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Academic cautions against categorising Arab uprisings

Staff Reporter
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Tim Niblock
Tim Niblock

Tim Niblock, Professor Emeritus, University of Exeter, United Kingdom, has cautioned against categorising the Arab uprisings. According to him, placing such movements under pre-conceived categories such as “democratic revolutions” or “Islamist revolutions” would result in “distorted expectations and understandings”.

He was delivering on Tuesday the valedictory address at the two-day International Conference on ‘The Arab World: March Towards Democracy and Its Implications’ organised by the K.P.S. Menon Chair for Diplomatic Studies, School of International Relations and Politics, Mahatma Gandhi University.

According to him, the crowds who demonstrated on the streets were motivated by many different interests, emotions and beliefs. He said the central issue for Arab countries, as for most countries with less well-established political institutions, remains what it was before — on how to create and maintain political systems, where the population felt a sense of common identity and purpose, and where social and economic problems can be effectively addressed. When the previous regimes first came to power in the 1950s and 1960s, they sought legitimacy on the grounds of being able to resolve these issues.

He noted that the new regimes represented a new approach to resolving the same problems. Their success would be measured over the long-term. It is, at present, too soon to draw negative conclusions about the outcome of the uprisings.

Maintaining a sense of hope would be the right approach, he pointed out.

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