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Volume One -> E. Resisting Oppressive, Dictatorial, Military or Authoritarian Rule -> E. V. Middle East and North Africa

After the Second World War Iranian moves towards electoral democracy were thwarted when the US and British intelligence services collaborated in 1953 to overthrow the elected prime minister Mohammed Mossadeq, who had nationalized the Anglo-Iranian oil company in 1951. The Shah had tried unsuccessfully to oust Mossadeq and had to flee the country, and the CIA was able to mobilize his supporters. The Shah returned to assert the dominance of the dynasty (founded in 1921 when his father had seized the throne). His regime was subsequently severely criticized for human rights violations.

The Shah’s authoritarian regime was overthrown in 1977-79 by impressive, predominantly nonviolent mass protests which showed that people power can prevail over regime brutality. Millions went on strike and filled the streets, and the resistance continued despite the shooting of thousands of unarmed protesters. This brutality led at the end of 1978 to a split in the armed forces, with the army deciding to stay in its barracks. A very wide range of groups with differing ideological perspectives took part in the mass strikes and demonstrations. But a key symbolic and organizing role was played by the exiled Ayatollah Khomeini, whose supporters were in due course able to seize power.

Abrahamian, Ervand, Iran Between Two Revolutions, Princeton NJ, Princeton University Press, 1982, pp. 561

For the protests leading to the overthrow of the Shah, see pp. 496-537. See also Abrahamian, Ervand , Mass Protests in the Iranian Revolution, 1977-79 In Roberts; Garton Ash, Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements)Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 162-178 .

Albert, David H., Tell the American People: Perspectives on the Iranian Revolution, Philadelphia PA, Movement for a New Society, 1980, pp. 212

Albert also comments briefly on the Iranian Revolution to illustrate the dynamics of power relationships (pp. 29-36) in his booklet: Albert, David H., People Power: Applying Nonviolence Theory Philadelphia PA, New Society Publishers, , 1985, pp. 64 .

Bashirey, Hossein, The State and Revolution in Iran 1962-1982, London, Croom Helm, 1984, pp. 203

Chapters 5-7 focus on the demonstrations.

Foran, John, The Iranian Revolution of 1977-79: A Challenge for Social Theory, In Foran, John , A Century of Revolutions: Social Movements in Iran Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, , 1994,

chapter 7.

Kapuscinski, Ryszard, Shah of Shahs, [1985], London, Penguin Books, 2006, pp. 152

Celebrated analysis by distinguished Polish journalist of later years of Shah’s regime and meditation on power, the role of fear and the nature of revolution.

Kurzman, Charles, The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran, 1977-1979, Cambridge MA, Harvard University Press, 2004, pp. 304

Contends that the revolution was truly unpredictable by critiquing five sets of retrospective ‘explanations’. Includes essay on available source material.

Ritter, Daniel P., On the Role of Strategy in Nonviolent Revolutionary Social Change: the Case of Iran, 1977-1979, EUI MWP; 2011/07, Florence, European University Institute, Max Weber Programme, 2011, pp. 19

Are revolutions made or do they come? This question is at the heart of revolution theory and has received plentiful attention from scholars. In this paper I suggest that adherence to this traditional dichotomy may not be the most useful to approach the study of revolutions. Therefore, I argue that theorists of revolutions are well advised to examine the role of the strategic decisions made by revolutionaries in their struggles against the state. Drawing empirically on the nonviolent revolution of Iran in 1977-79, I show that the strategic decisions made by the opposition movement not only allowed them to capitalize on a political opportunity, but that their strategic choices in fact helped bring that opportunity about in the first place.

Stempel, John D., Inside the Iranian Revolution, Bloomington IN, Indiana University Press, 1981, pp. 324

US diplomat describes and assesses the evolution of protest.

Once they had established their dominance, the Ayatollahs initially controlled a draconian regime based on religious extremism more brutal than the Shah’s, and relying heavily on various security services. The political constitution does, however, allow (within a theocratic framework) regular parliamentary and presidential elections, which supporters of moderate reform could attempt to use. It was in response to the regime blatantly ‘stealing’ the election from the opposition candidate for the presidency in 2009 that the ‘Green Revolution’ erupted. The western press dubbed the protests the ‘Twitter revolution’, but the importance of Twitter in the organization of the protests has been contested. The Arab Spring prompted a brief resurgence of protest in early 2011.

Buchan, James, Impasse in Iran, New Left Review, issue 59 (Sept./Oct.), 2009, pp. 73-87

Mostly an analysis of broader Iranian history, but discusses June 2009 protests and their aftermath.

Democracy, Journal of, Section on ‘Iran in Ferment’, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 20, issue 3 (October), 2009, pp. 6-20

Articles by:

  • Afshan, Ali and Graham Underwood, ‘The Green Wave;
  • Milani, Abbas, ‘Cracks in the Regime’ (focusing on role of Islamic Revolutionary Guard corps and dissent in Ministry of Intelligence’;
  • Bouroumand, Ladan, ‘Civil Society’s Choice’ (stressing human rights and referring back to her article Bourourmand, Ladan , The Untold Story of the Fight for Human Rights Journal of Democracy, 2007, pp. 64-79 ).

Falasiri, Arash, Iran’s Green Movement: Decapitated but not Defeated, London, OpenDemocracy.net, 2011

Hashemi, Nadar ; Postel, Danny, The People Reloaded: The Green Movement and the Struggle for Iran’s Future, New York, Melville House, 2011, pp. 440

Anthology exploring the nature of the movement, including expert and participant analyses, manifestos, communiques, interviews and debates. A number of the presentations, including that by co-editor Danny Postel and Charles Kurzman’s ‘Cultural Jiu-Jitsu’ can be viewed on YouTube channel ‘Iran: Politics of Resistance’.

Majd, Hooman, The Ayatollahs’ Democracy: an Iranian Challenge, London, Allen Lane, 2010, pp. 282

The author, an Iranian journalist living abroad, provides lively analysis of the Green Movement and current Iranian politics. See also: Majd, Hooman , Think Again: Iran’s Green Movement. It’s a Civil Rights Movement, not a Revolution Washington DC, Foreign Policy, , 2010 , online at http://foreignpolicy.com/2010/01/06/think-again-irans-green-movement/.

The assassination of a former prime minister, Rafiq Hariri, prompted large numbers to go on strike, take to the streets and pitch tents on Martyrs’ Square in March 2005, to protest against the dominance of Syria in internal politics. This upsurge of protest did succeed in securing the resignation of the pro-Syrian prime minister and, with the help of US pressure, resulted in Syrian agreement to withdraw their troops (present since the earlier civil war from 1975-91 in Lebanon). But the demonstrators were mostly Sunni Muslims, Christians and Druze, and Hizbollah mobilized a counter-demonstration of up to 300,000 poor Shias in favour of Syria, raising fears of reviving the conflicts of the civil war. Despite car bombs and assassination attempts, civil war has been avoided, but attacks on Israel from Lebanese territory led to an Israeli invasion in 2008 which brought widespread destruction. In general Lebanon suffers not only from internal religious divisions but from its role in regional and international rivalries, with Israel and the USA opposing Syrian and Iranian influence. These wider conflicts can also impinge on interpretations of the Cedar Revolution. There were revived protests in January 2011 against the accession of a Hizbollah-backed prime minister, and since then Lebanon’s proximity to the bitter struggle between the regime and the opposition in Syria 2011-12 has also polarised Lebanon, with the Sunni community generally supporting the Syrian opposition.

Hirst, David, Beware of Small States: Lebanon, Battleground of the Middle East, New York, Nation Books, 2010, pp. 496

Analysis by the Guardian Middle East editor of Lebanese politics.

Kerr, Michael ; Knudsen, Are, Lebanon: After the Cedar Revolution, London, C. Hurst, 2012, pp. 256

Covers Lebanon since the mass movement in response to Hariri’s assassination, covering the role of Hizbollah and other political groupings.

Young, Michael, The Ghosts of Martyrs Square: An Eyewitness Account of Lebanon’s Life Struggle, New York and London, Simon and Schuster, 2010, pp. 336

Sympathetic account of the ‘Cedar Revolution’ by journalist of mixed Lebanese-American parentage.

Zimmer, Benjamin, Budding Hope: Lebanon's Cedar Revolution, Harvard International Review, Vol. 27, issue 3 (22 November), 2007

Discusses the mass protests and Syrian troop withdrawal in 2005.

The creation of Israel in 1948 (and the expulsion of many Palestinians from their land) left Palestinians without political representation and subordinate to the conflicting goals of the Arab states and Israel. Organized independent guerrilla resistance began to emerge by 1965, but Palestinian political consciousness grew after the 1967 Arab Israeli war, which ended with the Israeli occupation of the remaining Palestinian areas of previously Arab Palestine – Gaza, the West Bank of the Jordan river (previously controlled by Jordan) and Jerusalem.

Palestinian resistance is often associated with the well-publicized guerrilla tactics of groups such as Al Fatah, headed by Yasser Arafat, which drew recruits from the refugee camps and put the Palestinian cause on the world’s map from the late 1960s. But Palestinians inside the occupied territories did begin to resist in various ways the imposition of Israeli control and the taking of their land for Israeli settlements. The most effective internal opposition began in 1987 and continued into the early 1990s, though it had begun to flag by 1990. In combination with other developments in Arab and international politics, this campaign led to Israel entering into negotiations for the creation of an independent Palestinian state. This (first) ‘Intifada’ – literally ‘shaking off’ – was a mass movement of active civil resistance involving old and young, men and women, and using a range of nonviolent methods, including mass boycotts, as well as increasing self-organization through popular committees, for instance on health. Stone-throwing, often by children, is perhaps the dominant international image of the intifada, but the movement avoided use of firearms. It demonstrated not only Palestinian solidarity and determination, but the existence of an autonomous people asserting their rights. It drew international criticism of Israeli repression, and enabled the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), then based in Tunis, to enter into negotiation with Israel. These resulted in a historic Declaration of Principles in 1993 and the so-called Oslo peace process, which was undermined by increasing Israeli settlements and de facto Israeli economic and military control.

Useful overviews of Palestinian resistance, and specifically the role of nonviolent action, from the early 20th century to the present are:

Darweish, Marwan ; Rigby, Andrew, Popular Protest in Palestine: The Uncertain Future of Unarmed Resistance, London, Pluto Press, 2015, pp. 215

Two experts on Palestine examine the history of Palestinian political resistance to the creation of the state of Israel from the late 19th century to 1939, and provide a balnced assessment of the phases of primarily unarmed popular resistance to Isreali domination. They cover the First Intifada and (after the mainly armed resistance of the Second Intifada) the growth of nonviolent forms of protest since the building of the Separation Wall in 2005. 

Pearlman, Wendy, Violence, Nonviolence, and the Palestinian National Movement, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2011, pp. 304

Qumsiyeh, Mazin, Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment, London, Pluto Press, 2010, pp. 304

Rigby, Andrew, Palestinian Resistance and Nonviolence, Jerusalem, PASSIA – Palestine Academy for Study of International Affairs, 2010, pp. 80

See also:

Scott Kennedy, The Druze of the Golan: A Case of Nonviolent Resistance, Journal of Palestine Studies, 1984, Account widely reprinted (including in both Crow, Ralph E.; Grant, Philip ; Ibrahim, Saad E., Arab Nonviolent Political Struggle in the Middle East Boulder CO, Lynne Rienner, , 1990, pp. 129 , and Stephan, Civilian Jihad: Nonviolent Struggle, Democratization, and Governance in the Middle East (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements) , (above) of the (Syrian) Druze resistance to incorporation into Israel after the occupation of the Golan Heights in 1967.
Jawad Botmed, Civil Resistance in Palestine: The village of Battir in 1948, Coventry, Coventry University, 2006, MA dissertation by grandson of leader of village’s resistance to incorporation into Israel.
Alimi, Eitan Y., “Constructing Political Opportunity”: 1987 – The Palestinian Year of Discontent, Mobilization, Vol. 11, issue 1 (February), 2006, pp. 67-80

Analysing Palestinian print media in 1987 reveals a convergence in calls for action.

Aronson, Geoffrey, Creating Facts: Israel, Palestine and the West Bank, 2nd edition, London, New York and Washington, Kegan Paul International with Institute of Palestine Studies, 1990, pp. 334

Covers the growing resistance from 1967 inside the Occupied Territories.

Bregman, Ahron ; El-Tahri, Jihan, The Fifty Years War: Israel and the Arabs, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1998, pp. 301

Published in conjunction with a BBC TV series. Chapters 27 and 28 (pp. 187-199) cover the first Intifada, the impact on Israel and the initiatives taken by the PLO.

Dajani, Souad R., Eyes Without Country: Searching for a Palestinian Strategy of Liberation, Philadelphia PA, Temple University Press, 1995, pp. 238

See also Dajani, Souad R., Resistance in the occupied territories In Zunes; Kurtz; Asher, Nonviolent Social Movements: A Geographical Perspective (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements)Oxford, Blackwell, 1999, pp. 52-74 .

Galtung, Johan, Nonviolence and Israel/Palestine, Honolulu, University of Hawaii Institute for Peace, 1989, pp. 79

Hudson, Michael C., Palestinians: New Directions, Washington DC, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University, 1990, pp. 268

Includes analysis of the role of the labour movement (chapter 3), of traders (chapter 2) and of women in the Intifada.

Khalidi, Rashid, The uprising and the Palestinian question, World Policy Journal, Vol. 5, issue 3 (summer), 1988, pp. 497-517

King, Mary Elizabeth, A Quiet Revolution: The First Palestinian Intifada and a Strategy for Nonviolent Resistance, New York, Nation Books, 2007, pp. 304

Argues that the First Intifada represented a mass nonviolent mobilization in which women played a significant role, and looks at the global history of nonviolent resistance to suggest that nonviolent strategies are the way to achieve a just peace. See also King, Mary Elizabeth, Palestine: Nonviolent Resistance in the Struggle for Statehood, 1920s-2012 In Bartkowski, Recovering Nonviolent History: Civil Resistance in Liberation Struggles (A. 1.b. Strategic Theory, Dynamics, Methods and Movements)Boulder CO, Lynne Rienner, 2013, pp. 161-180 .

Lustick, Ian S., Writing the Intifada: Collective action in the Occupied Territories, World Politics, Vol. 45, issue 4 (July), 1993, pp. 560-594

Review article covering nine recent books, and providing overview of movement and noting the impact on the Arab world (Algeria and Jordan) and wider world.

O'Ballance, Edgar, The Palestinian Intifada, Basingstoke and New York, Macmillan/Palgrace and St Martins Press, 1997, pp. 252

Also covers negotiations, the Oslo Accords and the new Palestinian Authority.

Peretz, Don, Intifada: The Palestinian Uprising, Boulder CO, Westview Press, 1990, pp. 246

Charts the evolution of the movement from spontaneous protests to highly organized resistance.

Rigby, Andrew, Living the Intifada, London, Zed Books, 1991, pp. 233

Account of the ‘unarmed resistance’ of the First Intifada and also an analysis in the context of theories of nonviolent action. Addresses the issue of leverage when the regime has no direct dependence on a population but would rather expel them. See also: Rigby, Andrew , The Legacy of the Past: The Problem of Collaborators and the Palestinian Case Jerusalem, PASSIA – Palestine Academy for Study of International Affairs, , 1997, pp. 94 , which considers the issue of ‘collaboration’ in more detail.

Sharp, Gene, The Intifada and nonviolent struggle, Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 19, issue 1, 1989, pp. 3-13

See in same journal: Sharp, Gene ; Safieh, Afif , Gene Sharp: Nonviolent struggle Journal of Palestine Studies, 1987, pp. 37-55 .

Vogele, William B., Learning and nonviolent struggle in the Intifadah, Peace and Change, Vol. 17, issue 3 (July), 1992, pp. 312-340

Argues the need for nonviolent resisters to re-evaluate strategies and tactics in the light of the opponents’ reactions; and (more exceptionally) to redefine their interests and goals.

The peace process launched in 1993 was always opposed by sections of the Israeli population, especially the settlers, and by some Palestinians, including the Islamist political movement Hamas, which maintained the right to respond to Israeli provocation and was responsible for some suicide bombings within Israel. In September 2000, following frustration at the lack of substantive change in circumstances despite the so-called peace process, and the provocative visit by Ariel Sharon to Temple Mount/Haram Sharifi (holy to both Muslims and Jews), a second uprising broke out. Israel responded immediately to protests with shooting and systematic repression.

The Second Intifada was much more violent than the first. Individuals and groups in the Palestinian territories argued early in 2001 for mass involvement and nonviolent methods, but the armed militias were at the forefront of the struggle and sponsored the new tactic of suicide bombings inside Israel, which in turn prompted Israeli retaliation and major military incursions into Palestinian territory. Over time, however, many Palestinians have adopted a range of primarily nonviolent methods of protest. The Israeli decision in 2002 to build a separation wall between the West Bank and Israel, in the process expropriating Palestinian land, has in particular become a focus of continuing unarmed resistance by local communities affected by it supported by civil society groups. The ‘Karama (dignity) pledge’ launched in 2010 promoted a popular boycott of all Israeli settler produce (over 500 items were identified), and in May 2012 Palestinian prisoners managed to win concessions from the Israeli authorities by a coordinated hunger strike. Unarmed Palestinian protests have also been supported and publicised internationally by the involvement of a range of transnational solidarity activists and observers.

On the ongoing unarmed struggle, see:

Barghouti, Mustafa, Palestinian Defiance: Interview by Eric Hazan, New Left Review, issue 32, 2005, pp. 117-131

Barghouti is the leader of Al Mubadara (the Initiative), launched in 2000 with a petititon signed by 10,000, urging civil resistance, and formally established in 2002.

Carter Hallward, Maia, Creative Responses to Separation: Israeli and Palestinian Joint Activism in Bil’in, Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 46, issue 4 (July), 2009, pp. 541-558

On a key focus of protest against the ‘Apartheid Wall’.

Carter Hallward, Maia, Struggling for a Just Peace: Israeli and Palestinian Activism in the Second Intifada, Gainesville FL, University of Florida Press, 2011, pp. 286

Carter Hallward, Maia ; Norman, Julie M., Nonviolent Resistance in the Second Intifada: Activism and Advocacy, New York, Palgrave MacMillan, 2012, pp. 196

Kuttab, Eileen, Empowerment as Resistance: Conceptualizing Palestinian Women’s Empowerment, Development, Vol. 53, issue 2, 2010, pp. 247-253

Najjar, Sonja, Women’s Empowerment and Peace-Building under Occupation?, Palestine-Israel Journal, Vol. 17, issue 3 & 4, 2011, pp. 59-66

Argues peacebuilding has to empower resilience and resistance to occupation.

Norman, Julie M., The Second Palestinian Intifada: Civil Resistance, London, Taylor and Francis, 2010, pp. 176

Shows Palestinians frequently resorted to nonviolent tactics, especially when these were framed as a practical strategy rather than just as a moral preference.

Pearlman, Wendy, Occupied Voices: Stories of Everyday Life from the Second Intifada, New York, Thunder's Mouth Press / Nation Books, 2003, pp. 257

Interviews with Palestinians. See also Pearlman, Wendy , Precluding Nonviolence, Propelling Violence: The Effect of Fragmentation on Movement Protest Studies in Comparative International Development, 2012, pp. 23-46 , which argues that ‘cohesion’ – to be assessed according to the strength of leadership, organisation and a sense of collective purpose – ‘approximates a necessary condition for nonviolent protest’.

Because Israel was created out of a war with the surrounding Arab states and faced the continuing threat of attack, military service was a citizen obligation and conditions were initially hostile to peace activity (although there were some committed pacifists). However, after moves for Egypt to recognise Israel in the later 1970s, desire for a peaceful settlement with Israel’s neighbours and for a negotiated return to the Palestinians of the territories occupied after the 1967 war (as required by UN resolutions) increased. peace activism and resistance to the draft was intensified as a result of Israel’s controversial invasion of Lebanon in 1982. The challenge posed by the First Intifada and the PLO’s 1988 decision to recognize the existence of Israel encouraged some Israeli opposition to the occupation and led to some reservists refusing to serve in the occupied territories. Peace groups committed to working with Palestinians met for joint discussions, and took part in acts of solidarity such as planting olive trees along the frontier between Israel and the West Bank to replace those uprooted by the Israeli government. Cooperation was assisted by the Palestinian Centre for Nonviolence based in East Jerusalem. A joint demonstration between Israelis and Palestinians, supported by an international presence, took place in 1989.

Since the Second Intifada of 2000 public opinion in Israel has tended to swing to the right and be more hostile to the Palestinian cause, but civil society groups have continued to cooperate with Palestinians, for example at checkpoints and defying house demolitions. Israeli groups have also helped to launch legal challenges to the separation wall and its course, both in Israel and at the Hague Court of International Justice. Some serving soldiers have publicly condemned Israeli military action or refused to serve in the occupied territories.

For more references on Israeli conscientious objection to the draft see G.3.b.ii of the first edition of the bibliography.

Deutsch, Yvonne, Israeli women against the Occupation: Political growth and the persistence of ideology, In Mayer, Tamar , Women and the Israeli Occupation: The Politics of Change London, Routledge, , 1994, pp. 88-105

Describes the growing number of organizations engaged in demonstrating solidarity with the Palestinians (e.g. Women in Black), meeting with Palestinian women in the Occupied Territories, helping Palestinian women political prisoners, or proposing peace plans.

Hurwitz, Deena, Walking the Red Line: Israelis in Search of Justice for Palestine, Philadelphia PA, New Society Publishers, 1992, pp. 208

Essays by 20 Israelis – some of them ‘selective objectors’ – who question standard definitions of nationalism, national security and loyalty.

Kaminer, Reuven, The Politics of Protest: The Israeli Peace Movement and the Palestinian Intifada, Brighton, Sussex Academic Press, 1996, pp. 248

Veteran Israeli leftist explores relations between moderates and militants, and gives special emphasis to rise of an autonomous women’s movement, especially Women in Black and their weekly vigils. With glossary of political parties and groups.

Kaufman, Edy ; Salem, Walid ; Verhoeven, Juliette, Bridging the Divide: Peacebuilding in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Boulder CO, Lynne Rienner, 2006, pp. 230

Includes chapter by Mohammed Abu Nimer, ‘Nonviolent Action is Israel and Palestine: A Growing Force’ (pp. 135-171) and others on the role of civil society and NGOs in both Israel and Palestine. Also profiles of a range of Israeli and Palestinian organizations.

Kidron, Peretz, Refusenik!: Israel’s Soldiers of Conscience, London, Zed Books, 2004, pp. 160

Documents from the soldiers’ resistance to the Lebanon War, the First Intifada and the Second Intifada.

Linn, Ruth, Conscience at War: The Israeli Soldier as a Moral Critic, Albany NY, State University of New York Press, 1996, pp. 245

Sharoni, Simona, Gender and the Israeli-Palestine Conflict: The Politics of Women’s Resistance, Syracuse NJ, Syracuse University Press, 1994, pp. 199

Explores how Intifada strengthened Palestinian women’s movement and stimulated an Israeli women’s peace movement and led to joint movement.

The mass popular protests that broke out in Tunisia in December 2010 were triggered by both economic and political factors. The fall of President Ben Ali on 14 January 2011, after 23 years of dictatorial rule, became a signal for protests across a large part of the Arab World. In Egypt, where there was already a growing and organized political opposition, the major uprising began on 25 January and its drama centred on Tahrir (Liberation) Square. People power in Egypt also had initial success, in forcing the resignation and later trial of President Mubarak. Large demonstrations demanding greater democracy spread across much of the Arab world, with impressive protests in Bahrain, Yemen and Syria. The Bahrain protests were brutally crushed with the aid of the Saudi-Arabian rulers but dissent continued, some political reforms were promised, and change seems possible. In Yemen tribal and regional divisions have resulted in episodes of armed conflict, but unarmed demonstrations demanding democratic change have also continued. In Syria, after months of extraordinarily brave continued demonstrations, which resulted in thousands of deaths and arrests, deserting troops began to organize some armed resistance, primarily designed to defend the people in the most rebellious towns. During 2012 fighting became more widespread and destructive and extremist Jihadi groups began to become prominent in the armed struggle. The increasing number of deaths, and flow of refugees into Lebanon, prompted Arab League, and eventually UN, intervention – though negotiators and observers on the ground had little success in moderating the regime’s attack on its people.

The monarchies in both Morocco and Jordan responded swiftly in 2011 to signs of protest spreading to their countries by promising constitutional reforms, although their failure to deliver satisfactory change has led to some subsequent protests. The Saudi royal family, however, made clear it would not countenance any proposals for political change. The repressive politics and society of the kingdom are not, however, wholly immune to change. Some women have been contesting with some success the draconian restrictions imposed upon them, for example the ban on women driving cars. In Algeria there were also youth protests in early 2011, often violent, but calls for a pro-democracy rally on 12 February by a coalition of groups only mustered a few hundred protesters.

The country where initially unarmed protests were directly superseded by civil war was Libya, where regional and tribal divisions were manifested in the liberation of Benghazi whilst Colonel Gaddafi continued to control Tripoli (although not all the denizens of the city supported him) and key towns associated with him. The intervention of NATO (backed by the Arab League and initially with formal UN support) provided the air power that tipped the military scales, but only after fierce fighting and many deaths.

The Arab Uprisings had parallels with 1848 in Europe, a region-wide set of mutually inspired popular revolts against autocratic regimes, but more directly with the ‘velvet revolutions’. of 1989 in the Soviet bloc. Despite degrees of physical violence (often defensive), the emphasis of the first few months of 2011 was on unarmed resistance. Demonstrators often stressed to reporters that they were ‘peaceful’ in contrast to the violence used by the regimes, especially in Syria, until some of the deserting soldiers took up arms against the regime. In Egypt, the most significant of the ‘revolutions’ both because of the regional importance of Egypt and the scope of the protests, some activists were aware of Gene Sharp’s writings on the strategy of nonviolent resistance and also of the lessons of the ‘Colour Revolutions’.

Even in Tunisia and Egypt, where the protesters had initial success in deposing their presidents, it soon became apparent that bringing about a total change of regime would be more difficult – although by mid-2012 Tunisia had achieved a new constitution and peaceful elections. In Egypt, despite the trial of Mubarak, the military and security services clearly hoped to maintain effective control – and brutally suppressed some of the renewed protests. But voting did go ahead for a new constitution and presidential elections in an unprecedented free atmosphere were held in May 2012. The Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi was elected as president, but began to antagonise not only his more liberal opponents but also some who had originally voted for him, through a number of arbitrary measures including forcing through a new Islamist style constitution. On the anniversary of his inauguration on 30 June 2013 huge crowds gathered in Tahrir Square and also in Alexandria and elsewhere to demand Morsi’s resignation. Muslim Brotherhood supporters rallied behind the President. The army intervened on 3 July to depose Morsi and call for new elections. Whilst many protesters welcomed the military action, the Muslim Brotherhood protested vigorously against the military takeover, were bloodily suppressed and then outlawed as an organisation. Morsi was under arrest and on trial by October 2013 and the future of Egypt very uncertain.

The trend towards greater repression in Egypt, evident by the end of 2013, was consolidated during 2014 with the arrests of thousands of members of the Muslim Brotherhood and others seen by the military regime as subversives, including student protesters and journalists. In March 2014 a court condemned 529 supporters of former President Morsi to death, in response to earlier violent protests against the military regime. The regime gained formal legitimacy when Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (who ousted President Morsi) was elected president in May 2014 with a declared 93 per cent of the votes cast - in a turnout of less than 46 per cent. His left-wing opponent condemned the election as 'an insult to the intelligence of Egyptians'. The election was boycotted by the Muslim Brotherhood (though not by all Islamist parties) and the 6 August youth group, active in the 2011 movement, also called for a boycott. In December 2014 criminal charges against the former military leader, Mubarak, were dropped and in January 2015 the high court overturned the only remaining conviction against him.

In Syria the civil war, which developed out of the months of peaceful protest in 2011 and the desertion of many army officers and soldiers with their weapons, has since been complicated by the involvement of extremist Sunni groups – offshoots of Al Qaida – and since 2014, the even more fanatical Sunni group ISIS, the so-called Islamic State. These groups also seek the overthrow of the Assad regime – which is itself backed by Iran and Hamas fighters – but also seek to destroy the more moderate rebels. The successes of ISIS, both in Syria and Iraq, have caused international alarm and prompted US-led air strikes, exacerbating the already extreme humanitarian crisis.

Following the ‘Arab awakening’, events in many countries affected are changing quite rapidly. We will attempt to update this section regularly online at http://civilresistance.info.

Many journals have had special issues responding to the Arab awakening. Middle East Institute Viewpoints has had three: ‘Revolution and Political Transformation in the Middle East’, Vol. 1, Middle East Institute, Revolution and Political Transformation in the Middle East Washington DC, Middle East Institute, , 2011, pp. 45 , with contributions from Erica Chenoweth, Stephen Zunes, as well as authors from the region. Vol. 2, Middle East Institute, Revolution and Political Transformation in the Middle East Washington DC, Middle East Institute, , 2011, pp. 36 , Vol 3, Middle East Institute, Revolution and Political Transformation in the Middle East Washington DC, Middle East Institute, , 2011, pp. 32 .

Mobilization, vol. 17. no. 4, December 2012, contains an overview by Charles Kurzman. ‘The Arab Spring Uncoiled’, and articles on Egypt, Iran, and Syria.

Swiss Political Science Review, Vol. 17, no. 4, December 2011, pp. 447-491, dedicates a section with articles from leading US-based social movement theorists, including Mario Diani, William Gamson, Jack Goldstone, and Jeff Goodwin – ‘Why we were surprised (again) by the Arab Spring’, pp. 452-6 – with Sharon Erickson Nepstad on ‘Nonviolent Resistance in the Arab Spring: The Critical Role of Military-Opposition Alliances’, pp. 485-491.

Africa Center for Strategic Studies, Africa and the Arab Spring: A New Era of Democratic Expectations, ACSS Special Report No. 1, November 2011, Washington DC, ACSS, 2011, pp. 72

Amin, Samir, 2011: An Arab Springtime?, In Manji; Ekine, African Awakening: The Emerging Revolutions (E. I.2.3. Third Wave of Protests: 2011 -), Cape Town, Dakar, Nairobi and Oxford, Pambazuka Press (imprint of Fahamu), pp. 273-286

(Appeared originally in Monthly Review.)

Anderson, Perry, Explosion in the Arab World, New Left Review, issue 68 (March/April), 2011, pp. 5-14

Editorial reflections on the historical and social context of the revolts.

Brynen, Rex ; Moore, Pete W. ; Salloukh, Bassel F. ; Zahar, Marie-Joelle, Beyond the Arab Spring: Authoritarianism and Democratization in the Arab World, Boulder CO, Lynne Rienner, 2013, pp. 349

Dabashi, Hamid, The Arab Spring: The End of Postcolonialism, London, Zed Books, 2012, pp. 272

An ambitious attempt to explain 2011 in historical context. Starts from the Green Movement in Iran to chart the difference between ‘political modernity’ and the ‘social modernity’ which is supplanting it. Chapter 1 explores the ‘unfolding’ of the Arab Spring and other chapters include discussion of ‘A New Language of Revolt’ and ‘Race, Gender and Class in Transnational Revolutions’.

Gelvin, James E., The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know, New York, Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 208

Book in question and answer format by an historian – topics include the role of youth, labour and religious groups, and why in some cases the military decided not to support the ruler. Discusses also the role of monarchies in Morocco, Jordan and the Gulf.

Isakhan, Benjamin ; Mansouri, Fethi ; Akbarzadeh, Shahram, The Arab Revolutions in Context: Civil Society and Democracy in a Changing Middle East, Carlton, Melbourne University Press, 2012, pp. 184

Laipson, Ellen, Seismic Shift: Understanding Change in the Middle East, Washington DC, Stimson Center, 2011, pp. 138

As civil resistance again took the world of realpolitik by surprise, the Stimson Center invited experts to evaluate how their sectors had viewed the prospects for change in the Middle East.

Lynch, Marc, The Arab Uprising: The Unfinished Revolutions of the New Middle East, New York, Public Affairs, 2012, pp. 288

By US political scientist and Foreign Policy blogger.

Manhire, Toby, The Arab Spring, London, Guardian Books, 2012, pp. 302

Part I is composed of the Guardian live blogs; Part II is made up of essays and analyses covering all the Arab countries, but with especial focus on those where the uprisings were most significant.

Noueihed, Lin ; Warren, Alex, The Battle for the Arab Spring: Revolution, Counter-Revolution and the Making of a New Era, New Haven CT, Yale University Press, 2012, pp. 304

Part I examines ‘The Roots of Rage’, for example the role of ‘Bread, oil and jobs’ and the new media; Part II ‘The Battlegrounds’ discusses Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen and Syria; and Part III considers ‘The New Arab Politics’. Noueihed is a Lebanese/British Reuters correspondent for the Middle East and Warren a specialist in the area.

Roberts, Adam ; Willis, Michael J. ; McCarthy, Rory ; Garton Ash, Timothy, Civil Resistance in the Arab Spring: Triumphs and Disasters, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 360

After a general overviews of politics and resistance in the region, experts on individual countries explore the immediate impact of the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen and Syria, and the subsequent developments, discussing the reasons for reassertion of repression on Bahrain and later Egypt; political breakdown in Libya and civil war intensified by external interference in Yemen and Syria. There are also chapters on the monarchical response to pressure for reform in Jordan and Morocco, and why the Arab Spring did not ignite massive resistance in Palestine. Adam Roberts provides a concluding assessment of the problems of using civil resistance in the Arab Spring, the difficulties of democratization, and the lessons to be learned. 

Sadiki, Larbi, Routledge Handbook of the Arab Spring, London, Routledge, 2015, pp. 688

Includes a wide range of experiences and viewpoints discussing the context and range of the Arab uprisings, and focusing on topics such as women and the Arab Spring, agents of change and the technology of protest and the impact of the Arab Spring on the Middle East. Highlights developments in Egypt.

Schäfer, Isabel, Youth, Revolt, Recognition: The Young Generation during and after the ‘Arab Spring’, Berlin, MIB (Mediterranean Institute Berlin), Humboldt University, 2015, pp. 110

Weddady, Nasser ; Ahmari, Sohrab, Arab Spring Dreams: The Next Generation Speaks Out for Freedom and Justice From North Africa to Iran, Foreword by Gloria Steinem, New York and London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, pp. 256

Selection of personal views and stories with a focus on rejecting various forms of social and cultural oppression.

West, Johnny, Karama! Journeys through the Arab Spring, London, Heron Books, 2011, pp. 387

West is a former Reuters correspondent in Egypt and now works for the UN in the Middle East. Lively personal account and analysis – a further subtitle on the cover is ‘Exhilarating encounters with those who sparked a revolution’. Focuses on Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. ‘Karama’ means honour and dignity, and West stresses its role in sparking and maintaining the revolts, quoting a Tunisian revolutionary from Sidi Bou Zid: ‘This is a revolution of honour’.

So far the only struggles that have attracted a significant literature (as opposed to news reports) are Egypt and (to a lesser extent) Tunisia, because of their degree of initial ‘success’. Jabaliyya.com – an independent ezine from the Arab Studies Institute – is a consistently useful source of information and analysis, with regular country updates. The discussion on Libya is mainly on the military campaigns and controversy about NATO involvement: see for example Hilsum, Lindsey , Sandstorm: Libya in the Time of Revolution London, Faber and Faber, , 2012, pp. 287 (by Channel Four foreign editor).

The important uprising in Barhain is now explored in: 

Conditions in Syria make reliable documentation difficult. By 2012 what had been unarmed resistance had become a civil war, with increasing involvement by ideological extremists, and regional and international intervention. For background see:

For the role of nonviolent action in Syria, as of March 2013, see Zouhour, Line , Whither the Peaceful Movement in Syria? Arab Studies Institute, , 2013 , and from September 2013, three articles in the civil resistance stream of opendemocracy.net: Bartkowski, Maciej J.; Kahf, Mohja , The Syrian resistance: a tale of two struggles London, OpenDemocracy.net, , 2013 , Part 1 on 23 September 2013, and Part 2 on 24 September 2013, and Alwadi, Nada , Voices of Syrian women in civil resistance London, OpenDemocracy.net, , 2013 , 27 September 2013.

Two graphical tools of analysis have been the Syrian Nonviolence movement map of nonviolent activities, updated to July 2013, at http://www.alharak.org/nonviolence_map/en/ and Al Jazeera’s Defection Tracker, which shows defections of senior figures from various sectors of the regime (until May 2013: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/syriadefections/2012730840348158.html.

For other countries see the general references above. NB. Algeria (not usually included because the political uprising was abortive) is discussed in two chapters in: Manji; Ekine, African Awakening: The Emerging Revolutions (E. I.2.3. Third Wave of Protests: 2011 -) , pp. 147-150 and pp. 184-89.

New Internationalist, Syria's Good Guys: Inside a Forgotten Revolution, New Internationalist, issue 485, 01/09/2015, pp. -11

Very useful compendium covering early resistance, the development of civil war and proxy wars providing a timeline, celebrating artistic activity, citizen jourbalism, the White Helmets who rescue the injured, and individual acts of resistance to ISIS. It includes resources on campaigns, web-based analysis and recommended books. 

Note on the "White Helmets": in early 2017 the White Helmets, who have operated in rebel-held areas, have been criticised for exaggerating their role and using misleading videos (a Channel Fact Check disputed a claim by a Canadian journalist that video footage had been recycled). They have also been attacked for their receipt of official western funding, and even accused of extremist factions. Criticisms, which appears to come mostly from pro-Assad and pro-Russian sources, was fuelled by an Oscar nomination for a documentary about their work. 

Shehabi, Ala's ; Owens, Marc, Bahrain's Uprising: Resistance and Repression in the Gulf, London, Zed Books, 2015, pp. 360

A collection of speeches, interviews, short stories and academic analyses showing the development of protest and the role of the occupation od Pearl Roundabout, and also the subsequent crackdown on all form of dissent by the regime.

Shehadeh, Raja ; Johnson, Penny, Shifting Sands: The Unravelling Of The Old Order In The Middle East, London, Profile Books, 2015, pp. 270

See section on 'Syria in Crisis', pp. 191-236.

This section includes essays by Robin Yassin-Nassab, 'Syria Seen and Represented' (based on two visits in 2013 and challenging media representations of Syrian resistance); and by Malu Halasa, 'Defyign the Killers: The Emergence of Street Culture in Syria'.

Bamyeh, Mohammed, The Egyptian Revolution: First Impressions from the Field, Arab Studies Institute, 2011

El-Mahdi, Rabab ; Marfleet, Philip, Egypt: The Moment of Change, London, Zed Books, 2009, pp. 186

Analysis of the Mubarak regime and its policies, the nature of political Islam, and (most relevant here) a chapter on ‘The democracy movement: Cycles of protest’, pp. 87-102, which provides background to Tahrir Square.

Ghonim, Wael, Revolution 2.0: The Power of the People is Greater than the People in Power, London, Fourth Estate, 2012, pp. 308

Memoir of activist who works for Google and focused particularly on promoting the revolution online. He anonymously ran the Facebook page demanding justice for Khaled Said, a young man beaten to death by police in Alexandria in June 2010, and promoted brief demonstrations, for example a ‘silent stand’ by people wearing black and holding hands to express their anger at the lack of justice for Khaled. The Facebook page attracted over 350,000 members.

Kandil, Hazem, Mubarak’s Overthrow, New Left Review, issue 68 (March/April), 2011, pp. 17-56

Interview in which Kandil analyses the revolt brewing under the surface and the role of six distinct groups, the nature of the Mubarak regime, the events of the first month of revolution and prospects for the future.

Kandil, Hazem, Soldiers, Spies and Statesmen: Egypt’s Road to Revolt, London, Verso, 2012, pp. 256

Analysis by political sociologist depicting the revolt as a power struggle between the military, the security services and the political leadership in the context of the previous six decades. Challenges the widespread assumption that after the popular rebellion the military continued to control the political developments.

Shenker, Jack, The Egyptians: A Radical Story, London, Allen/Penguin, 2016, pp. 528

Account of the revolt against Mubarak by a Guardian journalist, based on first hand contact with activists, but also people in slums and factories and those living outside Cairo, and covering earlier development of the workers' activism and unionism and also village revolts against landowners. It includes wider-ranging historical analysis of Egypt's political and economic relations with the West.

Sowers, Jeannie ; Toensing, Chris, The Journey to Tahrir: Revolution, Protest and Social Change in Egypt, 1999-2011, London, Verso, 2012, pp. 320

Begins with the uprising centred on Tahrir Square and then examines the Mubarak regime, the economic trends, and the growing protests by workers, and by democracy, anti-war, social and environment activists.

See also:

Firoze Manji; Sokari Ekine, African Awakening: The Emerging Revolutions, (E. I.2.3. Third Wave of Protests: 2011 -), two chapters by activist Hassan El Ghayesh, (pp. 80-92), Naib, Fatma , Egypt: Women of the Revolution Pambazuka News, , 2011 (pp. 100-106) and Mamdani, Mahmood , An African reflection on Tahrir Square Pambazuka News, , 2011 (pp. 198-210). These chapters are also available online from: http://www.pambazuka.org.
Rabab El-Mahdi, Orientalising the Egyptian uprising, Pambazuka News, 2011, suggesting a non-western interpretation of events.
Mahmood Mamdani, 'Walk to work' and lessons of Soweto and Tahrir Square, Pambazuka News, 2011

As the uprising in Tunisia came first, it attracted immediate attention, but subsequently has not been as well written up as Egypt. Tunisia appeared initially to be the most successful ‘Arab Spring’ democratic transition, but the assassination of a major opposition figure, Chokri Belaid, in February 2013 and the subsequent protests indicated the problems still facing those seeking a stable democracy.

Alexander, Christopher, Tunisia: Stability and Reform in the Modern Maghreb, New York, Routledge, 2010, pp. 160

Relevant for background to the events of 2011.

Bamyeh, Mohammed, The Tunisian Revolution: Initial Reflections, Arab Studies Institute, 2011

Part 2 of the article, published on 21 January 2011, is available at http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/472/the-tunisian-revolution_initial-reflections_part-2.

Democracy, Journal of, The Upheavals in Egypt and Tunisia, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 22, issue 3 (July), 2011, pp. 3-48

This section includes three articles:

Schraeder, Peter J. and Hamadi Redissa, ‘Bem Ali’s Fall’, pp. 3-19;

Howard, Philip N. and Muzammil M. Hussein, ‘The role of the digital media’, pp. 35-48, compares Tunisia and Egypt;

Masoud, Tarek, ‘The Road to (and from) Liberation Square’, pp. 20-34, is primarily about Egypt.

Sebystyen, Amanda, Voices from the Tunisian Revolution, Red Pepper, issue May, 2011, pp. 43-43

Stepan, Alfred, Tunisia’s Transition and the Twin Tolerations, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 23, issue 2 (April), 2012, pp. 89-103

Discusses transition to democracy and possibility of demonstrating how religion, society and the state can be satisfactorily balanced.

See also:

Firoze Manji; Sokari Ekine, African Awakening: The Emerging Revolutions, (E. I.2.3. Third Wave of Protests: 2011 -), pp. 42-68 for three chapters on Tunisia and also Campbell, Horace , Echoes from Tunisia and Egypt: Revolutions without self-proclaimed revolutionaries Pambazuka News, , 2011 , pp. 69-79.
Amanda Sebystyen, Tunisia: Another country, Pambazuka News, 2011, Discusses the involvement of activists in the revolution in preparations for elections.

Spain abandoned this colony after the death of Franco in 1975, opening the door to Moroccan occupation (and armed resistance by the Polisario Front). The UN brokered a ceasefire in 1991. This established MINURSO – the UN Mission for a Referendum in Western Sahara – but basically froze the situation, with Morocco occupying most of the territory and building a 2,700 km fortified wall to prevent incursions from the zone bordering Mauritania and controlled by Polisario (itself based in Algeria). The turn to unarmed resistance has taken the form of waves of protest – either demanding the promised referendum or on social conditions – in 1999, in 2005-6, and again in 2010, and the emergence of a younger generation of leaders, the best known being Aminatou Haidar.

Isodoros, Konstantina, Awakening Protests in Morocco and the Western Sahara, In Manji; Ekine, African Awakening: The Emerging Revolutions (E. I.2.3. Third Wave of Protests: 2011 -), Cape Town, Dakar, Nairobi and Oxford, Pambazuka Press (imprint of Fahamu), pp. 122-129

Shelley, Toby, Endgame in the Western Sahara: What Future for Africa’s Last Colony?, London, Zed Books, 2004, pp. 240

Chapters on building Sahrawi identity, civil society, and countering the ‘wall of fear’.

Stephan, Maria J. ; Mundy, Jacob, A Battlefield Transformed: From Guerrilla Resistance to Mass Nonviolent Struggle in the Western Sahara, Journal of Military and Strategic Studies, Vol. 8, issue 3, 2006, pp. 1-32

Zunes, Stephen ; Mundy, Jacob, Western Sahara: War Nationalism and Conflict Resolution, Syracuse NJ, Syracuse University Press, 2011, pp. 319

Benefits from firsthand research in Western Sahara. For links to other writing by Zunes and Mundy, see http://wsahara.stephenzunes.org.