“The revolutions in the Arab world are the result of a structural contradiction of the regimes. The political openness in the Arab world began in the early 1970s due to the same contradictions, and not as a response to the public’s demands. The rise of political Islam pushed the regimes in the direction of political openness in an attempt to fight this stream. The regimes in the Arab world tried to control the democratic change and its processes with the objective of perpetuating their rule and solidifying their control, and not as part of a dismantling process. The result is a hybrid state that stands in contradiction to the meaning of the civil state.” These were some of the comments made by the researcher Muhand Mustafa at a workshop on “Revolutions and Transformations in the Arab World,” held by Mada al-Carmel in May.
The first to speak at the workshop was Prof. Kais Firro, who surveys theories on revolutions. From an historical perspective, he said, the year 2011 is an important turning point in the history of the Middle East, and the beginning of a new era. He also noted that historians deal with expressions of events and not with the events themselves and rejected the possibility that historians can prophesy historical processes. Firro emphasized that it is impossible to understand the recent events in the Arab world outside the general context, detached from the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. “In recent decades, there have been a number of changes by the elites in the Arab world. What characterizes these changes is the ways the elites use their control of accumulating wealth,” he noted.

The researcher Muhand Mustafa focused on the events in Tunisia, since it was there that terms of modernism were used to impede the democratic project and the reformist Islamic program. He added that the elite in Tunisia, who were educated in West, primarily in France, adopted social and cultural modernism, but not political modernism. Rather than lead to democratization, modernism impeded the democratic forces, Mustafa emphasized.

Regarding Israel’s reaction to the revolutions in the Arab world, Dr. Mahmoud Muhareb said that the response given by state officials and by academics was marked by an orientalist perspective and cultural approach, and as such, these officials and academics rejected any possibility of revolutionary change in the Arab world. These Israeli reactions serve a political agenda. He further stated that Israel has always preferred ties with corrupt, tyrannical regimes in the Middle East.

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