Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How Did the Arab Spring Shift from a Series of Uprisings to Polarization?

By Karima Ragab, Nushka Gatwary and Youmna El Sherbiny

CAIRO, Egypt- The Middle East Studies Center welcomed journalist and political analyst Issandr El Amrani to discuss the shift of the Arab Spring from the contagion of revolution to the contagion of polarization specifically in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. 

        The lecture was hosted in The American University in Cairo last Wednesday in the Alsaud Hall. Sherene Seikaly, director of the Middle East Studies Center, assistant professor Adam Talib as well as other students, staff and faculty members attended the lecture.

        El Amrani started off his lecture by explaining how his personal experiences and insights enabled him to cover the succession of events taking place in the Middle East clarifying his preference in using the term “Arab Uprisings” instead of “Arab Spring.” “What happened in Tunisia didn’t stay in Tunisia and what happened in Egypt didn’t stay in Egypt," said El Amrani confirming that all countries are indirectly affected by one another.

        Although there was a contagion of revolution that was initiated by Tunisia in 2011, there were many preconditions that led to these waves of protests not only regionally, but domestically. For example, the issue of “tawreeth” which, in Egypt’s case, meant the succession of Gamal Mubarak as president following the footsteps of Hosny Mubarak.

       The main polarization in the three countries lies between the Islamists, liberals and members of the former regime. There are many differences between those who are called secularists and Islamists; for instance, the dilemma of the judicial system, the role of women and the interference of religion with the public life. Accordingly, in Egypt’s case, the issue of having an Islamic or non- Islamic regime is highly questioned, as Egypt is known for having a big non-Islamists minority.

       However, “Far from being an ideological battle. It is also a battle of control of resources," El Amrani said. The three countries’ major concern is shifting to corporatism. For example, Libya’s resource of oil which, clarifies why the Arab world perceives Libya as a powerful country.

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