By Erica Chenoweth, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Erica Chenoweth is assistant professor in the Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. She is co-author, with Maria J. Stephan, of 'Why Civil Resistance Works: the Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict'. The views expressed are her own.
In ongoing struggles against oppressive governments, movements for change often confront a key strategic question. From Syria to Morocco to Bahrain to Occupy Wall Street, activists want to know: would unarmed resistance be enough?
Generally, yes. Nonviolent resistance is more than twice as successful as violent resistance, even in the face of brutal regime repression. That’s what Maria Stephan, a strategic planner in the U. S. State Department, and I found when we examined 323 social change campaigns from around the world between the years 1900 and 2006.
We believe that ours is the first study to try to answer in a systematic, empirical way whether nonviolent or violent resistance methods are better at producing short- and long-term political change. We looked at the success rates of the toughest types of insurrections: anti-dictator, self-determination and anti-occupation movements. Our cases range from the famed Indian Independence movement in the 1930s and 1940s to the Serbian movement to overthrow Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, among many others.
Editor’s Note: This is an edited version of an article from the ‘Oxford Analytica Daily Brief’. Oxford Analytica is a global analysis and advisory firm that draws on a worldwide network of experts to advise its clients on their strategy and performance.
Bahrain hosted the Formula 1 Grand Prix yesterday amid clashes between government forces and protesters. Extremists on all sides have outflanked the moderate middle ground with recent bomb attacks on the security services and instances of loyalist vigilantism indicating that a dangerous radicalization is taking place. This suggests a bleak future for Bahrainis caught between a ruling family seemingly unable to reform, and a significant segment of the population that no longer believes the ruling Al-Khalifa family has the legitimacy to rule.
This year's Grand Prix was supposed to signal a return to normality after the race was cancelled following the outbreak of the uprising in 2011. The authorities had exerted significant pressure on motor sport's governing body to ensure it went ahead this year. They were keen to demonstrate to their international partners that meaningful reforms were underway in the wake of last November's recommendations from the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI). FULL POST
Editor’s Note: Dr Maha Hosain Aziz is a Professor of Politics (adjunct) in the MA Program at New York University, a Senior Analyst at geopolitical consultancy Wikistrat and an Asia Insight Columnist for Bloomberg Businessweek.
By Maha Hosain Aziz - Special to CNN
If you were a politician in 2011 in South Asia, there’s a good chance you might very well have been slapped. In both Nepal and India, a citizen so frustrated by political inertia physically lashed out at his local politician. If you were leader of a country with high youth unemployment in the Middle East or Western Europe, there’s no question you faced waves of anti-government protest. Even in Russia - usually immune to challenges to the state - you experienced some form of public discontent over the status quo.
In fact, on every continent last year, in major, middle and small states, citizens expressed bursts of frustration against their governments. Such sentiment has continued in 2012; recurrent protests indicate citizens’ lack of confidence in their political leaders and their conviction that there must be a better, more legitimate way to govern. FULL POST
Editor’s Note: Dr. Maha Hosain Aziz is a Professor of Politics (adjunct) in the Master’s Program at New York University, a Senior Analyst at geopolitical consultancy Wikistrat and an Asia Insight Columnist for Bloomberg Businessweek.
By Maha Hosain Aziz – Special to CNN
Occupy Wall Street has been about more than just corporate greed and income inequality. Occupy protesters around the globe may not realize it but, at various points in the past six months, many have been fighting for the same cause as the peasant communities of rural Vietnam during the 1930s - the moral economy.
Theorists have typically used moral economy rhetoric to explain rural movements where protesters felt their basic right to subsistence was being threatened. In the case of Vietnam, the onset of colonial capitalism in the Great Depression contributed to a food crisis for peasant farmers, prompting significant protests. In effect, an informal contract had been broken between the governing power and the governed involving the individual’s basic right to feed himself.
Today, a similar “contract” has been broken between governing powers and the governed.
Since its global launch in October 2011, the Occupy movement has effectively evolved to challenge governments for depriving citizens of their basic right to subsistence in the Great Recession (or its aftermath) - to work, afford basic goods, or in some cases keep their homes. FULL POST
Editor’s Note: Kathleen Sullivan is an analyst at Ergo, a global intelligence and advisory firm. The article below is based on a report Ergo recently published, entitled The Waning Era of Saudi Oil Dominance. Follow Ergo on Twitter.
By Kathleen Sullivan – Special to CNN
Saudi Arabia has thus far managed to stave off the popular protests that have led to the ouster of four Arab heads of state, chiefly due to its strategic and well-timed disbursements of oil-revenue-funded social giveaways. While so far effective in preserving the status quo, this approach has tied the fate of the monarchy to that of its oil revenues - an increasingly risky linkage.
For decades, Saudi Arabia’s booming oil revenues have been a safe bet in a constantly shifting region. Proud and longtime holder of the world’s largest proven reserves, highest exports, and most spare capacity, Saudi Arabia maintained an unrivaled position of dominance in global oil markets. However, a deeper look at Saudi Arabia’s growing domestic pressures and its external challenges reveal signs of decay in the Kingdom’s global oil market dominance, and with it, weakening defenses against a popular uprising. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Make sure to tune in Sunday at 10a.m. or 1p.m. EST for Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN.
By Fareed Zakaria, CNN
Dozens of Egyptians were killed in a soccer stadium brawl this past week. This was the deadliest outbreak of violence since Hosni Mubarak was ousted one year ago. The violence didn't stop at the stadium and it begs the question: What has Egypt gained since its revolution? Take a step back and ask: What has the Arab Spring achieved in the last year? Has people power failed the people? What in the world is going on?
In Egypt, the military might be more entrenched than before. Meanwhile a quarter of the seats in parliament have gone to a group of ultra conservative Islamists. Only 2% have gone to women. Or consider Libya. It's veering towards anarchy. The local militias that helped topple Moammar Gadhafi have reneged on a pledge to give up their arms.
Look at Tunisia. You'll remember that a fruit vendor there sparked the Arab Spring by setting himself on fire. Well, now there are reports of many more such incidents of self-immolation. From Tunisia, to Egypt, to Libya, democracy has unleashed turmoil and long-suppressed expressions of Islamic fundamentalism.Perhaps, some will say, the Arab world didn't fully understand what it was getting into. Perhaps, others will argue, after years of living under tyranny, Arabs just don't know how to rule themselves. FULL POST
By Steven Jiang, CNN
Beijing (CNN) – Apple halted sale of its iPhone 4S in Beijing and Shanghai on Friday after scuffles broke out over a delayed launch of the device, sending a shopper hurling eggs at one of its stores in the capital.
Hundreds of devout fans - along with scalpers - braced subfreezing temperatures and camped out overnight awaiting the phone's debut near the trendy Sanlitun Village shopping mall in Beijing.
As dawn broke Friday, the mood turned sour when the store's doors remained shut beyond 7 a.m., when the sale was scheduled to start.
"Open! Open!" they chanted and booed at the employees inside. FULL POST
Editor’s Note: this is an edited version of an article from the ‘Oxford Analytica Daily Brief’. Oxford Analytica is a global analysis and advisory firm that draws on a worldwide network of experts to advise its clients on their strategy and performance.
Some 80,000 Russians took to the streets of Moscow on December 24, calling for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to step down and the December 4 parliamentary elections to be rerun fairly. There were a larger number of demonstrators than at a similar gathering on December 10 on Bolotnaya Square - but even more importantly, their demographic and political diversity indicated that the rally gathered support well beyond the 'Facebook generation.' FULL POST
By Fareed Zakaria, CNN
TIME magazine announced its person of the year this week - "the protester". From the Arab Spring to Athens, from New Delhi to New York, people power is stronger than its ever been. And now it's reached Moscow with the protests there last week.
The great drama of Russian history has been between its state and society. Put simply, Russia has always had too much state and not enough society. Historians have pointed out that the Russian nation was literally the property of the Czar, that serfs were more like slaves than simply peasant workers and that the country lacked any institutions that contested the authority of the government. The communist takeover in 1917 only enhanced these features by building a superstate that dominated every aspect of people's lives. When it collapsed in 1991, it turned out there was only chaos underneath.
But there has always been a Russian civil society, small but vibrant, espousing universal values and human rights. It is the Russia of Tolstoy and Pasternak, Sakharov and Gorbachev, and it has always believed that Russia's destiny lies with the West. This Russia has not died under Putin.
Editor’s Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
By Bernard Gwertzman, CFR.org
Russia's December 4 parliamentary vote has prompted mass demonstrations over allegations of electoral fraud and, in part, due to public frustration with former president and now Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's decision to run again for president in March.
Stephen Sestanovich, CFR's Russia expert, says the demonstrations may pick up steam and Putin's opposition candidates may gain enough strength to deny him an easy victory in the March elections.
"One of the things that has characterized Russian elections is a very strong spirit of anti-something or other," he says, and this time it may be hostility to Putin. Whatever the outcome of the presidential elections, "there's a potential here for changing the atmosphere and rules of Russian politics in a fundamental way," adds Sestanovich. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Jeffrey Mankoff is an adjunct fellow with the CSIS Russia and Eurasia Program and a visiting scholar at Columbia University in New York City.
By Jeffrey Mankoff – Special to CNN
On December 10, 2011, tens of thousands of mostly middle class Russians gathered on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square to protest widespread allegations of fraud in recent parliamentary elections. As the police stood by, the protestors marched, held signs and called for real democracy in place of the imitation created under Vladimir Putin. They then peacefully dispersed. The protests offered a heartening example of popular mobilization in a country where politics have become increasingly virtual under Putin’s “managed democracy.”
They also ran counter to a long-standing belief that the only groups capable of mass mobilization in Russia are extreme nationalists. This argument is not wholly unreasonable. Almost exactly one year before the Bolotnaya Square protests, the scene in downtown Moscow was very different. On December 11, 2010, thousands extreme nationalists gathered outside the walls of the Kremlin on Manezhnaya Square to protest the killing of an ethnic Russian soccer fan by a Chechen. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Robert M. Danin is Eni Enrico Mattei Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a former Director for the Levant and Israeli-Palestinian Affairs at the National Security Council. This article is reprinted with permission of the Council on Foreign Relations. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Robert Danin.
By Robert M. Danin – Special to CNN
Recent demonstrations and violence in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province that left four people dead and nine others wounded raise the question: Is Saudi Arabia the next country that will encounter the wave of popular unrest sweeping the Arab world?
Already the Arab uprisings’ effects have been felt in Saudi Arabia. In February and March, soon after Mubarak’s overthrow in Egypt, Saudi Facebook activists began calling for a revolution and declared a “Day of Rage” for March 11, emulating the youth activists in Egypt and Tunisia. However, the “Day of Rage” fizzled out, and demonstrations were held only in the Eastern Province, home to Saudi’s restive Shia minority. FULL POST