MARCH 23, 2012:
News Story: There was a coup in Mali (North-Western Africa) by lower officers. It was
flawed democracy and the trigger was that the military thought it was getting enough
money to fight the insurgency that is fuelled by the influx of arms from the Libyan civil war.
It does not appear to have been a general’s coup, it seemed to be lieutenants, captains and
officers. Donors have responded by cutting off a lot of aid to force coup leaders to step
down, but this may not be sustainable in the long wrong because the citizens of Mali bear
the burden of cut aid. It is a classic guardian coup- it is not hugely reformist or to protect old
privileges, it is very particular dissatisfactions within the military.
News Story: The elections in Senegal (North-Western Africa) resulted in a successful
handing over of the presidency.
o Political rigidity- as result of decolonization (particularly when leaders
didn’t want to lead- ex. Vietnam, Angola, etc.), decaying monarchies
(monarchies have difficulty reforming because it is a closed political elite
because it is hereditary. The puzzle here is that the Middle East has a lot of
surviving monarchies that have a great deal of power), personalistic
dictatorships (which have some parallels with monarchies- the Gadhafi
regime in Libya was like this- almost monarchical, a close elite).
The argument is that revolutions occur when leaders don’t adapt.
o A challenge from below is not enough…
Both the ruled need to revolt AND the rulers can’t supress the uprising.
o State weakness: under what conditions is the state so weak it cannot supress
the revolution from below
Decolonization (colonial powers became to costly to stay, ex. British
from South Yemen- it is no longer worth hanging onto the colony)
War (ex. The Chinese and Russian Revolutions, the state is weakened
during the war and in the aftermath)
Loss of external support (ex. The overthrow of the Somali regime
had a lot to do with the end of the Cold War when the US and Russia
no longer supported and propped up countries in Africa to
demonstrate their supremecy.)
How do revolutions occur? (What are the processes?)
o From the centre to the periphery:
When the revolutionaries first seize control of the centre, capital and major
urban areas, and gradually expand their control. By definition, the capital is
usually the hardest place to take and the regime is strongest there. For
example, Tripoli was the last place to fall in Libya; the troops are
concentrated in Damascus in Syria (ex. Russian Revolutions in 1917 which
were urban revolutions and then a long extended period during the Russian
civil war to gain the rural land, Iranian Revolution in 1979 occurred in
o From the periphery to the centre:
ex. China, Vietnam against the French, Cuba, Taliban
More frequently, the rebels start in the areas where the regime is weakest, in
the mountains, countryside, by the border, and slowly build up support here and slowly expand the area under their control until they’ve expanded to be
able to surround and take the