On January 30, 2011, a protest took place in Sudan’s capital Khartoum. Inspired by uprisings in other parts of the Arabic-speaking world, such as Tunisia and Egypt, activists announced and promoted the planned demonstration using social media platforms. The protesters demanded significant change: They called for the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir, an end to corruption and high prices for basic goods and they chanted against “the government of hunger.” Their grievances resembled those that ignited the large-scale uprisings of the Arab Spring, but the number of protesters did not exceed 500, not in this protest nor in the few that followed until the end of March. No one factor—the nature of the active political base, the level of oppression or economic realities—can on its own explain why the protest wave that spring did not gain momentum in Sudan.
Dignity was a principle demand of the 2011 revolution that overthrew Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia. Nadia Marzouki examines how that demand has informed the practices of youth and other marginalized groups as they mobilize for quotidian causes like clean streets. President Kais Saied’s recent power grab is a different kind of response to the demand for dignity, one that tries to erase corruption rather than confront it through transitional justice. Marzouki explains how the fluid politics of dignity make it an enduring resource for democratic revival.
Alaa Abd El-Fattah and Ahmed Douma, leading Egyptian revolutionaries, wrote these words in 2014 for the Mada Masr piece “Graffiti for Two…Alaa and Douma.” Abd El-Fattah and Douma have spent most of the last decade in jail, much of it in solitary confinement. The uncomfortable coexistence of hope and despair in the experiences of a single revolutionary such as Abd El-Fattah challenge common understandings of the 2011 Arab uprisings. Abd El-Fattah’s story, along with the experiences of so many other individuals, show that it is misleading to conclude that hope for change dominated a decade ago only to be replaced now by despair at failure.
Dignity was a principle demand of the 2011 revolution that overthrew Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia. Nadia Marzouki examines how that demand has informed the practices of youth and other marginalized groups as they mobilize for quotidian causes like clean streets. President Kais Saied’s recent power grab is a different kind of response to the demand for dignity, one that tries to erase corruption rather than confront it through transitional justice. Marzouki explains how the fluid politics of dignity make it an enduring resource for democratic revival. Forthcoming in the Winter 2021 issue of Middle East Report, “Revolutionary Afterlives.”
On April 3, 2021, Prince Hamzeh bin Hussein of Jordan was confined by the Jordanian armed forces to his home and cut off from outside communication. While many observers speculate about palace politics, Matthew Lacouture delves into the significance of the prince’s statements decrying corruption and economic mismanagement. He shows how Hamzeh’s words echo the grievances of activists as he traces the evolving discourses of labor, youth and popular mobilizations across Jordan.
Hakim Addad has been a political activist in Algeria for decades. In this interview with Thomas Serres he discusses the increasing repression of peaceful demonstrators under President Tebboune, the positive role of a new generation of activists in the Hirak movement, his arrests and imprisonment and the challenges of being binational.
Hakim Addad has been a political activist in Algeria for decades. In this interview with Thomas Serres he discusses the increasing repression of peaceful demonstrators under President Tebboune, the positive role of a new generation of activists in the Hirak movement, his arrests and imprisonment and the challenges of being binational. Forthcoming in MER 298, “Maghreb From the Margins.”
Is the Algerian state using the COVID-19 crisis and the suspension of weekly street protests as an opportunity to put an end to the Hirak social movement? What is the Hirak doing now? How is the government responding to the pandemic? Muriam Haleh Davis interviews the Algerian journalist Selma Kasmi to find out.
Iran’s parliamentary elections in February handed the conservative supporters of the Supreme Leader a major victory. Abedini and Armin explain how and lay out why the regime is poorly positioned to deal with popular discontent, crushing US sanctions and the spreading coronavirus.
Saudi Arabia’s illicit infiltration of Twitter turns out to be only the tip of the iceberg of regional regime’s efforts to wrest control of political discourse on social media.
Wealthy, ambitious and emboldened by US acquiescence, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have emerged as key protagonists in thwarting popular movements.
In response to multiple waves of protests, including a surge of protests in 2019, the Jordanian state has worked hard to establish and enforce five red lines for the protests not to cross in order to rein in the potential impact of unified protests across the kingdom.
In order to broaden our frameworks for thinking critically about the new round of uprisings, MERIP editorial committee member Jillian Schwedler asked a number of critical scholars for their perspectives on how we should be thinking about regional protests and what is often overlooked or misunderstood.
Less than a decade after the 2011 uprising that ousted a dictator, the election of an anti-establishment president amidst popular turmoil indicates that many Tunisians reject the narrative that all is well with Tunisia’s new liberal democracy.
Dhiban shares with much of rural Jordan a long history of seismic societal shifts and gradual economic marginalization. This history forebodes continued unrest in underdeveloped areas as long as economic problems remain unaddressed.
But protesters have not gone home, and many have vowed to stay until the underlying structure of rule in Algeria changes and its ruling elite–known as Le Pouvoir (the power)–are expelled from power. The protesters are demanding that an entirely new system–which some call a new revolution–be put in place.
This uprising is demanding justice beyond sectarian, class, religious or cultural divides. In the clarity brought about by the uprising, the regime’s politics of division has been challenged by the uprising’s politics of solidarity.
Chanting “We want a country,” the youth-led protesters of Iraq are demanding nothing less than a new country as the uprising goes beyond narrowly defined political demands concerning electoral politics and legal reforms.
Eight years ago, residents of Imider in Morocco’s rural southeast shut down a silver mining company’s water pipe on a nearby mountain to protest the damages to their health and livelihoods. This direct action turned into the longest sit-in protest encampment in Moroccan history. Perched on a rugged mountain top, the camp has become a living archive of decades of struggle manifested in documents, drawings, poetry and songs.
The small Gulf Arab state of Bahrain is using digital-era tools of surveillance, deception and repression to quell popular dissent. But a group of well-meaning tech-savvy geeks are mobilizing new digitally enhanced methods to expose who is behind this repression and how it operates today.