Hivos International


Abdelfattah El-Sisi, the former chief of Egypt's Armed Forces, is expected to easily win the Egyptian presidential elections at the end of May. The military dominates Egyptian politics, which is hindering Egypt’s transition to democracy, and has two operating modes: a ‘stability mode’ to defend its own institutional interests, and a ‘crisis mode’ in which defending the state is the priority. The Egyptian military should avoid ‘fighting the last war’ by only focusing on preserving state institutions; it should also enable reform of those institutions and create space for new political actors.

Transitional justice is an urgent priority in post-revolutionary Arab states. Tunisia, Egypt and Libya have yet to properly embark on inclusive transitional justice processes to address human rights abuses of the past and the deep divides caused by turbulent political transitions, thus paving the way for national reconciliation.

The record so far has been mixed, with Tunisia making some progress while Egypt and Libya lag very much behind. As long as a fundamental consensus among key political players is absent, justice and accountability measures can easily turn to vengeance and destabilise the new political order. A transparent transitional justice would help build public confidence in the transition and heal the wounds caused by decades of repression. 

Gender equality is missing from most of the studies on transition processes in Syria. This gender gap in transition planning prompted the publication of this policy brief by IFE-EFI and Hivos. The insights are based on more than two years of debate between Syrian women’s rights activists both inside and outside Syria and our common work bringing together researchers, activists and policymakers from Syria and internationally. 

Over the past two years, a combination of security crises has caused a wave of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Middle East and North of Africa. Contrary to common belief, the main challenge is not so much the inflows of immigrants from the MENA to Europe, but rather the massive movements within the region itself that may compound incipient political tensions and could impact on the future of countries in transition.

The uprisings in the Arab world had not even been in full swing before various political agendas scrambled to appriopriate them. Many opinions appear to be caught up in clichés and analyses colored by blatant attemps to only see self-serving and worn-out world perspectives confirmed. It is against this background that sobering and thorough academic research on the origins and nature of the Arab uprisings gains urgent value.

This publication is part of the working paper series of the Knowledge Programme Civil Society in West Asia. 

On a daily basis scores of Syrian activists upload their YouTube footage of protests and the regime’s atrocities, hoping that someone will watch them, become outraged, and act in ways to support the uprising. Given the regime’s information blackout, a lot can be learned from these video snapshots. Yet otherwise the eerie silence from Syria has been deafening. Rarely are Syrian activists given a voice to express their grievances, wishes, desires, aspirations and dilemmas. It is against this background that this newsletter has given the floor to some of such Syrian writer-activists who, despite the high risks involved, continue to publish their commentary in the Arabic-language media. It is in the power of their stories that these Syrian and Arab authors prove themselves to be true revolutionaries.

This publication is part of the working paper series of the Knowledge Programme Civil Society in West Asia.

This policy paper provides unique perspectives from Middle Eastern   activists who are part of popular protests across the region. The   recommendations are based on their perspectives and addressed to the EU   at large European Commission, the Dutch government and  Non-Governmental  Organisations in order for them to best support the  democratic  transitions in the region.

The Arab spring offered Qatar and Saudi Arabia an  opportunity to raise their international profiles and shape events  throughout the Middle East and North Africa. They both sought to assert  their interests through proactive, but often diverging, foreign policies  directed to expand their influence, balance rivals and shield their  respective regimes from political turmoil. Three years on, however,  there is little to show for their efforts and in different ways both  feel more vulnerable, since political uncertainty is growing and  security is deteriorating across the region.

As the turmoil across the Middle East and North Africa enters its fourth year, the role of Gulf countries in influencing the processes of change in the region has evolved substantially. Rapidly-rising oil prices prior to the Arab spring and changes to the global economy after the financial crisis enabled the Gulf to become a far more visible participant in economic globalisation. While the task of finding common ground and operating procedures may be challenging, it is critical if Western organisations are to retain influence and relevance.

In Libya, political civil society is a novelty. Mostly banned under Muammar Gaddafi, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have mushroomed in post-2011 Libya thanks to newly acquired freedoms. The influx of foreign donors to the previously isolated country, providing technical and financial assistance, has contributed to building up the capacities of the Libyan NGO sector.