‘Arab Spring impact to be visible in the long term’

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on February 10, 2013

Success of the new regimes in the lands of the Arab Spring will be measurable over the long term, not short term. It is too early to draw negative conclusions about the outcome, says Tim Niblock, professor emeritus, University of Exeter, in the UK.

He was delivering the valedictory address at the two-day international conference in Kottayam.

K.P.S. Menon Chair for Diplomatic Studies, School of International Relations and Politics (SIRP) at Mahatma Gandhi University, organised the event. Co-organisers included the Public Diplomacy Division, Union Ministry of External Affairs; Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi, and the Kerala State Higher Education Council.

Previous regimes

Previous regimes of these Arab nations had from 1950s and 1960s sought legitimacy on the promise to resolve some pet issues, Niblock said.

They envisaged rapid development through State-sponsored industrial and agricultural development. They promised to bring relief to the poor and bring about equality and accountability.

This was sought to be done through fostering popular participation in supposedly all-encompassing single parties. They would project a national identity to create a feeling of shared endeavour among people.

“There were times when these objectives seemed capable of bringing success,” Niblcok said. But ultimately they failed to deliver. The new regimes represent a new approach to resolving the same problems, he added.


Portraying Arab Spring as ‘democratic’ or more recently ‘Islamist revolution’ amounts to distorted expectations and perceptions.

“The situation, as it is, does not indicate what kind of revolutions these were, are or might have been.”

The crowds who demonstrated on the streets were motivated by varied interests, emotions and beliefs.

The central issue remains what it was before – creating and maintaining political systems where those who govern are accountable to population.

A.V. George, Vice-Chancellor, MG University, delivered the presidential address.


Among those who presented papers were Girijesh Pant and A.K. Ramakrishnan, and A. K. Pasha of Jawaharlal Nehru University; Admiral P.J. Jacob; Gulshan Dietl (Jamia Millia Islamia); Fazzur Siddiqui (Indian Council of World Affairs); G.P. Ramachandra (MG University); and Samuel Kuruvilla (University of Kerala).

Pinaki Chakravarty, secretary (E&R), Ministry of External Affairs, was among those who chaired sessions.

In the valedictory session, Raju K. Thadikkaran, director, SIRP, delivered the welcome address.

K.M. Seethi, coordinator of KPS Menon Chair, presented the conference report and A.M. Thomas proposed a vote of thanks.


Published on February 10, 2013

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