Open Access (free)
Sovereignty, violence and revolution in the Middle East
Author: Simon Mabon

In events that have since become known as the Arab Uprisings or Arab Revolutions, people across the Middle East took to the streets to express their anger and frustration at political climates, demanding political and economic reform. In a number of cases, protest movements were repressed, often violently, with devastating repercussions for human security and peace across the region.

While a number of scholars have sought to understand how the protests occurred, this book looks at sovereignty and the relationship between rulers and ruled to identify and understand both the roots of this anger but also the mechanisms through which regimes were able to withstand seemingly existential pressures and maintain power.

Simon Mabon

not necessarily the literal manifestation of Agamben’s bare life, political meaning had been stripped from groups across the region, wherein individuals are bound by the laws of the state yet not protected by such laws. For Agamben, once in this position, there is no escape and one should accept the position of ‘being thus’.2 Yet looking across the region in the early months of 2011, it was difficult to view events as the acceptance of the status quo. Instead, what quickly became known as the Arab Uprisings was seen as the rejection of being thus and the

in Houses built on sand
Open Access (free)
Simon Mabon

211 8 Houses built on sand The crisis consists in the fact that the old [order] is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a large variety of morbid symptoms appear. Antonio Gramsci, Passato e presente Ana wa akhi ala ibn ammi, ana wa ibn ammi ala algharib. [My brother and I against our cousin, my cousin and I against a stranger.] An old Beouin saying In the fallout from the Arab Uprisings, a number of parallels have been drawn with the Thirty Years’ War across Europe in the seventeenth century.1 Take the opening lines of an article by Richard

in Houses built on sand
Open Access (free)
Simon Mabon

the protests emerged from state-​building processes, which facilitated the widespread repression that followed the uprisings. Although a number of regimes created bare life in an attempt to end the protest movements, this was not always successful. Instead, because of the existence of strong normative currents across the region, further mechanisms of control were deemed necessary. This chapter traces regime responses in the aftermath of the Arab Uprisings, beginning with the declaration of emergency powers before moving to consideration of securitising moves  –​the

in Houses built on sand
Open Access (free)
Simon Mabon

increasingly difficult in such contexts, where the spread of identities and religious groups provides opportunities for a range of actors to wield influence and highlights the fragility of states across the region. It is this struggle to regulate life amid instances of contested sovereignty across the Middle East that is the main focus of this book. A growing body of work quickly emerged in the aftermath of the Arab Uprisings, the spate of protests that cut across the Middle East in early 2011. The literature on the uprisings spans a range of different theoretical

in Houses built on sand
Open Access (free)
The end of the dream
Simon Mabon

aftermath of the Arab Uprisings where violence was used to crush protest movements, seemingly whatever the cost. The fragmentation of sovereign borders and retreat into communal identities collapsed domestic and regional politics into new spaces of the political that placed regime survival above human security, albeit not curtailed by territorial borders. Following regime responses to the uprisings, intractable conflicts have emerged, becoming all-​encompassing, dividing societies and communities along political lines. Socio-​economic contexts add additional

in Houses built on sand
Open Access (free)
Simon Mabon

repercussions across the region, as a consequence of the spread of identities across the Middle East, meaning that what happens within the borders of one state can have consequences elsewhere. Reverberations from events such as the establishment of the state of Israel, the Suez Crisis, the 1967 war, the Iranian Revolution, the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the 2005 Cedar Revolution and the Arab Uprisings were felt across the Middle East, shaping the regional security environment. The establishment of states, either in an attempt to politically represent an existing nationality, or

in Houses built on sand
Toby Fricker

. Keane , ‘ Syria: The Boys Who Helped Spark a Revolution ’, BBC (13 April 2013 ), http://bbc.in/2bGPPwq . Accessed 25 May 2016. 6 J. Bowen , The Arab Uprisings: The People Want the Fall of the Regime ( London : Simon & Schuster , 2012 ). 7

in Global humanitarianism and media culture
Open Access (free)
Simon Mabon

relationship between sects and broader political communities. These periods correspond with crises in regional politics: the Iranian Revolution, the Iraq War and the Arab Uprisings. The mobilisation and manipulation of sect-​based identities for political reasons has been a common feature of political life. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, sect-​ based identities were mobilised for political purposes, both domestic and regional, as regimes attempt to exert control and influence and, ultimately seek to ensure their survival. Speaking to constituents is one means through

in Houses built on sand
Simon Mabon

processes are ongoing as regimes seek to maintain power and people engage with the structures of politics. Following decades of exception and bare life, the Arab Uprisings became an outlet for much of the frustration people had with governance structures regulating life, resulting in a struggle between regimes and societies and the (further) marginalisation of particular identities for domestic, regional and international audiences. Put another way, the state of exception begot the state of exception, while bare life begot bare life. As noted in The Kingdom and The Glory

in Houses built on sand