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Full Access Arab Revolutions and the Iranian Uprising: Similarities and Differences

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Arab Revolutions and the Iranian Uprising: Similarities and Differences

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A year and a half after the Iranian uprising in 2009, the unprecedented popular uprisings in several Arab countries at the beginning of 2011 provided some of the most evocative moments when power met its opposite, in decisive and surprising ways. In a matter of weeks, some of the most powerful hereditary/republican regimes in the region, such as Tunisia’s and Egypt’s, crumbled under relentless pressure and opposition from highly mediated “street politics” that shook the foundations of authoritarian and repressive rule, undermining hegemonic structures and configurations of power within nation sates and between nations. Technology, as in the case of Iranian uprising, emerged as one of the main explanations on offer to make sense of this new wave of revolts against tyranny. The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt in particular, inevitably drew some comparisons with the Iranian uprising of 2009. The most significant question for many Iranians was how come that the two revolts in Iran and Tunisia which immediately and rather simplistically labelled as ‘Twitter revolution’ had a totally different outcome? Many in Iran started raising such searching questions: “Chera Tunis Toonest v ma natoonestim?” (Why Tunisia could and we couldn’t) or “toonestan az Tunis miad”! (Capability comes from Tunis). So how can we compare Arab Revolutions with that of situation in Iran? What the different outcomes tell us about the similarities and the differences, and what lessons can be learnt? This paper takes a broader comparative frame, beyond technology, to explore the issue of power and revolutions and to examine the similarities as well as the differences between Iran and the Arab World.

Affiliations: 1: University of Sussex, UK Email: G.Khiabany@sussex.ac.uk

10.1163/187398612X624373
/content/journals/10.1163/187398612x624373
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A year and a half after the Iranian uprising in 2009, the unprecedented popular uprisings in several Arab countries at the beginning of 2011 provided some of the most evocative moments when power met its opposite, in decisive and surprising ways. In a matter of weeks, some of the most powerful hereditary/republican regimes in the region, such as Tunisia’s and Egypt’s, crumbled under relentless pressure and opposition from highly mediated “street politics” that shook the foundations of authoritarian and repressive rule, undermining hegemonic structures and configurations of power within nation sates and between nations. Technology, as in the case of Iranian uprising, emerged as one of the main explanations on offer to make sense of this new wave of revolts against tyranny. The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt in particular, inevitably drew some comparisons with the Iranian uprising of 2009. The most significant question for many Iranians was how come that the two revolts in Iran and Tunisia which immediately and rather simplistically labelled as ‘Twitter revolution’ had a totally different outcome? Many in Iran started raising such searching questions: “Chera Tunis Toonest v ma natoonestim?” (Why Tunisia could and we couldn’t) or “toonestan az Tunis miad”! (Capability comes from Tunis). So how can we compare Arab Revolutions with that of situation in Iran? What the different outcomes tell us about the similarities and the differences, and what lessons can be learnt? This paper takes a broader comparative frame, beyond technology, to explore the issue of power and revolutions and to examine the similarities as well as the differences between Iran and the Arab World.

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1. El Amrani Issander, Lindsey Ursula (2011). "Tunisia Moves to the Next Stage". Middle East Report. Accessed 12 December 2011, , 8 November 2011.
2. Baroud Ramzy (2011). "The Ghosts of the ‘Islamic Menace’: Islamists on Probation". Counterpunch. Accessed 12 December 2011, , 7 November 2011.
3. Dabashi Hamid, (2009). "The Left is Wrong on Iran". Al-Ahram Weekly 956. Accessed 12 December 2011, , 16–22 July 2009.
4. Eltahawy Mona (2011). "Tunisia: The First Arab Revolution". Guardian. Accessed 12 December 2011, , 16 January 2011.
5. El-Ghobashy Mona (2011). "The Praxis of the Egyptian Revolution". Middle East Report 258. Accessed 12 December 2011, .
6. Giordano Al (2009). "What the Left Should be Learning from Iran". Counterpunch. Accessed 12 December 2011, , 19–21 June 2009.
7. Khiabany Gholam (2010). Iranian Media: The Paradox of Modernity. New York: Routledge.
8. McGreal Chris (2011). "America’s Egypt Dilemma: Support Reform or Maintain Stability?" Guardian. Accessed 12 December 2011, , 22 November 2011.
9. Milne Seumas (2009). "These are the Birth Pangs of Obama’s New Regional Order". Guardian. Accessed 12 December 2011, , 17 June 2009.
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2012-01-01
2016-12-03

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