Follow Us

Follow on Twitter    Follow on Facebook    YouTube Channel    Vimeo Channel    SoundCloud Channel    iPhone App    iPhone App

Engaging Books Series: Lynne Rienner Press Selections on Democracy

ENGAGING BOOKS SERIES
 
Lynne Rienner Press Selections

On Democracy

This is a new series that features books by various publishers on a given theme, along with an excerpt from each volume. The second installment involves a selection from Lynne Rienner Press on the theme of Democracy. Other publishers' books will follow on a monthly basis. 

 

 

Table of Contents

Building Rule of Law in the Arab World: Egypt, Tunisia, and Beyond

By Eva Bellin and Heidi E. Lane

About the Book
About the Editors
Scholarly Reviews
Scholarly Praise
Additional Information
Where to Purchase
Excerpt
Call for Reviews 

Beyond the Arab Spring: Authoritarianism and Democratization in the Arab World

By Rex Brynen, Pete W. Moore, Bassel F. Salloukh, and Marie-Joëlle Zahar 

About the Book
About the Authors
Scholarly Reviews
Scholarly Praise
Additional Information
Where to Purchase
Excerpt
Call for Reviews 

Politics and Culture in Contemporary Iran: Challenging the Status Quo

Edited by Abbas Milani and Larry Diamond

About the Book
About the Editors
In the Media and Scholarly Reviews
Scholarly Praise
Additional Information
Where to Purchase
Excerpt
Call for Reviews

Party Politics and the Prospects for Democracy in North Africa

 By Lise Storm

About the Book
About the Author
Scholarly Reviews
Scholarly Praise
Additional Information
Where to Purchase
Excerpt
Call for Reviews
 

 


 

 

Building Rule of Law in the Arab World: Tunisia, Egypt, and Beyond

By Eva Bellin and Heidi E. Lane, editors

    

About the Book

How might Arab countries build the foundations for rule of law in the wake of prolonged authoritarian rule? What specific challenges do they confront? Are there insights to be gained from comparative analysis beyond the region? Exploring these questions, the authors of Building Rule of Law in the Arab World provide a theoretically informed, empirically rich account of key issues facing the countries at the forefront of political change since the Arab Spring as governments seek to develop effective and responsible judiciaries, security sectors, and anticorruption agencies.


About the Editors

Eva Bellin is Myra and Robert Kraft Professor of Arab Politics at Brandeis University.

Heidi E. Lane is associate professor of strategy and policy and director of the Greater Middle East Research Study Group at the US Naval War College.


Scholarly Reviews

Democratization


Scholarly Praise for Building Rule of Law in the Arab World

"Important and original.... This rich, insightful work makes an important contribution to the scholarly literature and will also be valuable to policymakers and aid professionals who seek to build more stable and accountable states in the Middle East."
—Bruce Rutherford, Colgate University


Additional Information

2016
311 pages
LC: 2015031367

Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-62637-278-8 $75.00
E-Book ISBN: 978-1-62637-434-8 $75.00


Where to Purchase

Lynne Rienner Press
Amazon


Excerpt

Excerpt from Chapter 1

Arbitrary rule has long plagued the Arab world. Its attendant consequences—injustice, cruelty, corruption, and degradation—have cultivated a deep sense of political anger and resentment among the people of the region. In fact, outrage over such arbitrary rule proved to be one of the primary triggers for the spate of uprisings that seized the region in 2011–2012. Along with a desire for “bread” and “freedom,” the people hungered for human dignity, that is, an end to the capricious and often-cruel treatment meted out by remote and unaccountable states. This desire spurred hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of citizens to take to the streets and demand political change. In the language of political analysts, the people yearned for the “rule of law.” The question facing activists and analysts alike is how to achieve this objective?

In Building Rule of Law in the Arab World we aim to tackle this question, at least in a preliminary way. The goal of this endeavor is to get a clear sense of the institutional and political underpinnings of rule of law, consider the comparative experience of others who have wrestled with this ambition, explore the empirical foundations (and obstacles) to building rule of law in the region, and construct the analytic foundation for future research on this question. To make the project manageable, we have limited our focus to the development of four of the institutional building blocks of rule of law: the judiciary, the police, the military, and regulatory/anticorruption agencies. We draw first on the experience of specialists expressly not from the region to gain comparative analytic leverage on the means that have so far proven most effective in fostering rule of law elsewhere. Our inquiry is guided by several questions: Is there a standard menu of practices, a “toolkit” of sorts, that fosters rule of law in the given institution? What are some of the key obstacles, political and otherwise, that subvert the implementation of these reforms? What should be the timing and sequencing of these measures? And can an intrinsic relationship be identified between building rule of law and democratization such that the two must be pursued simultaneously? Or should one project logically precede the other?

To anchor this analysis in the experience of the Arab world, we have enlisted the work of specialists with expertise in the workings of the judiciary, military, police, and regulatory agencies in the region. These specialists delve into a series of case studies focused primarily (but not exclusively) on the experience of the two Arab countries at the forefront of change ushered in by the upheavals of 2011, namely Tunisia and Egypt. The goal is to highlight the specific challenges faced by these countries in building rule of law as well as to construct an empirical and historical foundation for future research in this area. The analysis makes clear some of the unique challenges faced by countries in the region just as it confirms the presence of more generalizable impediments identified by broader comparative analysis.

Defining Rule of Law

The rule of law is a capacious concept—so much so that the term’s varied usages have given rise to “conceptual cacophony” (Moller and Skaaning, 2014: 173).1 Nearly all understandings of the term embrace the notion of “restricting the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws,” and most definitions make gestures to such ideals as “fairness,” “equal treatment,” “predictability,” and “transparency.” But variations in both foci and remedies typically follow from the users’ divergent ambitions and institutional perches. Lawyers will typically seek to end arbitrary arrests, trials without due process, and cruel or degrading punishment, and they advocate for the creation of independent and impartial judiciaries. Anticorruption crusaders will typically focus on the problems of the misuse of public funds (for private ends) and advocate for the creation of regulatory agencies with the power to monitor and punish official malfeasance. For the purposes of this book, we will embrace a slightly abridged version of the definition put forward in a report by the UN secretary-general for the UN Security Council (2004), which defines rule of law as

a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions, and entities, public and private, including the state itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced, independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards. It requires, as well, measures to ensure adherence to the principle of supremacy of law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in application of the law, separation of powers, . . . legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness, and procedural and legal transparency.2 (emphasis added)

Notes

1. Moller and Skaaning (2014) devote the better third of their book to exploring the variety of definitions and measures used to capture the notion of “rule of law.” Although the components that distinguish these different conceptions often correlate with one another, they do not uniformly do so. To manage this “conceptual cacophony,” Moller and Skaaning advise that analysts always clarify their usage and explicitly “define their terms” up front. See also Kleinfeld (2006) for an extraordinarily lucid and insightful discussion of the meaning of rule of law. Kleinfeld distinguishes rule of law by identifying five ends that are typically associated with it, namely (1) government bound by law, (2) equality before the law, (3) law and order, (4) predictable and efficient justice, and (5) lack of state violation of human rights.

2. The unabridged version of this definition also includes the notion of public “participation in decisionmaking” as part of the concept of rule of law. In my mind, the right to participate in decisionmaking is more appropriately associated with “democratization” than with building rule of law. For more on the relationship between the two, see below.


Table of Contents

Building Rule of Law in the Arab World: Paths to Realization—E. Bellin.

JUDICIAL REFORM.
Reforming Judiciaries in Emerging Democracies—L. Hilbink.
A Clash of Institutions: Judiciary vs. Executive in Egypt—N. Bernard-Maugiron.
What Independence? Judicial Power in Tunisia—M.S. Ben Aissa.

MILITARY REFORM.
Reforming the Armies of Authoritarian Regimes—Z. Barany.
Democracy vs. Rule of Law: The Case of the Egyptian Military—R. Springborg.
Subjecting the Military to Rule of Law: The Tunisian Model—R.A. Brooks.
The Military Balancing Act: Cohesion vs. Effectiveness in Deeply Divided Societies—O. Barak.

POLICE REFORM.
The Politics of Police Reform in New Democracies—D.E. Davis.
Between Collapse and Professionalism: Police Reform in Egypt—T. Aclimandos.
Dismantling the Security Apparatus: Challenges of Police Reform in Tunisia—Q. Hanlon.

ANTICORRUPTION REFORM.
From Contention to Reform: Deep Democratization and Rule of Law—M. Johnston.
Strengthening Governance and Fighting Corruption in the Arab World—G. Heidenhof and L. Bteddini.

CONCLUSION
Lessons, Challenges, and Puzzles for Building Rule of Law in the Arab World—E. Bellin.


Call for Reviews

If you would like to review the book for the Arab Studies Journal and Jadaliyya, please email info@jadaliyya.com

 


 

 


  Beyond the Arab Spring: Authoritarianism and Democratization in the Arab World

               By Rex Brynen, Pete W. Moore, Bassel F. Salloukh, and Marie-Joëlle Zahar

About the Book

For years the authoritarian regimes of the Arab world displayed remarkable persistence. Then, beginning in December 2010, much of the region underwent rapid and remarkable political change.  This volume explores the precursors, nature, and trajectory of the dynamics unleashed by the Arab Spring.

The authors focus on the complex forces that have sustained authoritarianism in the region, as well as the roots of popular mobilization and regime overthrow. They also examine the possibilities for democratic reform—and relapse. Their work offers a comprehensive assessment, at once sophisticated and accessible, of current developments and trends in the countries of the Arab Middle East and North Africa.


About the Authors

Rex Brynen is professor of political science at McGill University. His numerous publications on the Middle East include A Very Political Economy: Peacebuilding and Foreign Aid in the West Bank and Gaza and, as coeditor, the two-volume Political Liberalization and Democratization in the Arab World.

Pete W. Moore is associate professor of political science at Case Western Reserve University. He is author of Doing Business in the Middle East: Politics and Economic Crisis in Jordan and Kuwait.

Bassel F. Salloukh is associate professor of political science at the Lebanese American University in Beirut. He is coauthor of Mapping the Political Landscape: An Introduction to Political Science and coeditor of Persistent Permeability: Regionalism, Localism, and Globalization in the Middle East.

Marie-Joëlle Zahar is associate professor of political science at the University of Montreal. She is coeditor of Intra-State Conflict, Government and Security: Dilemmas of Deterrence and Assurance.


Scholarly Reviews

CHOICE

International Studies Review

Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs (147-150)

Journal of Islamic Studies

Library Journal

Middle East Media and Book Reviews Online


Scholarly Praise for Beyond the Arab Spring

"Provides a comprehensive explanatory framework with which to make sense of the Arab uprisings."
—Jacob Høigilt, Journal of Islamic Studies

"A comprehensive assessment, at once sophisticated and accessible, of current developments and trends."
—Elfatih A. Abdelsalam, The Muslim World Book Review

"An insightful and thought-provoking volume which addresses both the forces which have sustained authoritarianism in the region and the roots of popular mobilization."
—Charis Bredin, Banipal

"Well documented in the recent literature about persistent authoritarianism and social movements for change, this undergraduate introduction may also serve as a useful reference for more advanced scholars and professionals."
—Choice

"Well-researched and theoretically sound.... Scholars of contemporary Arab politics and policymakers will benefit from [this] book's rigorous and multidimensional approach to authoritarianism and democracy in the Arab world."
—Library Journal

"Will the events of 2011 result in a softening of the authoritarianism that has long characterized the Arab world?... The authors of Beyond the Arab Spring offer a thoughtful, thorough, and timely foundation for thinking about that question."
—Robert D. Lee, Colorado College

"The authors bring a sophisticated, multidimensional perspective to the analysis of Middle Eastern authoritarianism, most notably in their sensitivity to the complex international political economy that shapes the state at all levels.... Written with energy and clarity, the book will be valuable to scholars and students alike."
—Mary Ann Tétreault, Trinity University
 

Additional Information

2012
349 pages
LC: 2012021783

Hardcover: ISBN: 978-1-58826-853-2 $68.50
Paperback: ISBN: 978-1-58826-878-5 $27.50
E-Book: ISBN: 978-1-62637-184-2 $27.50


Where to Purchase

Lynne Rienner Press
Amazon


Excerpt

Excerpt from Chapter 1

For much of the past four decades, a central puzzle of Arab politics had been a striking persistence of authoritarianism. No other part of the world had proven quite so resistant to the so-called third wave of democratization, which transformed Latin America and Eastern Europe in the 1980s and 1990s and which also had significant effects in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. In 2010, the advocacy organization Freedom House classified 59 percent of countries around the world as electoral democracies. Of these, not one was to be found in the Arab world.1

In 2011, however, the authoritarian status quo was shattered by the Arab Spring—a series of Arab uprisings that unseated long-standing dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, generated mass protests and countervailing repression in Bahrain and Syria, and affected almost every other regime in the region in some way.2 Clearly something very important changed, with lasting repercussions for the politics of the region.

The Arab Spring will be the focus of a great deal of scholarly debate in the years to come, both because it emerged so suddenly out of a context of apparent authoritarian stability, and because of its widespread and lasting implications for Middle East politics. The affected societies will struggle with the challenges of transition to uncertain futures as contending political and social forces seek to influence the emerging political order. Some will undoubtedly prove difficult: democratic transitions do not always succeed, and violence often leaves legacies of continued civil strife. Some authoritarian regimes will weather the storm. Others may not. And still others, in adapting to the new regional environment, may change in significant ways.

This volume has emerged from a long-standing interest on the part of the authors in issues of authoritarianism and democratization in the Arab world, one that dates back to the early 1990s.3 For reasons that will be explored later, we resist the temptation to treat the current wave of antiauthoritarian protest as disconnected from the dynamics of prior authoritarian maintenance, but instead treat them as fundamentally linked. Consequently this volume confronts two sets of questions. First, what have been the dynamics of authoritarian persistence in the region? Second, why did many of these systems so suddenly fail in 2011? In addition, we also identify some of the transitional challenges that newly emerging postauthoritarian regimes will face, although we do so only tentatively given the uncertainties of the current era.

Although we sometimes make reference to the broader Middle East, our focus is the Arab world.4 In part this is because only so much can be dealt with in a single volume. More fundamentally however, it is because the existence of a common language, shared political narratives, and transnational Arabic media renders the Arab world especially permeable to transnational political influences, including the various demonstration and neighborhood effects associated with authoritarianism and democratization.5 It was very much in this “public space” that the echoes of change reverberated so powerfully in 2011.6

In reflecting on these issues we are not inclined to offer any especially parsimonious theorizing about either the persistence or the collapse of Arab authoritarianism, and will similarly not offer a definitive account of the Arab Spring. For a start, we are far from convinced that there was or is a single Arab authoritarianism; rather, there is an array of political settings with histories, structural conditions, and dynamics that share both similar and strikingly dissimilar characteristics. The politics of Ben Ali’s Tunisia were very different from those of Saleh’s Yemen or the Khalifa monarchy in Bahrain, and nothing anywhere quite resembled Qaddafi’s Libya. The dynamics of opposition and protest in those countries, although linked, have also been quite different.

We tend to the view that it was a complex multiplicity of factors (and interaction between them) that buttressed regimes and undermined them. We also believe that processes of change in the region have often been subtle and gradual, with pressures mounting until the point where new forms of politics suddenly become possible. As Ellen Lust has suggested, there is value in “shifting our focus from a search for immediate causal factors to a greater recognition of micro- and meso-level transitions—that is, gradual, interrelated changes in political, economic and social spheres that, like slowly moving tectonic plates, eventually create the conditions conducive to earth-shattering events.”7

In doing so, our intellectual inspirations and methodological preferences are unabashedly eclectic. Too often scholars have, in their desire to set their work within a certain intellectual tradition, prioritized a focus on the Weberian state and its formal boundaries at the expense of the transnational, emphasized one set of causal factors to the exclusion of others, preoccupied themselves with formal politics at the expense of less formal processes, or looked for that which is quantifiable while ignoring the insights of qualitative research (or vice versa). While our eclecticism is probably more the result of personal orientation than anything else, we find some vindication in research that suggests that the predictive accuracy of political scientists is inversely proportional to their preoccupation with “one big idea.”8 We also recognize that, as Charles Kurzman has argued with regard to Iran, political upheaval is particularly resistant to theorizing. The collapse of the established and internalized rules of the game results in rapid and unpredictable shifts in political preference structures as individuals are suddenly called upon to respond to developments that once seemed almost unimaginable.9 In the transition from authoritarian settings (where individuals have every reason to keep their political views private) to transitional ones (in which the individual risk of expressing dissent declines as increasing numbers of people do so), the character of public discourse and behavior can change quickly.10 Perceptions of political opportunity structures change in unanticipated ways, and “informational cascades” reshape what people choose to do.11 

Given this, and in light of the uncertainty in the region’s political development, it seems wise for scholars to be appropriately humble about the analytical claims that they make. Instead, we should see the present moment as a historic opportunity for review, reflection, and critical dialogue about what the Arab Spring represents.12 In this sense, we invite readers to disagree with us as well as agree, for it is such an intellectual and critical conversation that scholarship aims to develop. To the extent that this book reflects some of our own intellectual curiosity and excitement, we also hope to render the challenges of writing amid uncertain times into an asset rather than a liability.

Notes

1. Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2011 (Washington, DC, 2011), http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=594. While a number of issues can be raised about the categorization and assessment of “electoral democracy,” the observation nonetheless highlights the lack of meaningful democratic politics in the Arab world at the time.

2. There has been considerable debate—both in general and among the authors of this volume—as to what term best describes the Arab upheavals of 2011. Commentator Rami Khouri, for example, has argued that “Arab Spring” underemphasizes the agency of the protesters. He prefers “Arab revolution,” noting that “revolution” (thawra) is the term that the protesters themselves have most often used. On the other hand, in many countries it is not clear that the events of 2011 have yet met the threshold of “revolution” in the way that many social scientists use the term. Other terms such as “Arab uprisings” and “Arab protests” are also inadequate for other reasons. Rather than impose the straightjacket of a single term, we have tended to use several (including “Arab Spring”) depending on preference and context. Rami Khouri, “Spring or Revolution?” Agence Global, 17 August 2011, http://agenceglobal.com/article.asp?id=2618.

3. Rex Brynen, Bahgat Korany, and Paul Noble, eds., Political Liberalization and Democratization in the Arab World, vol. 1, Theoretical Perspectives (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1995); Bahgat Korany, Rex Brynen, and Paul Noble, eds., Political Liberalization and Democratization in the Arab World, vol. 2, Comparative Experiences (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1995).

4. Although part of the Arab world, this volume offers little attention to Sudan, where local political dynamics are deeply shaped by the secession of the south—an issue beyond the scope of our primary focus on authoritarianism and democratization. For reasons of space, we also devote little attention to Mauritania, and none to Arab League members Comoros (which really is not part of the political dynamics of the “Arab world”) and Somalia (which is not “Arab” to begin with).

5. We have long emphasized the importance of political permeability in the region, and especially with regard to the Arab world. See, for example, many of the contributions in Bassel Salloukh and Rex Brynen, eds., Persistent Permeability? Regionalism, Localism, and Globalization in the Middle East (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004).

6. For the role of satellite television in contributing to this Arab “public space,” see Marc Lynch, Voices of the New Arab Public: Iraq, Al-Jazeera, and Middle East Politics Today (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006).

7. Ellen Lust, “Why Now? Micro Transitions and the Arab Uprisings,” The Monkey Cage blog, 24 October 2011, http://themonkeycage.org/blog/2011/10/24/why-now-micro-transitions-and-the-arab-uprisings.

8. Philip E. Tetlock, Expert Political Judgment (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005).

9. Charles Kurzman, The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004).

10. On the issue of “preference falsification” under authoritarianism (or other conditions) and the role that changes in this can play in rapid political change, see Timur Kuran, Private Truths, Public Lies: The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997).

11. On the concept of informational cascades, see Sushil Bikhchandani, David Hirshleifer, and Ivo Welch, “A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change as Informational Cascades,” Journal of Political Economy 100, 5 (1992); Susanne Lohmann, “The Dynamics of Informational Cascades: The Monday Demonstrations in Leipzig, East Germany, 1989–91,” World Politics 47, 1 (October 1994).

12. For other such efforts, see F. Gregory Gause III, “Why Middle East Studies Missed the Arab Spring: The Myth of Authoritarian Stability,” Foreign Affairs 90, 4 (July–August 2011); Eva Bellin, “Reconsidering the Robustness of Authoritarianism in the Middle East,” Comparative Politics 44, 2 (January 2012).


Call for Reviews

If you would like to review the book for Arab Studies Journal and Jadaliyya, please email info@jadaliyya.com

 

 


 

 

Politics and Culture in Contemporary Iran: Challenging the Status Quo 

Edited by Abbas Milani and Larry Diamond

About the Book

Despite the relative calm apparent in Iran today, there is unmistakable evidence of political, social, and cultural ferment stirring beneath the surface. The authors of Politics and Culture in Contemporary Iran—a group of scholars, activists, and artists—explore that unrest and its challenge to the legitimacy and stability of the present authoritarian regime. Ranging from political theory to music, from human rights law to social media, their contributions reveal the tenacious and continually evolving forces that are at work resisting the status quo.


About the Editors

Abbas Milani is Moghadam Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University and codirector, with Larry Diamond, of the Iran Democracy Project at Stanford's Hoover Institution.

Larry Diamond is senior fellow at both the Hoover Institution and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford.


In the Media and Scholarly Reviews

CHOICE

Foreign Affairs

The Middle East Journal (Volume 69, Issue 3, p. 497)

Library Journal


Scholarly Praise for Politics and Culture in Contemporary Iran

"This valuable book ... provide[s] an objective and critical analysis of Iran's political development."
—Choice 

"This finely crafted book ... allows readers to go beyond the official representation of the country and gain a deeper appreciation of the complexity of a rich and vibrant society."
—Library Journal


Additional Information

2015
301 pages
LC: 2015452325

Hardover ISBN: 978-1-62637-146-0 $67.00
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-62637-147-7 $25.00
E-Book ISBN: 978-1-62637-536-9 $25.00


Where to Purchase

Lynne Rienner Press
Amazon


Excerpt

From the Introduction

In his annual State of the Nation message, delivered the day after the Persian New Year (Nowrooz) in 2014, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei lamented at some length over what he said was the country’s cultural malaise. A few weeks later, he told a meeting of the eighty-six-man Assembly of Experts (also known as the Council of Experts)—constitutionally responsible for choosing and overseeing the work of the supreme leader—that what keeps him awake at night is the culture war and the fact that the country is drifting away from what he considers the safe and sanguine ethos of Islamic values. Since then, hardly a week has gone by when some high-ranking official, close to Khamenei’s coterie of power, has not voiced anxiety about the country’s cultural drift.

A hint of the sources of his anxiety could be seen in the 2014 annual Fajr Festival—a film festival organized each year in Tehran around the time of the Islamic Revolution’s victory in 1979. Iranian cinema has been much acclaimed internationally, but domestically eight years of the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad presidency produced stagnation and a proliferation of “Islamic” movies. These were invariably a poor imitation of old Hollywood, Bollywood, or even crassly commercial movies of prerevolutionary Iran, laundered with a superficial dose of piety and repackaging the cardboard heroes of previous blockbusters as martyrs of Islam or of the eight-year war with Iraq (1980–1988). In 2014 something unusual and telling happened at the festival. Every movie that had a whiff of “official” or “Islamic” ideology was booed and interrupted with incessant clapping. Of course, clapping itself is a taboo according to the official ideology; singing the praise of Allah and his Prophet or the supreme leader is Islamic, while clapping is dismissed and derided as a relic of Western influence.

Iran today is undergoing a profound, even historic sociocultural transition. Much of the media, however, and many scholars have ignored this transition to focus instead on either the nuclear issue or the political and economic aspects of the country’s turmoil. Sometimes, the issue of sanctions and the falling value of the Iranian currency and other times Ahmadinejad and his denial of the Holocaust have been the focus of attention. Occasionally, the increasing role of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in every facet of Iranian society and its growing economic dominance has caught the attention of Western media and scholars. For a while, the functions and rising power of the IRGC’s elite unit—the Qods Brigade—and its commander, General Qassem Suleimani, took center stage. At times, commentators have contemplated the relative power of Ayatollah Khamenei and the IRGC. Iran’s command economy and the endemic corruption in a system partially dominated by bonyads (foundations) and directly controlled by Ayatollah Khamenei himself have not failed to attract some attention. Ayatollah Khamenei’s possible sickness, his penchant for anti-Americanism, and the already raging battle to shape the process of choosing his successor have been a favorite topic of commentators and journalists. During Ahmadinejad’s last two years as president, his cantankerous relations with Khamenei, as well as Khamenei’s increasingly tense relations with his friend of fifty years, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, have been hard to ignore. Other analyses have focused on the rift between the heads of Iran’s three ostensibly independent branches of government. Of course, there has also been much attention devoted to the crisis over Iran’s nuclear programs and the prospects for a broader rapprochement between Iran and the United States. But other elements of Iran’s dynamic society have received less than adequate attention. In particular, the ongoing struggle for freedom and its often subtle but persistent efforts to defy the regime’s procrustean prescriptions, not just on politics but on every facet of daily life and culture, has received less attention than it deserves. 

When the tumults of Iran have appeared in the form of a mass-mobilized movement for democracy and against electoral rigging—as they did in June 2009, when by some estimates 3 million people came out in the capital city of Tehran alone to peacefully protest against what they thought was a rigged election—the world certainly paid attention. But the media coverage was short-lived. The role of social media, even Twitter, was the subject of some attention. Iran was declared, maybe prematurely, to have attempted the first Twitter Revolution. The prominent role played by women in both the education system and in political protests also caught the eye of some journalists, photographers, and scholars. The shocking images of Neda Aghasoltan, a young woman killed by a bullet while she was peacefully protesting in the aftermath of the 2009 election, became iconic of the Green Movement: a peaceful social movement that came to support the presidential candidacy of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, and eventually to protest what people believed were rigged results.

Neda and the Green Movement, no less than the nuclear negotiations, have figured prominently in English-language reporting and analysis. However, when the struggle for democracy or individual freedoms has taken more subtle or subaltern forms, when acts of dissent and even defiance of regime authority have become more politically metaphorical and less literal, media attention and scholarly scrutiny have been scant. In the language of literature, as Jorge Luis Borges reminded us, censorship is the mother of metaphors; in the language of social action, too, oppression and censorship, brutality and limits on freedom, and finally clumsy attempts at cultural engineering—all hallmarks of the Islamic Republic’s behavior in most of its thirty-four-year tenure—beget social metaphors, and more specifically, attempts to resist and dissent in symbolic domains. Unless we listen to these voices and deconstruct the political meaning of their acts, we will, in our view, fail to grasp the real complexities of Iran today—and thus we will fail to anticipate its future.

For far too long, the motto that if it can’t be measured then it does not exist (or is of no significance) has blinded many scholars to the immeasurable shifts in Iranian cultural values and social practices. In the long run, these deep transformations of culture and social relations taking place in Iran today may prove to have a bigger impact on its democratic prospects than the overt cleavages and conflicts in the current political system. 


Call for Reviews

If you would like to review the book for Arab Studies Journal and Jadaliyya, please email info@jadaliyya.com

 


 

 

Party Politics and the Prospects for Democracy in North Africa

By Lise Storm

About the Book

What are the prospects for democracy in North Africa in the wake of the Arab Spring? Addressing that question, Lise Storm provides a rich analysis of party politics in the region.

Storm focuses on Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria, examining the key characteristics and political dynamics of each country's party system as they have evolved over time. Her research sheds light not only on the origins, development, and functioning of these parties, but also on their contribution to the survival of authoritarianism and their potential as vehicles for democratization.


About the Author

Lise Storm is senior lecturer in Middle East politics at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter. She is author of Democratization in Morocco.


Scholarly Reviews

CHOICE

The Middle East Journal (Volume 68, Issue 1, p. 169)


Scholarly Praise for Party Politics and the Prospects for Democracy

"Storm's book [is] very valuable.... Highly recommended."
—Choice 

"Lise Storm separates the wheat from the chaff in North Africa's political party scene.... [She] has made an important, impressive contribution to our understanding of political parties in North Africa, particularly in the post-Arab Spring context."
—Matt Buehler, Middle East Journal

"An excellent and timely analysis of political parties in North Africa. These parties are crucial to democracy and democratization, and Storm provides numerous insights as to what we can expect of them in these changing times."
—Francesco Cavatorta, Dublin City University
 

Additional Information

2013
244 pages
LC: 2013018369

Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-58826-958-4 $28.50


Where to Purchase

Lynne Rienner Press
Amazon


Excerpt

From the Introduction

This is a book about the Arab world: the Maghreb, to be precise. It is about dynamics of domestic politics and the prospects for democracy in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia—three countries bound together by history and geographic location, yet with very different political experiences.

This is also a book about the Arab Spring, of course. How can one talk about politics and democracy in the present day and age, particularly with reference to the Arab world, without discussing the events of the Arab Spring? One of the three cases at the center of my analysis, Tunisia, was the country in which the Arab Spring erupted in late 2010, before it subsequently spread across the region. Although this book is largely about the Arab Spring, it is important to underline that it was not written because of it.

As I shall seek to make clear in the pages that follow, the book is one result of my desire to understand how politics is conducted at the national level in the Maghreb. More specifically, I wanted to understand how the political elite bargains amongst itself, and which parameters frame this process of bargaining, which could potentially lead to democracy.

The Arab Spring

The term democracy had rarely been used very optimistically in a Middle Eastern context prior to the Arab Spring. Then, suddenly, as the protests spread from Tunisia to Egypt, Morocco, Libya, and farther to the east, people across the globe found themselves querying whether we were watching yet another “spring,” that is, a spring in the sense of the “protests of 1968” or the popular momentum that brought down a number of authoritarian regimes in Eastern and Southern Europe in the mid-1970s and the late 1980s and subsequently introduced democracy in a number of these states. Were we about to witness a democratic Middle East, an Arab world ruled by popularly elected governments, with freedom of expression, assembly, and association protected and respected? The expectations were extremely high, whether in the Arab world or abroad. Taking into account the authoritarian character of the incumbent regimes, the rather loosely coordinated nature of the Arab Spring protests, and the lack of explicit commitment from many of the more established political parties early on in the process, the optimism attached to these events as a force for long-term, significant political change was, in hindsight, perhaps a little naïve.

The protests in Tunisia were the most effective, largely because they were not anticipated and also because they were difficult to quell due to their intensity and web-based origins. Few, if any, whether inside Tunisia or abroad, had expected Mohamed Bouazizi’s desperate protest to spark large-scale popular demonstrations that would sweep the country and eventually oust a president who had been firmly in power since the late 1980s. There is no doubt that had these protests been anticipated, they would have been quelled much earlier on, and with much more vigor, using the usual mechanisms of regime control: patronage, most likely in the form of higher salaries, bonuses, and food subsidies, as well as the promise of the creation of more jobs for the rapidly growing number of unemployed, particularly among the youth. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his vast entourage did not realize the significance of the protests until it was too late, however. With the demonstrations being largely coordinated via the Internet (primarily through Facebook and Twitter), and spread by word of mouth, they were all the more difficult to stop. There were no headquarters that could be ransacked and closed down, and there was no leader who could be silenced: the headquarters were everywhere in cyberspace, and anyone willing to initiate or spread the word of an upcoming demonstration was effectively a leader. The authorities simply had no way to stop the wave of protests once it had begun, namely, because it did not take the form of a movement and there were no structures to be attacked. The protesters were a force due to their sheer size, their shared objective, and their commitment to turn out in force on a daily basis.

As we all know, the Tunisian protesters succeeded in toppling the incumbent regime, as Ben Ali left the country and took up exile in Saudi Arabia when the demonstrations spun out of control and it had become clear that nothing but his exit would appease the angry masses. In the excitement over the breakdown of Ben Ali’s regime and the subsequent competitive legislative elections—the first free and fair of their kind in the postindependence era—most Tunisians and international observers forgot to query the nature and democratic potential of the new regime, that is, apart from questioning the compatibility of Islam and democracy. In other words, while plenty of time was afforded the discussion of whether the new cabinet, headed and dominated by the Islamist Ennahda, was truly committed to a secular, democratic Tunisia, few people inquired about the status of the fundamental democratic building blocks, most notably the character of the political parties, the nature of the party system, and the structure of the political system. Had these truly changed in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution? And to what extent had they changed? Moreover, what did these developments—or lack of developments—indicate about the prospects for democracy in Tunisia? These fundamental questions, which have hardly surfaced in the discussion of the implications of the Jasmine Revolution, are consequently the core focus of this book.


Call for Reviews

If you would like to review this book for Arab Studies Institute and Jadaliyya, please email info@jadaliyya.com

About the Cities Page

The Cities Page is a Jadaliyya platform promoting critical understandings and investigations of urban life and space, beyond the dominant formal and physical narration on cities. The Cities Page publishes works from different fields that deepen our understanding of the social production of diverse urban geographies and the contestation around them. It aims to consolidate an interdisciplinary and integrated approach to reading and writing about space and cities, incorporating historical, social, cultural, political, legal, economic and technological dimensions. It welcomes contributions in various formats, languages, and on various urban geographies and histories.

Contact Cities Page Editors via Cities@Jadaliyya.com

Submit to the Cities Page

The Cities Page Editors invite submissions that critically explore related topics, and are eager to feature debates within the field. Specifically, we welcome:

  • Essays exploring the relationships between space, power and social justice, and spatial practices and the built environment, etc.
  • Reviews of books, films, exhibits, blogs, and pundits
  • Interviews with practitioners, activists, scholars, government officials, and others.
  • Reports, press releases, statements, conference announcements, and other information.
  • Photo essays
  • Video clips

Submissions should conform with the general Jadaliyya submissions guidelines. The Cities Page accepts submissions in Arabic, English, French, and Turkish.

You can send your submission to Cities@Jadaliyya.com

Listen