Arab Spring revisited - prospects for a part two

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This is a podcast episode titled, Arab Spring revisited - prospects for a part two. The summary for this episode is: <p>In this podcast Harry Kemsley and Sean Corbett are joined by analysts from Janes Country Intelligence team, James Trigg, Maria Lampoudi and Lewis Smart to understand if the conditions may be right for another Arab Spring similar to that experienced in 2010.</p><p><br></p><p>The team explores how OSINT can provide valuable early warning signs of potential escalations in tensions, the lessons learned since the previous Arab Spring and why applying tradecraft is so important to its intelligence analysis.</p>

Speaker 1: Welcome to The World of Intelligence, a podcast for you to discover the latest analysis of global military and security trends within the open source defense intelligence community. Now on to the episode with your host, Harry Kemsley.

Harry Kemsley: Hello, and welcome to this edition of World of Intelligence by Janes. As usual, your host, Harry Kemsley and my co- host, Sean Corbett.

Sean Corbett: Good to be back, Harry.

Harry Kemsley: Good to see you, Sean. So, Sean, we talked about having a revisit to the Arab Spring from about 13, 14 years ago, and to do that, I have three guests with us from the Janes Analytical team. First of all, there's James. Hello, James.

James Trigg: Hi, good morning. Yes, I'm James Trigg. I'm a senior research analyst with the Janes Country Intelligence Team.

Harry Kemsley: Welcome back, James.

James Trigg: Thank you.

Harry Kemsley: Not your first time with us, I know. Maria. Hello, Maria.

Maria Lampoudi: Hello. My name is Maria Lampoudi and I'm the principal analyst and manager of the sub-Saharan Africa desk.

Harry Kemsley: And welcome back to you, Maria. Good to see you back. And then finally least but not last, or is it last but not least? Lewis. Hello, Lewis.

Lewis Smart: Hi there, Harry. Thanks for having me. Yeah, I'm the principal analyst for the Middle East and North Africa Country Intelligence team at Janes.

Harry Kemsley: Very good. So you've all been on podcasts before. You know how we've run these podcasts. What I'm really keen to do is try and focus on the topic, but also of course, bringing in the power of potential of open source as a place we can derive intelligence value. So we'll do that en route, but maybe what we can do first for the listener is just do a recap of what was the Arab Spring? How did it start? What was it about? James, let me start with you on that.

James Trigg: Thanks. So trying to cover this briefly is always going to be a challenge, but-

Harry Kemsley: I'll give you no more than two minutes.

James Trigg: Two minutes? Right. So the Arab Spring is the phrase currently now given to a series of protests that broke out across the Middle East and North Africa throughout 2011 and 2012 Started with Tunisia following the self- immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, a fruit vendor who was outraged and feeling no respite or no assistance from the government after he was assaulted by police officers, set himself a blaze in front of the governor's office. This triggered a series of protests in Tunisia, people calling for accountability and change in the system, from the autocratic system as it was, to a more democratic system. These protests spread and were replicated across the Arab world and the Gulf, including Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, as well as Tunisia. Yeah, that's the one I could probably... the best I reckon in two minutes.

Harry Kemsley: In two minutes. Yeah, very good. Sean, go ahead.

Sean Corbett: Yeah, just for me, I think it's a brilliant case study in terms of... it was almost the start of, if you want to call it, the OSINT revolution because it was so visible and actually a lot of it was facilitated by the use of social media and proliferation, that sort of thing. So all the things that we now do, sentiment analysis, getting into some of the politics, and people have heard me say before that what sparked it and one of the key things that sparked it was the price of bread went up because there was a major wheat crisis caused by global drought. Now, that was only one of the triggers, obviously. I have been misquoted before saying, " Oh, it wasn't just about the wheat." No, it wasn't, because there were serious political, economic, and social factors that all led to it. But they are all things that are very valid for the OSINT practitioner to be looking at.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah. So we often talk about how we characterize the emergence of these crises, and I think what we've just heard from that is the original Arab Spring, where we've called that, had an economic and a climactic and it had a political element to it. So if I now come to you, Maria, what's different today? What's happening today? Is there any sign of a similar set of circumstances that might foment another version of an Arab Spring?

Maria Lampoudi: Well, I was taking a lot of notes as James and Sean were talking, and a few of the keywords that struck out to me were particularly rising food prices, alleged police or security forces brutality, protest, the use of social media to organize, and these are all elements that we continue to see in the continent. I will be, of course, touching on Sub- Saharan Africa mainly. So economic conditions in the countries, disproportionate effect of Russia's invasion in Ukraine, and the subsequent rise in grain import prices or the decrease in the amount of grain that the countries were importing, along with more autocratic regimes, less professional security forces that have been often accused of human rights abuses, all of these elements are still present today alongside climate change- induced food insecurity. The drought are still persistent across the continent. We see a lot of displacement of population, as well. All elements that have led in some cases to protests. I will quote a few. Nigeria a few years ago linked to police brutality that resulted in a response from the government that was, to some extent, enough for the protestors. We saw Sudan, more linked to the Arab Spring, the original one, where protests resulted in a change in government. However, even though all elements are still present, I think when it comes to Sub- Saharan Africa, we are still probably lacking that unifying cause, that common element that probably led to the Arab Spring originally being contagious from one country to another.

Harry Kemsley: James, lets come back to you for a second just to try and draw some parallels there. So we saw an event or series of circumstances and an event in Tunisia that then sparked a wave of other events. They were connected and then became later known as the Arab Spring. What Maria has just described, if I understood you correctly, is that there are similar events, similar conditions, but they're not creating this wave effect, this contagion effect. Is there any particular reason why you think that might be today?

James Trigg: That's a big question. For example, I can refer to Algeria in 2019 and the protest there that saw the ousting of President Bouteflika and elections held. So as Maria pointed out, these events are still transpiring. As to why the contagion effect is not as evident as it was in 2010, 2011, I think that's simply because participants and protestors in these events now and governments and authorities have more historical context to reflect on. Countries do not want to see themselves go the way of, let's say, Syria, which protests began triggered by the Arab Spring led to a civil conflict which is arguably still ongoing.

Harry Kemsley: Still ongoing, yeah.

James Trigg: So I think there's a greater reluctance for overarching sweeping reforms, but I think as Maria pointed out, and as in Algeria, there's still scope for local grievances and smaller scale reforms to occur.

Harry Kemsley: Very good. Lewis, you wanted to comment on that?

Lewis Smart: Yeah, thank you Harry. I think James and Maria both made great points there and I think it's a bit trite to say, but it's the fact that the Arab spring did occur is one of the things that's different today. It is hindsight. The regimes and governments have learned their lessons to a large degree, and revolutions are hard. They are quite rare and they're hard things to do. And I think what we've seen is, especially in the case of Egypt, a government learn the lessons, as James was saying, of what can happen. And it reminds me, actually, to get a bit historical, of Europe in the early 1800s where you had someone like Prince Klemens von Metternich respond to the protests across Europe in a conservative autocratic alliance between Prussia, Russia, Austria, et cetera. Now that didn't obviously, as we know, stop the revolution from happening, but it made them much harder. It allowed external powers to work together, et cetera. So I think the fact that it happened is a trite thing to say, but it's incredibly important for those governments who have learned the lessons. And just to delve a bit deeper into Egypt on this, because I think it's a great case study, we've obviously got the president, Fattah El- Sisi, who is the president, and since he's come to power, we've seen the almost complete suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which was one of the main organized actors that got power for a brief period of time following the protests and revolutionary moment in Egypt. They've been banned, they've been outlawed, they've been completely basically run out of the country and exiled. And so a political actor in a country that can take advantage and inspire people to maybe protest because they believe this could be the actor to take over, those are incredibly important organizations to have in a country. And at the moment, Egypt just doesn't have viable, organized social or political opposition in against Sisi. So that's one element. The youth are obviously a massive component of revolutionary zeal, of hopes and dreams, but we can see in Egypt President Sisi targeting the youth to try and co- opt them into his program. So he's been running what's called National Youth Conferences since 2016, which is basically as described as a forum for direct dialogue between the Egyptian youth and the Egyptian government and the president. Now it's interesting, there's one recommendation from 2016 which I think was particularly interesting. It says, " The presidency of Egypt, in coordination with the Council of Ministers and a group of youth symbols to prepare a political vision to inaugurate a national center for training and qualifying youth cadres." So that's a really important element. I think that also builds in to Sisi's emphasis on nationalism in Egypt. He's saying that, " I am the representative of the Egyptian people and its state, and to go against me is to tear the Egyptian state down to turn us over to banditry, lawlessness, violence, our enemies." So you can see another strand of nationalism being played on, which I don't think the Mubarak era did as much as we're seeing with Sisi. And then to go back to the European example of the early 1800s, we've got a lot of external support for Egypt. The UAE is a great example here recently where they've invested$ 35 billion, which is 7% of the UAE'S GDP, into Egypt to basically shore it up because foreign currency deficit spending. I won't go into the economics too much, but you've got Saudi Arabia that support Egypt, but you've also got the west, the United States, UK, EU. The UK has given some money to Egypt recently. So has the EU. So has the World Bank. And this external support is important as well because if you are a citizen in Egypt, well I've not only got to go against the government, I've got to potentially go against their backers. Are they going to support the government with more money and weapons? So that can be a big disincentive as well. I think Egypt's a really great case study for lessons learned by the current government and there's other stuff we can discuss in a bit, but those are some things I wanted to highlight.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah, thanks Joe. Lewis.

Sean Corbett: Yeah, no, I agree with a lot of what Lewis says, actually about everything Lewis says, but I think just to echo that actually would be the Arab Spring I think is sometimes misunderstood. It was not a single homogenous event, so it wasn't about, as some of the Western practitioners still think or certainly did at the time, it wasn't about democratization of the Arab world. It really wasn't about that. People didn't want necessarily to be for something. They were just against the social injustice and most people just wanted to survive, to be honest. So one of the reasons it" failed," if that's the accurate word, is because there was no structure in terms of what's next. The deep state was still the deep state in terms of the bureaucracy or all the rest of it, and there are many countries that still operate when they don't have an operating government. So there was nothing there to link on in terms of, " Right, this is what we all want." And you can read that across many of the nations. Although it wasn't homogenous, the common threads were the abject poverty. And of course, the different organizations within those countries wanted different things. So you had the middle class that wanted to basically undermine the elite, but really the bulk of the power was from the mass of poverty. And that's where you saw the huge, great big... Tahrir Square for instance, all the protests there. So it wasn't actually in favor of something. Now, what did that lead to? There's a lot to cover here actually. I'll try and be brief there. That's really what... and it'd be easy for people to think that we're conflating Arab Spring with violent extremist organizations. But actually, the two were very much linked because the VEOs, the ISILs of this world, actually, they were organized. They did give something for people to believe in, however brutal that was at the time. So that's why it morphed into something more solid. But I think just going back to a couple of Lewis's final points were that the government certainly learned from it, there's no question about that. So an understanding of why social media can actually facilitate these things and the shutting down a bit to some extent, the superficial, again, as Lewis mentioned, right? " We will improve your lot, we will improve the economy." And of course the sad side and the downside is a lot of these or some of these nations went into full, all out civil war. And of course again, at that stage, your average citizen just wants to survive.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah, sure. Maria?

Maria Lampoudi: A lot of interesting points raised by both Lewis and Sean. I just wanted to touch on the role of the military in some of these countries. So as you both said, the grievances are there and they often require a political actor or another actor, same society actor, to take on that organizing role, the role of someone that can prevent, that can provide a plan for the next day essentially. And we saw that starting with Sudan back in 2019 with the mass protests. In many countries in Sub- Saharan Africa, the military or part of the military stepped up in a way to take on that role violently, which led to a series of military coups and military- led regimes that are essentially built on as a response to the same grievances, be it the insecurity due to the presence of militant organizations or just poor economic conditions. So we are now seeing a military transition to some extent in many of those countries rather than a political one or a grassroots one. And that's interesting because in terms of lessons learned from what we see in countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso nowadays, the military-led governments have significantly constrained the public space and social media as well, which is slightly easier to do. So there is a significant media and social media crackdown going on in this country that further inhibits any movements or inaudible

Harry Kemsley: Would it be fair to say that they have learned the lesson and they're using open source as a means of governing?

Maria Lampoudi: I would say I'm not sure if that I would make entirely that statement, but certainly to some extent, they have used social media to try and shape a public opinion more favorable to either new foreign policy choices, new alliances that they're trying to form with actors such as Russia. So social media definitely played a role in that huge rise of anti- Western sentiment, pro- military government sentiment in those countries.

Harry Kemsley: Right, right. But you can certainly monitor the sentiment, as Sean mentioned earlier. You can also track rising tensions that are evident in that sentiment analysis and to some extent counter it with your own narrative in that information inaudible can't you?

Maria Lampoudi: Indeed, definitely. And I would say social media for those regimes can also become a really handy tool to try and identify specific figures within those movements and try to isolate them in order to further repress them.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah. Okay. Well as over time we'll evaporate on this if we're not careful. So James, I'm going to come to you first. You get the difficult task of helping us understand what the future looks like in your crystal ball in front of you. Where is this heading? It sounds like there isn't a likely Arab Spring revisited, but what are your thoughts? Do we see the conditions that are likely to, despite the lessons identified?

James Trigg: I think that fundamentally depends on what we are referring to when we say the Arab Spring. Are we talking about the likelihood of protests in North African, Middle East countries leading to regime change on an individual basis? In which case I would say that there are certainly countries where that is a remains a possibility, unfortunately, including chief among those is Tunisia, the origin of the original Arab Spring. Since the election of President Saied in 2019, the economy has continued to suffer. Unemployment has continued to rise. There are social tensions, especially now between two Tunisians and Sub- Saharan African migrants that the president, through some of his speeches, has been accused of deliberately stirring. And there are large protests in Tunisia on a frequent basis as people campaign for a restoration of a democracy that they feel has been lost to them. Do I necessarily see the likelihood of a contagion effect across multiple countries arising from that instance? I'm slightly more skeptical now. I think we've touched on it quite thoroughly, that regimes and protesters have learned the lessons and just as the regimes have understood how to utilize security forces and social media to control the narratives and to divide and conquer protesters where necessary, I think protesters have also learned that without support of foreign backers or mass mobilization on a consistent basis, their options for achieving sweeping change are rather constrained.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah. Maria, do you agree with that? Is that the most likely outcome you think?

Maria Lampoudi: I agree with what James said in terms of the contagion effect is unlikely, let's put it that way. I think on the lessons learned, both for regimes and for protesters, and that would only apply, of course, I think to some of the Sub- Saharan African countries. There might even be a fear or an apprehension that creating that level of instability might open the space for, again, parts of the military actors that might want to take advantage of that instability to try and carry out inaudible military- led government. So that's one element. I think protests are not inherently bad, rather the opposite, are a sign of the mature democracy. So that's something that I think we should be keeping in mind, particularly in countries that are still in the early steps to some extent of a stronger democratic regime. So I would say that, and we also see that protests often have more focused requests. Thinking of Kenya that's currently ongoing.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Maria Lampoudi: More focused requests that are also more easily tackled by the government.

Harry Kemsley: Right, right. Lewis, your turn. What are your thought? Stare into the crystal ball for us.

Lewis Smart: Yeah, I'm going to have to agree with what Maria and James have broadly said, and I think the risk of contagion is much lower. I think what Sean emphasized, that a lot of groups and protests don't know what they're for, and that is the hardest bit of any revolution. And I think you can see this in terms of previous revolutions, where when the Iranian revolution came, there was a... while it was also quite chaotic to be fair, it wasn't just one thing, it wasn't just the vision of Khomeini. There were competing republican ideas, democratic ideas, but you had those ideas percolating. You had tapes and sermons by Khomeini coming into the country, inspiring the people to latch onto the idea when the regime crumbled and protest broke out. I don't sense any of that. I don't sense a ideological current, whether it's liberal democracy or whether it's state capitalism or whether it's large reform. I'm not picking up through the open sources that level of cultural and social ideological activism across a lot of these countries. And I think that builds into me as well for... as I think Maria and James mentioned, the governments have learned to use social media so they can clamp down on organization, which is a big disincentive, but there's an element of demoralization, I think maybe globally, but definitely times are tough. And the ability of the government to put their own narrative forward, to demoralize their population, to atomize them, to disincentivize them, to make them feel lonely, I think that also makes contagion less likely, let alone the individual national potential for this. And just one quick thing as well, I think... and obviously, as James mentioned, it spread to the Gulf. What I think with the Gulf countries at the moment is economically, they're doing very well. Also, they seem to have a new level of confidence in their own system, right? There's definitely... we can discuss the weaknesses and that can be another podcast on Gulf monarchies with potential transitions of power with MBS and Kings Salman, et cetera. But there is... the moral allure of the current of liberal democracy in the West, I would say has kind of declined over the last five to 10 years with the rise of populism and our own problems. And that was just one potential element that protests could go. So the moral confidence of some of these states, I think, could act also as a barrier against any of these protestors to inspire themselves to take the risk. Anyway, that's some thoughts there.

Maria Lampoudi: Thank you. I really like the point about the demoralization effects or attempt, to some extent Lewis, and I think we shouldn't forget that for some of the countries, the levels of violence have significantly increased, primarily due to VEOs being particularly active. And that has led mass parts of the population to have to deal with survival, and that has further fragilized any public movement or any coordination efforts. So in many of those countries, population has to deal with displacement, has to deal with threats for their livelihood, essentially.

Harry Kemsley: Looking after the food on the table and the roof over my head. Sean, I'm going to come to you last, but as I have before I do that and ask you to give your view. For the three of you, let me ask you this question, give you a moment to think about it. In the open sources, what are the one or two things you are going to be looking for that gives you that sense of the likelihood of an Arab Spring part two? What are the things you look for? Lewis, you've touched on a couple of things about indicators and warnings. What are those things that you look for as an analyst in the open source environment? So while you're thinking about that, Sean, what's your thoughts about the crystal ball? What's your crystal ball telling you?

Sean Corbett: So rather disappointingly, I have to agree with everything that's been said, because I don't like to inaudible-

Harry Kemsley: inaudible-

Sean Corbett: No, it is, yeah, but you need two things really to ferment a revolution, if you want to call it that. You need a political ideology, but also the organization that goes with it that people buy into. And then you need something to make it happen, whether that's the military or a pseudomilitary. And right now, the militaries know that they're onto a good thing and a lot of these regimes support their military for that exact reason. And of course, the economy matters as well. I was just going to double down on what Lewis said. It's interesting that the only two places where... and there was a little bit of a revisit of protests in 2019, but the only two that didn't see any of that were UAE and Qatar, funny old thing. They're the ones that are economically strong. So what I do think though is that we need to keep monitoring each individual nation as a nation and overlay the big strategic stuff on it, the food insecurity, the energy insecurity, all that stuff that we're seeing as a result of the crisis in Ukraine, et cetera, et cetera. So the factors are actually increasing that would increase that dissatisfaction, but the levers in terms of internally are not there really, I don't think, to ferment that crisis. And there's another point to this, and this is about... and you've heard me say this many times, is that we do look at things through a very western lens. So the idea... well, as we're saying maybe now, liberal democracy is not necessarily what everybody wants, put it that way anyway. And it might not necessarily be the right thing for everybody. So what is it they actually want? And it is about the justice, equality, and all the rest of it. You look at Iran and every time there's a protest, it's" Oh yeah, it's about to go. It's about to go." It never does. It never does because there just isn't... there aren't those things in place for that to happen. But back to what I was saying. We do need that local understanding of what the levers are, what's happening there, while looking at the strategic bigger picture as well.

Harry Kemsley: Very good. So as our colleagues talk about the things they're looking for in their open source sources, you and I'll come back with our one takeaways right of the end Sean to give you a moment to think about it. So Lewis, starting with you, what are the things you're going to be looking for in those open sources you regularly tap into to give you a sense of what's actually going on here?

Lewis Smart: Yeah, thanks. So at Janes and in country intelligence, we do have a list of country stability indicators that we monitor very regularly and we update with event data from the open sources through our own methodologies, through qualitative inputs and assessments. So we do have a range of political, economic, and social indicators that we monitor quite regularly. Give a couple of example of these. On the economics, we monitor the unemployment, the inflation, the deficit to see the risks to the economy. On the politics side, we do look at corruption. We look at the risk of coups and the relationship between the military and the government as well as general instability. And then also as we said on that, the violence side, we do monitor non- state armed groups and their risk to state stability as a risk there as well. So we monitor for the open sources and our own methodologies, these structural factors, and we do that hopefully quite well. And that gives us a good lens on which to start looking at the country from a macro perspective. But I think what's becoming interesting for me as I hopefully am developing my skills as an analyst for OSINT is we need to use that lens and then really magnify and look at more specific things and not just the macro stuff, but as we've talked about, some of the moral sides of what the population is feeling, the cultural sides, the philosophical sides. These aren't something we've quantified at the moment, but they are important aspects of being human and therefore I think of where society might be going in these countries. We should treat them as their own cultural basis. We should make sure that we're taking their own hopes and dreams for their country, not just a Eurocentric lens as you said. So I think it's important for OSINT and national security analysts more generally to start looking at countries maybe in a bit more this way as a guide to what could happen. 1978 was interesting in terms of Iran. US thought it was very stable. Next year, there's an Islamic revolution and a republican revolution. It's messy, but we need to get those currents a bit more. So that's something I think I might be more cognizant of going forward.

Harry Kemsley: Thanks, Lewis. Maria?

Maria Lampoudi: Completely agree with Lewis on the value of our CSIs. That's something that we definitely use as an early warning tool or to help us focus our research. If I'm to answer your question through the-

Harry Kemsley: That's the idea.

Maria Lampoudi: ...right before it happens, as it happens, I would say that before, we try to identify through open source research political figures, political position figures, actors, organizations within each country's environment that could possibly take on that role of the organizer or the leader of such a movement. Something that we are quite sensitive to and might indicate that something's about to happen is usually internet outages, crackdowns on social media. So that's something that always makes us wonder what's happening? Why is it happening? Why is the government shutting down social media? And then when it happens, essentially we're trying to identify on social media any hashtags, any key themes, some rudimentary sentiment analysis to try and understand what the ultimate goal of the movement would be. Would it be end that government? We want someone new in place? Or is it a more specific request?

Harry Kemsley: Perfect. James, you've got the unenviable tart, trying to find something that hasn't been said already. What's your thoughts?

James Trigg: First of all, I agree with Lewis and Maria.

Harry Kemsley: We're going to have to a podcast where nobody agrees with each other. Let's make that happen.

James Trigg: Just as, I suppose, in a slightly different format, I would say when it comes to reviewing protests, there are key dynamics that need to be considered. For example, the persistence of those protests. Are they flash in the pan one Friday and they're done? Or are they day in, day out, week in, week out, month in, month out? The scope of those protests in terms of what the people at the event are proceeding or are seeking with their demands, and also the buy- in from various different sectors of the society. So I know Lewis mentioned Iran and the recent protest there. Didn't receive a huge amount of buy- in from broader Iranian society. There was never really much sense that the Iranian military in any capacity or security forces were changing their allegiance to side with the protestors like we saw in Egypt after the security forces that'd rampage through Tahrir Square. There were elements in the military who rejected those tactics. And this helps us understand and distinguish when a protest is just a emotional outburst and when it is a staging ground potentially for something more significant. All I would say to conclude is we have to be aware that OSINT can give us indicators and warnings and red flashing lights. It isn't necessarily going to guarantee that we can predict exactly when something will happen.

Harry Kemsley: Sure.

James Trigg: For example, I'm sure that the protestors in the wake of Mohamed Bouazizi's self- immolation had no conception that their actions were going to inspire protests in half a dozen other Arab countries any more than... maybe a strange compare. Any more than the death of George Floyd was the single case that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement. There was no way of knowing that one incident would incite such a response.

Harry Kemsley: I'm sure academics would love to preview otherwise because they want to see everything connected. But I do agree with you. Lewis, sorry, you wanted to come in on that?

Lewis Smart: Yeah, just great stuff by Maria and James. I think when these protests do break out, some of the indicators Maria really highlighted well there, but being an intelligence analyst with OSINT is still important. It's to take your tradecraft and your skeptical eye and your analysis and make sure you are trying to analyze this as dispassionately as possible in a very passionate occurrence. James mentioned the Iranian side of the protest of Mahsa Amini is the media I think did a disservice in terms of analyzing that and propagating that because the media does what the media does and they said it was Iran's revolutionary moment and there was a lot of doing up of that whereas we used a revolutionary factors model, which uses a lot of the stuff we organize about organization, the protestors, the elite cohesion of the security forces, the buy- in of certain demographics, the offensive ideological component... for us that's important to retain during these sorts of moments and to remember our training and intelligence analysis trade graphs.

Harry Kemsley: Perfect. So Sean, it's for you and I to... first of all, thank you James, Maria, and Lewis, and for us to give the audience what we think are the one takeaways that you're going to take from this. So I'll start with you.

Sean Corbett: So for me, and it's the blind glimpsing the obvious really, but everything's a surprise unless you're looking at it, which sounds a bit odd, but the Arab Spring, all the factors were there. If someone had been looking at it in a holistic way, which is really my point, is that geography matters and you need to be looking at individual nations and even sub elements within there. But you've also got to do it in a holistic way. People talk about intelligence failures all the time, which I could write a book out of. In fact, I might do actually. But it's not always intelligence failures necessarily. But where there is things lacking is because they haven't joined up the thematics or the geography. So what's nice to hear is that people are looking, the Janes analysts are looking at things from both a geographic and a thematic perspective because unless you join the two up, you're probably not going to join the dots.

Harry Kemsley: Yeah. I think for me, of all things you've said, and I've enjoyed all of it, is that we may have some evidence here of countries learning, learning from what happened in the early part of the last decade, the so- called Arab Spring, and that may actually have influenced the chances of happening again. Interesting to see whether that's true in another 10 or 20 years because memories aren't that long and a couple of generations from now, the Arab Spring will be very much a matter studied in history classes, but not necessarily learned from in the way that perhaps has been evidenced in this conversation. So let me finish by saying thank you for the three of you to join us in this conversation. Has been fascinating, as always. Thanks to the listener for taking the time to listen to the conversation we've had here, and as I've said in the past, if anybody has any questions or any topics you'd like us to cover, we've done a couple of those at request, then please let us know. We'd be more than happy to cover them. Thanks very much.

Speaker 1: Thanks for joining us this week on the World of Intelligence. Make sure to visit our website, janes. com/ podcast, where you can subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Google Podcasts so you'll never miss an episode.


In this podcast Harry Kemsley and Sean Corbett are joined by analysts from Janes Country Intelligence team, James Trigg, Maria Lampoudi and Lewis Smart to understand if the conditions may be right for another Arab Spring similar to that experienced in 2010.

The team explores how OSINT can provide valuable early warning signs of potential escalations in tensions, the lessons learned since the previous Arab Spring and why applying tradecraft is so important to its intelligence analysis.

Today's Host

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Harry Kemsley

|President of Government & National Security, Janes

Today's Guests

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James Trigg

|Senior Research Analyst for the Middle East and North Africa Country Intelligence team at Janes
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Maria Lampoudi

|Lead analyst and manager, Sub- Saharan African Country Intelligence team, Janes
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Lewis Smart

|Country Intelligence Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Team Manager, Janes