Regimes and Youth: What Has Changed After the Arab Spring?

A few days ago, the Politics and Society Institute (in Amman) and the Tammy Foundation for Youth Development published the book, which I co-authored with the researcher Kamel Al-Nabulsi, “Youth Policies in the Arab Countries: What Has Changed After the Arab Spring?”, which is a comparative and analytical study of the policies of eight Arab countries. Towards youth (Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon, Kuwait, Bahrain, Sudan), during which youth policies were analyzed before the Arab Spring phase, mainly since independence, and then after the Arab Spring, and an attempt was made to investigate the changes that occurred, both in terms of discourse And the official political perception of the youth issue, or the institutional structures that deal with the youth file, youth strategies, policies, programs…etc.

The book came to discuss the nature of the shift in the perception of Arab regimes at the moment of the Arab Spring, and to analyze the reasons that prompted Arab youth to engage heavily in these revolutions that were described as youthful, and then how the practical response was to this perception. Prior to that, the authors of the book analyzed the factors influencing young people during the Arab Spring period, and there was a focus on the “generational dimension” not in the biological sense, but in the political sense, according to books and theoretical studies that dealt with this concept and linked it to historical contexts and the major challenges facing each generation. And this was projected on the Arab societies that entered into political crises from democratic blockage and the disintegration of the rentier system, coupled with the spread of technological means that redefined the public sphere, and prompted the younger generation to invade the political stage and the event industry.

The book concludes, after comparisons and analyses, that despite the updates, transformations, and adjustments that Arab governments have made in the field of youth policies, this has not led to fundamental solutions to the crisis of the young generation today, in terms of their relationship with the state and inclusion in political life, and in terms of creating horizons future and solutions to economic problems and societal pressures facing them. The main reason for this is that the response of Arab governments often came as a reaction, and is linked to events and developments, but rather the balance of power on the ground, and often looking at this generation from the angle of the threat to the stability of regimes, and the idea that dominated governments was represented by attempts to contain, and by reducing the “youth crisis” In economic, social or even political dimensions linked to the size of representation.

The simplistic and fragmented thought dominated youth policies, and it came in the form of separate and immediate initiatives, programs and projects.

The simplistic and fragmented thought dominated youth policies, and it came in the form of separate and immediate initiatives, programs and projects, including projects for preparing national youth policies, sometimes under the title of unemployment, sometimes under the title of education and vocational training, or under the title of developing leadership skills and so on. In all of this, youth issues were not resolved, and the official dealing with symptoms and phenomena was without addressing the causes and roots, and the solution of the issues was associated with the existence of an actual problem in providing sufficient data, and problems in the quality of data resulting from discrepancies in definitions and methods of calculation, or from suspicion of interference. Politics in the results of statistics.

For the most part, the Arab youth policies, before and after the Arab Spring, were absent from the comprehensive developmental perspective, and the governmental and institutional systems suffered from their inability to deal with the issues of the younger generation with an integrated developmental thought. Or technical, or in dealing only with the effects and results, as official policies often focus on the economic dimension of development, which weakened the desired developmental impact or prevented it from being achieved. What is behind this is that these policies were ruled by a superficial vision, from the outset, that set their goals to change and rehabilitate young people, so that they “integrate into the labor market and society and become good citizens.”

Official policies often started from the perspective of containment, the perspective of appeasement, or the perspective of distraction and occupation. Therefore, political programs came, for example, to contain youth leaders and involve them in the political game, without considering that the game itself no longer qualifies for the requirements of the entire young generation. Instead of working to reproduce the political environment in a way that serves the actual empowerment of the young generation, and providing the appropriate conditions for it to gradually take over the reins of decision and governance, the matter was limited to a cosmetic attempt with some legislative provisions that allow increasing youth participation only.

Official policies, in general, did not stem from a deep awareness of the need of the young generation and its constant yearning for change in its life and its social, economic and political surroundings.

On the economic level, government programs were more intense and focused, and we noticed how they became part of the concern of governments in many countries in the region, whether in Jordan, Morocco, Bahrain or Egypt, but the result is still limited, and there may be multiple reasons. jump it up. However, on the other hand, one of the main reasons is that the economic policies continued themselves, without reviewing and reconsidering the societal aspect and the developmental perspective of the youth in them, and dealt, as mentioned previously, as if the problem was in the youth themselves, and not in the structure of the policies or some of their aspects!

Official policies, in general, did not stem from a deep awareness of the need of the young generation and its constant yearning for change in its life and its social, economic and political surroundings, and in the prevailing culture and generational relations in society, and to build a renewed social system in its relations. Rather, it dealt with it with the mentality of the rentier, patriarchal, authoritarian state, with inclusive and exclusionary policies, which viewed it as a danger, a problem, or in other circumstances exposed to danger. And the renewable energy that society needs to ensure its continuity and renewal of its relations. And it failed to deal with its sense, as a young generation, of its right to live a decent life based on the strength of potential, the ability to learn, the desire to participate, and the need to diversify and renew its experiences, which accumulated cases and feelings of frustration, rebellion, isolation, and indifference, thus disrupting development and modernization rooted in the nature and energy of youth.

Working for young people requires giving them room and space to make mistakes, learn from their mistakes, and become truly active in drawing solutions to their problems.

Managing change and youth development requires work that transcends institutional boundaries, governmental bureaucratic levels and limits, governmental administrative decisions and narrow job specialization. It also requires administrative arrangements through which it is able to re-employ available capabilities and resources. This can only be achieved by reconsidering current approaches to dealing with youth. , and the transition from the method of traditional solutions to policies based on building safe and free spaces and spaces for the new generation, to really contribute to shaping its vision for the future, and with the participation of multiple levels of influencers and those affected, given that public policies are spaces, and a form of teamwork based on cooperation between multiple parties, governmental and non-governmental.

The integrated development perspective based on realizing the crisis of the young generation today first, the difference between generations and the characteristics of the current generation second, the crisis of existing Arab regimes third, and how to link the young generation with the goals of sustainable development fourth, are important pillars in shaping the perspective that can achieve a real and tangible difference. And to provide real opportunities for young people by sharing intentions, purposes, goals, vision, direction, and the nature of the desired future, and delegating to them powers and responsibility to learn and make mistakes.

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