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Chapter 3

Chapter 3- The Mashreq--Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria.pdf

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McGill University
Political Science
POLI 340
Rex Brynen

eruption of protest in Syria decision of Assad regime to use heavy-handed repression did like Libya and Yemen BUT has not elicited foreign intervention continued Israeli occupation of Palestine aftereffects of 2003 US Iraq invasion crisis of governance in Lebanon most Mashreq countries not oil producers (only Iraq and Syria) much higher degree of societal heterogeneity Lebanon divided along sectarian lines religion and ethnicity gained significance as pol. markers in Iraq, Syria, and Jordan West Bank and Gaza division b/w secular and religious Palestinians for pol. purposes Jordan similar to Morocco in terms of monarchy's ability to maneuver around demands for reform and preempt violence uprising bypassed Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine because they are already in the grips of serious and extremely destabilizing problems of their own Violent Uprising: Syria most repressive police state unlikely candidate to follow Tunisia and Egypt starts March 19, 2011 southern city of Daraa protests spread to Latakia, engulf Homs and Hama, trigger fighting in the capital, Damascus Assad blames it on foreign conspirators and said protests had an Israeli agenda mid-April Assad brings 48 years of emergency law to an end…too late 5,000 occupy main square of Homs increasing human toll, hundreds of Baath party members resign in protest mid-May Western states pass sanctions and US presses Assad to transition to democracy cabinet approves draft law reintroducing multipartyism empty gesture, as seen by opp. August 2011 Syrian National Council SNC established to coordinate opp. to regime full-fledged civil war fall 2011 EU embargo on oil imports, Turkey sanctions, Syria suspended from Arab League regime bolstered by two Sino-Russian vetoes against UNSC draft resolutions to condemn them October committee to revise constitution, November and January freeing of pol. prisoners, December municipal elections, February referendum on new constitution accepts it May 7, 2012 first multiparty elections opposition strongholds boycott the vote violence with boobytrapped cars and attacks on neighbourhoods March 27th Syria accepts former UNSG Kofi Annan's peace plan Russians and Chinese then accept UNSC resolution to monitor and support peace plan implementation plan declared a failure by mid-July winter 2000 president encouraged Damascus Spring criticizing the pol. system and calling for liberal and democratic reform Statement of 99 argued that admin., eco., and legal reform wold not achieve real change if not complemented by pol. reform wanted lifting of martial law, amnesty for pol. prisoners and exiles, establishment of rule of law, pol. pluralism, basic freedoms 2001 al-Assad becomes president clamps down on reformers Statement of 1000 calls for end of Baath Party monopoly and restoration of multiparty politics prominent journalists were arrested, civil forums were closed gradualist approach to reform private banks and universities established customs duties reduced foreign investment opportunities increased hundred of laws signed to reform eco. and admin. BUT Baath regional command refused to curtail the party's role in gov't or to launch a major liberalization program Assad inserted close allies into positions of power and leadership in mil. and security congress endorsed a social market economy, privatizing of certain sectors, removing the last major Sunni barons in the inner circle (final regime consolidation of power) 2006 regime acts against its internal opponents with great impunity unemployment rates soaring declining oil production economic sanctions rising social tensions widespread corruption Catch 22: regime needed to reform to stay in power, but any moves in that direction threatened it with collapse Managed Protests: Jordan uprisings relatively peaceful affair did not become occasions for violent clashes, and did not bring down the monarchy demanding better employment prospects, cuts in food and fuel costs, end to corruption opposition Islamic Action Front (pol. arm of MB) wanted sweeping reforms and parl. system king Abdullah II sacked cabinet of PM Samir al-Rifai new PM al-Bakhit asked to launch real pol. reform process support for new electoral laws active pol. party representation BUT used social cleavages to undermine pressures for change loyal EB and tribal supporters clashed with protestors seesaw of advances and setbacks since 1990s determined by consideration of regime security in a troubled regional environment liberalization used as a pressure valve to help the regime deal with threats defensive democratization outside pressures used to justify stalls 1989 election oil down means bad for eco. help from IMF in exchange for 5-year stabilization program decreed price increases for gas, diesel, kerosene rioting King calls elections free of interference 21 members of MB and 13 other islamists Iraq invaded Kuwait Jordan declared neutral b/c Jor. society mostly favoured Saddam Hussein's anti-USism port of Aqaba blocked to prevent supplies from reaching Iraq through there commission to draft national charter to outline goals for liberalization 1992 pol. parties legalized 1993 Law on Press and Publications gutted very press freedoms it guaranteed by making illegal any news offending king or family, insulting Arab, Islamic, or allies, or anti-security forces peace with Israel provided background for 1st sustained setback in Jordanian liberalization popular opp to peace treaty parl. dissolved temporary amendment to electoral law to make it one person, one vote yields regime-friendly tribal parl. renewed restriction of press clip wings of Islamists 1996 PM al-Kabariti to form new gov't worst record on human rights bread riots lifting subsideies on wheat 1996 tunnel incident Israelis opened tunnel beneath Western Wall 1997 Israeli decision to proceed with settlement in East Jerusalem PM dismissed end of 1990s, deliberalization was the name of the game narrow existing political space, assert control over associational space, curtail overtly pol. activities in society, discourage protests 1999 Abdullah takes the throne economic liberalization advance pol. reforms, then suspend them 2000 free trade agreement with US tensions in Palestine and Iraq provide justification to dismiss parl. 2001 and postpone elections and curb press freedom space for civil society limited 2003 elections new PM tasked with accelerating reform one-person one-vote problem plagues election, making a weak and traditional parl. 2005 National Agenda Initiative to draft a national agenda security concerns trump pressure for reform 2006-2010 parl. elections don't change much 2007 Islamists lose the most at polls 2010 parl. dissolved Nov. 2010 elections boycotted by MB The Primacy of Security: Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine since 2000 Iraq and Pal. head list of most unstable in ME 2003 US Iraq invasion 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war December 2008-January 2009 war in Gaza weak and somewhat representative governments and powerful internal political undercurrents not much uprising change IRAQ only episodic violence PM al-Maliki warned demonstrators they would become victims of al-Qa'ida and pro-Saddam violence removal of Saddam left them in insecurity and civil strife, so security situation used to justify a certain status quo occupation of Kuwait 1990 and popular uprisings against Saddam 1991 Hussein put family in top positions and purged army national politics became a pronounced family affair UN sanctions contributed to increasing gov't hold over population b/c all transactions with Iraq must be channeled through gov't K
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