Research Center for International Relations

Research Center for International Relations

24 May 2011

UNDERSTANDING THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN MIDDLE EAST

Moderator:

  • Ayşegül Sever (Assoc. Prof., Marmara University, Department of Political Science and International Relations)

Panelists:

  • Fulya Atacan (Prof., Yıldız Technical University, Department of Political Science and International Relations)
  • Seda Altuğ (Dr., Utrecht University)
  • Yüksel Taşkın (Assoc. Prof., Marmara University, Department of Political Science and International Relations)

Podcast of the Panel (in Turkish):

The second MURCIR Panel of 2011 was organized timely on the latest developments in the Middle East. The first speaker, Fulya Atacan, started her presentation by emphasizing the necessity to pay attention to the peculiar conditions of the individual countries in assessing the dynamics of the recent uprisings in the Middle East. In addition to the internal dynamics, she put emphasis on the significance of the roles played and wanted to be played by such international actors as the USA. Accordingly, the U.S. policy of “orderly transition” is imposed on the countries to control the latest transitions while paving the way for provisional military governments in Tunisia and Egypt, and various military interventions in Bahrain and Libya. Atacan particularly focused on the recent uprising in Egypt. She introduced the social background of those active and passive groups in the process. She reminded the curious absence of the most impoverished sectors of Egypt in the uprising. Atacan also focused on the internal dynamics of the Muslim Brotherhood and the possible actions that the organization can assume in the near future which seem to be crucial for a genuine democratization in Egypt.

                     

Seda Altuğ discussed the reasons of the belated arrival of the wave of uprising to Syria. She presented a historical background that helped for the comprehension of the latest developments in Syria. She shared her argument that it is not ideologically and practically possible for the Asad regime to start any genuine democratization in Syria. She also reminded the strategy of the regime that tries to terrify the people with the risk of sectarian and ethnic conflict if they are overthrown. She highlighted on the organizational deficits of the democratic movement that could pose difficulties in creating a clear and unifying program for the opposition groups with diverse interests and backgrounds.

Yüksel Taşkın discussed the latest developments in the Middle East from a theoretical perspective. In the light of the latest events, he examined and criticized the prevailing idea that the Middle East is an exception in the worldwide waves of democratization. He introduced several structural factors that could be put forward to understand the belatedness of the democratization in the region. He argued that strategic choices of such great powers as the USA and the UK have played significant roles in the weakening and destruction of the social and political actors that could have, otherwise, initiated genuine democratization. He then elaborated on a related phenomenon, the process of post-Islamism in the 2000s and the ongoing debates on the process. Finally, he presented some scenarios and projections about the possible ways of transition in the region.

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Research Center for International Relations