intervention both military and political. You really get a sense of what the IR crowd are into which perhaps crudely put involves believing in your own state and not having much faith in people in the Middle East. I think Karl’s point too re why now and the bankruptcy of these regimes is salutary. Celebrating leaderlessness & lack of vision is evidently disastrous.

Farish said:

I agree with the guy who says you can’t really call them revolutions, they are not about social transformation and I also agree there is no such thing as a negotiated revolution they are uprisings though no doubt

Juno said:

Very compelling debate and amazing speakers, not sure what Dr Azzam is arguing- she’s obviously well informed but seems to be a bit of a bomb on bureaucrat at heart.