chapter  26
10 Pages

Emerging forms of citizenship in the Arab world

ByDina Kiwan

This chapter examines contemporary evolving conceptualizations of citizenship in the Arab Middle East in the context of the ongoing Arab uprisings triggered by events in Tunisia in December 2010, when a street trader, Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself in desperate protest against his treatment by the police, who had confiscated his unlicensed cart. Following this incident, demonstrations throughout December 2010 led to the removal of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from office on 14 January 2011. This triggered revolts across the Arab world, most notably in Egypt, where demonstrations organized by civil society on 25 January 2011 were larger than anticipated and increasingly gathered momentum around Cairo’s Tahrir Square and throughout the country. The protestors called for the resignation of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak. Whilst Mubarak initially organized counter-demonstrations, he ultimately resigned on 11 February 2011, transferring his powers to the military (Dalacoura, 2012 ). Just days after the fall of Mubarak, protests against Ghaddafi broke out in Benghazi in Libya; by September 2011, Ghaddafi’s regime had fallen and he was killed on 20 October 2011 (Dalacoura, 2012 ). Except for Bahrain, protests have been relatively limited in the Gulf countries, and protests in Morocco, Algeria, and Jordan, unlike in Tunisia and Egypt, have not, to date, led to the fall of these autocratic regimes. In Syria, popular demonstrations began in March 2011 and had spread nationwide by April 2011, demanding the resignation of President Bashar Al-Assad. The protests evolved into armed conflict against government forces; on 15 July 2012, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) described the conflict as a ‘non-international armed conflict’ – in effect, the ICRC’s legal definition for civil war. According to the UN and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, a conservative estimate of between 1.5 and 2.5 million Syrians have been displaced within the country (BBC News, 2012 ; UNHCR, 2013 ); it is estimated that 1.2 million refugees will have entered Lebanon alone by the end of 2013 ( Daily Star : Lebanon, 2013 ).