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After the Arab Spring: Power Shift in the Middle East?

May 2012

The events of the Arab Spring were an inevitable surprise. In a region where political oppression and economic under-development were most keenly felt among a demographic bubble of well-educated youth, the classic conditions for revolution were met. However, few could have predicted the spark that would ignite a wave of protest across the region, the self-immolation of a Tunisian street vendor who felt humiliated by his treatment at the hands of petty local officials. The final outcome of the protests across the region is still uncertain, but more than a year on, events have settled into patterns sufficiently to allow an interim assessment of their success.

Toby Dodge concludes this report by noting that ‘successful revolutions are very rare indeed’. Behind the headlines, this report’s conclusions are pessimistic. The authors here find little evidence to suggest that future historians will rank the events of 2011 with those of 1848, or 1989. Simply too few of the fundamentals of social, economic and political organisation in the Arab world have been successfully contested by the protests. As 2011’s Spring turns into 2012’s summer, the answer to the question of whether there has been a power shift in the Middle East, is a decisive ‘not yet’. 


Executive Summary
Nicholas Kitchen

From the ‘Arab Awakening’ to the Arab Spring;
the Post-Colonial State in the Middle East
Toby Dodge

The Arab Uprisings: Revolution or Protests?
George Lawson

The Uprisings

Fatima El-Issawi
Ewan Stein
Kristian Coates Ulrichsen
Ranj Alaaldin
Christopher Phillips
Tobias Thiel

Power Shifts?

Naysan Rafati
United States 
Nicholas Kitchen
Yaniv Voller

Conclusion: the Middle East After the Arab Spring  
Toby Dodge