Seven years after the Arab Spring, the Middle East appears as fractured and unstable as ever. How did the region come to this point? This talk will trace the domestic and geopolitical forces, as well as their interaction, that have reshaped the landscape of Arab states and societies. At the core lies the recalibration of authoritarian rule over social forces exhausted with conflict, disorder, and repression. Social movements have become atomized, and concerns at the national level have given way to demands for recognition by local communities and actors. A new model of enlightened despotism has taken hold. At the same time, the epicenter of regional geopolitics has shifted to the Gulf, aided by the retreat of traditional Western powers and an increasingly assertive Iran. Yet the deficit of governance that plagued these regimes before the Arab Spring still exists today, leaving open the ever-present possibility of new popular uprisings for change.
Introduction by Safwan M. Masri, EVP for Global Centers and Global Development
Hosted by Turath, the Arab Student Association at Columbia University
Prince Hicham Alaoui
Hicham Alaoui is an established voice calling for political reform in the Arab world. He is currently a research fellow based at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University and is pursuing a D.Phil. at the University of Oxford. In the past, he was Principal Officer for Community Affairs with the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, worked with the Carter Center in electoral monitoring, and sat on the MENA Advisory Committee for Human Rights Watch. He also served as a board member for the Freeman Spogli Institute at Stanford University and was a Regent lecturer at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He currently sits on the advisory board of the Middle East Center of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He presides over the Hicham Alaoui Foundation, which supports social science research on the Arab world. The Foundation also produced A Whisper to a Roar, an award-winning documentary on the struggle for democracy around the world. His writings about the Arab world have been published in journals such as Politique Internationale, Le Debat, Pouvoirs, Le Monde Diplomatique, and Journal of Democracy. He has also contributed to The New York Times, Le Monde, La Nouvelle Observateur, El Pais, and Al-Quds. His memoir, Journal d'un Prince Banni, was published in 2014 by Éditions Grasset, and has since been translated into Spanish and Arabic. He is a graduate of Princeton and Stanford Universities.