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The Finger on the Scale: International Interventions in the Middle East and North Africa Following the Arab Spring

Robert A. Portada III, Lynsey Billet


Following the Arab Spring, each regime that confronted mass protests selected from a range of repressive and concessionary tactics in the effort to remain in power. In five cases—Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen—regimes eventually resorted to using violent repression with participation from national military forces. However, these regimes experienced a variety of outcomes related to their ability to preserve their authority. These outcomes were greatly impacted by the interventionist strategies they faced from foreign powers. We argue that the nature of the international interventions best explains the outcomes for the regimes in question. Foreign powers intervened both to support and to confront existing regimes, providing explanations of why certain regimes survived, collapsed, or came to share territorial sovereignty with oppositional groups during civil wars. Thus, regime survival in the Middle East and North Africa following popular uprisings may depend on the effective management of international support as much as on regime control over national military forces or the repression of social opposition.


Arab Spring; Middle East, North Africa; international power politics

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Published by the University of Florida Press on behalf of the Association of Global South Studies.