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Islamist- Leftist Cooperation in the Arab World

Islamist and Leftist movements have increasingly cooperated in a range of political activities. The authors compare the forms of such cooperation in Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen, illustrating the strategic importance of cross-ideological alliances for advancing agendas in the face of repressive regimes. However, the comparison also reveals that it remains uncertain if the alliances will gain enough strenght to transform political landscapes, and unlikely that cooperation will forge a shared political vision or ideology.

Throughout the Middle East, actors across the political spectrum cooperate in ways that were unprecedented before the democratic openings of the early 1990s. Even though few of these openings have advanced toward democracy, groups that had never previously worked together -indeed, some with long histories as rivals- now routinely cooperate in a wide range of political activities. In addition to parliamentary opposition blocs, cooperation has emerged within professional associations, in the organization of protest activities, and within special bodies convened to debate constitutional amendments or draft national charters. Perhaps most strikingly, many Islamist groups now routinely cooperate with a range of leftists, including liberals, communists, and socialists. Repressive regimes remain the primary obstacle to democratic reform in the Arab world, but even strategic and limited openings have led to new forms of political contestation. Do these new practices hold long-term consequences for democratization in the region ?

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Les opinions exprimées et les arguments avancés dans cet article demeurent l'entière responsabilité de l'auteur-e et ne reflètent pas nécessairement ceux du CETRI.