Document Type

Undergraduate Research Paper

Publication Date

Spring 6-8-2016

Paper Status


Faculty Nominator

Etga Ugur


The Arab Spring was a regional social mobilization that unrevealed ruling-bargains in the Middle East, which have been resilient since the early 1950s. In Tunisia, Ben Ali was ousted in about three weeks and fled to Saudi Arabia. After two weeks of demonstrations in Egypt, Mubarak resign from the presidency because the police failed to quell the uprising and the military refused to come to his aid. Following his resignation, he was arrested by the military and is currently awaiting trial for killing demonstrators, embezzlement of state funds, etc. In Libya, Qaddafi was ousted in an eight month civil war with NATO intervention that resulted in his demise. Despite the successful revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, some ruling-bargains have survived, such as in Syria.

In the beginning of the Syrian uprising, it appeared Assad’s ruling bargain was unraveling and it was only a matter of time before he met a similar fate like Ben Ali, Mubarak and Qaddafi. However, overtime the conflict morphed into a sectarian struggle that divided the country among sectarian and socioeconomic lines. The sectarian nature of the conflict has prevented the regime from falling. As a result, my research question is how does identity politics explain the resilience of Assad’s ruling bargain? This question is important because it will explain the survival of authoritarianism and how identity politics can hinder the perquisite for democratization, the need for national unity. It will also help U.S. policymakers by showing them the concerns of minorities if the regime falls. Minorities are convinced there is no future for them in a post-Assad Syria, so they support the regime largely out of fear of the alternative. Guaranteeing these communities they have a future will bring down Assad and may bring fourth democratization.