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The Arab Uprisings Two Years On: Ideology, Sectarianism and the Changing Balance of Power in the Middle East

This paper traces the changes to the domestic politics of Arab states following the 2011 uprisings and places them in a continuum depending on the degree of internal conflict and contestation they have engendered. It also outlines the uprisings’ effects on the three strands of Islamism-radical, Salafi and moderate-across the Middle East. The paper’s main purpose is to assess the uprisings’ impact on the confrontation between the Iranian-led and pro-Western camps. It argues that ideological and sectarian considerations in the post-2011 Middle East subtly interact with but tend to be trumped by the realpolitik calculations of the various players, which are defined by regime and state interests.

The Arab Uprisings Two Years On Ideology Sectarianism and the
 

The fall of Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia in January 2011, followed by the ousting of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt a month later, unleashed a tumultuous series of events in the Middle East and North Africa. Two years on, the region is still grappling with the impact of the Arab revolts. The wave of optimism for the region’s future associated with Tahrir Square has given way to horror at the bloodbath in Syria. In countries where regimes have been replaced as a result of the uprisings, namely in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, there is hope, but also uncertainty. In Bahrain, fear and hatred reign after the suppression of the rebellion. Other parts of the region—the other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, Jordan, and Morocco—are still experiencing the after-effects of the uprisings.

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