Please find the link to our final paper and PowerPoint presentation below:
Members of the Yemeni Youth Movement formed the Arab Spring Party this month in order to gain access to the political process and lobby for reform. This is a positive development for the movement and a wise decision as the transition process has now shifted entirely to the elite political level. While their collective voice was formidable, with Saleh out of power, they will need to organize politically in order to afford themselves an opportunity to realize their proposed reforms. Though how much access they will have depends on the true will of the ruling elites to reform the political system in the Post-Saleh era.
In early February and March, the Bahraini opposition demanded only constitutional reforms and a fully-elected parliament.
However, since these demands were not met, the leading Shia opposition party threatened to pull out of the government sponsored talks. The talks were set up to be inherently unfair. Out of 300 representatives, only 25 were from Shia groups, and the only 5 of these members were from Al-Wifaq. Protesters demanded that opposition parties not even participate in the talks because they were inherently unfair and the political process was corrupt. The monarchy was not involved at all in the talk and the discussions never even came close to the root causes of the protests. These talks took place throughout the summer but stalled with the opposition of Al-Wifaq.
Professor O’Donnell mentioned credit crunches in Bahrain in class the other day. Here is an interesting article about how the credit crunch in Bahrain effected the economic growth of the country and actually caused many private and state run projects within the country to be cancelled. Clearly, the protests this year will cause the economy to decline further.
As was mentioned in an earlier post, the Bahraini government was forced to sell a large Islamic bomb in order to make ends meet with its budget deficit. Bahraini tourism also dropped 80% over the past year. These factors, with already high unemployment with the country, will make it harder for the regime to appease its citizens.
These two articles from the Financial Times here and here provide a great recap of the first protests in Bahrain and the economic concerns facing the country. The “Day of Rage” started the protests in Bahrain that have simmered throughout the year and have since been rekindled by the issuance of the BICI report. The “Day of Rage” in Bahrain brought about a harsh crackdown from the regime, which brought in foreign troops and destroyed the Pearl Roundabout in an attempt to quell the protests.
It is widely known that Saudi Arabia is a wealthy country bringing in billions of dollars a year due to its extensive oils reserves (second largest in the world). However, it is not a widely known fact that there is a huge discrepancy between the wealthy majority and those living in abject poverty in Saudi Arabia. While Saudi Arabia is a welfare state (and tax free!) there are still huge numbers of citizens living in poverty within the kingdom.
This video was made by a young activist who was actually jailed for the creation of this documentary. He has since been released.
A proposed anti- terrorism law in Saudi Arabia is causing quite a stir in the international community. The new law would basically allow the Saudi government to detain security suspects indefinitely and without trail. Amnesty International accuses the law of a way for the royal family and the security forces to silence dissent. The law includes a deliberately vague definition of terrorism ranging from “destabilizing to society” to “harming the reputation of the state.” Continue reading