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Women News Network – WNN Interviews
As a close-up witness to the recent protests in Tahrir Square, the first woman president of the American University in Cairo, Lisa Anderson, shares her insights
Anderson’s efforts to expand academic leadership in Egypt, along with her work to bring a comprehensive Ph.D. program for students in Cairo, has pushed her be named as the new President of the American University in Cairo, a first-time position for a woman since the university began in 1919.
In an interview with Carnegie Council president, Joel Rosenthal, for Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, Anderson shares her connected and engaged understanding of the Arab uprisings in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt as she analyzes using an “up-close” understanding on events taking place across the Arab world.
The Arab prospect: forces and dynamics
The convulsions in the Arab world in 2011 are creating a new political and social reality. But what will be its character? Author of Egypt on the Brink, Tarek Osman, identifies three factors that are shaping the possible future.
The wave of revolts across the Arab world in 2011 will give rise to a new political paradigm in the region. The diversity of events in the various countries affected means that the immediate situation is fluid and its particular outcomes uncertain. But taking a longer-term view, it is possible to identify three factors that will help compose this new paradigm, and make the Arabs’ future very different from their recent past.
The generational infusion
The first factor is demographics. More than half the population of the Arab world is under 30 years old. This young generation sparked the rebellions that toppled the Tunisian and Egyptian administrations, and is currently leading the effort to accomplish similar changes in Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, Syria, and Libya.
The upsurge of the Arab spring in the second decade of the 21st century is closely related to the changing demographic composition of most Arab populations. The falling average age cast a fresh light on an earlier generation, the one that had fought the 1967 and 1973 wars against Israel, felt it had paid its dues. Many of its members were disenchanted by the failure of Arab nationalism, an experience that had shaped their collective psyche; and later by the inability of all Arab states to progress as east Asian or Latin American countries had. But there was also a loss of energy and ambition.
The rising generation, by contrast, is untroubled by any experience of defeat. True, it feels it has inherited failures it did not contribute to or deserve – but this leads it to wish to change the sad present primarily to save its own future. By the first decade of the 21st century, a critical mass of young Arabs was entering the region’s social and political stage. The full consequences of this demographic revolution are still unfolding. . .
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