NORTH AFRICA: THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF REVOLT Middle East Report 259 12 June 2011

12 June 2011 — Middle East Report Summer 2011

Tunisia and Egypt, where the 2011 Arab rebellions began, will do much to determine the course of the upheavals elsewhere. The degree of political democracy that Tunisians and Egyptians achieve will be the most watched barometer. But just as important will be the extent of reform of the economic order. As detailed in “North Africa: The Political Economy of Revolt,” the summer 2011 issue of Middle East Report, the status quo on both fronts was unsustainable.

Omar Dahi retraces the fateful decisions made by key Arab states to reorient development policy away from the poor toward the affluent, with consequences that are clearer nowhere than in the two erstwhile darlings of the “Washington consensus,” Tunisia and Egypt.

Laryssa Chomiak and John Entelis compare three North African countries — Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia — to expose the roots of insurrection. “The deeper and more robust the authoritarian structure,” they observe, “the fewer the opportunities for legal political opposition and participation, the more likely citizens are to rebel.” In Tunisia, site of the deepest-set autocracy, citizens persevered, not only in ousting their leaders but also, as Nadia Marzouki writes, in becoming leaders themselves.

In Egypt, the spirit of Tahrir Square lives, but as Hesham Sallam shows, elites have rallied to blunt the social justice demands of the revolution. Neither will claims of equal citizenship be easy to achieve, as Mariz Tadros documents in her meditation on the rash of anti-Christian violence in the country after Mubarak’s downfall. Jessica Winegar follows the crews of youth working to “take out the trash” of the Mubarak era — literally and figuratively.

Also featured: Marie-Joelle Zahar checks in on South Sudan’s impending leap to statehood; Susan Slyomovics examines the odd case of Raymond Davis, a CIA contractor convicted of murder in Pakistan; Nina Farnia finds disturbing continuities between Bush and Obama administration surveillance practices; and more.

Subscribe to Middle East Report or order individual copies online here.

For further information, contact Chris Toensing at ctoensing@merip.org.

Middle East Report is published by the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), a progressive, independent organization based in Washington, DC. Since 1971 MERIP has provided critical analysis of the Middle East, focusing on political economy, popular struggles and the implications of US and international policy for the region. . Middle East Report Online is a free service of the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP).

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