Panel 4

Panel 4 – Geopolitics of the Arab Uprisings: Oil, Foreign Intervention and Military Coup
Juan Cole

Title: China Policy Toward the Middle East After the Arab Spring

Abstract: The paper will discuss China’s Syria policy and veto of intervention at the UNSC, its support of Iraq against ISIL, and its energy investments in Egypt and the UAE. I will argue that energy issues still lie at the core of Chinese interest in the region, though radical Salafi groups are also seen as a threat because of their potential impact in China itself, which has 40 million Muslims.

Bio: Juan Ricardo Cole is a public intellectual, prominent blogger and essayist, and the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. For three and a half decades, he has sought to put the relationship of the West and the Muslim world in historical context. His most recent book is The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East (Simon & Schuster, July 2014). He also authored Engaging the Muslim World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), Napoleon’s Egypt: Invading the Middle East (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) and many other books. He has translated works of Lebanese-American author Kahlil Gibran. He has appeared on PBS’s Lehrer News Hour, ABC World News Tonight, Nightline, the Today Show, Charlie Rose, Anderson Cooper 360, Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes’ All Inn, the Colbert Report, Democracy Now! and many others. He has given many radio and press interviews. He has written widely about Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and South Asia. He has written about the upheavals in the Arab World since 2011, including about Sunni extremist groups and Shiite politics. He has regular columns at The Nation and Truthdig. Cole commands Arabic, Persian and Urdu and reads Turkish, knows both Middle Eastern and South Asian Islam. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for more than a decade, and continues to travel widely there.

Mohamed A. Mohamed

Title: The Future of Egypt after July 2013: Potentials and Possibilities

Abstract: The political and economic liberal policies of the 1970s led to the assassination of President Sadat. The emergence of new liberal economy, elite, and politics, and the persistence of the older formations of the state created a polarized state structure. Competing social groups clustered around each of these two conflicting poles within the state, while negotiation and compromise processes were arbitrarily managed by the Presidency. The increasing tension and confrontations between these two state’s centers of power and the waning capacity of the Presidency to contain it led to the eruption of what is called January 2011 Revolution. Currently, political, security and economic challenges are too big to create a sustainable regime. To avoid a scenario of a failed state, the state will have to expedite a transformation of its own structure toward a modularized form, where a multitude of functional modules are created to carry out different state functions. In this case, power will be decentralized. In addition, the creation of numerous spaces for social and political action will diffuse the current tension. That change can happen through four steps. First, an inclusive parliament has to be created as the space of compromise making. Second, there must be a shift to a semi presidential republic, where foreign affairs and defense functions are carried out by a president supported by the Army, and economic and service functions are carried out by a prime minister leading a coalition government and accountable before the parliament. Third, there must be a decentralization of power and budget among 27 governorates that enjoy relative independence and are ruled by elected governors. Fourth, while the liberal economic elite should be left to restore and run the commodities market, the military can hold dominance over lands and natural resources, and realize more profits through privatization of the military services, supplies and the weapons industry.

Bio: Mohamed A. Mohamed is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Northern Arizona University. Mohamed earned his master’s degree from the American University in Cairo and his Ph.D. degree from Emory University. In his research, Mohamed focuses on modern and political Islam. In addition, he studies historical formations and phenomena in Islam to examine their continuities and transformations within modern Islam. He is also interested in sociology of religion, social movements, sociology of internet, and contemporary social theory.

Sina Salessi

Title: Libya in the Wake of “Humanitarian Intervention”- An Assessment

Abstract: The start of Libya’s civil war in May 2014 merits examination in light of the country’s recent history. This paper aims to scrutinize the background of the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya, with a review of historic American economic frustrations with Gaddafi’s regime leading up to it. The analysis is supported by a comparative analysis between Libyan and Syrian economic contexts, a critical investigation of Western-backed elements in Libya, a testing of NATO’s claims justifying intervention, and an assessment of Libya’s future. There is an emphasis on the tension between public and intended-to-be private documents, such as Wikileaks diplomatic cables, and Western hostility to nationalization throughout, which has augmented the analysis by allowing clearer connections to be drawn regarding Western actions and interests in Libya. “Humanitarian intervention” in Libya, justified under the guise of R2P, has been a dramatic failure, with civilian populations at greater risk now than at any time before the intervention. NATO’s Libyan intervention destroyed a stable society and has made it more unsafe for civilians than ever before by creating conditions for a sanguinary civil war, which is clarified by critical assessment four years after the start of bombing.

Bio: Sina Salessi is an independent scholar interested in global political economy and development. His publications appeared in Third World Quarterly and Journal of South Asian Development. He is interested in the critical study of the work of Albert Memmi, Vivek Chibber, and Michael Mann among others.

Ahmed Khattab

Title: Libya and the Arab Spring: Debating an Ethical Justification for Humanitarian Intervention

Abstract: This paper discusses one aspect of the debate on the collective intervention against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. It examines ethical justifications for humanitarian intervention, and the achievement of political interests under the Responsibility-To-Protect (R2P) umbrella authorizing the use of force against a sovereign state on claims of catastrophic humanitarian conditions. In order to answer the research question adequately, NATO’s intervention in Libya is taken as a case study of a multilateral effort authorized by a collective security institution, namely the Security Council of the United Nations, to use military force against a sovereign state on the basis of an urgent humanitarian crisis propelled by civil unrest. From a consequentialist view, NATO’s targeting of the Gaddafi regime, though a non- humanitarian political objective, was typically inevitable for a sustained protection of the Libyan people from further crimes and protracted civil conflict. Yet, how does consequentialist theory answer to the presence of a clear tension between short-term and long-term consequences? This is what this paper seeks to explore.

Bio: Ahmed Khattab is a PhD student in the Department of Government at Georgetown University. He received his Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Toronto and worked as the Research Assistant to the Executive Director of the Middle East and North Africa Health Policy Forum hosted by the Economic Research Forum in Cairo.