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The impatience of youth: political activism in the gulf

Alsayed, Wafa (2014) The impatience of youth: political activism in the gulf. Survival, 56 (4). pp. 91-106. ISSN 0039-6338

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Identification Number: 10.1080/00396338.2014.941572


Youth movements in the Gulf have been effective but ephemeral, some times manipulated by established groups or succumbing to social divisions. In October 2012, thousands of citizens took to the streets of Kuwait City to protest an emergency decree by the emir that amended the country's electoral law in such a way as to undermine the position of the opposition within parliament. The demonstrations were unprecedented both in size and political rhetoric. An estimated 50,000 people addressed the ruler with slogans such as ‘we will not let you’. Security forces used tear gas and stun grenades to break up the gatherings. Youth groups formed the backbone of the movement's leadership (at least initially) and supplied much of its rank and file. However, within months, this vibrant and defiant campaign had largely dissipated. Having failed to attain its goals, it was unable to maintain a permanent political presence. Throughout the Gulf region, other youth-led movements have suffered a similar fate. Once groups achieve their original goals or lose their initial momentum due to government resistance, they soon break down, often disappearing altogether from the political scene. Thus, youth activism in the Gulf can be described as both effective and ephemeral. On the one hand, the enthusiasm and passion of young people has played a paramount role in driving mass mobilisation. On the other, youth movements have been neither centralised nor ideologically unified, and have often made unrealistic and undeliverable demands on government. Established political groups have sometimes been able to manipulate them for their own political gain, and several youth-led groups have succumbed to the same deep-seated social divisions that their activism might once have been expected to overcome.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 Routledge
Divisions: Middle East Centre
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2014 15:01
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2021 02:54

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