two important literatures into conversation with each other: one on political change in the MENA countries and an emerging literature on the dynamics of historical democratization, what goes under the heading of the “historical turn” in democratization studies. 2 If, on the one hand, the insights of
Amel Ahmed and Giovanni Capoccia
occasioned new hope that democratization might take hold in the region. Yet the capacity of authoritarian regimes to accommodate elections and other reforms without relinquishing their grip on power has often frustrated such hopes. Egypt, which held both presidential and legislative elections in 2005, is an
The Incorporation of the Sharīʿa into Egyptian Constitutional Law
The author, who is trained in Islamic intellectual history and comparative law, begins by examining the evolution of Sunni Islamic legal theory and describes competing theories of Islamic law that co-exist in modern Egypt. The book then explores how the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt has developed its own approach to interrpreting sharīʿa—one that permits the Court to argue that sharī‘a principles are consistent with international human rights norms. The book concludes with a discussion of the public reception of the Court’s theory.
This book will be essential for anyone interested in the evolution of Islamic law, the development of constitutional thought in the Middle East, or the relationship between Islam and human rights.
Kenneth M. Roberts
In their initial stages, the social uprisings that defined the Arab Spring in 2011 generated a great deal enthusiasm—though more cautious expectations—that the so-called “third wave of democratization” 1 was finally set to wash ashore in the Middle East and North Africa ( MENA ), a region
wealth of public opinion data also suggests that the country’s citizenry has drifted into disaffection and alienation over the course of the past seven years. 4 This paper will argue that liberal democratization underlies the frailty and disquiet hitherto described. Specifically, I will contend
Th e Arab Spring has advanced the prospects for democracy in the region. After years during which any democratic transition seemed implausible in the Arab World, masses across the region have risen to challenge the political status quo, inspired by the successful revolution in Tunisia. A major cause to the political unrest can be identifi ed in the large number of unemployed youth in Arab nations, whose political frustrations were aggravated by their inability to express themselves in a tightly controlled police state, political corruption, and the incapability of the state to deal with social and economic problems. In addition, social media was a vital vehicle in both sustaining reform movements within single countries, and spreading the wave of demonstrations across the region. Yet, the events of the Arab Spring have challenged the stability of countries undergoing these transitions. Th e possibility for the creation of failed states or international interventions, and the necessity of governments to deal with large numbers of refugees, sectarian tensions, and deeply rooted economic problems threaten to derail the recent political transformations. In spite of these challenges, however, the recent political changes do provide encouraging opportunities for creating peace in the region and moderating Islamic parties.
Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou
one dystrophy generating the next one: an end to the Ottoman Empire ‘to end all peace’, 11 a mandate system architecture that threw off any prospect of endogenous state-building, post-colonial regimes that opted for reproducing the colonial dispossession dynamics instead of nurturing democratizing
Many commentators in the West have referred to the uprisings sweeping the Middle East and the Maghreb as the “Arab Spring”. If we take a closer look at the young Middle Easterners who launched these democratic demands, it is clear that the Arab Spring started in Iran back in June 2009. As such, the Arab Uprising had a non-Arab beginning in Iran’s Green Movement, and in what was known as the “Twitter Revolution” of young Iranians. Furthermore, the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt have reenergized Iranian civil society, helping it become fi rmer and more outspoken in its demand for democratization in Iran.
Aslı Ü. Bâli
The revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests across the Arab world – known collectively as the Arab Spring – have ushered in a period of unprecedented change to the region. To what extent are non-Arab regional players relevant to this process? This essay considers two dimensions of the potential significance of Turkey to the events underway in the Arab world. Turkey has at times been invoked as a regionally appropriate example on which to model Arab democratization in a post-authoritarian context. This essay critically examines such claims, pointing out both the democratic deficits of the Turkish model and the intrinsic challenges of applying external models to indigenous democratization efforts. On the other hand, there is a second sense in which Turkey may have a role in the Arab Spring – namely, as an actor in its own right. With respect to this second dimension, this essay considers evolving Turkish policy towards the Arab world and examines the potential for Turkey to play a constructive role as a pro-democratic force in the region.
The Egyptian revolution has swept away the Mubarak dynasty, it has begun dismantling an elaborate state security apparatus, and it has enacted constitutional reforms that put the country on the way to a democratic form of government. What have received little attention, however, are the electoral laws that will govern the new democratic order. Like many democratizing countries, Egypt has experienced elections under authoritarianism. Although this provides some advantages, the experience also holds many pitfalls, as the existing electoral system bares the mark of the previous regime, designed with many safeguards to help preserve the power of pre-democratic elites. An electoral system with a great deal of malapportionment, heavily gerrymandered electoral districts, and biased quotas provides the foundation for elections in post-revolutionary Egypt. Though these issues may be a part of normal politics in established democracies, in the context of an emerging democracy they can be a powerful counterrevolutionary force helping to strengthen pre-democratic elites vis-à-vis new democratic challengers.