Signs of Redemption Amidst Arab Political Upheavals

Cipher Brief Expert View

The anti-regime convulsions currently underway in Algeria and Sudan are the latest version of an “Arab Spring” that erupted in 2011 and that Arab autocrats and their security regimes ultimately quashed. The massive street protests in Algeria and Sudan forced the presidents of both countries—Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Omar al-Bashir—to resign. Thousands of protesters have also filled the streets in Morocco demanding the release of political prisoners. If the protesters in Algeria and Sudan succeed in their demands to dismantle the security “deep state” in these countries, the result would be a delayed but fitting continuation of the 2011 upheavals.

If the army accedes to popular demands and democratically chosen civilian governments emerge in Algeria and Sudan, Arab autocracies and publics will have to ponder several important lessons from the newer version of the “Arab Spring.” The key lesson is that deposing leaders is a critical but insufficient step toward genuine political reform. True democratization must include removing the entire security apparatus, which has sustained the deposed leader in the first place. In the Arab world, the “security” state has been a conglomeration of a strongman regime, a pro-regime military, a compliant intelligence service, a docile judiciary, and a powerful group of business oligarchs tied to the ruler through corruption and kinship.

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