The Arab Passion

Arab League, Union is strength.

Arab League, Union is strength.

Gilles Kepel offers us a contextual analysis of the events rationale in the Arab states. Or according to social psychologists, an analysis of the way in which how the social environment shapes the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of the individuals who rule the states, and based on this social environment, they put their strategies and plans that affect the state’s policies and strategies. Therefore, he is like explaining the social psychology but on state level, Arab states.

In the politics of Arab states and even in any state, rulers and politicians tend to desperately need to feel good about themselves, one of the basic human motives. They often distort their perception of the world to preserve their self-esteem.the second basic human motive that tends to persist is the need to be accurate. The social cognition approach takes into account the way in which rulers and politicians think about the world. Kepel  explains how these two approaches affected the Arab rulers thinking, especially, since the Arab spring without using the social psychology’s terms.

While Kepel was explaining what is happening in the Arab world, he was using and encouraging a holistic thinking style, a type of thinking in which people focus on the overall context, particularly the ways in which objects relate to each other.

Kepel discussed how each Arab state has its schema of every other state. For example how Seoudi Arabia perceives Iran as its enemy because of struggle over hegemony on the GCC, and how each incident on the state level prime a certain thought and form the schema and heuristic.

Through introspection, states could cultivate their strategies, having a growth mindset. Social comparison theory is also helpful for state when they want to compete with other states. states know their own abilities by comparing themselves to other states. For example, when Qatar used Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as a tool of supporting Qatar, Seoudi Arabia aslo used the Salafists as a reaction to Qatar’s action to balance the powers in Egypt and break the Muslim Brotherhood’s control over the voices. However most of the states make self-serving and defensive attributions.


Kepel concludes the lecture saying ,” we can only predict because it is a process in the making.” This is what a social psychologist would also say.


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