Arab Forum For alternatives think tank seeks to perpetuate the values of scientific thinking in Arab societies, and is working to address issues of political, social and economic development in the framework of the traditions and rules of scientific, away from the language of incitement and propaganda, in the framework of respect for political contexts and social systems, as well as universal human values. It is working to provide space for the interaction of experts, activists and researchers interested in issues of reform in the Arab region, governed by scientific principles and respect for diversity, is also keen Forum to offer policy alternatives and the potential social, not just hoped for the decision maker and the elites of different political and civil society organizations, in the framework of respect for the values of justice and democracy .
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Many are confused by the senseless wars now spreading like wildfire throughout the Arab region. Some think that these conflicts have deep-rooted internal causes, such as the tension between Islamists and liberals. Others look at these conflicts from a sectarian and ethnic perspective and consider them rooted in fundamental disputes between religious or sectarian ideologies or between tribes and provincial regions. There is yet a third group that sees this as a crisis of old regimes that want to forestall the political changes initiated by the Arab revolutions and the foreign interventions that caused chaos in the region. There is no doubt that each of these different characterizations of the current conflicts in the Arab region has evidence to support its interpretation and its own proposals on whether these conflicts can be tackled and if so, how. Nevertheless, none of these characterizations are sufficient to understand the complex dynamics causing the current political divisions in Arab societies, especially in those states that are experiencing fierce conflicts such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya. For these places, the tendency towards over-simplification in explaining the causes of strife has a profound effect on policy making and the practical solutions necessary to end this strife. Furthermore, some of the recommendations put forward in Western capitals, such as the division of these states into sectarian cantons, could lead to even more violent wars in the future.
When the Arab revolutions erupted in early 2011, social justice was one of the core direct demands, as well as an indirect demand through the use of slogans such as “dignity” and “freedom”. These two demands are basically associated with social justice in one way or the other. Thus, we cannot underestimate the role of the economic conditions that lack social justice in the outbreak of these revolutions. If we look at Tunisia and Egypt, we find that there are many similarities on this level. The two countries have adopted open market policies and integration into the global economy. The economic policies of the two countries were always praised by international institutions, but growth in Tunisia and Egypt was coupled with complex and unbalanced development. This means that the dividends were not distributed equitably among the different groups of the society, especially among the masses of producers and among the different regions.
We cannot overlook that the first spark of these revolutions was the incident of Mohammed Bouazizi, an incident in which the economic conditions of poverty and unemployment became associated with the concept of rights: dignity and freedom, and an incident which shows how the concept of social justice is not an issue merely linked to quantitative economics - which is based on numbers and equations - but rather a concept, essentially linked with the conditions of people and communities. As said by Thomas Piketty in his book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century “democracy will never be supplanted by a republic of experts.”
This book tries to tackle the concept of social justice from this logic using background papers on the complexities of this concept, the relationship between this concept and the changes that took, and are still taking, place in our Arab region and the role of foreign factors, as represented by EU policies. It then presents three case studies, which tackle previous studies in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen. It also contains a number of parallel articles to these studies in an attempt to provide different perspectives on issues and countries covered by these studies.