Originally posted October 2011
On October 20, 2011, Libyan leader Mu‘ammar al-Qadhafi was found in Sirte and subsequently killed (under circumstances that remain unclear) after an eight-month battle with rebel forces. Just days later, residents of neighboring Tunisia went to the polls in droves for that country’s first elections since the fall of Bel ‘Ali in January. Under these strikingly different circumstances, the Middle East Institute concludes its series on Revolution and Political Transformation in the Middle East by examining the progress that has been made throughout the region in order to understand what lies ahead. As the varied fates of the deposed Qadhafi, Mubarak, and Ben ‘Ali governments indicate (not to mention the fates of the embattled governments of al-Asad in Syria and Salih
in Yemen), no two countries have had the same trajectory in the Arab Spring, and events across the region will likely unfold in similarly varied ways.
Every country that has seen a movement for change in the past eleven months has contended with different circumstances: different regime strengths, different demographic compositions, different sets of long-standing rivalries, and different attitudes towards change. The articles in this final volume seek to provide insight into
some of these differences, by looking forward to prospects for election and reform in Tunisia and Egypt (and what seems to be stability in Morocco), by looking to the past for the inspiration of literature, and by examining the dynamics of protest and non-violence as a tactical choice of protestors.
When we began this series of publications, we recognized the extreme difficulty faced by any scholar in seeing into the future for the implications of dramatic change — what seemed unthinkable only a year ago is now a reality in many places. What we hoped for was not to generate a perfect foresight into events to come, but rather to prompt a nuanced analysis of the different factors at play and the different possible trajectories that might result. While this volume represents the conclusion of this series, it does not represent the end of the conversation. By presenting these viewpoints, we hope we have begun a debate that will continue.