Power Shifts in the Arab Spring

A Work in Progress

Cairo, Egypt
Power Shifts in the Arab Spring : A Work in Progress - KARIM MEZRAN & ALICE ALUNNI


This paper examines the extent to which power has shifted to new political actors in North Africa as a result of the 2011 "Arab Spring" uprisings. Focusing on Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Morocco, this paper identifies the changes taking place in these states, and elucidates the distinct ways in which power is shifting in each case. The emergence of Islamist movements as organized political actors is a common feature of all four countries and represents potentially the most significant power shift in a region yearning for democracy.


From Morocco to the Persian Gulf, the 2011 Arab Spring brought turmoil and revolution to the Middle East and North Africa region. Whilst the fight against the regime in Syria is ongoing, and President Saleh of Yemen sacrificed the presidency only to leave control of the military and security apparatus along with the country’s top political posts to members of his family, the world has witnessed a more profound change in the North Africa region. Indeed, it is in North Africa that the Arab Spring brought to power actors relatively new to the political arena, opening the way to real power shifts in the countries touched by the revolutionary wave.

Thus, this paper will focus on those countries where the regimes were either overthrown, like in Tunisia and Libya, and on those where the regimes were forced to allow elections to be held and new political forces to emerge, as in Egypt and Morocco. The common feature that these countries share is that during and/or after the fight against their respective regimes, Islamist movements emerged unparalleled in their organizational efficiency and capability to win democratic elections in the region. Their victories signal that power shifts are ongoing in the North Africa region, although the path forward remains highly uncertain.   

Power Shifts in North Africa: An Evolving Process

When using the term power shift, we refer to the progressive process of transformation that has occurred at the apex of the political systems in those countries where the regimes were completely or partially substituted by new political actors. By “new actors,” we do not necessarily refer to forces born out of the uprisings themselves, but to those political forces that, for the first time since their existence, have been able to compete in fair elections and emerge as important political players. The Islamist movements, indeed, are not new to the Arab world, but this is the first time since their creation that they have been allowed to participate in elections whose results have not been rigged. In other cases, former members of the regime, or power structures tightly linked to them, have maintained some degree of power. For instance, in Libya and Egypt, former regime insiders either participated in the revolts or mediated between the respective autocrat and the protesters, thus becoming key figures in the post-revolutionary transition phase. It is far from certain that democracy will be the end-product of these power shifts. However, the early stages of the transition processes have displayed high levels of pluralism in electoral competitions, signaling potential for the development of more democratic systems.

In North Africa, the overthrow of regimes and the subsequent power shifts were the result of anti-authoritarian uprisings that either occurred quickly and relatively peacefully, as in Tunisia, or that were prolonged and extremely violent, as was the case in Libya and Egypt. In all cases, the power shifts have been processes. In two instances, the regime, facing demonstrations, conceded to popular demands in an intermittent way in order to avert further upheavals, alternating between using violence and making concessions. This was the case in Morocco and in Egypt, where King Muhammad VI and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) maintained firm control over the country while reforming the system, facilitating elections, and allowing new political forces to enter the scene. The length of the uprisings and the way in which the power shifts occurred has inevitably had resounding effects on society. These effects will be analyzed at the end of this paper after a country-by-country examination of shifting power dynamics that also includes discussions about the pre-insurgency power holders.  

Tunisia: Towards a Full Power Shift

When Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire on December 17, 2010, in protest of the confiscation of his merchandise and the humiliation inflicted on him by the municipal police, no one expected that President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s regime would collapse only a few weeks later. However, on January 14, 2011, following days of demonstrations and increasing civilian casualties, Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia. The Tunisian people, who protested against massive unemployment, price hikes, and widespread government corruption, suddenly found themselves freed from a long-standing dictatorship.  

Ben Ali came to power on November 7, 1987, when he proclaimed himself president and removed the aging President Habib Bourguiba from office in a so-called constitutional coup. It was a de facto military takeover by an unelected former military officer who had been nominated prime minister by Bourguiba.1 The reasons for Ben Ali’s intervention included the harsh repression that President Bourguiba was perpetrating against the Mouvement de la Tendance Islamique (MTI), an Islamist opposition movement led by Rachid Ghannouchi, as well as the protracted economic crisis that led to widespread popular discontent.2

Initially, Ben Ali seemed open towards working with the opposition, but after the first two years of his presidency it became clear that this would not be the case. The regime repressed political opponents and preserved Tunisia’s one-party system, ensuring domination by the Constitutional Democratic Rally (CDR) even though a multiparty system had been created by law in 1988.3 In the early 1990s, security was tightened and the regime further repressed its critics. The CDR remained the dominant political organization, serving a state in which the president’s powers and that of his patronage network extended to all sectors of the country’s political and economic life.4 Meanwhile, through a generous welfare system, one of the most effective tools of government during Ben Ali’s regime, the autocrat aimed to stem the frustration of the unemployed youth and control growing regional disparities and inflation. The revolutionary events of 2011 clearly proved that Ben Ali had failed in his attempts to placate the masses.

Ben Ali’s flight on January 14, 2011 paved the way for political transition. Three interim governments were appointed in the aftermath of the uprisings. The first two were considered too close to the ex-regime and, therefore, were firmly opposed by the people and quickly dismissed to avoid further confrontations on the streets. Only with the appointment of former Foreign Minister Beji Caid Essebsi (who had distanced himself from Ben Ali after he retired from political life in 1994) to the post of prime minister on February 27th, was the transition phase set up in an orderly way. The elected members, in turn, gave a vote of confidence to the new government which was composed of members from the winning parties. The Islamist movement Ennahda won 37% of the popular vote and 89 of the 219 seats. The remaining seats were taken by the two most successful secular parties, the Congress for the Republic (CPR) and Ettakatol, as well as by some independents.  

As Carnegie Endowment scholar Marina Ottaway points out, the relatively smooth transition in Tunisia was due to a combination of factors: a professional military that stayed firmly out of politics and maintained order in the country; good management of the transition period between the overthrow of Ben Ali and the installation of an elected government; and - last but not least - good political judgment on the part of the major political parties.5 Indeed, in order to get to the October 2011 elections, the interim prime minister engineered a solution merging experts and revolutionaries in a High Council for the Realization of the Goals of the Revolution, Political Reforms, and Democratic Transition, which included major political parties and civil-society organizations. Subsequently, the success of free and fair elections was reinforced by the one-year mandate initially given to the Constituent Assembly.6 Once the constitution is drafted, the Tunisian people will vote for a new parliament, presumably by the end of 2012, and for a new president by August 2013.7 This schedule forces the current leaders to have a positive and inclusive attitude towards the process of constitution-making if they aspire to consolidate their position in such a short period of time.

In this respect, Ennahda, the party which will be leading the process, has shown willingness to share power with secular parties, bringing the CPR and Ettakatol into a “unity government” and giving them control over almost half the ministerial positions, including the Ministries of Finance, Defense, and Women and Family Affairs, while leaving the Central Bank in the hands of a World Bank technocrat appointed after the overthrow of Ben Ali.Ennahda seems to have an inclusive view of governance. Indeed, according to Rashid al-Gannouchi, leader of the Ennahda movement, “Democracy is when the people rule themselves by themselves, through an authority that represents them. They should be able to constantly oversee it and overthrow it when they want. Democracy is when citizens can enjoy their personal freedom, regardless of their color, wealth, religion and way of thinking. It is when the state is built on basic citizenship, which means that the state does not belong to a certain family, person or party, it belongs to all its citizens.”9

Ennahda is today the main party of an elected ruling coalition that is in charge of steering Tunisia towards democracy and political stability. The secularist forces that are part of the coalition are not new to the political arena, having been part of the political opposition since Ben Ali’s era. By contrast, the leadership of Ennahda returned to Tunisia after years of exile, initiating a significant change of the elites in power. Ennahda brought to the forefront the values and demands of the middle and lower classes, along with those of a new executive and political personnel coming from rural areas that were neglected under Ben Ali’s regime - a time when the urban bourgeoisie of Tunis and the constituencies of the coastal regions possessed the dominant roles in the domestic political scene. In this way, the Tunisian government and the parliament have become more representative of the Tunisian population. It is difficult to foresee whether a Western-style democracy will be the final result of this transition phase or not. Nevertheless, a tangible power shift has occurred and the 2012 elections will reinforce this partial result.

Libya: From Authoritarianism to Power Vacuum

If the power shift in Tunisia can be considered as being relatively peaceful and smooth, the opposite is true for Libya, where a bloody civil war was fought for eight months before the regime was violently overthrown. When analyzing the power shift in Libya, it is crucial to underline the informal character of the Libyan state prior to the 2011 revolution. In Libya, the legitimacy of the country’s key political figures was not constitutionally defined, but was instead based on the “revolutionary” character of the 1969 coup d’état led by Muammar Qadhafi that overthrew the pro-Western Sanusi monarchy. However, the political system created afterwards by Qadhafi soon lost legitimacy among the Libyan people because it did not respond to their demands and aspirations.10

The Libyan political system was a dual system composed of a “ruling sector” and a “revolutionary sector.” The former was a formal system of ostensibly direct democracy in which the People’s Congresses had legislative functions while the People’s Committees possessed executive functions, all regulated by law and promulgated by the General People’s Conference. However, the ruling sector was not capable of taking any actions without intervention from the revolutionary sector, which consisted of a large number of Revolutionary Committees formed by members of tribes and families loyal to the regime. These committees were appointed by and were directly responsible to the guide of the revolution, Muammar Qadhafi. They were in charge of protecting the revolutionary system under Qadhafi’s personal leadership and wielded authority over the whole of Libyan society.  

The decision-making apparatus, therefore, was essentially centralized in Qadhafi’s hands, whose revolutionary leadership was neither elected nor could be dismissed. Moreover, since 1973, when the Nasserist single party system was abandoned in favor of the People’s revolution, which transformed the system to the pseudo-direct democracy described above, party pluralism was rejected and political parties banned. Professional organizations and unions were allowed only if their activities fell within the scope of the revolution.11 The regular army was kept weak to minimize the possibility of a coup d’état, while an elaborate security system headed by close relatives of Qadhafi, and comprising members of the Qadhadfa tribe, as well as by two allied tribes, the Warfalla and Magarha, was established with security agencies, paramilitary, and special forces watching over each other. In this game, family and tribal ties were utilized or weakened according to the necessities of the moment, always in order to strengthen the regime vis-à-vis any kind of opposition, whether it was based on political or religious grounds.

The iron hand of the regime thus ensured the absence of organized movements and well-functioning state institutions within Libya. At the onset of the 2011 revolution, this absence was striking.12 Informal networks, bound to the revolutionary sector and the security apparatus, played a dominant role in the Libyan state at the expense of any other kind of institutions. With the collapse of the regime, these centers of political and military power did not prove capable of managing the crisis and leading a transition of power, as was the case in Tunisia or Egypt. On the contrary, they stood by the regime until the very end. Afterwards, the few existent state institutions disintegrated in the face of the multitude of heterogeneous revolutionary forces whose unity and legitimacy have been widely questioned.13

At first, the National Transitional Council’s (NTC) elitist political leadership established itself at the top of a hitherto uncoordinated popular movement, but in the weeks following the death of the ex-Libyan leader, a power vacuum emerged. The NTC, which was the political organ of the revolution but did not lead the uprising militarily, did not manage to impose its political leadership during the transition period. On the contrary, it was the militias who led local rebellions and formed military groupings to face regime forces that control the territory today. The declaration of a semi-autonomous state by some tribal and militia leaders of Cyrenaica in March 2012 clearly indicates the weakness of the NTC’s authority.

This power shift away from an authoritarian system to a de facto power vacuum can be explained by looking not only at the traditional structure of Libyan society, but also at the nature and course of the uprising itself. Many different actors played a part in what has been defined as liberation in a “piecemeal fashion.”14 Indeed, on the one hand, the early liberation of Northeastern Libya proceeded expeditiously through the creation of local councils that gave birth to the NTC, which was meant to be the one and only legitimate government of the Libyan people. On the other hand, in the northwest, the isolation of revolutionary strongholds like Misrata and the Western Mountains (mainly due to natural barriers and military actions carried on by regime forces) led to the formation of local councils and militias that fought for their liberation separately and independently from the east. The creation of these local institutions, which are today trying to acquire a role in post-Qadhafi Libya, helps explain the fragmentation of the country.

The NTC is struggling to keep these centrifugal forces under control but its legitimacy is widely questioned. The way in which the representatives were appointed and the Council formed remains as unclear as the decision-making processes within the NTC. The government of Abdurrahim el-Keib, although internationally recognized, does not have legitimacy in many areas of the country where local actors are more respected.

The Islamist forces that fought on the ground are also emerging as key political actors.15Members of militias belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood have recently gathered to form the Justice and Development political party.16 This is clearly a first step towards the party’s participation in the emerging political system. As Mohamed Gaair, the Brotherhood's spokesman, pointed out, the group has representation in more than 18 cities across the country, and more than 1,400 members attended a meeting in Tripoli to declare the formation of the party.17 Moreover, the Brotherhood can trust the network of mosques and imams to spread its political message and penetrate the Libyan social fabric that is characterized by a strong conservatism.

In sum, Libya is now undergoing a phase of disorder and widespread confusion that, if protracted, could undermine the construction of a national identity and the unity of the state. Historically, Libya has never had a centralized and cohesive administrative network in charge of the entire country. On the contrary, it has always been divided into regions which have been controlled by different “patrons” - e.g., the Italians, the French, the British, the Sanusi, or the Karamanli.18 As Ann Marlowe has explained, “the best way to analyze Libya is not as a collection of tribes—though these exist—but as a collection of city-states or cultural regions.”19Qadhafi’s 42 years in power did not alter this essential feature of the Libyan nation. In fact, Muammar Qadhafi never tried to form a national identity for Libya. He built his regime around pan-Arab and pan-African ideologies;20 even though regional, tribal, and familial ties always resonated more with Libyans than constructed affiliations pushed by the regime. Qadhafi’s projects of an Arab nation and, later, of the so-called United States of Africa, clearly proved detrimental to coalescing the country into one single Libyan nation.

After the overthrow of the regime, a new interim government was appointed. Despite the lack of full recognition at the domestic level, the government is now trying to lead the transition towards the election of a General Assembly, tentatively scheduled for June 2012. Only then will we be able to assess the extent to which a definitive and meaningful power shift has occurred. One thing we can affirm today is that despite the violent overthrow of the regime, the people now in power belong to the same tribes and social groups that were in power under the Qadhafi regime, with the exception of a few individuals, mostly Islamists, who belong to different tribes and social classes. It will be interesting to see who the elections will confirm as the new Libyan “patrons.”

Egypt: a Case of Cohabitation

Since his rise to power in 1981 in the aftermath of Sadat’s assassination by a militant Islamist group, Hosni Mubarak had been able to resist political and social change, preserving a strong presidential system with a façade of elections. The government appointed by the president always maintained such a firm control over the legislature and judiciary that, although in theory independent, in practice were hindered in their functions by a government that used military courts or state-of-emergency regulations to ignore judicial decisions it did not favor.21

Mubarak’s regime was military-based as much as those of the preceding ones of Nasser and Anwar Sadat. The army - the backbone of three regimes since the 1952 revolution - is still the key institution of Egyptian society along with the mukhabarat (intelligence services), which played a crucial role in exercising control over society under Mubarak. However, as a political institution, the army lost power during Mubarak’s regime as army officers disappeared from ministerial seats when the autocrat focused on strengthening the single party system.22Nevertheless, even if the army was no longer seen as a political partner of the regime, it is no wonder that after the overthrow of Mubarak, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) imposed itself as the leader of the transition phase through 2012.

In this respect, one could argue that a power shift has not occurred in Egypt since an old power rooted in the last sixty years of Egyptian history is still actually controlling the country. However, the fact that the army, facing demonstrations, has allowed for free and fair elections to take place should not be underestimated. Following a referendum in March 2011 on changes to the constitution, parliamentary elections were held from November 2011 to January 2012.  From these elections, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party emerged as the victorious political force, followed by the Salafist party Al-Nour. The new legislature was then tasked with appointing a committee to write a new constitution.    

Through the years, Hosni Mubarak allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to play a greater role in Egyptian society, permitting the movement to begin its goal of “Islamizing” society, even though the movement was never legally recognized. At the same time, the regime portrayed the Brotherhood as an abyss of Islamist radicalism and violence into which the country could have fallen if the regime did not monitor and control all of its moves. This helped the regime justify repression and the denial of civic freedoms, the main reasons why people took to the streets in January 2011.23 The Brotherhood, being rooted in the social fabric of the country through its charitable activities, emerged as the strongest political force in the aftermath of Mubarak’s demise, even though it was not the main driving force of the revolution. Offering an “ethical” approach to politics and condemning widespread corruption, the movement is a messenger of Islamic values in Egypt’s religious and conservative society.

Mubarak and his dynasty may be gone, but this does not mean that freedom and democracy are guaranteed. As Khairat al-Shatter, Deputy Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood has put it, “The regime is gone but its culture and regulations still need to be changed.”24 The question remains of how the Freedom and Justice Party will proceed. A constitution that embraces an Islamic vision of the state seems to be its goal.

As pointed out by Egyptian intellectuals such as Khaled Fahmi, Ahdaf Soueif, and Ezzedin Choukry,25 the revolution was led by young Egyptians, yet they are neither the ones in power today, nor do they influence the country’s political agenda - despite the fact that they represent more than 60% of the total population. The military and the Islamists are now the two main centers of political power in the country. In the near future they will have to address the pressing demands coming from the youth - a new generation that will not just go away now that Mubarak is gone. This generation will continue to call for real change until a significant power shift occurs.

Morocco: a Constitutional Power Shift

When discussing the Arab Spring, the mainstream media tends to forget about Morocco. Although this country was not affected by the revolutionary wave as much as the other countries of the region, change has nevertheless occurred. Since February 20th, 2011, protesters have gone to the streets intermittently, demanding limits on King Mohammad VI’s power, in addition to less corruption and clientelism. Most of these demonstrations encircled the palace that reigns and governs Morocco with a power structure known as makhzen (literally, “warehouse”).26

The makhzen is the fulcrum of Morocco’s formal and informal power structures, composed of the King’s family and patronage network. Until 2011, the King ruled over Morocco using strong executive powers, dominating its political and economic life. Although a multi-party system existed and regular elections took place that led to alternating governments, in practice these governments did not really govern. As one Moroccan journalist has noted, “Our parties ceased to pursue power. They are only pursuing posts, since only one person has power in this country – the King.”27 However, the King is not a Ben Ali-style dictator and does not lack support amongst his people. As part of a 300-year-old royal dynasty claiming to be descended from the Prophet, the King - Amir al Muminin (commander of the faithful) - is genuinely popular. Nevertheless, following the revolutionary wave, the Moroccan people went to the streets in 2011 protesting against a system that many considered antiquated, demanding an end to corruption and autocracy, the dissolution of the government’s “elected” institutions, fair elections, and the establishment of a parliamentary monarchy in which the king reigns but does not rule.28

Facing these demonstrations, King Mohammed VI, in power since 1999, launched a process of constitutional reform and drafted a new constitution that, although reserving important powers for the king over military and religious affairs, makes him no longer responsible for the appointment of a government.29 The constitution was approved in a referendum that was held on July 1st, 2011. Parliamentary elections were then held in November and the Justice and Development Party (PJD), an Islamist party founded in 1998, won the majority of the vote. The party has always been loyal to the king and has long been the largest opposition party in Morocco. Nevertheless, the PJD stated before elections that it will rule autonomously if it wins the voters’ trust, and will not simply follow the orders given by the king’s advisors or influential security officials.30

Following the new Constitution that requires the king to choose a prime minister from the winning party, which, in turn, has the right to lead a coalition government, a new government was formed by Abdelilah Benkirane, leader of the PJD in January 2012. This is Morocco’s first democratically elected government with the power to appoint ministers and dissolve Parliament.31 Moreover, according to the new constitution, the judiciary will also become an independent branch, with judges no longer requiring the king’s approval.

These are all significant steps that make us conclude that Morocco is witnessing a positive change of its political system, thanks to a constitution that may tilt the balance towards a more populist government. The king and his aides are still firmly in power, and a constitutional monarchy like the British one seems far off. At the same time, the monarch is testing how and to what extent he can allow a power shift to occur without losing his grip on the country completely. The new constitution signaled the beginning of a power shift, which the king has accepted as inevitable following the demonstrations in his country and the overthrows of his counterparts in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. Nevertheless, because of his special status, it is likely that he will manage to maintain a role for the royal palace in a more pluralist and democratic Morocco.   

Concluding Remarks

We can conclude that Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Morocco have undergone, or are still undergoing, internal power shifts in which new political actors are emerging. Tunisia, where the shift has been smoother and more peaceful, is characterized by a relatively homogenous social fabric that helped set the country on a new path to democracy. The same is not true for Libya, Egypt, and Morocco, where deep ethnic and socio-economic divisions exist and old actors are holding onto power. Here the path towards democracy remains rocky and uphill.   

Although the power shifts differ from country to country, they all have one common factor: the rise to power of Islamist movements. These have proved to be the only forces on the ground capable of organizing themselves to face the challenge of democratic elections. What explains their victory is their appeal to the Islamic religious and cultural identity of people that are no longer afraid to invoke Islamism. In a period of profound social upheavals in societies characterized by deep conservatism, one cannot expect a sudden “liberal turn”, at least not in the short run. On the contrary, we are currently witnessing a return to the basic values of Islam that demonstrates the continued relevance of the identity question in these countries in the 21st century.

The Islamist parties that are democratically coming to power today are centrist political forces in which women were and continue to be involved. The parties of the Brotherhood seem capable of collaborating with other political forces, regardless of ideological differences, in order to protect the newborn pluralist systems from those actors that could undermine them. Indeed, even if the political parties in power represent the more conservative layers of society, these parties embrace a moderate vision of Islam, and through their participation in elections they contribute to making the political systems of their countries more open and pluralist.

In this respect, the rise to power of the Islamist movements is a fact with which the West must now reckon. The United States has already changed its stance towards the region, transforming from ardent supporter of the former regimes to firm believer in the democratizing role that the new Islamist parties can have in Arab Spring countries. Nevertheless, the US, along with the rest of the international community, will have to pay close attention to political developments in the region in order to prevent regression to a new kind of authoritarianism. "Spring” appears to have arrived in North Africa, but long-held authoritarian tendencies continue to threaten a region taking its first steps toward democracy.

Notes & References

  1. Entelis, J. 2011. “Republic of Tunisia”, in Long D.E., Reich, B. & Gasiorowski, M. (eds), The government and Politics of the Middle East and North Africa. Boulder, Colorado: Westview. p. 525.
  2. Paciello, M.C. 2011. “Tunisia: la sfida del cambiamento”, in Mezran, K., Colombo, S. & van Genugten, S. (eds), L’Africa Mediterranea: Storia e Futuro. Roma: Donzelli Editore. p. 129.
  3. Entelis, J. 2011. p. 526.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ottaway, M., “A Strong Start to Tunisia's Long Journey”, National Interest, December 29, 2011.
  6. Tunisia Live, “Former Prime Minister Calls for One Year Mandate for Constituent Assembly”, Sana Ajmi, January 26, 2012 (http://www.tunisia-live.net/2012/01/26/former-prime-minister-calls-for-one-year-mandate-for-constituent-assembly/).
  7. The National Democratic Institute, Elections Calendar 2012-2013 (http://www.ndi.org/electionscalendar).
  8. Ghali, A., “Tunisia’s Constitutional Process: The Road Ahead”, Sada Journal, December 9, 2011.
  9. Al-Gannouchi, R. (2012, January 26). Tunisia: a revolutionary model? Empire. (M. Bishara, Interviewer) Al Jazeera.
  10. On this aspect see: Toaldo, M. 2012. “Dalla monarchia alla Jamahiriya”, in Mezran, K. & Varvelli, A. (eds), Libia. Fine o rinascita di una nazione?. Roma: Donzelli Editore; Vandewalle, D. 2006. A History of Modern Libya. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; St. John, R.B. 2008. Libya: from colony to independence. Oxford: Oneworld Publications.
  11. Mattes, H. 2008. “Formal and Informal Authority in Libya since 1969”, in Vandewalle, D. (ed) Libya since 1969: Qadhafi’s Revolution Revisited. Baginstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  12. Lacher, W., “Families, Tribes and Cities in the Libyan Revolution”, Middle East Policy, Vol. XVIII, No. 4, Winter 2011.
  13. Ibid.
  14. International Crisis Group, “Holding Libya Together: Security Challenges after Qadhafi”, Middle East/North Africa Report N°115, December 14, 2011.
  15. Among the Islamist militias, those under control of Abdul Hakim Belhaj, the so called Tripoli Military Council that includes Ismail Sallabi’s 17 February brigade, are the ones most efficiently organized (see International Crisis Group, “Holding Libya Together: Security Challenges after Qadhafi”, Middle East/North Africa Report N°115, December 14, 201http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/03/world/africa/libya-islamists-form-political-party.html?_r=1&ref=africa1).
  16. New York Times, “Libya: Islamists Form Political Party”, March 3, 2012 ().
  17. Al Jazeera, “Muslim Brotherhood forms party in Libya”, March 4, 2012 (http://www.aljazeera.com/news/ africa/2012/03/201233225029346350.html).
  18. On this aspect of Libyan history see: Vandewalle, D. 2006. A History of Modern Libya. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; St John, R.B. 2008. Libya from Colony to Independence. Oxford: One World Publications.
  19. Marlowe, A., “Libya, one year later”, World Affairs Journal, February 22, 2012 (http://www.worldaffairs journal.org/blog/ann-marlowe/libya-one-year-later).
  20. Alunni, A. 2012. “L’Africa di Gheddafi: tra ideologia e pragmatismo”, in Mezran, K. And Varvelli, A. (eds) Libia. Fine o Rinascita di una nazione?. Roma: Donzelli Editore.
  21. Deeb, M. 2011. “Arab Republic of Egypt”, in Long D.E., Reich, B. & Gasiorowski, M. (eds), The government and Politics of the Middle East and North Africa. Boulder, Colorado: Westview.
  22. Campanini, M. 2011. “Egitto: continuità e cambiamenti”, in Mezran, K., Colombo, S. & van Genugten, S. (eds), L’Africa Mediterranea: Storia e Futuro. Roma: Donzelli Editore.
  23. Ibid.
  24. Al Jazeera, “Egypt: The promise and perils of revolution”, Empire. (M. Bishara, Interviewer) February 25, 2012.
  25. Al Jazeera, “Egypt: The promise and perils of revolution”, Empire. (M. Bishara, Interviewer) February 25, 2012.
  26. Colombo, S. 2011. “Il Marocco tra modernità e tradizione”, in Mezran, K., Colombo, S. & van Genugten, S. (eds), L’Africa Mediterranea: Storia e Futuro. Roma: Donzelli Editore. p.80.
  27. Popescu, N., “Morocco’s non-revolution”, EU Observer.com, May 6th 2011.
  28. Monjib, M., “Will Morocco’s Elections Subdue Popular Protests?”, Sada Journal, November 22, 2011.
  29. Ottaway, M., “The New Moroccan Constitution: Real Change or More of the Same?”, June 20, 2011, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (http://carnegieendowment.org/2011/06/20/new-moroccan-constitution-real-change-or-more-of-same/5l).
  30. Monjib, M., 2011.
  31. New York Times, “Moderate Islamist Party Winning Morocco Election”, November 26, 2011.
Karim Mezran is a Senior Fellow at the Rafik Hariri Centre of the Atlantic Council of the United States and Adjunct Professor at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University. In addition to teaching at SAIS, Karim Mezran was an assistant professor of political science at the John Cabot University and acted as a visiting professor at the Libera Università per gli Studi Sociali (LUISS) in Rome (2002). He received his Ph.D. in international relations at SAIS. He also holds a J.D. in comparative law from the University of Rome "La Sapienza" (Italy), a L.L.M. in Comparative Law from George Washington University (U.S.), a M.A. in Arab Studies from Georgetown University (U.S.), and a B.A. in management, Hiram College (U.S.). Alice Alunni, a former student of SAIS (BC09/DC10), is Junior Associate Fellow at the Bologna Institute for Policy Research, SAIS Bologna Center, and an analyst at the Institute for Global Studies (IGS) in Rome. Her work focuses on Euro-Mediterranean affairs and North African Political Development. She is co-author with Karim Mezran of the case study on Libya as part of the “Negotiation in Transition" project conducted by the Clingendael Institute and directed by SAIS Professor William Zartman. Her most recent publication is “L’Africa di Gheddafi: tra ideologia e pragmatismo” (Qadhafi’s Africa: between ideology and pragmatism), in “Libia: fine o rinascita di una nazione?” by Karim Mezran and Arturo Varvelli (eds), Roma: Donzelli Editore, 2012.