This review looks at government responses to violent protests in a selection of countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Focusing on the 2011 Arab Spring protests, it finds that the initial response of most regimes was violent repression – Tunisia where the president stepped down, and Morocco and Jordan where the respective monarchies promised reform, are the only exceptions. However, the consistent failure by MENA governments to address the socioeconomic as well as political underlying causes of citizens’ grievances – in other words, their failure to genuinely accommodate protesters’ demands – leaves them vulnerable to renewed protests. That is what is currently happening in most of the countries reviewed. But this time round, unwilling to carry out the kinds of radical reforms needed, virtually all regimes are responding with violent repression.
K4D helpdesk reports provide summaries of current research, evidence and lessons learned. This report was commissioned by the UK Department for International Development.
Idris, I. (2020). Responding to popular protests in the MENA region. K4D Helpdesk Report 747. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.
Published 20 February 2020