Panel 3H

Migrations in the Maghreb and in the Middle East: The Time of the Revolutions

16.15 – 18.15
Chair: Delphine Pagès-El Karoui, INALCO/USPC

The Arab Spring: A Revolution for the Egyptian Emigration?

Delphine Pagès-El Karoui, INALCO/USPC

This paper examines the impacts of Arab revolutions on Egyptian emigration, according to the diverse temporalities which have rythmed the political life of the country and the region between 2011 and 2015. New flows, new reasons for migration (instability, insecurity), new transnational practices (for instance, voting from abroad) have occurred. During the post-revolutionary period, transnational practices have gained momentum, a soon-aborted construction of a diaspora has emerged, and moreover, Egyptian communities abroad have become more visible. The strength of transnational connexions has reactivated links between migrants or their descendants with Egypt. Emigration doesn’t mean an exit which makes disappear all sense of loyalty: the moral obligation to participate to the development of their country has fuelled the return of many migrants in the early days of the revolution. To what extent the Egyptian migration field has been shaken by Arab revolutions ?

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From a Humanitarian Crisis to a Security Crisis. Control Measures for Syrian Refugees in Jordan (2011-2015)

Myriam Ababsa, Institut francais du Proche-Orient, Amman

With refugees constituting nearly 20% of its population, Jordan is confronted with serious economic and political challenges. So great is the strain the refugee community is putting on the education system and the health services in Jordan that the humanitarian crisis is now becoming a political issue on the domestic level and a security crisis. In response to increased public pressure and the decision to partake in airstrikes against the Islamic State, Jordan toughened its policy against Syrian refugees in 2014. Under this stricter policy, the conditions for attaining residence are becoming increasingly more restrictive. Refugees have been given the right to work only in February 2016 afer London Conference. The aim of this article is to present the evolution of the management policy of the Jordanian government for refugees over the past four years. The article will analyse first and foremost the development of control measures and legal frameworks within the pressure of the geopolitical context of the war against jihadists. Social cohesion programs to employ Syrians at the municipality level will be studied.

Migration and (Counter)Revolution the Arab Gulf: Migration Policies and Labour Market Policies in Saudi Arabia

Hélène Thiollet, CNRS, CERI, Sciences Po / USPC

In the wake of the Arab springs, the Gulf monarchies and Saudi Arabia in particular have launched counter-revolutionary policies both at the domestic and international level. Beyond the repression of political opponents, Saudi Arabia initiated a series of reforms in the field of immigration and labour market policies. Their goal was to dismiss the socio-economic discontent of Saudis and to repent a potential uprising. The political engineering involved to shape institutions and behaviours is embedded is a long term trend of politicization of migration as a key existential threat for the country. We argue that beyond regime change, the risk of a “social revolution”, according to the terms of Theda Skocpol, is what looms ahead for Saudi policy makers. The reforms can therefore be understood as an effort to reinforce the class divisions between nationals and foreigners and the domination of the former on the latter.

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Investigating the Increase of Cross-Mediterranean Egyptian Irregular Migration

Sara Hussein, American University in Cairo

In the past couple of years, footage of overloaded migrants’ boats and tragic death tolls of drownings at sea have become a reoccurring headline. The Central Mediterranean route to Italy from either Egypt or Libya has become one of the most popular passageways for those chasing the dream of a more promising life in Europe. Among these individuals are Egyptians whose attempts to migrate across the sea from Egypt’s north coast via smuggling vessels comprise a rapidly growing phenomenon. According to figures by UNHCR, the number of Egyptians arriving in Italy by smuggling boats has risen from 344 in 2015 to 2,634 in 2016, making Egyptians one of the top ten nationalities of crossing the Central Mediterranean through irregular means[1]. The increased demand on this type of migration facilitates the expansion of the smuggling industry, which results in more chances for deadly incidents to occur. In this paper, I investigate causes of the significant increase of Egyptians attempting to reach Italy via smuggling from 2015 to 2016. I propose that this increase can be attributed to socioeconomic changes in post-revolutionary Egypt. In order to examine this, I will assess the relationship between unemployment and poverty levels and the rise of Egyptians being smuggled off of the country’s north coast, providing insight on the nature of smuggling networks in Egypt and the responses of the state to the irregular migration phenomenon.