Causes of the Arab Uprisings The opposing forces of economic grievance and social fragmentation Distinguished Majors Thesis, University of Virginia Philip David Sweigart Social differences can be divided into two varieties: class‐based and group‐based differences. In societies where class‐based differences are prominent, mass movement is more likely to occur. Where group‐based differences are more significant, social fragmentation along ethnic, tribal and religious lines makes mass movement less likely. This study examines the accuracy of these two claims by testing their validity in the context of the Arab uprisings of 2011. Of a list of economic grievance factors including perceptions of corruption, unemployment rates, youth unemployment rates, and GDP growth rates, only perceptions of corruption are found to have a positive and statistically significant relationship with mass movement. Both high and low levels of ethno‐religious fragmentation are found to be correlated with mass movement. Tribalism has a negative effect on mass movement, but it is unclear whether this effect is actually due to regime type. April 22, 2012 Photo by Strategic Institute United States Army War College
Sweigart 2 Distinguished Major Thesis --- Causes of the Arab UprisingsThe opposing forces of economic grievance and social fragmentation --- PHILIP DAVID SWEIGART University of Virginia April 2012
Sweigart 3 In early 2011, a series of popular revolutions rocked the Arabic-speaking world ascitizens rose up, overthrowing governments in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt and threateningautocrats elsewhere. In Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, government forces continue to pacify massprotests, by force when deemed necessary. These revolutions are unprecedented in the Arab world, an area where scholars havespeculated for years over the absence of effective mass movement. Academics have studied indepth the extraordinary resilience of autocratic regimes in the region, regimes that skillfullyemployed a repertoire of repression and faux democratic institutions to deflect forces for change. The role of religious and ethnic differences in Middle Eastern politics has often enjoyedconsiderable attention – after 9/11, the Middle East came to be seen as a hotbed of religiousfundamentalism, and as a result many secularist regimes enjoyed support from the United Statesand European countries. The popularization of Islamist movements in the 1980s, as well aswidespread sympathy for Al Qaeda after 9/11, led many policymakers and observers to viewhistorical trends in the region as a struggle between progressive, secularizing leaders andbackwards Islamic fundamentalism, often spearheaded by Iran. The idea of religion andreligious intolerance as one of the primary causes of unrest in the region was reinforced by theinvasion of Iraq, which not only led to terrible sectarian violence, but also saw ethnic and tribaltensions play a deadly role. Even today, the case has been made that the Arab uprisings of 2011are no more than a continuation of battles that have been fought in the past between secularists,Islamists, Christians, and Sunni and Shia Muslims. The successes of Islamist parties in recentelections in Tunisia and Egypt, as well as manifestations of sectarian and ethno-tribal violence inSyria and Egypt, are presented as evidence for this viewpoint.
Sweigart 4 Largely absent from the above analysis is an appreciation of the economic factors thathave also been at work in the region. Many have cited high unemployment, a burgeoningpopulation of youths and general social decay as some of the main reasons why protests erupted.Economic difficulty is common in the Middle East, which suffers from low job creation and highunemployment, as well as stagnant growth in GDP per capita. This study was conceived in order to test the significance of tribal, ethnic and sectariandifferences versus economic trends in predicting the mass movements that emerged in 2011. Weexpect that sectarianism, ethnocentrism and tribalism are negatively correlated with massmovement, while economic grievances are positively correlated. Bill & Springborg (1994) frame this debate admirably in their description of the socialfoundations of Middle Eastern power structures. The authors suggest that there are two differenttypes of cleavages that separate members of a society from each other: class-based, or horizontal,cleavages, and differences in group membership, or vertical cleavages. In Western societies, horizontal cleavages are more significant than vertical ones. Large,formalized organizations that cut across lines of group membership are more powerful than thenetworks of personal and social relationships. These organizations are set up to advance theinterests of a certain class of people, such as minorities or the elderly or, in the case of unions,the working class. Political parties also tend to be class-based. In Middle Eastern societies andother societies where vertical cleavages are more prominent than horizontal cleavages, mostimportant decisions are made in the context of small, informal, groups where interaction ishighly personalized. Membership in these groups typically transcends class structures: membersof the same group may belong to the upper, middle or lower classes, and move between them
Sweigart 5with relative ease. In contexts where group formations are resilient, class conflict appears to betempered due to the social mobility that they provide. The most effective vehicle for socialadvancement is forging alliances with powerful members of one’s own group, not collectiveaction in the context of class conflict. The most important vertical cleavages are defined bycommon descent. Vertical cleavages: Ethnicities The importance of descent in determining ethnic identity is well-documented. MaxWeber, Horowitz (1985), Hutchinson & Smith (1996), and Fearon & Laitin (2000) all assert thatethnic identity is based primarily in some way on descent or myths of descent, although otherfactors are also discussed. A large body of literature explaining the causal link between ethnic differences and civilconflict emerged in the immediate aftermath of the end of the Cold War, when ethnicnationalisms seemed to regain relevancy following the implosion of Communist ideology. Thiswas the era of ethnic and sectarian conflicts in the Balkans, the secession of the Central Asianrepublics from the USSR, and when Samuel Huntington first published “The Clash ofCivilizations.” One strand of theory frames ethnic conflict within the large body of literature on civilconflict. Ethnic and religious variation in a society or organization has been shown to decreasethe likelihood of cooperation (Easterly & Levine 1997, Alesina et al 1999, Collier 2001). Otherstransposed international relations theory onto the milieu of ethnic groups, treating ethnic groupsmore or less as states. Posen (1993) argued that ethnic groups, like states, experience the effectsof the security dilemma: a history of inter-group conflict, geographic isolation, or vulnerability to
Sweigart 6extremists can engender mistrust between ethnic groups, causing them to take defensive actionsagainst their rivals that are misconstrued as offensive. Other scholars (Lake and Rothchild 1996,Walter 1999) picked up on this issue of insecurity, expanding it to include explanations ofrational choice. Collier and Hoeffler’s seminal 2004 article “Greed and Grievance in Civil War”uses the index of ethno-linguistic fractionalization (the probability that two people will be drawnfrom different ethnic or linguistic groups) to quantitatively evaluate its effect, finding that thehigher the value of the index, the more likely a society will experience civil war. Social psychologists have also offered up a number of explanations for ethnic conflict.Staub (1989, 2008), theorizes that collective frustration causes groups to vent their anger,creating conditions in which genocidal violence can occur. Drawing on examples from earlymodern European witch hunts, the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide and the Rwandangenocide, Glick (2002, 2005, 2008) goes farther, proposing a model of “ideologicalscapegoating” in which ethnic groups blame each other for their own perceived misfortunes.Due to complex causes of misfortune and lack of information, established cultural ideologies andstereotypes of the “other,” and the attractiveness of blaming others rather than facing their ownshortcomings, ethnic groups often scapegoat other groups, leading to conflict. Others (Hewstoneet al 2008) posit that in situations where sustained positive intergroup contact occurs, stereotypesbreak down, lessening the chances of conflict. Chandra (2006) critiques some of the methodologies used in studies that use ethnicity asan independent variable. Attempting to standardize definitions of ethnicity, she posits that“ethnic identity categories…are a subset of identity categories in which eligibility formembership is determined by descent-based attributes.” These attributes can be either real orimagined. Chandra then proceeds to define the range of descent-based attributes:
Sweigart 7 (a) They are impersonal – that is, they are an “imagined community” in which members are not part of an immediate family or kin group; (b) they constitute a section of a country’s population rather than the whole; (c) if one sibling is eligible for membership in a category at any given place, then all other siblings would also be eligible in that place; and (d) the qualifying attributes for membership are restricted to one’s own genetically transmitted features or to the language, religion, place of origin, tribe, region, caste, clan, nationality, or race of one’s parents and ancestors. (Chandra, 400)Chandra admits that the ethnic identity categories “appear somewhat arbitrary,” and ultimatelyconcludes that they present problems for research that measures ethnicity. Ethnicity can changerelatively quickly over time. Languages and places of origin change with migration. Religionchanges through conversion to other faiths. Even genetically transmitted features such as skincolor, while more difficult to alter, can be changed with modern technology. This presents aspecial problem for the majority of studies on ethnicity, which assume that it is fixed (Chandra &Boulet, unpublished). Chandra thus divides ethnic characteristics into two categories: “moresticky” and “less sticky.” Ethnic diversity in the Middle East has long played a significant role in the politics of theregion. Restive Kurdish minorities in Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey have advocated secessionfrom those countries and the formation of a Kurdish state since the first World War (e.g., Olson1989). Berbers and Touareg in North Africa, particularly Algeria, have at times had aconfrontative relationship with their Arab neighbors (Maddy-Weitzman, 2006). A word should also be said about religion. Religion in the Middle East is a relativelysticky ethnic characteristic. Bahrain was the only country in the Middle East and North Africathat did not score “0” in the Cingranelli-Richards Human Rights Data Project in 2010 – a scoreof zero indicates that there are severe restrictions on religious freedom in that country, including
Sweigart 8but not limited to restrictions on conversion to minority religions. Because conversions to otherreligions are so rare, religion is treated in this analysis as a sticky ethnic characteristic. Tribes The Middle Eastern context is complicated by the predominance of tribes in addition toethnicities. A tribe is a group of individuals united by a common ancestor, or at the very least, amyth of a common ancestor. Tribes are composed of clans, which are in turn composed ofsmaller units called ‘asha’ir, or literally, “groups of ten.” Unlike other parts of the world wheretribes and ethnic groups are largely synonymous, such as Africa, tribes in the Middle East areethnically similar and claim common ancestry: tribes can thus be thought of as a subset ofethnicities (Tibi 1990). An important question is whether theories of ethnic conflict can be applied in the MiddleEastern tribal context. Tibi’s (1990) definition of tribes as a kind of sub-ethnicity suggests thatthis may be the case. Chandra, as well, includes tribes and clans in her list of ethniccharacteristics, although she may be referring to non-Middle Eastern concepts of the tribe.However, tribes pose a special problem for the application of ethnic conflict theory because,even more so than is the case with ethnicities, membership in tribes is highly dynamic and fluid.Tribal confederations, usually forged through blood ties (imagined or real), are constantlyshifting, fragmenting, and reforming (Bill & Springborg 1994). It is virtually impossible, then,to construct a quantitative measure that takes into account tribal differences. Salzman (2008) discusses in detail the importance of tribes in Middle Eastern society andtheir political implications with respect to conflict and modernization, drawing onanthropological ethnographies of Middle Eastern tribes such as Lancaster’s authoritative study
Sweigart 9on the Rwala Bedouin of the Levant (1981), as well as other studies on tribes in Iran (Avery1965, Fisher 1968), Libya (Evans-Pritchard 1949), Oman (Barth 1983, Chatty 1996), and SaudiArabia (Cole 1975). Traditional patterns of conflict in tribal societies, Salzman asserts, reflect anold Bedouin saying: “I against my brother; I and my brother against my cousin; I, my brother,and my cousin against the outsider.” Salzman calls this the principle of “ally with the closeragainst the more distant.” Not only do these mantras express the system of vertical cleavagesthat divide tribes and clans, but they also recall the “security dilemma” invoked in studies ofethnic conflict, reflecting the realist strand of international relations theory. Horizontal cleavages: Class A second body of literature explores the role of horizontal cleavages, particularly classdifferences, in causing mass movements. The theory that economic grievances bring aboutcollective action first arose in the 1960s. Relative deprivation theory (Davies 1962, 1969; Gurr1968, 1970; Feierabend et al 1969) holds that collective action occurs when there are gapsbetween expectations and reality. These gaps cause individuals to mobilize collectively in orderto narrow the gap. Increasing political repression or unexpected economic decline were twocommonly suggested factors. Out of resource mobilization theory developed social breakdowntheory, which suggests that collective action occurs when the social structures that normallyregulate human life deteriorate or collapse, sowing frustration and moral outrage (Thompson1971, Scott 1976). The pressures that weaken social structures can be demographic, ecological,or economic in nature. Breakdown theory was challenged in the 1970s by resource mobilization theory,championed by Charles Tilly (1975, 1978) and others. Proponents of RM theory attributed
Sweigart 10collective action to social solidarity rather than social breakdown, citing examples from WesternEurope, China and Russia to substantiate their claims. Collective action, dubbed “contentiouspolitics” or “politics by other means,” came to be seen as a tactic of highly cohesive groups,wielded in the pursuit of group interests. RM theory quickly became the dominant paradigm forexplaining collective action. Proponents of breakdown theory challenged this conclusion. Piven & Cloward (1977) intheir analysis of social movements in the United States in the 1930s and 1960s assert that thebreakdown of social structures due to the Great Depression and rapid modernization andmigration following WWII led to collective action in the 1930s and 1960s. Useem (1997; 1998),citing examples from the civil rights movement and later race riots, contends that the RM andbreakdown theories explain two different phenomena. RM theory explains routine collectiveaction such as electoral rallies and peaceful protest, while breakdown theory is a betterexplanation for non-routine collective action such as rebellion, collective violence and riots.Caren (2011) revisits the role of social breakdown in causing collective action, offering aquantitative analysis of three causes of economic grievance: relative inequality, economicdecline and unemployment, and ethnic or group discrimination. Caren also investigates otherfactors, such as the percentage of youths in the general population. Research design and measurements The unit of analysis is the Arab nation-state. For the purposes of this study, which is toexamine the causes of non-routine, anti-government mass movements, Lebanon and Iraq areomitted from the universe of Arab states under discussion, because their governments are tooweak to exert control over large sections of society. Using indicators of tribalism, ethnic
Sweigart 11fragmentation and economic grievance, we will test each of these three measures for their effectson mass movement. Because the dependent variable of mass movement will be a binary variablecoded as “0” or “1,” the statistical model used in testing will be logistical regression. Tribalismand ethnic fragmentation are expected to have a negative relationship with mass movement,while economic grievances are expected to exhibit a positive relationship. In order to measure the degree to which a society is fractionalized along ethnic lines, anadaptation of the index of ethno-linguistic fractionalization as described by Bossert et al (2005)is used. This index, used by Collier and Hoeffler in 2004, expresses the probability that twoindividuals selected at random from the population come from two different ethnic or linguisticgroups. The equation used to calculate the index is the following: The value pk represents the share of group k in the total population. We depart from thetraditional ethno-linguistic index to include religious groups in addition to ethnic groups, betterreflecting the degree of fractionalization present in Middle Eastern societies. For example, whilethe original index might classify Syrians as “Arabs” or “Kurds,” the new index classifies Syriansas “Sunni Arabs,” “Alawite Arabs,” “Christian Arabs,” “Druze Arabs,” and “Sunni Kurds.” Thejustification for adding religion is that it is one of the descent-based characteristics included inChandra. The proportion of ethno-linguistic-religious groups in countries was calculated fromvarious sources. Where applicable, data was used from the CIA World Factbook. Data on thereligious composition of national populations was gathered from publications by the Pew Forum
Sweigart 12on Religion and Public Life. For Oman, data was used from an academic paper on ethnicdifferences in that country (Kharusi 2012). Tribal structures are endemic in Middle Eastern countries and present a special challengefor measurement. Because it is impossible to gather precise data on tribes, and the importanceand relevance of tribes varies enormously from country to country or region to region, the levelof tribalism in a given country will be measured through a qualitative analysis of the compositionof governing institutions. Using lists of national leaders from the 2010 CIA World Factbook, thetribal origins of high-ranking government officials and military commanders (depending on thecountry, usually the prime minister and/or president, foreign minister, defense minister, financeminister, interior minister, chief of staff, heads of intelligence and sometimes police chief orother important military figures) will be measured for the diversity of family origins. On thebasis of that analysis, countries will be classified as “less tribal” or “more tribal,” respectivelycoded as 0 or 1. Less tribal countries will display high levels of diversity at the highest levels ofgovernment, while more tribal countries will exhibit low levels of diversity, with nearly all high-ranking officials belonging to one or a few tribes and families. Government officials whoserelatives have previously been in government but who may not have relatives in government atthe present time are still counted as related to other officials. Inherent in this measurement is theassumption that regimes reflect the social makeup of their societies, which may or may not bethe case. The results of this measurement are reported in Figure 2. Justification for the results isprovided below: Algeria – 0 . All of the important figures in Algeria’s government are from differingtribal and family origins. Algeria’s president, Abdulaziz Bouteflika, was born in Oujda, a townlocated across the Moroccan border. Although he rose to prominence as a member of the
Sweigart 13powerful “Oujda clan,” headed by former president Houari Boumedienne, the Oujda clan wasnot a tribal or family group, but rather a cadre of rebel commanders in the Algerian War ofIndependence who had been based in Oujda (Joffe 1997). Bouteflika also holds the defenseportfolio. PM Ahmed Ouyahia, FM Mourad Medelci, Finance minister Karim Djoudi, NationalGendarmerie commander General Ahmad Boustilla, armed forces chief of staff MohamadLamari, and Algeria’s dreaded intelligence chief, Mohamad Medienne, also known as “Toufik”,do not appear to be related to one another. Algeria is coded as “0”. The GCC States: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, andOman – 1. In the Gulf monarchies, virtually every important government official is a member ofthe royal family. In Saudi Arabia, the only high-ranking government figures that are not fromthe House of Saud are chief of staff Saleh al-Muhaya and Ibrahim al-Assaf, both originally fromQassim province in the Nejd region of Saudi Arabia – the same region in which the Saud familyhas its origins. The Sabah family dominates the upper echelons of Kuwait’s government. InBahrain, every important member of the cabinet, down to the captain of the Royal Guard, is fromthe Khalifa tribe. Qatar’s ruling Thani family is prominent in government, although the Attiyahfamily holds a few mid-level and upper-level posts. Government ministries in the United ArabEmirates are split relatively evenly between the Nahyan clan, which rules Abu Dhabi, and theMaktum family from Dubai. In Oman, Sultan Qaboos bin Said wields personal control overmost government ministries, holding portfolios for defense, foreign relations and finance, whiledelegating lesser tasks to other members of the Busaid clan of which he is a member. Egypt – 0. Before the 2011 revolution, Egyptian government was relatively non-tribal incomposition. President Hosni Mubarak, PM Ahmed Nazif, Defense minister and chief of staffMohamad Tantawi, FM Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, Finance minister Yousef Boutros-Ghali, Interior
Sweigart 14minister Habib al-Adly, and intelligence chief Omar Suleiman do not appear to be related to oneanother. Jordan – 1. While Jordan’s royal family has not penetrated government institutions tothe same extent as is visible in the Gulf, the Hashemite monarchy has shrewdly forged allianceswith powerful Jordanian and even Palestinian families, often through marriage. The Rifaifamily, originally from Safad in Galilee, has long been prominent in Jordanian politics. PMSamir Rifai, who also held the defense portfolio, is the son and grandson of Jordanian primeministers. His great-aunt was married to Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh’s father, who after herdeath married the daughter of Hassan bin Talal, King Abdullah II’s uncle. Finance MinisterUmayya Toukan is the son of Ahmed Toukan, a Palestinian regime loyalist who was brieflyprime minister in 1970 during the Black September crisis. The Majali family, from Kerak incentral-southern Jordan, has also traditionally held a few significant government posts: thecurrent head of the Public Security Directorate, a branch of the Jordanian intelligence services, isHussein al-Majali, whose father Hazza’ al-Majali was PM. Hussein’s sister, Taghrid al-Majali,married Prince Muhammad bin Talal, King Abdullah II’s uncle. It seems that every politicalfigure in Jordan is somehow related. The exception to the rule is Jordan’s military, which is oneof the most professional in the Middle East. Libya – 1. Due to the intensely personal control that Muammar al-Qaddafi exerted overpre-revolutionary Libya, it is especially difficult to determine which Libyan government officialswere significant players. The subsequent defection of many high-level officials during thecourse of the revolution indicates that most were probably not related to the Qaddafi family.Several key figures, however, did not defect and are related to Qaddafi. Among these aremilitary intelligence chief Abdallah al-Senussi, who is married to Qaddafi’s sister-in-law,
Sweigart 15Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Hasan al-Kabir al-Qaddafi, Special Forces commanderAl-Saadi al-Qaddafi, and National Security Advisor Mutassim al-Qaddafi. The incidence offamily connections in the Libyan government is significant enough to justify a coding of “1”. Morocco – 1. The family of King Mohammed VI, like the Hashemite family in Jordan,depends on a number of important families in government. PM Abbas al-Fassi appears to besomehow related to FM Taieb Fassi-Fihri. Minister of Finance and Economy SalaheddineMezouar is not related to the royal family, but the political party of which he is a member wasfounded by King Hassan II’s brother-in-law. Army Inspector General Abdelaziz Bennani isrelated to the queen of Morocco, Salma Bennani. Morocco’s police chief, Housni Benslimane, isrelated to Abdel Krim Khatib, the founder of the opposition Justice and Development party. Hiscousins, Mohamad Saad Hassar and Moulay Ismail Alaoui, also hold significant governmentposts, while another cousin is married to former PM Mohamad Karim Lamrani. Syria – 0. President Bashar al-Asad is related to General Intelligence director HafezMakhlouf, his maternal cousin, Republican Guard commander Maher al-Asad, and deputy chiefof staff Assef Shawkat (married to Bashar’s sister). The Asads are from the town of Qardaha inLattakia province, in the western coastal mountains, and are members of the Kalbiyya tribalgroup. The Interior minister, Said Mohamad Samur, hails from Jibla, a town neighboringQardaha. While these are not insignificant figures in the regime, the rest of the figures arelargely unrelated. Defense Minister Ali Habib Mahmud was also from the coastal mountainregions, near the city of Tartus, although not related. VP Farouk al-Shara’a, who was one of thelongest serving foreign ministers in the world and close to Bashar’s father, Hafez al-Asad, is aSunni Muslim from Dera’a, a town in the south. FM Walid Moualem is from Damascus,although his family traces their roots to the Zubaid tribe. Chief of staff Daoud Rajiha is a Greek
Sweigart 16Orthodox Christian from Damascus governate. PM Mohamad Naji Otari is from Aleppo, in thenorth of Syria. Air Force intelligence chief Jamil Hassan and General Security Director AliMamluk are Sunnis. While a few government figures are related, many very significant ones arenot. Tunisia – 0. Tunisia’s pre-revolution government, although highly corrupt, was not filledwith relatives of President Ben-Ali. PM Mohammed Ghannouchi was widely viewed as atechnocrat. FM Kamel Morjane worked for the UN before becoming defense minister, thenforeign minister. Interior Minister Rafiq Kasem, defense minister Ridha Grira, and financeminister Mohamad Chalgoum do not appear to be related. Yemen – 0. Yemen’s pre-revolution government was surprisingly diverse. President AliAbdullah Saleh was from northern Yemen. His VP, Abed Rabbo Mansour al-Hadi, was a formergovernment official in South Yemen before unification. PM Ali Muhammad Mujawar was fromShibwa province in southern Yemen. Interior minister Mutaher al-Masri, finance ministerNoman al-Suhaibi, and defense minister Ali Nasir Mohammad al-Hassani also do not appear tobe related. In order to minimize the effects of changing ethnic identities, as described by Chandra,the period under examination will be limited to 2011. This period also provides the mostvariation in oucomes: while the impetus for collective action in the Middle East had beenbuilding momentum for two decades (Lynch 2012), incidents of mass movement during thatperiod were largely routine rather than non-routine in nature. Social movements before 2011,largely limited to strikes and labor protests, are better analyzed through the prism of RM theoryrather than the economic factors suggested by social breakdown theory. Limiting the analysis to
Sweigart 17the Tunisian revolution of December 2010 to January 2011, and the events around the MiddleEast that followed it, also controls for the immediate cause or spark of the revolutions, namelythe self-immolation of Mohammad Bouazizi and the subsequent overthrow of the Tunisiangovernment. Economic grievances will be measured by examining four different indicators: thePerceptions of Corruption index from Transparency International, rates of growth in GDP,unemployment, youth unemployment. The GINI index of inequality would have been includedin the analysis, but information was incomplete. While other scholars have used GDP per capitaon a PPP basis, the effects of GDP are complicated in the GCC member states by the millions ofexpatriates who reside in those countries and whose numbers tend to rise and fall with rates ofeconomic growth. Due to the problems of measurement that this poses, national GDP growthrates are used. Unemployment poses a similar problem in the GCC states: rates ofunemployment are calculated as a percentage of the entire workforce, both nationals and non-nationals. This tends to deflate the rate of unemployment among nationals because all non-nationals are employed; without employment they would lose their work visas and be deported totheir countries of origin. For Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the only two GCC states for whichcomplete data is available, the unemployment rate is adjusted upwards using the latest figuresavailable for the proportion of non-nationals resident in those countries to more accurately reflectrates of unemployment among nationals (Shah 2007). The corruption index (Figure 3) is constructed through surveys that TransparencyInternational distributes to local NGOs in various countries, which then rate the level ofcorruption that they perceive in their government. It is particularly useful because it measuresperceptions, which are often more important than reality in triggering collective action. It is
Sweigart 18available for all country-years from 2003 and onwards. GDP growth rates are obtained from the2011 IMF World Economic Outlook. Unemployment rates (Figure 4) are taken from the IMFWorld Economic Outlook for 2011. Where data is unavailable from the IMF, it is taken from theInternational Labor Organization’s (ILO) “Key Indicators of the Labour Market,” (KILM) 2011.For the two countries that lack data from both of these sources, Yemen and Libya, data is drawnfrom publications from the Arab Labor Organization, rough estimates in the CIA WorldFactbook, and news sources. Youth unemployment rates (Figure 5) are taken from the KILM,except for Oman and Yemen. Youth unemployment in Oman is taken from an ILO report, andunemployment in Yemen is taken from a news report. Unemployment, youth unemployment,and GINI index data are incomplete for several countries. The mobilization of mass movements will be measured qualitatively. An examination ofnews reports and articles will ascertain to what extent collective action is country-wide.Movements that numerically small, taking root in one or two regions or cities but failing tosustain themselves over time or spread farther afield, will be classified as “local” and coded as“0”. These small movements share many characteristics with routine movements, which arebetter explained by RM theory. Movements that are nation-wide and mobilize at least tens ofthousands in every major city will be classified as “national” and coded “1”. These movementsare generally non-routine and are thus better explained by grievance and breakdown theory.Results are displayed in Figure 6, while justification is provided below using information fromnews reports: Algeria – 0. Although protests in Algeria began in many cities in January and February2011, on February 12th a few thousand protestors were decisively halted in Algiers by as many as
Sweigart 1930,000 riot police (Nossiter & Williams A11). Minor protests continued, but rarely in numbersabove several hundred, and were unable to gain traction. Bahrain – 1. Protests in the tiny island country of Bahrain began on February 14th, 2011with several thousand protestors occupying the Pearl roundabout in downtown Manama, thecapital and only major city. Escalation continued until the 22nd of February, when approximately150,000 protestors occupied Pearl roundabout, according to the Bahrain IndependentCommission of Inquiry. (Bassiouni et al, 2011) Egypt, Tunisia, Libya – 1. These three nations experienced nationwide protestmovements that led to the fall of their regimes. In the case of Libya, the protest movementmorphed into a full-scale rebellion. Jordan – 0. Protests here began in January 2011 and peaked on February 25th, when 7-10,000 protestors marched on the streets of Amman. Protests eventually lost momentum andsubsided. Kuwait – 0. A few isolated protests occurred, the biggest not drawing more than a fewthousand on September 21st. A group of protestors stormed parliament in November calling forthe resignation of the prime minister (Baker). Morocco – 0. Demonstrations in Morocco were organized by online youth activists tobegin on February 20th, 2011. Protests in the capital Rabat reportedly drew 10,000 people, andwidespread looting and protests continued to occur there and elsewhere in the country for severalmonths, petering out by late summer.
Sweigart 20 Oman – 0. A few hundred protesters gathered to demonstrate against governmentcorruption in January. Protests in the northern city of Sohar attracted several thousand peopleand continued for several months, but were eventually cleared by the police. Qatar, the United Arab Emirates – 0. No protests were reported in these countries. Saudi Arabia – 0. Protests organized in the capital city of Riyadh for March 11thfamously fell flat, with thousands of police and plainclothes security officers flooding the streetsas a single man protested. While protests have been much more numerous and persistent in theeastern provinces, which are populated by a Shia minority, they have not spread to the rest of thecountry. Syria – 1. Protests began on March 15th, when security forces beat a number of youths inDera’a for spray-painting “the people want the overthrow of the regime” on a wall. Escalationwas gradual but persistent, leading to an unconfirmed protest of 100,000 people in the southerntown of Dera’a on the 25th of March. They quickly spread around the country, to Idlib province,Homs, Hama, and Deir az-Zour, with areas escaping government control for weeks on end.Significantly the protests did not seem to take root in the cities of Damascus and Aleppo,although they raged in the poorer suburbs. Also, in areas where minorities predominate, such asthe coastal mountain areas and the coastal towns of Lattakia and Tartus, protests have attractedfewer participants. Many have speculated that this may be because minorities enjoy a privilegedstatus under the Asad regime. Information has also been extraordinarily hard to collect andverify, due to the media blackout that is being enforced by the government. Despite thesedifficulties, protests in Syria are widespread and numerous enough to justify classifying them as“national.”
Sweigart 21 Yemen – 1. Protests erupted as early as January 2011 in the capital, Sana’a and Aden.By March 2011, they had spread to Hudaydah, Ibb and Taiz. Huge numbers of peopleparticipated in the protests – one protest in Sana’a on March 4th allegedly stretched out for twokilometers, while on March 8th nearly a million protestors marched in the city of Ibb. We expect that countries with deep ethnic or tribal divides will be less likely toexperience mass movements. But if class-based grievances are causing today’s massmovements, countries that experience increasingly high levels of inequality, unemployment andinflation, as well as low levels or stagnation of GDP, should be more likely to experience massmovements. Movements that mobilize over economic grievances should have a much greaterability to mobilize participants from all sections of society. For this reason, we expect thatnationwide protest movements will be mobilize primarily around economic grievances. To testthese propositions, several hypotheses have been formulated: H1: Nations that score higher on the index of ethno-linguistic-religious fractionalization(ELR index) should experience a lower level of collective action. H2: Nations that are more tribal in their social makeup should experience lower levels ofcollective action. H3: Nations with increasing rates of growth in corruption should experience higher levelsof collective action. H4: Nations with decreasing rates of growth in GDP should experience higher levels ofcollective action.
Sweigart 22 H5: Nations with increasing rates of growth in unemployment should experience higherlevels of collective action. H6: Nations with high levels of youth unemployment should experience higher levels ofcollective action. Two extenuating factors must be controlled for in this study: the effects of the rentierstate and regime type. Regime type and institutional differences among Arab states have beenspeculated to have an effect on mass movements. Generally speaking, every Arab state prior tothe 2011 uprisings was an autocracy. These autocracies fell into one of two categories:monarchies and presidential dictatorships (most of which came to power through military coups).It is important not to select cases on the dependent variable: Gelvin (2012) and others have notedthat not a single Arab monarchy (with the possible exception of Bahrain) was seriouslythreatened by the uprisings of 2011, while presidential autocrats were overthrown in Tunisia,Libya, and Egypt, and faced severe opposition in Yemen and Syria. Yet he draws no causal linkbetween monarchies and the lack of uprisings. Simply noting that monarchies did not experienceuprisings is no proof that monarchy has an effect. What is of more concern for this study is thatmonarchs in the Middle East are located in countries that are expected to be classified as “verytribal” – the GCC states and Jordan. Thus, monarchy is a confounding variable, as what can passfor the effects of tribalism might actually be an unknown effect of monarchy. In order to controlfor regime type, monarchy will be treated as a dummy variable, with monarchies receiving avalue of “1” and non-monarchies coded as “0” (Figure 8). Rentier state theory, developed in the early 1970s by Mahdavi (1970) and expanded uponby others (Beblawi and Luciani 1987; Yates 1996; Ross 2001, 2006, 2009; Gray 2011), suggests
Sweigart 23that revenue accrued from oil has special properties that decrease the likelihood of democratictransitions in autocracies. While democracy is not the primary focus of this study, of moreconcern is the mechanism by which oil rents prevent democracy. Ross (2001) suggests that oilrevenues prevent democracy by three mechanisms. Firstly, they remove the need for taxation inoil-rich autocracies, thereby dissolving the social contract between the state and its citizens. Oil-rich autocracies sponsor massive welfare states that provide subsidies for basic necessities suchas health care, housing, electricity, water, food and petrol. This economic largesse provides abasis of legitimacy for the regime. Secondly, oil and gas rents create a “repression effect.” Statesthat accrue large amounts of revenue from natural resource sales are able to spend more oninternal security, and are better able to crush democratic movements. Thirdly, a “modernizationeffect” suggests that revenue due to natural resource rents is not spent in ways that encourage thedevelopment of a democratic society. Ross identifies a lack of occupational specialization andlower levels of education as key in this regard. Of these three effects, only the rentier effect will be controlled for. Marc Lynch (2012)suggests that increases in repression were actually positively correlated with increases in massmovement in the 2011 uprisings: in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria, regimes that immediatelycracked down brutally on uprisings found that instead of halting them, repression fueled popularanger. Other regimes that were less brutal, such as Algeria, were not challenged to the sameextent. This is in agreement with the work of proponents of breakdown theory such as Useem(1998), who suggests that repression is useful in repressing routine collective action but tends tohave the opposite effect on non-routine collective action. Since the Arab uprisings of 2011 areassumed to be an example of non-routine collective action, this study will not control for
Sweigart 24repression. With regard to the modernization effect, Gray (2011) submits that, at least in theGCC states, modernization has been proceeding at a rapid pace in spite of massive oil rents. The rentier effect, however, must be controlled for not because of its anti-democraticeffects but because it provides an alternative definition of citizenship that is primarily economicrather than political. This complicates the causal link between economic grievances and socialbreakdown, and mass movement. In a state where the rulers claim personal ownership of thecountry (Saudi Arabia, named after the Saud family, comes to mind) and frame the distributionrents among the population as an act of generosity rather than a response to citizens’ rights,traditional economic grievance issues lose their rationale. By both removing economicgrievances and preventing collective action, the rentier effect acts as a confounding variable. Itis not possible to include it as a cause of economic grievances because although it deals witheconomic outcomes, it is based on the notion that citizenship in a rentier state is economic bydefinition, rather than political. This differs fundamentally from the economic relationship thatthis study proposes between the state and its citizens. While rentier state theory deals with theeffects of the political and economic structure of a country, deprivation and social breakdowntheories measure the effects of economic changes over time. In order to control for the rentier effect, a variable is constructed based on “oil rents percapita” in Ross’s 2009 study. The new variable, “oil and natural gas rents per capita,” (Figure 7)will be calculated from data provided by the World Bank. For select countries, other significantsources of rent are also included. For Egypt, U.S. military aid, and revenues from the SuezCanal are included. For Jordan, U.S. aid for FY 2008 is also included. For countries that receivenontrivial foreign assistance, World Bank figures for foreign assistance are included. In additionto these changes, oil rents per capita are calculated based on the citizen population of countries.
Sweigart 25In the Gulf, for example, many countries have a large population of expatriate workers, whosometimes form a majority of the population. But because expatriate workers are not citizens,they are not eligible for much of the economic largesse that the government distributes, and aretherefore excluded from calculations. Another way in which rents interact with perceptions of hardship is through government-funded subsidies. Subsidies represent the direct economic effects of rents, and are part of theeconomic social compact between states and their citizens. Not surprisingly, rentier states aremore able than non-rentier states to bankroll massive subsidies. As well as controlling for rentsper capita, the effects of subsidies will be analyzed. Ideally, it would be possible to construct aquantitative variable, “subsidies per capita” in U.S. dollars that includes subsidies for fossil fuels,water, food, health care and electricity, but for many countries data was not in the public domain.Instead, analysis will be qualitative. Information on subsidies is contained in Figure 9. Analysis and results H1: null hypothesis not rejected. Upon closer analysis, ELR fractionalization appears tohave a different causal relationship to collective action than previously thought. We hadoriginally expected high fractionalization to impede mass movement and low fractionalization tofacilitate it. Instead, both high and low fractionalization appeared to cause mass movement,while not a single one of the seven observations with moderate levels of fractionalization (0.13 to0.42) experienced significant mass movement:
Sweigart 26 Figure 10: Mass movement and ethnic fractionalization 1.2 TUN EGY LIB BAH YEM SYR Incidence of mass movement 1 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 MOR KSA UAE ALG KUW OMN JOR 0 QTR 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 Ethno-linguistic-religious fractionalizationJordan, which is an outlier with a value of 0.453 on the ELR fractionalization index but no massmovement, was based on the inclusion of Palestinians as a separate ethnic group from Jordanians– a questionable division, but one that the author felt was justified due to the significantpolarization and tensions between Palestinians and Jordanians in that country. Moreinterestingly, although perhaps coincidentally, the three observations that scored lowest on theELR index (Egypt, Tunisia and Libya) experienced mass movements that succeeded inoverthrowing their governments, while in the three high-scoring observations (Bahrain, Yemenand Syria), the protestors failed to topple the regime. At risk of generalizing, the lack of successof mass movements in highly fractionalized countries may be due to governments’ success inemphasizing ethnic and sectarian differences, transforming their own group into a support base. The effects of fractionalization along the lines of ethnicity and religion are morecomplicated than had been supposed. The bimodal distribution of mass movements, clusteredaround the upper and lower parts of the ELR fractionalization continuum, suggest that a differentcausal mechanism is at work.
Sweigart 27 Logistical regression analysis was performed separately on each the remaining variables:tribalism, oil and natural gas rents per capita, unemployment rates, tribalism, GDP growth rates,the GINI index, and corruption levels. H2: null hypothesis not rejected. Analysis reveals that the effects of tribalism on massmovement were significant. Countries that were more tribal were less likely to experience massmovements: Figure 10: Tribalism and Mass movement More tribal Less tribal Mass movement 1 7 No mass movement 4 2Logistical regression analysis was performed on the relationship between tribalism and massmovements, with the following results:As was feared, however, monarchy and tribalism were covariate. All countries that wereclassified as tribal were monarchies, except for one (Libya), while not a single non-tribal countrywas a monarchy. It is not clear, then, to what extent the effects of tribalism are in actualityeffects of monarchy, although clearly one or the other (or both) are decreasing the likelihood ofmass movements occurring. Without more variation in the sample, it is impossible to draw firmconclusions. H3: null hypothesis rejected. Increasing levels of perceived corruption appear to have astrong positive effect on the incidence of mass movement. For each country, simple linear
Sweigart 28regressions were performed on observations of the corruption index from 2003 to 2011 in orderto determine the trajectory of corruption. The value of the coefficient slope of the line of best fitindicated which countries were becoming more corrupt and which were becoming less corrupt.Logistic regression analysis was then performed on the values of the slope coefficients in orderto test whether countries where the corruption score was decreasing (i.e., the country wasbecoming more corrupt) were more likely to experience mass movements than countries thatwere becoming progressively less corrupt. This was found to be the case, with corruption’seffects significant at the p=.1 level:It is perhaps not surprising that the most theoretically sound indicator of economic grievancesand social breakdown is the best predictor of mass movement. With a coefficient of -21.6,decreasing levels of corruption have a strong negative effect on mass movement. This meansthat countries that showed gains of 0.05 each year (or 0.45 from 2003-11) were predicted toexperience no mass movement. Scholars have speculated that perceptions of governmentcorruption may have been a significant factor in bringing protestors out on the streets (Gelvin2012). It makes sense, then, that corruption’s effect on mass movement is statisticallysignificant. H4: null hypothesis not rejected. In order to quantitatively measure the effects of GDP onthe incidence of mass movements, regression was performed on GDP growth data points from1991 to 2009 to determine the trajectory of growth. (For Kuwait, data for 1991 to 1993 was
Sweigart 29excluded due to the effects of the first Gulf War and its aftermath.) A one-year lag was assumedfor the effects of economic decline to be fully realized and to avoid reverse causality – ifeconomic data for 2011 had been used, it would be unclear whether economic changes in thatyear had caused protests or resulted from them. Based on the line of best fit, projections forgrowth rates in 2010 were calculated and then subtracted from actual growth rates to find the“shortfall.” A logistical regression of the resulting data revealed that GDP growth is a poorpredictor of mass movement:With a p-value of .241, the effect of GDP growth is actually positive – countries with increasinggrowth rates are actually more likely to experience mass movements than countries withdecreasing growth rates. This may be because of the effects of rent. Perhaps oil-producingrentier states were more likely to be economically impacted by the fall in oil prices thataccompanied the 2009 global financial crisis, and also less likely (according to rentier theory) toexperience democratic mass movements. Controlling for rents reveals that part of the positive effect of GDP growth on massmovement is explained by oil and natural gas rents, as the coefficient decreases from 0.26 to 0.11and the p-value increases to 0.65:
Sweigart 30 As expected, rent also has a negative effect on protest of -0.085 for every $1,000 in rentper capita. This means that countries with $12,000 in rent per capita or more should notexperience mass movements – an observation that holds true in the dataset. Nor does a qualitative analysis of GDP growth trends in each individual country shedlight on the causes of mass movement, even after omitting observations in which rents per capitain 2008 exceeded $10,000. In Algeria, growth was highly volatile, but even after three straightyears of decreased growth rates from 2004 to 2006, no protest movement emerged. In Egypt, thegrowth rate from 2008 to 2009 dropped 2.5 percentage points, but increased again in 2010. Aprotest movement might have occurred when annual growth rates decreased from 5-7.5 percentin 1996-98 to around 3 percent in 2001-03, but no overtly anti-government protests happened atthat time, although there were significant protests against the Israeli treatment of Palestiniansduring the intifada that may have released some pent-up pressure (Lynch 2012). If any countrymight have been expected to experience a revolution in 2011 due to decreasing rates of growth, itwas Jordan, where annual GDP growth rates decreased from 8 percent in 2007 to 2 percent in2010, but Jordan was spared. In Yemen, the growth rate of GDP had been gradually slowingdown for two decades. Perhaps the only country that fit the model is Tunisia, which was badlyaffected by the global economic crisis in 2009. The prevalence of subsidies throughout the Arab world sheds some light on the extent ofthe rentier effect. Many scholars, such as Gelvin (2012), submit that the privatization of
Sweigart 31government companies and moves to end subsidies were one factor that led to revolutions, as thesocial compact that had been established after independence was dissolved. In general, however,the effect of subsidies better reflected rentier theory: governments with higher subsidies tendednot to experience nationwide protest movements. The exception to this general rule was Libya.Although Libya’s subsidies were smaller in relation to other rentier states in the region, it stillchallenges the analysis that rentier states tend not to experience mass movements. Ultimately, neither rent nor GDP growth rates are good determinants of mass movement. H5: null hypothesis not rejected. Unemployment was analyzed in the same way as thePerceptions of Corruption index – linear regression was performed for the values ofunemployment for each country and the slope coefficients for all observations used in logisticregression. Due to insufficient data for Bahrain, Libya, Oman, Qatar, the UAE and Yemen,these observations were omitted from the analysis. The result is reported below:With a p-value of 0.533, unemployment is a weak predictor of mass movement. H6: null hypothesis not rejected. Youth unemployment was used instead of thepercentage of the youthful population, based on the reasoning that unemployed youth are morelikely to protest than employed youth. Using the most recent figures for youth unemployment ineach country, logistical regression was performed with the following results:
Sweigart 32Youth unemployment is positively associated with mass movements, but the effect is notstatistically significant, making youth unemployment a poor predictor of mass movement. Limitations The study was plagued throughout by problems of measurement. For many countries,data was low quality, limited or even non-existent. There was a clear divergence betweenunemployment figures reported by government ministries and those reported or estimated byoutside sources. The CIA estimated in 2003 that unemployment in Yemen stood at around 35percent, while official government figures reported 11.46 percent and 16.3 percent for 2002 and2004, respectively. Measurements for rent were imperfect, as it was not possible to gather dataon every type of rent accrued by governments – figures were not available for revenue fromimport and export duties, which for many countries is a significant source of revenue. Even thePerceptions of Corruption index, which was ultimately the most useful variable for predicting thedesired outcome, had a relatively broad confidence interval, especially for earlier observations.Statistical significance was a problem. In calculating the ethno-linguistic-religious fractionalization index, measurements of thepercentages of ethnic and religious groups in each country were rudimentary. In most cases,exact figures were not available for the percentage of ethnic groups, usually for political reasons.Shia Muslims in the Gulf are neglected, marginalized and discriminated against, while Berbers inNorth Africa and Kurds in Syria constantly face pressures to assimilate. Not surprisingly,
Sweigart 33governments who persecute these minorities do not usually provide demographic figures onthem. North Africa in particular posed a special problem that illustrates Chandra’s concept of“sticky identities.” Because almost all Arabs are of Berber extraction and a large percentage ofBerbers speak Arabic, it was a challenge to decide whether to include all Berber-speakers in theBerber ethno-linguistic group (including those who know Arabic), or to limit the group to thosewho speak Berber but not Arabic. Ultimately, a decision was made for the latter on the basis thatBerbers who speak Arabic are in the process of assimilation, but it is doubtless the case thatmany of these identify strongly as Berbers, not Arabs. The importance of tribal affiliations was very difficult to measure. As noted above, thereare problems with basing the level of tribalism in a society on an analysis of the identities ofgovernment figures. Certainly countries that are not tribal tend not to have tribes in power(Western Europe and the United States come to mind here), and tribal countries tend to havetribal governments. But often this rule does not hold true. For instance, Turkey under Ataturkillustrates an example of a government that is more forward-looking and Westernizing (hencenon-tribal), ruling over a Turkish citizenry that was still very traditional at that point.Conversely, the rapid modernization and urbanization taking place in the GCC states may beslowly eroding the tribal ties among their populations, but they remain very much ruled by tribes. Another difficulty posed by measuring tribalism in this way is that, as Bill & Springborg(1994) explain, formal institutions are often relatively meaningless in contexts where the tribe ismore important. Real power is contained in informal connections expressed in family and tribalaffiliation. For example, the minister of defense may be overruled by the chief of staff of thearmed forces, if the chief of staff is related to the president and the minister is not.
Sweigart 34 The coding of Yemen is a case in point. Even a casual observer of the Arab world wouldrecognize that in comparison to other Arab societies, Yemen should be coded as “more tribal,”yet this was not at all apparent in the composition of the Yemeni government. The president’srelatives were prominent in a few branches of the armed forces, but were totally absent from thecabinet of ministers and other prominent government posts. One explanation for thisdiscrepancy is that because Yemen’s central government was weak, President Saleh found itnecessary to offer concessions to important members of powerful southern tribes, giving themhigh-ranking government posts. Another explanation is that those government posts might berelatively insignificant due to the impotence of formal institutions. The real source of power inthe Yemeni government may instead have been Saleh’s relatives in the military. All in all, abetter way to measure the importance of the tribes would have been to conduct a survey of anappropriate number of randomly selected subjects in each country asking them questions abouttheir daily habits, who are their closest friends and associates, and other questions that wouldindicate how important the tribe is to them. Attempts to code mass movements as “local” or “national” were also less thansatisfactory. Ideally, information would be available about the numbers of people present atevery rally in every city and town during 2011. This would have allowed the researcher to give arating to each country based on how widespread and numerous the protests were. In reality, ahost of factors converged to make it incredibly difficult to measure the size and breadth of massmovements in detail. Media blackouts imposed by hostile governments, the difficulty of accessdue to violence in many areas, and the tendency of activists to inflate the actual number ofparticipants at rallies and protest marches made it virtually impossible to measure massmovements with any accuracy. Also, the “yes/no” coding system does not capture the very real
Sweigart 35differences between many movements. Libya’s movement to overthrow Qaddafi and Syria’srebellion against the Assad regime evolved in a very different direction than the Egyptian andTunisian protest movements. Finally, the decision to use binary coding for mass movements alsomeant that there was insufficient variation in the dependent variable to perform a multivariateregression analysis, meaning that testing was restricted to simple logistical models with one ortwo independent variables. Another unfortunate but unavoidable limitation in this study was that the lack of dataprecluded measuring the effects of inequality on mass movement. Due to the political sensitivityof data about inequality, most traditional measures of inequality, such as the GINI index or theshare of income of the richest 10 percent of the population, were unavailable for the majority ofcountries in the sample. This is a significant drawback, particularly because inequality may haveshed light on the reasons why high levels of ethno-linguistic-religious fractionalization appear tobe correlated with mass movement. It is conceivable that conflict and mass movement may bemore likely to occur in situations where vertical cleavages and horizontal cleavages coincide.This can happen when one group becomes economically or politically dominant and othergroups are disenfranchised. In these circumstances, the effects of economic deprivation/socialbreakdown theory and resource mobilization theory combine to explosive effect. Non-routinecollective action is sparked by economic grievances and social breakdown, while groupstructures and social connections provide fertile ground for social movements to take hold,transforming them from non-routine into routine movements. One proposed example of thisphenomenon occurred in Lebanon, where the perceived dominance of the Maronite Christians inthe 1970s led to discontent on the part of other groups, particularly the Shia in the south,
Sweigart 36sparking a long and bloody civil war. Another example might be Bahrain today, where a Shiamajority claims that it is discriminated against by the island’s Sunni ruling family. The fact that horizontal and vertical cleavages coincide is not enough by itself to explainwhy highly fractionalized countries tended to experience mass movements. The dominance ofone group over others need not be limited to highly fractionalized countries. But the larger thedisenfranchised group is, the greater its ability to foment a nation-wide uprising. Two of thethree observations that were highly fractionalized and that were coded as having massmovements, Bahrain and Syria, are ruled by minority regimes. The existence of adisenfranchised majority may be the reason why they experienced nation-wide protestmovements, whereas in other countries with relatively small minority groups, such as Moroccoor Saudi Arabia, disenfranchised groups were too small of a minority to cause mass movementon a national scale. Another limitation of this study is that it does not control for citizens’ perceptions of theutility of joining in mass movement. The calculus employed by Tunisians when they first beganprotesting against the government in December of 2010 was very different from the perceptionsof Egyptians, who had seen the success of the Tunisian revolution. Even more different is thecase of Syria, where citizens had seen two successful revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia but also astalled protest movement in Libya that was quickly evolving into a civil war. In short, it wasimpossible even to control for the broader historical context of each mass movement, much lessthe perceptions of each protester or non-protestor. Lastly, this study is using state-level observations to draw conclusions about an outcome(mass movement) that ultimately depends on the individual. The assumption in this study that
Sweigart 37national economic hardship leads to personal economic grievances is not a foregone conclusion.In fact, the only statistically significant relationship found between economic factors and massmovements was the perceptions of corruption index, which directly measured perceptions ratherthan corruption itself. Seemingly, it would be possible to gather data at the individual level: onemight assume that a simple random survey, asking protesters in each country why they decidedto protest, could have easily identify their motivations. But this is not necessarily the case. Arabsocieties have been brutalized for decades by secret police agencies, or the mukhabarat, as theyare known colloquially. Suspicion and fear of government reprisal could prevent many fromreplying with honesty, and would influence the results of such a survey. Conclusion It is somehow appropriate that among the economic grievances studied, the best predictorof mass movement was the Perceptions of Corruption index. The entire causal relationshipbetween economic hardship and mass movement was predicated on the assumption thateconomic decline and social decay was perceived as such by citizens, who then mobilizedagainst the regime. The only indicator that clearly described perceptions, however, was theindex of corruption. Other data dealt solely with the macroeconomic situations in variouscountries. Another interesting result was that both high and low levels of fractionalization seem tobe positively correlated with the incidence of mass movement. Further study, probably with amore experimental focus, is needed in order to explore the role of fractionalization in causing orfacilitating mass movement. The caveat is that researchers must now deal with the effects ofreverse causality – the sectarian narrative of violence that has broken out in places such as Syria
Sweigart 38and to a lesser extent Bahrain may have been the result of mass movement and unrest, rather thanits cause. The construction of post-hoc identities based on ethnic group and sect, oftenencouraged by governments, can obscure previous forms of identity that may have been moreimportant prior to the polarization process. Another area in which further research is needed is the effects of regime type on massmovements. While it is true that no monarchies in the Arab world were overthrown or evenfaced nation-wide protest movements, not every monarchy is the same. Absolute monarchiessuch as Oman or Saudi Arabia, where kings rule by decree, differ greatly from the constitutionalmonarchies in Jordan and Morocco that have parliaments and at least some of the trappings ofdemocracy. Responses to domestic unrest differed accordingly, as absolute monarchs in oil-richGulf countries announced enormous social welfare programs costing in the tens of billions ofdollars, while monarchs in Jordan and Morocco made concessions to opposition parties,dissolved unpopular parliaments, and reshuffled cabinets. Bill & Springborg in 1994 identified signs that the group-centric social structure ofMiddle Eastern society could be slowly eroding. Westernized, university-educated doctors,engineers and other professionals comprise a new class of individuals that seek prestige andposition based on merit rather than personal connections and group membership. The emergenceof this class, they propose, could have one of two effects. At best, it could unleash forces thatherald the start of an era in which the power of official institutions ultimately eclipses that ofpersonal networks and private groups. At worst, the new class could be corrupted and cooptedby governments that see it as both a threat and a useful tool.
Sweigart 39 Do the mass movements sweeping the Middle East stem from class-based conflict? Thesupposed emergence of a modernizing middle-class as an agent of social change was posited byManfred Halpern as early as 1963 in order to explain the waves of political change sweeping theregion at that time. As it became clear later on, old social structures proved resilient and thealleged social “revolutions” of the 1950s and 60s were in reality small, usually personalizedgroups of army officers seizing power. Observers today would do well to avoid a similarmistake. At this point in time, it is still unclear whether or not the current political events in theregion will mark the beginning of real change, or result in more of the same. Yet there are signs that in the Middle East, as elsewhere, economic grievances can act asa basis for social movements. Issues of social concern, of which corruption is but one, have thepower to mobilize millions, as the recent revolutions in the Arab world demonstrated. Nor is thestory over – social discontent continues to simmer in many countries today, nearly eighteenmonths after the Tunisian revolution began. Simply because a number of countries have notexperienced mass protest movements yet does not mean that they will escape them in the future.
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Sweigart 45 Appendix: Tables & Graphs ------------------------------------------------Fig. 1: Index of ethno-linguistic- religious fractionalization Figure 2: Tribalism coding Country Score Country Score Algeria 1 0.32 Algeria 0 Bahrain 0.42 Bahrain 1 Egypt 0.1 Egypt 0 Jordan 0.453 Jordan 1 Kuwait 0.349 Kuwait 1 Libya 0.13 Libya 1 Morocco 0.183 Morocco 1 Oman 0.41 Oman 1 Qatar 0.18 Qatar 1Saudi Arabia 0.219 Saudi Arabia 1 Syria 0.504 Syria 0 Tunisia 0 Tunisia 0 UAE 0.255 UAE 1 Yemen 0.469 Yemen 0 Figure 3: Transparency International Index of Corruption Country 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 Algeria 2.6 2.7 2.8 3.1 3 3.2 2.8 2.9 2.9 Bahrain 6.1 5.8 5.8 5.7 5 5.4 5.1 4.9 5.1 Egypt 3.3 3.2 3.4 3.3 2.9 2.8 2.8 3.1 2.9 Jordan 4.6 5.3 5.7 5.3 4.7 5.1 5 4.7 4.5 Kuwait 5.3 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.3 4.3 4.1 4.5 4.6 Libya 2.1 2.5 2.5 2.7 2.5 2.6 2.5 2.2 2 Morocco 3.3 3.2 3.2 3.2 3.5 3.5 3.3 3.4 3.4 Oman 6.3 6.1 6.3 5.4 4.7 5.5 5.5 5.3 4.8 Qatar 5.6 5.2 5.9 6 6 6.5 7 7.7 7.2 Saudi 4.5 3.4 3.4 3.3 3.4 3.5 4.3 4.7 4.4 Syria 3.4 3.4 3.4 2.9 2.4 2.1 2.6 2.5 2.6 Tunisia 4.9 5 4.9 4.6 4.2 4.4 4.2 4.3 3.8 UAE 5.2 6.1 6.2 6.2 5.7 5.9 6.5 6.3 6.8 1 Figures for Algeria’s Berber population (20-25 percent) are drawn from: Silverstein, Paul, “Berbers in France andAlgeria: Realizing Myth,” Middle East Research and Information Project, No. 200, Winter/Spring 1995.