This book is based on the papers presented at the “International Workshop on Democratic and Constitutional Transitions in the Middle East,” organized by İstanbul Şehir University on 11-12 May 2012. The Arab uprisings have been analyzed in detail in this volume along with the questions below:
How to explain the sudden eruption of the uprisings? Are they protests without sufficient organization to overthrow the authoritarian systems? Is the discourse of protest Arab-specific or does it touch on apparently universal values of liberalism, democracy, participation, and human security? What is this “democratic transition” that inspired the Arab awakenings, when “democracy” can mean so many different things to people? What kind of a state and economic system will these countries have? Is Islam compatible with different forms of government? Can Turkey serve as a model for the democratizing Arab countries?
Preface and Acknowledgements
This book, which is the second academic publication of İstanbul Şehir University, is based on the papers presented at the “International Workshop on Democratic and Constitutional Transitions in the Middle East,” organized by İstanbul Şehir University on 11-12 May 2012. Three of the participants, Professor Nadia Bernoussi, Dr. Zaid Al-Ali, and Dr. Ali Abdulaziz Al-Isawi were unable to present the written versions of their interventions due to other commitments.
At the time of the Workshop, optimism ran high about the possibility of democratic transitions in the Arab World. The military intervention and the breakdown of the democratic transition process in Egypt, just before this book was about to go to print, was obviously an extremely severe setback in the democratization process. In many places in the book, however, we pointed out to the uncertain nature of the transition process. In this sense, the breakdown in Egypt was not a total surprise. The setback in Egypt had certain negative, but fortunately much less severe, repercussions in Tunisia. Again as was pointed out in the book, Tunisia remains the most hopeful case among the Arab Spring countries.
We would like to express our appreciation to Mr. Abdülhalik Damar, Vice-President of the Board of Trustees of İstanbul Şehir University, and Professor Macit Kenanoğlu, Dean of the Faculty of Law, for their help in making the publication of the book possible. Our thanks also go to the paper-givers and discussioners at the Workshop.
İstanbul Şehir University