À première vue, les pays du Moyen-Orient et de l’Afrique du Nord (MENA) se prêtent difficilement à une étude prospective, tant l’imprévu ponctue leur actualité. Mais c’est précisément pour éviter que les décisions ne soient prises dans l’urgence d’une crise existentielle qu’un travail prospectif s’impose. C’est ainsi que Florence Gaub introduit son rapport sur le monde arabe à l’horizon 2030, écrit dans le cadre des « Chaillot Papers » de l’European Union ...
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International surveys of personal values have existed for almost 40 years (since 1981) in most European countries (the European Values Study or EVS) and in many countries of the world (the World Values Survey), enabling us to observe the evolution of the values of the citizenry in many areas (religion, family, politics, trust, tolerance etc.). Only in much more recent times (for some 10 years or so) have studies of this type been carried out in the Arab countries, but they are worthy of particular attention in the post-2001 context (after the attacks claimed by Islamist terrorism) and post-2011 (after the “Arab springs”). Having regularly reported the results of European and Western values studies, it was only natural for Futuribles to do the same with surveys relating to public opinion in countries in the Arab world.
Hence Pierre Bréchon, who coordinates the French strand of the EVS, has examined these surveys, the Arab Barometer in particular, whose most recent findings in a dozen Arab countries he analyses here. These confirm the attachment of Arab peoples to very traditional values in religious (Islam) and family matters, but attest also to advances with regard to democratic values. With this article, Pierre Bréchon shows, with supporting statistical evidence, the main values to which the peoples of these countries subscribe. Most importantly, he shows the considerable disparities that exist between one country and another and the impact certain events (such as the Arab springs) have had on the evolution of opinion.
Since entering the market economy, China has proved to be staunchly pragmatic, ranking first among the world’s most dynamic and thriving economies, while retaining a political regime which is, to say the least, authoritarian. The intensification of China’s presence on the continent of Africa in recent years is an illustration of this, as is the increasingly marked use of its Muslim minority to strengthen its commercial links with the Arab world. How it does so is described for us here by Jacques Varet.
He shows, in particular, how the Chinese authorities progressively created areas of (admittedly still heavily controlled) religious freedom among the Hui minority, so as to make the autonomous region in which they are the majority community, Ningxia, an economic and commercial shop-window. Investing heavily in the region, the Chinese government has set about an enormous project of modernizing Ningxia, bringing to centre stage the advantages of a “Muslim China” and using this very skilfully to attract or reinforce economic and commercial cooperation with the Islamic world from the Western Mediterranean to Micronesia, by way of Africa and South-East Asia.
In this March-April 2013 issue, which Futuribles is devoting very largely to the social and political impact of religions, Jean-Paul Burdy and Jean Marcou analyse the role played by Islam and Islamists in the “Arab Springs” of the last two years and the role they are playing today in the ongoing political transitions. They first remind us that the Arab revolutions were unleashed by protest movements that were primarily social and political, and that Islamists (generally well established within the lower strata of the countries concerned) joined in with these after the event. Burdy and Marcou then show how the Islamists, following the example of the Muslim Brotherhood, took advantage of these uprisings to gain power (in Tunisia and Egypt in particular). However, they also show the extent to which the Islamists’ ideological line merely played into a social and political body that had actually long been dominated by Shari’a law. They outline, too, the various divergences in this regard between the various Arab countries concerned in the “Arab Springs” and the reference models on which they drew etc. In particular, they study the denominational issues (Shiite/Sunni rivalries) that have emerged in states like Bahrain or Syria and the way these have been made use of by certain players, while nonetheless disputing the “simplistic interpretation” that sees a “Shiite arc” emerging over against a “Sunni bloc” within the Arab world, when the positions and actions of states are in many cases motivated very classically by Realpolitik.
Lastly, Burdy and Marcou warn against what are sometimes rather over-hasty readings of current developments, recalling how important the part played by political, economic and social processes has been and pointing out how difficult it will be, in this context, for the Islamist parties which have gained power (democratically) to reconcile their ideological imperatives with the aspirations of their fellow citizens.
It was just over a year ago that the popular revolts in Tunisia and Egypt began which were to lead to the fall of the two major authoritarian regimes in North Africa and cause other peoples (the Libyans and the Syrians) to rise up in turn against the dictatorships in place there. Much was expected of that “Arab Spring”, supported as it was by various European countries (including France) – not least the establishment of genuine democracies in the countries concerned. However, democracy cannot be established by decree and democratic elections may bring to power leaders who are not greatly inclined to respect it. Is this what we are in danger of seeing in the countries of the southern Mediterranean, where the first democratic votes seem to be paving the way for Islamic regimes that might radicalize to a degree that is as yet unclear?
Jean-François Drevet raises that question here, briefly examining the situation of those Arab countries with links to the European Union and the prospects for the Islamists of developing their influence in those countries. Lastly, he shows how the new political situation in that region could change the Union’s diplomatic relations with those countries and particularly how the Union could attempt to forestall excessively radical developments.
The early months of 2011 have seen a substantial wave of protest by civil populations against their governments in many Arab countries (Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Yemen etc.). Most of the regimes targeted were (or still are, if they have not fallen) authoritarian regimes that show little regard for human rights and the demands of their populations. Yet their leaders were accepted in the world’s chancelleries and regarded as legitimate interlocutors in the eyes, among others, of the European Union. Given this state of affairs, what might the consequences of this “Arab spring” be for relations between Europe and the southern shore of the Mediterranean?
This is the question Jean-François Drevet poses here in his European column. After reviewing the way the Union and its member states cooperated with these fallen or weakened regimes (particularly in the fields of the economy and immigration), he indicates the possible prospects for the development of Euro-Mediterranean relations. He stresses, in particular, the difficulties that might ensue in terms of EU enlargement policy, the supply of hydrocarbons, and the management of clandestine immigration, and he also considers the implications for the Israel-Palestine conflict and for EU-Turkish relations.
Comment, en ce dimanche 6 février, alors qu’il me faut rédiger l’éditorial du numéro de mars de Futuribles, pourrais-je le consacrer à autre chose qu’aux soulèvements populaires qui secouent aujourd’hui le monde arabe ? Aux fantastiques espoirs que suscite le renversement, le 14 janvier, du président Ben Ali en Tunisie, à ceux qui agitent actuellement l’Égypte, sans même parler des événements intervenus au Yémen, en Jordanie, en Syrie ou au Soudan, où surgissent de violentes remises ...
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Au cours de la prochaine décennie, les pays du Golfe (Qatar, Émirats arabes unis, Koweït, Bahreïn, Arabie Saoudite et Oman) pourraient être confrontés à des défis majeurs pour s’approvisionner en eau, en énergie et en matières premières agricoles, d’après cette étude réalisée par l’Intelligence Unit du magazine The Economist. Entre 2000 et 2020, la population du Golfe persique pourrait augmenter de 30 %, pour atteindre 50 millions de personnes. Au cours de la même période, le PIB (produit ...
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For more than a decade, particularly since the creation of the G20 in 1999, an economic forum that added 10 emerging countries to the world’s most industrialized nations, Brazil has played an ever-expanding role on the international stage. The South American giant now seems set fair to compete with the world’s leading nations, particularly in the agricultural sector.
Sébastien Abis and Jessica Nardone have closely examined the rise of Brazil in the agricultural sphere, in a context all the more propitious for the fact that we have, for some years now, been seeing various forms of food crisis. In this article they outline Brazil’s assets in this domain and its international strategy. They show, in particular, how it has increasingly positioned itself as a leader of South-South cooperation with ever-increasing penetration of the Arab world. As is attested by recent developments in trade between Brazil and the countries of the southern Mediterranean, the South American giant could, in fact, become one of the main agricultural suppliers to the Arab world, largely at Europe’s expense. The authors outline three possible future scenarios at the end of their article, in which, unless the European nations make a real effort to woo the countries of the South of the Mediterranean basin, Arab-Brazilian convergence would increase in the sphere of agriculture and may, indeed, lead to genuine political cooperation that extends beyond that sector.
Arabs are often seen solely in terms of their Islamic identity and the religious argument is used too often to explain the misdevelopment of the Arab countries. Yet, as Pierre Blanc stresses here, to equate the Arabs with their religion is to short-circuit the analysis. In the areas of demographic trends, economic development and democratic progress, the limitations of such reasoning can be seen from the figures and from a range of counter-examples. More and more Arab countries have begun, or have even completed, their demographic transition and many of them have rates of economic growth that are the envy of their European neighbours. Admittedly, where governance is concerned there is ground still to be made up, but even some movements of political Islam (in Palestine, Lebanon and Turkey) are returning to democratic ways. Ultimately, concludes Pierre Blanc, there are no reasons for regarding Islam as the key determinant of the developments in – or the difficulties of – the Arab region.
Since 2002, the United Nations Programme for Development regularly publishes a specific report on the Arab region, affording an enhanced insight into the economic development of that zone (the last of these was published 2005). In the same spirit, the Peterson Institute for International Economics has published a work by Marcus Noland and Howard Pack on the Arab economies' response to the changing world environment. It provides a very in-depth analysis of these economies with many international comparisons; it also outlines various perspectives for development, together with potential lines for reform. Hedva Sarfati has read the book for Futuribles and gives an outline of it here.
The rise of the knowledge economy has marked the start of a race for technological innovation that is apparently widening the "digital divide" between North and South: whereas most people living in the richest countries now have access to the information and communication technologies (ICTs), this is far from true in poorer regions, especially in the Arab world.
Kamel Touati presents here a survey of the spread of ICTs in the Arab world and explains that the region suffers from a "double digital divide". The first separates the kingdoms of the Gulf, which are richer and more advanced with regard to ICTs, from the rest of the Arab world, where access to these technologies remains a challenge. There is then a second divide, between the Arab nations and the rest of the world, associated with the lack of funding for R&D, the absence of co-ordination among nations and the often prohibitive costs of ICTs.
Consequently Arab countries have differing levels of access to the Internet and the Arabic language is little used on the Web. This situation is damaging both for the populations of these countries and for their cultural influence abroad.
L'indice de fécondité est de 3,4 enfants par femme en moyenne en 2000 dans les pays arabes, ce qui est faible par rapport aux six ou huit enfants qui étaient la norme dans la génération précédente. La baisse de la fécondité a débuté plus tard que dans les pays d'Asie ou d'Amérique latine, mais a été plus rapide. Elle résulte, comme ailleurs, de la transformation du rôle des femmes liée au développement de l'instruction, à ...
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Which Arabic Mediterranean ?
In November of 1995 the first EUROMED Forum was held, with the stated objective of re-establishing closer cooperation among countries on the two sides of the Mediterranean. The economic aspect was to be the creation of a Euro-Mediterranean open market before 2000 ; on the socio-political level it was to be the beginning a new era in relations which have been rich as well as tumultuous.
Two years later the process seems hardly to have moved, as each side eyes the other with distrust. On the European side, distrust is fed by the fear of an internal explosion in countries of the South ; on their side it is fueled by suspicion of hegemonic ambitions by the West.
How can distrust be overcome when failure of the Middle-East peace process and the Algerian drama gives the North more reasons for fear than for hope ? One way for sure is through better understanding of the unity and diversity of the vast Islamic region.
Such is the spirit in which Roland Palou gives us a brief analysis of major socio-political trends in the Arabic countries. These countries, in his view, are marked by relative political stability co-existing with a permament tension between tradition and modernity. He cautions us, however, that this tension is not always synonymous with the tension between religious fundamentalism and occidental modernism.
Cet ouvrage est l'aboutissement d'un projet de recherche, lancé en octobre 1993 par l'Institut français des relations internationales, sur le thème initial « les stratégies des États arabes vis-à-vis des mouvements islamistes ». Articulée autour de dix études (Algérie, Arabie Saoudite, Égypte, Jordanie, Liban, Maroc, Palestine, Syrie, Tunisie, Yémen), la réflexion s'est établie sur trois années et s'est nourrie des discussions conduites dans le cadre de réunions et de séminaires. Ce volume offre une analyse du point ...
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La guerre du Golfe et la fin de la guerre froide ont inauguré une ère nouvelle dans le monde arabe, accélérant sa fragmentation et renforçant les structures (néo)patriarcales de la société arabe et musulmane. L'objectif de Hisham Sharabi est d'analyser ces structures et de conceptualiser les raisons pour lesquelles la société arabe a échoué, depuis l'indépendance, à entreprendre un changement social radical et à faire face aux défis de la modernité.
Jacques Berque - dont les remarquables travaux sur le monde arabe sont mondialement respectés - montre ici combien la France, en se ralliant aux États-Unis dans la guerre du Golfe, a manqué l'occasion qu'elle eut pu saisir d'exercer, au plus grand bénéfice de tous, un rôle réel de médiation et combien de surcroît elle y perdit de crédit aux yeux de ses partenaires naturels que sont les pays arabes et maghrébins en particulier. Au travers de cet article mettant ...
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En même temps qu'un constat alarmant de la situation du monde arabe, Bichara Khader nous propose des actions concrètes à mener de façon à infléchir les tendances actuelles. Si la sonnette d'alarme est tirée (démographie galopante, agriculture défaillante, industries anciennes, capacité de formation limitée), c'est pour donner plus de poids aux propositions qu'il formule. L'analyse de la situation actuelle lui permet de s'interroger sur les potentiels du monde arabe. Ces potentiels existent, leur exploitation ...
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