The Political Economy of Arab Uprisings

March 2012


This paper analyzes the deep-rooted problems of the prevailing political economy in the Arab region.

Throughout the past two decades, neoliberal economic reforms were initiated forcefully in the development of the region. These economic reform projects, like privatization and free market economy, have substantially increased GDP growth and human development, such as access to education and healthcare. However, they have proven futile in the attainment of an equitable distribution of income, in increasing the living standards of individuals, and in alleviating poverty.

After two decades of economic reform and structural adjustment projects, the overall organization of political and economic power has been conveniently manipulated by and into the hands of the elite. The rule of law, transparency and good governance were not effectively implemented. It will be argued that subsequent Arab governments, especially in Egypt and Tunisia,have not effectively addressed the factors that have led to the wave of Arab uprisings.

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