The Middle East since 1945 is associated primarily with conventional wars and various forms of guerrilla warfare. Nevertheless there have been significant examples of unarmed resistance, most notably in Iran and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), and most recently in the Arab uprisings of 2011. Protests in Tunisia, Egypt and Bahrain in early 2011 were primarily peaceful, although in Libya, Yemen and Syria the initially unarmed protests have developed into forms of civil war.
Two significant anthologies, separated by nearly two decades, are:
- Crow, Ralph E.; Grant, Philip ; Ibrahim, Saad E., Arab Nonviolent Political Struggle in the Middle East Boulder CO, Lynne Rienner, , 1990, pp. 129 .
Includes chapters on ‘Violent and Nonviolent Struggle in Arab History’ and ‘Arab-Muslim Cases of Nonviolent Struggle’, and appendices by Gene Sharp and Ronald McCarthy.
- Stephan, Civilian Jihad: Nonviolent Struggle, Democratization, and Governance in the Middle East (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) .
Opens with thematic chapters – on the dynamics of nonviolent action, on Arab nonviolent struggle (Crow and Grant, see above), on Islam, on humour and resistance, and on the role of external actors. Follows with case studies on various struggles or episodes in Palestine, Western Sahara, Lebanon, Iran, Egypt, Kuwait, Syria, Turkey and Egypt.
For a brief overview of unarmed struggles up to 1999, see:
Zunes, Stephen , Unarmed Resistance in the Middle East and North Africa In Zunes; Kurtz; Asher, Nonviolent Social Movements: A Geographical Perspective (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements)Oxford, Blackwell, 1999, pp. 41-51 .
Two major examples of civil resistance – the 1977-79 revolution against the Shah of Iran and the First Palestinian Intifada, 1987-1991 – are referenced below. The subsection on Palestine brings the story up to date with references on the development of unarmed methods (for example against the ‘Separation Wall’) in recent years. There are also subsections on the 2005 ‘Cedar Revolution’ in the Lebanon, and on the Sahrawi resistance to Moroccan occupation of the Western Sahara, since its turn to internal civil resistance, rather than externally led armed resistance, in 2005. Although the latter is a secessionist struggle, its campaign for human and democratic rights has implications for Morocco as a whole.
The ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011 and subsequent events in the countries involved are covered separately under E.V. B.