Previously at the ICA - Events

The Green Wave, Dir Ali Samadi Ahadi, 2010

Winds of Change in the Arab Territories

24 Sep 2011

The Winds of Change in the Arab Territories is a panel and public discussion exploring the issues, history and longer term complexities of the 'Arab Spring'.

The arrival of the Arab Spring surprised everyone. Mass protests during the first months of 2011 succeeded to topple the autocratic regimes of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. These popular uprisings were spontaneous, swift and relatively peaceful, and promised sweeping democratic change across the Arab regions. But since February the ‘velvet revolution’ has met intractable military resistance from the regimes in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain, and become vicious civil wars. And yet, despite mounting casualties, the people of Syria and elsewhere are still demonstrating in the streets. The lesson of the past six months is that peaceful protest must turn into armed struggle, an option which would depend on gaining foreign military intervention, as in Libya. Spring might be over but we haven’t heard the end of this story.

The Arab nations have endured ‘stable’ dictatorships for some 30 years or more. Why this sudden and virtually simultaneous mass movement for democracy now? Does it mean that authoritarian regimes can no longer rely on European and especially US support? Patrick Cockburn in The Independent remarks that it was precisely this fear in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies ‘that panicked them into their violent onslaught on protesters in Bahrain’. What effects will change in North Africa have on the geo-politics of the Mediterranean, the EU and Turkey? What position will Iran manoeuvre? What unforeseen outcomes will civil unrest have in the Middle East, Israel and Palestine?

Panel speakers include Issandr Al Amrani, Hamid Dabashi, Haim Bresheeth, Nadje Al-Ali and Ali Nobil Ahmad in the Chair.

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