Daily Egypt and Tunisia links 10/22/2016

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Daily Egypt and Tunisia links 05/27/2016

  • tags: Tunisia Egypt economy unemployment youth demonstrations analysis book

    • situate the movements in Egypt and Tunisia in the framework of the imposition of neoliberal economic reform and structural adjustment programs (ERSAPs) on Tunisia, from the mid-1980s, and Egypt, from 1991. The labor movements were the most salient expression of the deteriorating conditions of life under the regime of neoliberal globalization, or “flexible accumulation,” as the regulation school of political economy terms it
    • The recent murder and torture of the Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni, who was researching the independent trade union movement in Egypt, suggests that it will be quite a while before anyone takes up this subject again.
    • class and political economy were far more salient elements of the 2011 uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt (and I might have added Bahrain and Morocco) than most Western (and even local) accounts were willing to acknowledge
    • the successful installation of a (highly problematic, to be sure) procedural democracy in Tunisia, in contrast to the establishment of an authoritarian praetorian regime far more vicious than that of Mubarak in Egypt, made it necessary to argue that class and political economy alone do not determine outcomes
    • The character and political role of the Tunisian and Egyptian armies is also a factor
    • the economic and social discontent expressed by the desperate demise of Bouazizi and Yahyaoui has only intensified
    • In 2010 the national unemployment rate was under thirteen percent. By 2015 the figure rose to 15.3 percent. Unemployment rates in the center-west and southern regions of the country (including Kasserine and Sidi Bouzid) are typically nearly double the national average. In 2015 the OECD estimated national youth unemployment (ages fifteen to twenty-four) at nearly forty percent.
    • The government understands the problem, but has no solution. On 20 January the cabinet announced that 5,000 unemployed in Kasserine would be hired for new public sector jobs. Another 1,400 were to be hired through an existing employment program. However, on 22 January, Finance Minister Slim Chaker revoked the promise of 5,000 new jobs in Kasserine, claiming that the previous announcement was due to a “communication error.”

      There will be another revolution if the social and economic circumstances do not change,” said President Béji Caïd Essebsi on the fifth anniversary of Tarek Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation. Nidaa Tounes, a big-tent coalition of secularists ranging from former communists to former Ben Ali supporters has split. Over two dozen of its deputies have left, and it is no longer the largest party in the parliament. The terrorist attacks have reduced tourism to a catastrophically low level. The economy is not expected to grow at all in 2016. None of its traditional elite political forces—secular or Islamist—imagine an economic program substantially different than the one Tunisia has pursued since the mid-1980s.

    • On 19 January, faced with a UGTT threat to call a general strike, the employers’ association (UTICA) agreed to increase wages for about 1.5 million private sector workers. But for the unemployed, the streets are their only recourse.

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Daily Egypt and Tunisia links 01/24/2016

  • tags: ArabSpring analysis opinion Egypt Tunisia Jordan Yemen Algeria Morocco Libya Bahrain Syria revolution authoritarianism

    • What Egypt witnessed, and what soon spread to most of the Arab revolutionary states, is that the action of the revolution itself, the mass civilian protest, was sufficient to bring down the regimes but could not uproot the state establishment.

      The Arab regimes, with few exceptions, were able since the 1960s to seize full control of the state, with all its civilian, security and military apparatuses and managed to subjugate it to the rulers’ needs. Those who stand in the face of the peoples, and those who turned against the movement of revolution and change, are not just the traditional ruling class, but the entire state establishment.

    • the forces of revolution and change were not able to see the importance of what the Arabs share in common.

      They did not realise that they were facing counterrevolutionary forces both locally and regionally. All the faltering of the Arab revolution and its counterrevolution has a regional dimension. In the case of Syria in particular, the regional soon changed into international.

    • the counterrevolution’s wave has not been able to provide an alternative capable of gaining sufficient legitimacy to continue. All the counterrevolutionary states are in fact failing states

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Daily Egypt and Tunisia links 02/06/2015

  • tags: Egypt Tunisia military judiciary institutions analysis

    • The real answer to Egypt and Tunisia’s divergent trajectories may therefore lie in the responses of each country’s state institutions to the calls to thwart the democratic transition. In Egypt, the military and judiciary heeded and even welcomed these calls. The opposition in Egypt was able to appeal to the judiciary to dissolve the democratically elected parliament and to the military to oust the democratically elected president. In Tunisia, by contrast, the judiciary was unable and the military unwilling to perform these functions. Without state institutions to partner with, the Tunisian opposition ultimately had no choice but to come to the negotiating table with Ennahda, facilitating consensus.
    • The Brotherhood’s biggest mistake, however, may have been to encroach on the military’s historic monopoly over national security decisions. The National Defense Council, composed overwhelmingly of military figures under the SCAF, became majority-civilian under Morsi (and tellingly reverted back to majority-military in the 2014 Constitution). In December 2012, the Brotherhood raised more red flags by allegedly backing a Qatari-Palestinian scheme to buy land in the Sinai. The military balked, claiming that “Sinai is a red line” and Sisi took the unprecedented step of issuing a decree (typically the president’s prerogative) limiting the sale of this land.Wael Haddara, an advisor to Morsi, told me about another incident in December 2012 when he and two other Morsi administration officials were sent to Washington to meet with the Department of Defense. Intentionally or not, the Egyptian embassy in D.C. failed to inform the defense attache of their meeting, contributing to fears that Morsi was sidelining the military.
    • The Tunisian “success story,” then, is not that all sides wanted democracy, but rather that all sides had no choice but to settle for democracy.

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Daily Egypt and Tunisia links 12/02/2013

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Daily Egypt and Tunisia links 11/08/2013

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