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Beyond the Arab SpringThe Evolving Ruling Bargain in the Middle East$
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Mehran Kamrava

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199384419

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199384419.001.0001

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Yemen and the Arab Spring

Yemen and the Arab Spring

(p.373) 13 Yemen and the Arab Spring
Beyond the Arab Spring

Thomas Juneau

Oxford University Press

Instead of overhauling state-society relations, the Yemeni version of the Arab Spring is leading to more of the same: a perennially unstable country where elite factions dominate the political landscape. President Salih built a complex system of patronage that integrated military, tribal, and business leaders and allowed him to govern through a combination of bargaining, co-optation, and coercion. The result was a personalized system with brittle institutions, while channels for expressions of the popular will were weak. The ruling bargain in Yemen prior to the onset of the Arab Spring, in sum, was the product of a complex struggle among a loosely knit group of elite factions. The 2011 uprising modified the balance of forces among the regime’s factions and changed the rules of the game. Nonetheless, the ruling bargain has not fundamentally changed. Dissatisfied groups remain on the periphery, while civil society, despite unprecedented mobilization, has been unable to insert itself into networks of power. As a result, for the foreseeable future Yemen will likely witness on-going elite struggles for control over a weakening state, high popular frustrations because of unfulfilled aspirations, the constant threat of violence, an al-Qaeda insurgency and a deteriorating economy.

Keywords:   Yemen, al-Qaeda, President Salih, Arab Spring, ruling bargain

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