Synopses & Reviews
Barely a year after the self-immolation of a young fruit seller in Tunisia, a vast wave of popular protest has convulsed the Middle East, overthrowing long-ruling dictators and transforming the region’s politics almost beyond recognition. But the biggest transformations of what has been labeled as the “Arab Spring” are yet to come.
An insider to both American policy and the world of the Arab public, Marc Lynch shows that the fall of particular leaders is but the least of the changes that will emerge from months of unrest. The far-ranging implications of the rise of an interconnected and newly-empowered Arab populace have only begun to be felt. Young, frustrated Arabs now know that protest can work and that change is possible. They have lost their fear—meanwhile their leaders, desperate to survive, have heard the unprecedented message that killing their own people will no longer keep them in power. Even so, as Lynch reminds us, the last wave of region-wide protest in the 1950s and 1960s resulted not in democracy, but in brutal autocracy. Will the Arab world’s struggle for change succeed in building open societies? Will authoritarian regimes regain their grip, or will Islamist movements seize the initiative to impose a new kind of rule?
The Arab Uprising follows these struggles from Tunisia and Egypt to the harsh battles of Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, and Libya and to the cautious reforms of the region’s monarchies. It examines the real meaning of the rise of Islamist movements in the emerging democracies, and the longterm hopes of a generation of activists confronted with the limits of their power. It points toward a striking change in the hierarchy of influence, as the old heavyweights—Iran, Al Qaeda, even Israel—have been all but left out while oil-rich powers like Saudi Arabia and “swing states” like Turkey and Qatar find new opportunities to spread their influence. And it reveals how America must adjust to the new realities.
Deeply informed by inside access to the Obama administration’s decision-making process and first-hand interviews with protestors, politicians, diplomats, and journalists, The Arab Uprising highlights the new fault lines that are forming between forces of revolution and counter-revolution, and shows what it all means for the future of American policy. The result is an indispensible guide to the changing lay of the land in the Middle East and North Africa.
"George Washington University political scientist Lynch (Voices of the New Arab Public) offers a nuanced, insightful analysis of the Arab insurrections, with ample historical context. Though the book opens with an almost catastrophic dearth of storytelling, Lynch hits his stride as he details Middle Eastern activists' roles in the uprisings that spread across the region, as well as the fall of three Arab leaders within one year: President Ben Ali of Tunisia, President Hosni Mubarak or Egypt, and Libyan ruler Moammar Qaddafi. Tracing the 2011 protests to the Arab cold war of the 1950s and '60s, Lynch vigorously warns against the assumption that recent uprisings will yield instant peace. In addition, he persuasively disputes that social media (Twitter, Facebook) catalyzed the protests, claiming instead that they were spurred by a history of political turmoil and aided by Al Jazeera, which has formed a unified Arab voice. Acknowledging that the Obama administration faced a precarious dilemma in choosing whether and when to intervene, Lynch furnishes a shrewd critique of Obama's quick response in Libya and low profile in the other Arab uprisings, admonishing the administration to deliver on its promises. In this thought-provoking book, Lynch earns his right to implore U.S. citizens to trust Middle Eastern countries to reshape their political space." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Marc Lynch is the Director of the Institute for Middle East Studies and Associate Professor of Political Science at George Washington University. He is the author of Voices of the New Arab Public (Columbia University Press, 2006), and has published dozens of articles about the international relations of the Middle East, the Arab media, and Islamist movements. He blogs for ForeignPolicy.com, where he edits the Middle East Channel (http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com). He is also the director of the Project on Middle East Political Science and is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. He advised the Obama campaign on Middle East issues. For more details, including media appearances and publications, see http://www.marclynch.com.