Revolution

Sudanese Migrants’ Labor in Times of Economic Crisis and Revolution

“I have worked so much,” Hamze told me, laughing, “It’s all the same.” Hamze grew up working on his parents’ land in Gezira, two hours south of Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. Gezira is known for its fertile land and irrigation-based agrarian production but, like many...

Reflections on Exile

One legacy of revolution and counterrevolution is the growing number of participants—some of whom identify as revolutionaries or activists—living outside of the Middle East and North Africa. Whether by choice or by compulsion, their plight is part of the bitter fruit of revolutionary struggle and counterrevolutionary intolerance.

Revolution, War and Transformations in Yemeni Studies

Almost twenty years ago, Sheila Carapico made the case for the development of Arabian Peninsula studies as an alternative to the growing field of Gulf studies. A wider regional approach, she argued, would better highlight the numerous connections and flows between Yemen and the six monarchies of the Peninsula. Such a framework is as relevant now as it was then.

The Evolution of Sudan’s Popular Political Forces

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.

Whatever Happened to Dignity? The Politics of Citizenship in Post-Revolution Tunisia

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.

Egypt From Icon to Tragedy

When masses of people assembled in Egypt’s public squares and succeeded in toppling President Husni Mubarak in 2011, the world went a little bit mad. That an urban uprising unseated one of the contemporary world’s most favored autocrats became freighted with symbolism. The two-week occupation of Tahrir Square was not unprecedented in world politics; Beijing’s Tiananmen Square was methodically held by student-led demonstrators for six weeks in spring 1989 until the military violently dispersed them on June 4. But though Tiananmen received ample international television coverage, it paled in comparison to the attention lavished on Tahrir. One week into the encampment, Egypt’s protests had become the biggest international news story in the US media, surpassing coverage of the Iraq war, the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the US war in Afghanistan.

Dialectics of Hope and Despair in the Arab Uprisings

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.

The Enduring Taste of Hope—A Poem and Interview with Khaled Mattawa

Soon after Libyans rose up in protest against the brutal authoritarian regime of Muammar al-Qaddafi in February 2011, the Libyan American poet Khaled Mattawa wrote “Now That We Have Tasted Hope.” His poem powerfully captured the mix of relief and anguish, despair and hope felt by many who participated in, or were inspired by, the Arab uprisings and was widely shared. In addition to presenting the poem here, Atef Said interviewed Mattawa about the poem, poetry’s relationship to revolution and his work supporting artists in Libya.

Revolutionary Afterlives

Instead of approaching the decade since the start of the Arab uprisings as an appraisal of an outcome, MERIP’s issue 301 reflects on an unfolding set of political struggles that are necessarily incomplete and spill across different scales – local, national, regional and global. “Revolutionary Afterlives” takes stock of lessons learned and unlearned. It considers hopes, dislocations and counterrevolutionary coalitions that speak as much to the power of revolutionary coalitions as to their shortfalls. The issue brings together analysts, revolutionaries, activists and cultural producers to reflect on how the protest movements and reactions to them have left a lasting imprint on the region and on the possibilities for solidarity.

Whatever Happened to Dignity? The Politics of Citizenship in Post-Revolution Tunisia

Nadia Marzouki 12.1.2021

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.”

The Enduring Taste of Hope—A Poem and Interview with Khaled Mattawa

Soon after Libyans rose up in protest against the brutal authoritarian regime of Muammar al-Qaddafi in February 2011, the Libyan American poet Khaled Mattawa wrote “Now That We Have Tasted Hope.” His poem powerfully captured the mix of relief and anguish, despair and hope felt by many who participated in, or were inspired by, the Arab uprisings and was widely shared. In addition to presenting the poem here, Atef Said interviewed Mattawa about the poem, poetry’s relationship to revolution and his work supporting artists in Libya. Forthcoming in the Winter 2021 issue of Middle East Report, “Revolutionary Afterlives.”

MERIP’s First Decade of Iran Coverage from Political Challenge to Revolution

MERIP’s coverage of Iran from the organization’s founding in 1971 up through the 1979 revolution and the early years of post-revolutionary state formation remain an invaluable resource for understanding and teaching the history of Iran’s long 1970s. MERIP writers in...

Populist Passions or Democratic Aspirations? Tunisia’s Liberal Democracy in Crisis

Tunisia’s political system is in crisis after President Kais Saied concentrated power in his office in July 2021. Robert P. Parks and Tarek Kahlaoui delve into the reasons why so many citizens support his moves and explain why they have become so disenchanted with Tunisia’s democratic system. The authors find that the governments’ emphasis on the electoral process and political theater over solving socio-economic problems and giving voice to the people are crushing the aspirations of the 2011 revolution.

Revisiting MERIP Coverage of the Arab Uprisings

The Editors 01.26.2021

Revolutions are the singular political events that “confront us directly and inevitability with the problem of beginning,” argued Hannah Arendt. MERIP’s coverage of the uprisings of 2011 struggled intensely with this conundrum while cross-regional mobilizations, alliances and confrontations emerged at a pace that ignited promise for meaningful change. Revisit MERIP’s essential coverage in the wake of the 2011 toppling of Tunisia’s President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Egypt’s Husni Mubarak and the massive rallies in Yemen through this selection of key articles.

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