The Arab World: Between collapse and transformation

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

Since the rebellions of 2011, the Arab order is in a state of disorder, sitting atop a time bomb made up of youth, who constitute the overwhelming majority. Today's youth, want more freedom, dignity, jobs, and security. The unaccountable and security driven states cannot satisfy their aspirations and, in fact, push them in the opposite direction. Although the monarchies have tended to have more legitimacy than the entrenched despots of the Arab republics, their populations still experienced lack of political expression, freedoms, and government accountability. The welfare policies of the monarchies and the older traditional legitimacy enabled by the oil income mask deep-rooted problems. Islamic State (IS) is merely the latest extremist and simplistic ideology capitalising on the vacuum created by the region's assorted social, political and economic problems.

In this lecture, Professor Ghabra will argue that the conflicts that began as rebellions against dictators in 2011 and proceeded to descend into civil wars can only be resolved through major compromises between the main rebel and activist actors (excluding IS) and the regimes. He believes this should create a transitional democratic stage that ends the violence and begins to address the issues that led to the 2011 rebellions in the first place. If the present trends continue, the next wave of Arab revolutions will be more radical.

Shafeeq Ghabra is a Professor of Political Science at Kuwait University. He is currently Visiting Scholar at the Arab Centre, Doha, Qatar. From 1996 to 1999 he was the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Social Sciences at Kuwait University. Dr Ghabra has been a Visiting Professor at The College of William and Mary and a Visiting Scholar at George Mason University's Institute of Conflict Analysis and Resolution. He has also been a Visiting Scholar at the University of Denver. His most recent books include: Kuwait and the Dynamics of State and Society (2011) and Unsafe Life: The Generation of Dreams and Disappointments (2012).

Professor Ghabra is visiting the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies, as part of the International Speakers Program supported by the Australian Government through the Council for Australian-Arab Relations of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.