This article looks back at the 2011 Arab Spring where the movements that brought hope to the region and beyond seem to have gone astray. The military has taken over in Egypt, while Libya, Syria and Yemen have descended into civil strife with tremendous human costs. Bahrain has witnessed repression that has overwhelmed the opposition, and while Tunisia, the country where Arab Spring began, has avoided the violence characterizing the aforementioned states, change has remained rather limited. As for other countries that rode on the same wave of mobilizations, hopes for democratic transformation have been subdued in somewhat less violent contexts but with varying degrees of pressure from the state. This article examines what has happened to the Arab Spring countries, why and what is required to democratically transform the region.
Revisiting 'the margins' as an illuminating conceptual space analogous to, yet distinct from, the exception, this article explores the Arab Spring from its margins to highlight 'silencing effects' that, if they underpin the problematic notions of the Arab Spring and Arab exceptionalism, assume spectacular dimensions at the margins, namely, the 'disappearance' of an uprising. The disputed territory of Western Sahara, partially annexed by Morocco since 1975, saw an unprecedented uprising in October-November 2010. Annexed Western Sahara's uprising narrowly preceded Tunisia's, conventionally recognized as the first of the Arab Spring. Despite Sahrawis' perceptions of similarities between their uprising and the Arab Spring, Western Sahara's uprising is overlooked in most analyses of the Arab Spring. 'Silencing effects' obscure these similarities and, ultimately, the uprising itself.
In the editorial note of the first issue of Regions & Cohesion, we directly asked ourselves and our readers: What role do people play in regional integration processes? Regions have, indeed, developed in diff erent ways and for diff erent reasons. One of the main questions behind the mission of this journal asks: Are territories serving their citizens, or do citizens serve the needs of expanding territories and interconnected markets?
In the midst of the European Union’s (EU) unprecedented crisis and a
rapidly changing international environment, Germany is redefining its
place in Europe and in the world. Long-cherished certainties such as a
staunch commitment to European integration and to its Western allies in
general seem being called into question. Critics like the former Chancellor
Helmut Kohl or the historian Heinrich August Winkler deplore a missing
compass and “politics without a project.”1 Against this background, this
article analyses the German policy toward an issue that forcefully marked
the year 2011 and continues to transform North Africa and the Middle
East—the so-called “Arab Spring”.