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Abstract

This article examines Western donors' reactions to the Arab uprisings and whether there has been a radical departure, since January 2011, from previous modes of engagement. It takes the EU and USA as case studies of the failure of aid policies to promote democracy prior to the uprisings, and questions whether a new approach has been adopted after the demise of Mubarak in Egypt. It argues that for the EU, positive conditionality is seen as a central element in reforming funding policies while for the USA, there seems to be no significant change in the funding policy. The highly restrictive political and cultural context affecting international agency has not changed after the ousting of the former regime, nor have the underlying factors influencing the direction of foreign funding in the region changed. In short, what this article concludes is that we are far from witnessing a paradigm shift.