A very interesting commentary from Sara Fregonese on recent events in the Arab world and North Africa. Sara is organising a workshop on “City/State/Resistance: Spaces of protest in the Middle East and Mediterranean” on the 1 December 2011, and has a paper entitled “Beyond the Weak State: Hybrid Sovereignties in Beirut” forthcoming in the journal in 2012.
Beyond the Domino: Transnational (In)Security and the 2011 Protests
Domino theory is back in fashion. Once part of the Cold War geopolitical dictionary, ‘dominos’ were invoked to describe both the spread of communism from Russia and China and its fall in Eastern Europe after 1989, and in more recent years, Moscow’s post-soviet security circles have been concerned with dominos of Islamic fundamentalism spreading in Central Asia (O’Sullivan, 1996). With the War on Terror and the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, however, a less threatening, almost desirable variation on the domino theory has been invoked by the Bush administration, envisaging a “democratic domino effect” (Reynolds 2003) spreading from Iraq across a ‘new’ Middle East. For almost a year now, the metaphor of the ‘domino effect’ has been used by media pundits and analysts observing the spread of popular protests against repressive regimes in the Middle East and North Africa. In the early days of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, mainstream media employed metaphors of contagion to question whether the “domino effect” (Piven 2011, BBC 2011) of the unrest will “infect” the Arab world (Spector 2011), a claim often dismissed from within the Middle East as a Western way of making sense of events which does not take into consideration contextual differences (Hurriyet 2011).
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