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Egypt: “Secrets of the Egyptian Revolution”

Mahjoob Zweiri is the head of Humanities Department at Qatar University, where he is assistant professor in the Contemporary History of the Middle East. He is also a visiting professor to School of Government & International Affairs at Durham University. He holds a PhD in the Modern History of Iran from Tehran University (2002).

Four events, since 1987, had surprised and indeed changed the international political order: the first was the collapse of Berlin wall in 1987; the second was the fall of Soviet Union in 1991, and the third is the fall of the Bin Ali regime in Tunisia and the last one is 25th January revolution in Egypt. These developments have not changed the perception inside and outside the region which was always assured by the fact that there will be no major change in the Arab states. That conclusion mainly focused on important players like Egypt. Those who considered themselves experts have expected a kind of change which was led and supported by outsiders. This assumption is proved to be inaccurate, and that was the first secret of the revolution.

The second secret is related to the generation which indeed leading the revolution. Those revolutionary people are the youth. History tells that, in the last five hundred years, the age of the revolutionary people was over 45 years. And most important is that they were either part of the armed forces or ideological political party. In the 20th century, the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in 1917 and the Iranian revolution in 1979 are the best examples the show the role of armed forces and ideologies in revolutions.

The third one is that this revolution does not have an ideological slogan. In the last eleven decades, the ideological revolutions were leading the political changes in the so called “the Middle East”. The 1952 revolution in Egypt has the nationalist slogan. The revolutions in Iraq and Syria had the same slogan. These examples were the revolutions which were led the armed forces not by civilians. The 1979 revolution in Iran has its own ideological discourse; however it was led by civilians. The revolution of 25 January has its own nature, but most important it has its own revolutionary identity which makes it unique in the contemporary history of the Middle East.

The fourth secret is related to the discourse of the revolution. The 25 January revolution aims at building a citizenship society which ends the injustice and allows people to enjoy their freedom. That ambition has an immediate impact on the society when the World saw Muslims and Qibts together in Al tharir square. That shows that the high level of the collective awareness is alive within the Egyptian young people.

The 25 January revolution is an Egyptian product, in other words it is a local product. It happens while the recent and what has been considered the main important revolution (the Iranian revolution)- is questioned by its own people. So it does not seem accurate to look at what happened in Egypt as a consequence of the Iranian revolution 1979. There is no doubt that both events were against autocratic regimes, but the social structure, discourse, and the dynamic were different. This was the fifth secret of the Egyptian revolution.

The 25th January revolution in relation to the timing was unpredictable, that was another secret. Therefore we should not be surprised when the future tells us more.

Books & Journal Articles by Dr Mahjoob Zweiri

  • The New Arab Media: Technology, Image and Perception, Joint Editor (2010)
  • Iran’s Foreign Policy: from Khatami to Ahamdinejad, joint editor (2008);
  • Iran and the Rise of Its Neoconservatives: The politics of Tehran’s Silent Revolution, co-author (2007);
  • The Tenth Iranian Presidential Elections and their Regional Implications, the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, August 2010;
  • Revisiting the Iranian Nuclear Dilemma: A Study of 2002-2009 Developments,  Middle Eastern Studies, Volume 2, No 2, January (2010);
  • The Durability of Managed Rivalry: Iran’s Relations with Russia and the Saudi Dimension, Asian Politics and Policy, (2009);
  • Talking with a Region:  Lessons from Iran, Turkey and Pakistan’, Middle East Policy, (2009);
  • Are Shias rising in the Western Part of the Arab World? The Case of Morocco, The Journal of North African Studies, (2008);
  • ‘The Hamas Victory: Shifting Sands or Major Earthquake’. Third World Quarterly (2006).

About Dr Mahjoob Zweiri

Dr Mahjoob Zweiri
Mahjoob Zweiri is the head of Humanities Department at Qatar University, He is assistant professor in Contemporary History of the Middle East. he was an expert in Middle East Politics and Iran at the Center for Strategic Studies, University of Jordan. He is also a visiting professor to School of Government & International Affairs at Durham University. He holds a PhD in the Modern History of Iran from Tehran University (2002). From March 2003-December 2006, he was a research fellow and then a director of the Centre for Iranian Studies in the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at Durham University. His areas of research is Middle East Politics and Security, Domestic Politics of Iran, Iran’s Foreign Policy, Iran-Arab Relations, Shi’asim, Political Islam, and new media and politics in the Middle East.In addition to Arabic, Dr Zweiri is fluent in Farsi and English.

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