Watchers of international affairs cannot help but be mesmerised by the rebellions that have unfolded across the Middle East in 2011. Long-standing authoritarian regimes have crumbled, like those of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. Others have come under concerted attack by popular uprisings, including Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa in Bahrain, and the al-Assad dynasty in Syria. Leaders in Saudi Arabia and Iran watch on, mindful of their own combustible internal politics.
Why has this happened now? How did the self-immolation of a Tunisian fruit vendor spark revolt across the Middle East and North Africa? There are many factors at play…
- Population growth and over-population.
- Demographics and the size of the youth population.
- Economic weakness and high unemployment, particularly for young people.
- The internal politics of oil and the impact of the ‘resource curse’ on the structure of oil-driven economies.
- Disdain for authoritarian governance and endemic official corruption.
- Rising global food prices.
Adding to the complexity of this picture are the politicisation of the middle classes through social media, repeated intervention by foreign powers and the lingering remnants of Western colonialism.
In this instalment of the Our Voice: Politics Albury-Wodonga podcast, we are fortunate to be joined by Dr Luca Anceschi from La Trobe University in Melbourne. On Monday 11th April, Luca made a presentation at the LTU Albury-Wodonga campus entitled Revolutions in the Middle East, for second and third year Bachelor of Arts students taking the subject International Relations of the Middle East. In this presentation, Luca covers the variables described above and much more, helping to shed some light on unfolding developments in the Middle East region.
Dr Anceschi’s main research interests include the politics and international relations of Middle East and Central Asia. His most recent book – Turkmenistan’s Foreign Policy: Positive Neutrality and the Consolidation of the Turkmen Regime – is the first book-length analysis of Turkmen foreign policy published by a Western scholar. His current research projects include a critical investigation of Asia’s energy security in the climate change era and a comprehensive analysis of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy.
The views in this story are those of the author and not necessarily those of Our Voice: Politics Albury-Wodonga.