11 February 2011
Never has a revolution that seemed so lacking in prospects gathered momentum so quickly and so unexpectedly. The Egyptian Revolution, starting on January 25, lacked leadership and possessed little organization; its defining events, on Friday, January 28, occurred on a day when all communication technologies, including all internet and phones, were barred; it took place in a large country known for sedate political life, a very long legacy of authoritarian continuity, and an enviable repressive apparatus consisting of more than 2 million members. But on that day, the regime of Hosni Mubarak, entrenched for 30 years and seemingly eternal, the only regime that the vast majority of the protesters had ever known, evaporated in one day.
25 February 2011
In 2011, Ali Abdallah Saleh will celebrate thirty three years as head of the Yemeni state. Since 1990, following the unification of Yemen, his power has extended to the southern provinces, which, after the British troops left in 1967, were incorporated into the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, governed by a Socialist regime allied to the USSR. The Unity Constitution, adopted by referendum in 1991, provided for a multiparty system, organized an electoral system and press freedom. For those reasons, unlike its neighbors, Yemen, sole republic in the Arabic peninsula, saw a rich civil society and political life flourish thanks to its regional distinctive characteristics, its diverse historical customs and its ideological influences spanning from Marxism to Islamism, in their numerous variations.
Ahmed EL ATTAR
6 May 2011
Les acquis de cette révolution ne seront développés qu’avec la culture, les arts et le travail artistique. Comment continuer à donner la voix à ceux qui l’ont prise ? C’est la seule garantie que les acquis de ce magnifique acte soient intégrés dans la société.
26 April 2011
Human overflow is not that of a volcanic magma; it flows from the springing up of a new perception, a sudden breaking of sense, a fulgurating desire that sets passion, language, representation going. We must think this “suddenly” that designates, in language, “what comes without being seen” and which, in a brief lapse of time, turns submission – at least, the apparent submission – into the flagrant and generalised insubmission of the same subjects.
10 April 2011
One of the most stimulating experiences for a historian is to find him/herself at the heart of throbbing events. The excitement it provides is not as obvious to live through for the tenets of the profession as it is for any citizen. It is akin to the excitement of a journalist, without the indulgence due to the necessity of reporting in a state of urgency, thus running the risk of hasty or partial interpretations. However, in the common consciousness of going through a present that one knows to be overduly more loaded with history than usual, resorting to a historian’s kit helps counterbalance the exceptional emotional weight inherent in the experience. Professional training –and deformation—help categorize the questions raised by the events and allow one to draw a few lessons, sort out a preliminary reading of the lived reality, waiting some form of hindsight to carry out more in-depth analyses: the reading of history in the making.
26 April 2011
While the previous months the world's media dealt with riots, first by the Tunisians, then by the Egyptians, against Ben Ali’s and Mubarak’s dictatorships, now their main focus is Libya and its leader Gaddafi. Yes, the Libyan revolt was inspired by the Tunisian one, and even more by the Egyptian events, and is part of the current libertarian wave that violently splashes the Arab world. If Gaddafi too is deposed, like his fallen colleagues, the predictions on the so-called domino effect will be confirmed. However, while citizens' “revolutions" in Tunisia and Egypt have much in common, the Libyan one is a revolt sui generis, because the Libyan society is still tribally fragmented. Closest in terms of the social, i.e. the tribal background of the turmoil, are the Yemeni protests. But in contrast to Yemen and to the direct neighbours, Libya is rich in oil and natural gas, which is why the outcome of the current political conflict in that country is important, not only to the direct importers of these resources, but also to consumers around the world.
6 May 2011
Il y a une espèce de menace réelle, pour ne pas dire une réalité tangible : la menace de la résurgence du tribalisme, du clanisme, du régionalisme. On l’observe tous les jours : tous ceux qui montent au créneau, qui manifestent, qui exhibent la bannière de l’appartenance à une communauté, tous ceux que Bourguiba avait tenté de battre en brèche pendant ses trente années de pouvoir et que Ben Ali avait anesthésiés à coup de fric, de ponts et de routes, de bananes importées. Il a donné beaucoup à consommer à cette société consumériste, il avait anesthésié ce régionalisme et ce tribalisme-là. Maintenant, la Tunisie pourrait éclater en mille morceaux et il n’y a pas de figure charismatique, et l’on se méfie évidemment des figures charismatiques, des héros, de ceux qui peuvent au nom de je ne sais quelle idéologie ou intérêt supérieur de la Nation s’ériger en grand chef.
21 February 2011
The Egyptians' long silence continued, but the deep and essential elements of their makeup were activated on 25 January. This reached its climax on that sacred Friday when the Egyptians became one. All in One. Just as the ancient Egyptian texts describe how the limited individual passes over into a limitless universe.
18 February 2011
Political earthquakes have shaken the Arab World over the last two months. The December jasmine revolution in Tunisia, the Nile revolution in Egypt and the subsequent resignations of Bin Ali and Mubarak, have emphasized the importance of the Arab region on the world map and restored pan Arabism and the "elegance" of being Arab.
18 February 2011
Tunisia and Egypt were both model countries. They were success stories. Tunisia had reaped much Western praise. Former French president Chirac spoke about the Tunisian “economic miracle” that allowed the regime to feed and house the people and to give them health and education. What else, he added, should the people want? President Sarkozy declared two years ago that the space for freedom was expanding in Tunisia. The former US secretary of defense Rumsfeld praised Tunisia as a “successful country” because it created an “environment that is hospitable to investment, enterprise and to opportunity for their people.” A senior State Department official commended Tunisia for its “impressive economy and social structure.”
7 March 2011
Personne ne peut aujourd’hui prédire la forme que prendra le paysage politique tunisien dans les mois à venir, ni à quoi aboutiront la mobilisation et le vide constitutionnel actuels. Car la cadence à laquelle se produisent les événements, au niveau national comme régional, ouvre de nombreuses alternatives qu’il est possible - en écartant le scénario du total retour en arrière - de classer selon leurs diverses configurations et rythmes éventuels, à l’intérieur de deux horizons. Le premier renvoie à la réalisation des objectifs de la révolution politique en tant que rupture radicale avec l’ordre ancien qui impliquerait l’institution d’un ordre nouveau organisant les différentes sphères du pouvoir (en termes de mode de désignation, de prérogatives et de règles juridiques et politiques régissant les relations entre elles). Le second se résumerait à des réformes qui impliqueraient l’abandon de certains mécanismes hérités de l’ordre ancien et la mise à l’écart des figures les plus compromises de son personnel politique. Cela, afin de revivifier les ressources de légitimité du pouvoir et de mobiliser le consentement en sa faveur.
7 April 2010
Nous avons visité le Dhofar à l’invitation du Front Populaire de Libération du Golfe arabe occupé ; le but de cette visite était de faire connaître au monde la révolte, et d’écrire sur le Yémen et le Dhofar un livre pour lequel mon collègue Fred Halliday et moi avions signé un contrat avec la maison d’édition Pinguin. Abdallah al-Achtal, un compagnon d’étude et de lutte de l’époque de l’université américaine de Beyrouth, se joignit à nous ; à sa sortie d’université, il était devenu l’un des leaders du Front National dans la région du Hadramaout, foyer de l’aile gauche du Front. Quand les fedayin commencèrent à pratiquer les « confiscations » pour financer le combat armé (les appareils égyptiens leur avaient coupé les aides financières), le commandement de la branche du Hadramaout décida d’utiliser l’argent volé à une banque britannique pour acheter des livres de formation au marxisme-léninisme.
Omnia EL SHAKRY
21 February 2011
When the Egyptian Uprising of 2011 began, we heard media pundits, friends, and colleagues milling about in search of apt metaphors to describe the mass protests and revolution in Egypt. In so far as “history” was mobilized in these discussions, it was generally as repetition or analogy. Hence: the Berlin Wall; Tiananmen Square; the first Palestinian Intifada; the Iranian Revolution; the Paris Commune; and the French Revolution, as well as Egypt’s own 1919 and 1952 revolutions. But do these vivid comparisons conceal more than they reveal?
7 February 2011
It was not just a revolution against the political regime with its rooted dictatorship, oppression and corruption; a regime based on alliances between money, crime and power mafias as clearly revealed by its strenuous attempts to endure and not be overthrown. It was also a revolution against the religious institutions and discourse supporting the regime sustainability, whether directly through associated movements, institutions and personalities or indirectly through independent actors sharing the regime refusal of the revolution.
15 January 2011
Suddenly, voluntary servitude transformed into an intense passion for life and for freedom. But by what miracle, and with what alchemy, does the mystery of ancestral submission dissolve and the flower of joyful disobedience bloom?
Mansoura EZ ELDIN
10 March 2011
Chaos, intimidation, looting and sacking infested the land. We were all under the impression that the retreat of the security forces was part of a well-laid plan of revenge and intimidation for it coincided with the release of armed prisoners and criminals. A friend living nearby called to inform me that a group of armed men tried a short while ago to force their way into her building. She warned me against such incidents as these armed gangs were threatening every residential area and sparing none.
Ghislaine GLASSON DESCHAUMES
27 February 2011
Since January 14th, when Ben Ali “scarpered”, since February 10th, when Mubarak resigned, a feeling of joy and a powerful raising up of hope has animated the struggles of Tunisians, the Egyptians, Arab intellectuals and militants – and all those who have, for a long time, stood by them - for dignity, freedom, justice, democracy in their countries, at great cost.
4 March 2011
Une loi qui s’appelle, sans rire, Charte pour la paix et la réconciliation nationale. Alors que nous n’avons pas fini de penser/panser les blessures de cette génération sacrifiée, nous sommes convoqués au chevet d’une nouvelle génération qui « tente de s’immoler ». Tous les 20 ans, une génération chasse la précédente et s’invente de nouvelles armes pour se dire, mettre en accusation les dictateurs qui nous brûlent notre temps de vivre…
6 April 2010
The People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen was the only regime in the Arab world that genuinely identifying itself as Marxist. During its short existence, from 1970 to 1997, it became a base for Soviet influence in the region and the capital for Arab liberation movements, most notably those of Palestine and the Arab peninsula, and for Middle-Eastern communist organisations. Aden, its capital, which Westerners associate most readily with the myth of Rimbaud or the figure of [Paul] Nizan, author of Aden-Arabie, thus gave up its status as a free zone so as to become a laboratory for socialist experience in the poorest country on the peninsula.