Tag Archives: Middle East

Morsi and the Military- Let’s Conceptualize!

A couple days ago (June 24 2012), after 84 years of mobilization, protests, and struggle, the Muslim Brothers have opened a new page in Egypt’s history.

In his book Revolutions and Revolutionary Movements, James DeFronzo tells us stories of revolutionaries who succeeded to grab the power. According to DeFronzo, from the Russian revolution to the Iranian revolution, we see a similar trend: the regime was collapsed by joint social forces (including a variety of groups that are even at conflict one another), and soon after the breakdown, the radicals eliminate their rivals and get the control.

Now, what is your take? Is it the story of current Egypt?

Here is my two cents: Continue reading


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Civilian Deaths and Radicalism

As we are involved in a heated debate about Obama’s kill list and controversial drone attacks in Pakistan, it is timely to ask whether American public sufficiently comprehends seriousness of the issue of civilian deaths, which poses a great danger in fighting against terrorist networks and radical movements. In his new book, The Deaths of Others: The Fate of Civilians in America’s Wars (Oxford University Press, 2011), John Tirman presents a compelling argument to explain why a culture of public “indifference” still dominates.

According to Tirman, there are three major reasons behind this lack of public attention: racism (i.e. Americans’ lives are more important than some other people’s lives), frontier myth (i.e. a strong belief in USA’s mission in world politics), and psychological aversion (i.e. just too much burden for someone to think about these disturbing issues). Examining Korean War, Vietnam War, and recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Tirman also indicates how American public were made in dark, and thus, were deceived about number of civilian deaths. At the outset of the Iraqi war,  only 73 of 18000 news stories on the major networks mentioned Iraqi casualties. By 2008, during the time American public supported to pull out of the country, any coverage of the Iraq war went down to 3 per cent Continue reading


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Terrorism and Collective Behavior

Two recent books are quite valuable in thinking about the relationship between terrorism and Islamic mobilization. Collecting the largest data on suicide terrorism around the globe (database available in the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism website), Robert Pape and James Feldman make a compelling argument to demonstrate strong impact of foreign occupation on suicide terrorism.

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Reactions to Mobilization: Framing Occupiers, Environmentalists and Anti-Regime Protesters

For those who study and teach about social movements and collective action, the last year has provided us with numerous cases. From OWS, environmental activism, the Arab Spring, and the Tea Party, we have compared and contrasted these cases, often seeking to find common themes across these, using existing theoretical frameworks to shed light on contemporary cases, or alternatively, use what’s going on out there as a way to reevaluate existing theories of social movements and collective action.

One important and emerging theme is the way in which people – from the public, to the media, to political elites – react to social movements.  Scholars have shown how positive and negative reactions, especially by elites, have important consequences for subsequent mobilization. Of course, elite responses to protesters vary; by no means is government surveillance (as is the case with environmental groups in Canada) equivalent to the brutality faced by activists and bystanders in Syria. Yet, there is a common theme when it comes to elite framing of challenges as illegitimate and depicting challengers as radicals and terrorists. Continue reading


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Radical Flank Effect in Egypt?

As Nicholas Kristof notes, Egypt’s oldest and most popular Islamic movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, is now transforming into an inclusive political party after its electoral victory. Kristof’s field conversation with the activists reveal how the Muslim Brotherhood’s future is discussed in terms of “Iran versus Turkey,” a growing discursive trend that I underlined in my previous post. The first round of election results  have provided not only a big self-confidence for the Brotherhood but also a discursive opportunity: surprising many, conservative Salafis had a remarkable vote for their party, Al-Nour (second place after the MB). Continue reading


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Muslim Reformers or Revolutionaries? Egypt’s Quest for a Model

Latest developments in Egypt and subsequent scholarly comments indicate that there is quite a  way to reach the Arab “Spring.” If the pro-Islamic party has a sweeping electoral success, we will delve into recent post-Islamism debate. Can Islamists be sincere Muslim Democrats? At the center of these debates, we often see two non-Arab countries, i.e. Iran and Turkey, which are generally depicted in a mutually exclusive duality in the Western media: can the Muslim Brotherhood internalize liberal democratic values as the Muslim reformers in Turkey did or will it be the engine of another Islamic Republic? Continue reading

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