What’s going on in the Middle East?…someone tells me please!


Many observers define events in Tunisia and Egypt as democratic revolutions and positive judgments are lavished on the happenings. However, how long and bloody could be a successful transition to democracy. In Hold the Applause, an article by David Mack on Foreign Policy, the worst scenario is hypothesized: shortages of food in the short run, the touristic sector heavily hit, the reduction in private sector’s investments, etc.: ‘Removing an unpopular dictator, however entrenched, is far easier than putting a stable political structure in place afterward. The success of this second step stands between passionate embrace of popular overthrow of an authoritarian ruler and prolonged chaos followed by embrace of a new tyranny or anarchy.’ (Mack 2011). William Easterly (Columbia University), in his “The White Man’s Burden”, uses Acemoglu’s (MIT) & Robinson’s (Harvard) analysis of a typical democratic process in “Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy”. In their portrait, democracy is the result of a confrontation between a rich minority and a poor majority: ‘The rich prefer not to have democracy because of the threat of redistribution. However, an even worse threat to elite is total revolution by the poor, which would destroy the elite altogether. The poor can threaten revolution in order to try to extract democratic concessions from the rich. Often there is only a temporary revolutionary window of opportunity, such as during a war or a major economic crisis‘ (Easterly 2006). The game rules are crystal clear and – considering the current events in the Middle East – so extraordinarily true! Nobody knows what’s next. We just know partially what was…after quoting all those big guys, I feel that a combination of greed and grievance factors (in my opinion woven and inseparable one from each other) move human actions, together with a generous dose of foolishness.

Please debate, see you next post!

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2 responses to “What’s going on in the Middle East?…someone tells me please!

  1. Do you think more Arabs countries will follow?

    Lydia, Saudi?

    • Hi Paulina, this is actually what is going on. Then, an issue will be how long to reach a complete and satisfactory transition. In Egypt now the risk is that a strong (and dangerous) confrontation will rise between army and civil population. The Economist Intelligence Unit has recently developed an index to estimate the risk of rebellion in autocratic countries: Saudi Arabia is in the “high risk” category…

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