The Arab Spring marked a critical turning point in the Middle East and North Africa. For the first time in decades, authoritarian rulers were overthrown as a result of mass protests.
Four roughly defined developmental trajectories can be distinguished: Some authoritarian states experienced the ousting of the regime and are currently undergoing consolidation processes, with varying success (Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen). In other states the mass protests escalated into severe violent conflicts (Libya and Syria) or led to a domestic blockade, as in the case of Bahrain. Most of the authoritarian monarchies (Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) have so far managed to come away with little protest and no serious consequences. Finally, those states that have experienced major violent internal conflicts in the more recent past, such as Algeria, Iraq, and Lebanon, have remained at the periphery of the Arab Spring.
Based on this constellation, the GIGA is investigating several aspects of the transformation: What are the most important factors influencing these developments? Which tried and tested forms of political rule have been successful in stabilising authoritarian regimes? What new types of political legitimisation have been developed? Which actors are newly forming and which existing groups are experiencing a transformation under changed framework conditions? What kind of transnational exchange is occurring between the various actors?