After the Arab Spring: How Islamists Hijacked the Middle East Revolts
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After the Arab Spring: How Islamists Hijacked the Middle East Revolts

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by John R. Bradley
     
 

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From the author of the book that uniquely predicted the Egyptian revolution, a new message about the Middle East: everything we're told about the Arab Spring is wrong.

When popular revolutions erupted in Tunisia and Egypt, the West assumed that democracy and pluralism would triumph. Greatly praised author and foreign correspondent John R. Bradley draws on

Overview

From the author of the book that uniquely predicted the Egyptian revolution, a new message about the Middle East: everything we're told about the Arab Spring is wrong.

When popular revolutions erupted in Tunisia and Egypt, the West assumed that democracy and pluralism would triumph. Greatly praised author and foreign correspondent John R. Bradley draws on his extensive firsthand knowledge of the region's cultures and societies to show how Islamists will fill the power vacuum in the wake of the revolutions.

This vivid and timely book gives an original analysis of the new Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Bahrain by highlighting the dramatic spread of Saudi-funded Wahhabi ideology, inter-tribal rivalries, and Sunni-Shia divisions. Bradley gives a boots on the ground look at how the revolutions were first ignited and the major players behind them, and shows how the local population participated in and responded to the uprisings. In Tunisia he witnesses secularists under violent attack and in Egypt observes radical Islamists taking control of the streets. He illuminates the ancient sectarian strife shaking Bahrain, fierce civil war pitching tribe against tribe in Libya and Yemen, and ethnic divisions threatening to tear apart Syria and Iran. Taking it one step further, Bradley offers a comprehensive look at how across countries, liberal, progressive voices that first rallied the Arab masses were drowned out by the slogans of the better-organized and more popular radical Islamists.

With the in-depth knowledge of a local and the keen perspective of a seasoned reporter, After the Arab Spring offers a piercing analysis of what the empowerment of Islamism bodes for the future of the Middle East and the impact on the West.

Editorial Reviews

former CIA operative and inspiration for the movie Robert Baer

After the Arab Spring is indispensable to understanding why the Middle East uprisings aren't going where we want. John R. Bradley has a better pulse on the reality than anyone.
From the Publisher

“A timely rebuttal to European and American reporting on the Arab Spring... [Bradley] lambasts reporters and the youthful Arab Facebook and Twitter generations who thought they could replace the Old Guard.... Highly recommended.” —Choice

“John R Bradley, a journalist who has lived in the Middle East for many years and was almost unique in predicting the uprising in Egypt, argues that the revolutions have failed in their most basic objectives.... After the Arab Spring predicted the rise of political Islam.” —The London Times

“This wry, concise and elegantly written book amounts to an impassioned critique of the Western media's narrative of the Middle East.” —The London Telegraph

“Bradley has nothing but contempt for political posturing, and is out to debunk the myth of the Arab Spring as a triumph of the people..... [He] is on to something about the way society governs itself, the powers it hands to certain men whose weaknesses render them unfit for it, the religious forces that step in to supply the missing higher values only to debase them.” —The Times Literary Supplement

“Bradley has spent many years living in the countries he discusses and is fluent in Arabic; his first hand experiences give the book a taste of personality and help to keep the reader remain engaged.... There is much to be learned from After the Arab Spring. I would recommend this book to anyone who claims to have a grasp on Middle Eastern conflict and how it should be handled.” —Americans for Informed Democracy

“Yes, the demonstrators were brave -- but religious extremists were manipulating them. John R. Bradley looks beyond the blazing power of [the revolutions] to find Islamist groups steadily taking control.” —Time Out (U.K.)

“A savage indictment of alleged western naivety about the significance of the Middle East revolutions. [Bradley] highlights Tunisia as the most conspicuous case of a society where Islamist dominance is likely to ensure that its last state will prove worse than its first, and is equally gloomy in forecasts for Egypt and Libya. Bradley's prognosis... has a nasty plausibility.” —Max Hastings, The Financial Times

“The situation [in the Middle East] has developed almost exactly along the lines that John R. Bradley predicted.” —The Spectator (U.K.)

“[Bradley] has spent years in the region, and brings to After the Arab Spring a copious amount of first-hand knowledge. He also enlivens his otherwise downbeat and enervating argument with a potent dose of caustic wit.... He does well to force readers - many of whom may be unrealistically sanguine about recent events - to confront the dark side of the Arab Spring.” —The National

“Bradley speaks Egyptian Arabic, knows the region well, and writes in a robust and punchy style... [He] gets the essential narrative of political Islamism.” —Literary Review (U.K.)

“An impassioned polemic, scornful about Western naivety towards the events of last year.” —The London Sunday Times

“Bradley is able to push through the blustery talking heads of, say, CNN or Al-Jazeera to allow the voice of the people themselves to be heard. He rightly undermines much of the gushy view that the region is fired by dreams of Western liberalism and democracy and counters that it is really all about feeding oneself and one's family. Bradley's book stimulates a part of the mind largely unworked by... other books.” —The Australian

“I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Arab Spring, or anyone with a view on intervention in the region. It questions every assumption the media has portrayed, and provides evidence for these statements.” —The Student Review (U.K.)

“Bradley believes all what the West says about about the Arab Spring revolutions is errenous, and criticises the shallow Western media coverage of what is happening in the Middle East. He explains that the West misunderstood the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt: that they did not start in a quest for democracy, but as protests against deteriorating economic and social conditions. Bradley points out that the result was not the triumph of democry or modernism but radical Islam. He reveals in After the Arab Spring how progressive, liberal voices were drowned out... and he warns that the 'moderation' on the part of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Ennahada in Tunisia is just a myth designed to fool local voters and the West alike.” —Al-Ahram (Egypt)

“Bradley's success in predicting the 25 Jan. revolution in Inside Egypt confirms that what he writes about the future of the region carries a great deal of weight. He opposes to the spread of radical Islamic thought, but uses the term 'Islamist' to define those who adopt a strict interpretation of the Islamic religion at the political and social levels. He defends the secularism grounded in Tunisia before the fall of the regime, and criticises how Wahhabi Islamic thought has spread to most of the countries of the Arab world thanks to the oil wealth of Saudi Arabia. What Bradley says is worth paying attention to.” —Al-Watan (Kuwait)

“According to Bradley's analysis, Egypt is heading towards the abyss of religious totalitarianism under the rule of fascists who will deal harshly with their opponents. The Iranian experience [of 1979] was that Islamists reaped the benefits of the revolution, even though they were just one faction in the uprising against the Shah. This is being repeated in Egypt now.” —Al-Masry Al-Youm (Egypt)

“In After the Arab Spring, Bradley says that the Islamists rode the wave of the revolutions and hijacked them, and a counter-revolution was carried out out by Saudi Arabia and Qatar by way of promoting their Wahhabi ideology. Bradley is skeptical about the 'moderation' promoted by the Islamist movements and their leaders, arguing that their rhetoric merely earns them points during the long battle. Beyond that, Bradley says that 'the West assumed that liberal values ??would triumph and prevail, but this did not materialise.' The West is repeating its stupid mistakes of the past.... The author paints a bleak picture of what lies ahead.” —Al-Watan (Syria)

“John R Bradley, author of After the Arab Spring, was one of the few journalists who sang out of tune to the chorus of Arab Spring enthusiasts, pointing out that the failure of the democratic transition in Tunisia, the most progressive Arab country, portended failure when it came to the possibility of success in other countries. The Islamists were poised to mobolise for the elections. They have indeed hijacked the revolutions.” —Tomás Alcoverro, La Vanguardia (Spain)

“The revolts against the old autocrats have not brought the agenda of the liberal democrats into sharper focus, but that of the hidden theocrats. With the security vacuum and the Islamists' march towards government, it is difficult not to agree with Bradley's thesis. It is not that he ignores [in After the Arab Spring] regular Tunisians, Egyptians and Libyans and their thirst for a free life without corrupt leaders; but rather that he believes it is cultural imperialism to think that Arabs, by definition, want the same institutions and values ??that we cherish on the European side of the Mediterranean.” —Weekendavisen (Norway)

“Bradley's book is a good alternative view of the Arab Spring, and his pessimistic outlook is useful to avoid looking at events from so-called rose-colored glasses.” —Small Wars Journal

“Having boldly predicted the revolution in Egypt in his book Inside Egypt and warned of the 'saving graces' of Tunisia's Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali dictatorship before the advent of the Jasmine Revolution in Behind the Veil of Vice, the author sends out another cry of alarm--this time at the democratic fallout that is benefiting the strident Islamist parties.... Bradley looks at the resurgence of Saudi-sponsored Wahhabism and other forms of tribalism since the revolutions in Yemen, Libya and elsewhere. He also considers the 'Shia Axis' and bitter lessons gained from Islamist incursions in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.” —Kirkus Reviews

After The Arab Spring is a bold and provocative work which argues that the revolutions were not necessarily a good thing and, in many cases, could make the countries affected by them more oppressive places because of the likelihood of Islamist takeovers. Bradley is scathing about the common perception that the advent of democracy in these Arab states will bring about western-style liberal governments. He rightly points out that... the worsening economic climate, high unemployment and disgust at the rampant corruption and nepotism of their governments [is what] drove people on to the street.” —The Sunday Business Post (Ireland)

“Back in 2008, John R. Bradley was dubbed an alarmist for uniquely -- yet at the same time accurately -- predicting an Egyptian uprising. But he was right, and his publications were banned by Hosni Mubarak's regime. In his new book, After the Arab Spring, his message is a simple one: everything we've been told about the Arab spring is wrong. In his view, political Islam has hijacked the revolutions across the Middle East.” —Sir David Frost, on Al-Jazeera English

“Bradley argues that... riots now occur daily, hardliners target secular forces and Christians, and the new leaders lack popular support. Worst of all, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Ennahda in Tunisia are set to gain power. The tourist sectors of both countries have been hit severely.... [After theArab Spring] then moves on to look at how the Arab Spring has become a tool of the Iran-Saudi conflict. Bradley discusses changes in the region such as Bahrain being invaded by Saudi Arabia, and how Yemen is even more tribal and fragmented thanks to Saudi support for insurgents.” —LSE Review of Books

“The man who predicted the revolution in Egypt two years before it happened says it is the Islamists that profited from the Arab Spring. In After the Arab Spring, Bradley goes beyond the glossy picture that has been drawn in the Western media and asks a fundamental question: do the events in the Arab world that brought down several dictators qualify as an Arab Spring?... The Arab Spring may have had some short term benefit but in return for a potential long-term nightmare, he believes.” —euronews.com

“Recent indicators in Tunisia suggest that Islam and democracy are not and cannot be compatible. John R. Bradley, in his book After the Arab Spring, offers an alarming glimpse into Tunisia's future governance.” —The Gatestone Insistute

After the Arab Spring is indispensable to understanding why the Middle East uprisings aren't going where we want. John R. Bradley has a better pulse on the reality than anyone.” —Robert Baer, former CIA operative and inspiration for the movie SYRIANA

“John R. Bradley, the writer who predicted the revolution in Egypt, has published a new book, After the Arab Spring... He pitted himself against everyone else by stressing, from the outset, that the Islamists would be the main beneficiaries, and thus succeed in filling the [political] vacuum. Bradley's opinions are based on his vast knowledge of the varied cultures and societies of the countries that make up the Middle East.... His book is a timely, in-depth analysis of what could be called 'the new states' that have now emerged.” —Akhbar Al-Khaleej (Bahrain)

Kirkus Reviews
In a cynical jeremiad, Bradley finds the pre–Arab Spring dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt less pernicious than what he sees in the coming Islamist counterrevolution. Having boldly predicted the revolution in Egypt in his book Inside Egypt and warned of the "saving graces" of Tunisia's Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali dictatorship before the advent of the Jasmine Revolution in Behind the Veil of Vice, the author sends out another cry of alarm--this time at the democratic fallout that is benefiting the strident Islamist parties mainly because they are organized and their supporters vote. The Jasmine Revolution brought down Ben Ali's two-decade autocratic regime, riddled with corruption and cronyism, despite his constructing the most secular, liberal and frankly pro-women state in the Arab world. What have replaced it are roving gangs of bearded Islamist and Salafis (adherents of the reactionary, anti-modern Salafism) calling for an Islamic state, and an Islamist party called Ennahda, led by the newly returned exile Rachid Ghannouchi. Likewise in Egypt, writes Bradley, the revolutionaries were not demanding democratic reforms so much as economic: jobs and opportunity. In a conservative country like Egypt, where nearly half the population is illiterate, the military rules and women do not have the freedoms as in Tunisia, Islamist groups sprouted overnight and the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood have neatly consolidated their political power. To succeed in advancing their aims of "cultural tyranny," they do not need majority support. Bradley looks at the resurgence of Saudi-sponsored Wahhabism and other forms of tribalism since the revolutions in Yemen, Libya and elsewhere. He also considers the "Shia Axis" and bitter lessons gained from Islamist incursions in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, and he chides both the revolutionaries and the Western pragmatists for not learning from history. A deeply alarmist, precipitous look at recent Arab developments--or lack of developments.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780230338197
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
01/03/2012
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

After the Arab Spring

How Islamists Hijacked the Middle East Revolts


By John R. Bradley

Palgrave Macmillan

Copyright © 2012 John R. Bradley
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-230-33819-7



CHAPTER 1

THE DEATH OF TUNISIA'S SECULARISM


I HAD BARELY HAD A CHANCE TO SIP MY CAFÉ AU LAIT BEFORE THE tear-gas canisters started whizzing over our heads. Grimacing waiters piled up the tables and chairs from the sidewalk: yet another day's business lost. I scrambled for cover. In an instant, the Tunisian capital's main boulevard, Habib Bourguiba Avenue, had filled with jeering, whistling rioters pouring in from the side streets. Thick lines of black-clad antiriot police moved to disperse them. It was two months since the revolution had ousted longtime strongman Ben Ali. An interim regime, mostly made up of the old guard, were busy entrenching their political power, while the previously marginalized Islamists were taking over the streets. The regular police had retreated to their stations, leaving the once tranquil capital city a lawless free-for-all.

Habib Bourguiba Avenue is home to the interior ministry and other key government ministries. It is the most beautiful street in the Arab world, a mélange of nineteenth-century French neoclassical buildings and others built in the Arabic style alongside 1960s modernist banks and offices. Now half of it was permanently cordoned off by barbed wire and tanks. In the absence of regular police, the army had taken over securing the downtown area. Soon the soldiers were backing up riot police, firing shots into the air. The soldiers had no training in crowd control. Uniquely in the Arab world, they had been given no role in politics—something that would prove crucial in the dictator's downfall. They had adopted a crude crowd-dispersal strategy: shout like a madman as a first verbal warning, then fire once into the air. If that did not clear the protestors, they shot three more times into the air. As a last resort they shoved their weapons into the chests of the rebellious young men. Riot police finally dragged the protestors into armored vans with a liberal volley of kicks and slaps.

The riot that I was caught up in that evening was caused by a number of youth groups. Locals took cover as young men attacked each other. The main group was drawn from the demonstrators camped outside the National Theater: a few hundred revolutionary die-hards protesting about the reestablishment of figures from the former regime after the president was ousted, as well as continuing lack of freedoms and elections and economic reform. In a city of some 2 million, these demonstrators never numbered more than a few hundred, and local business owners had grown to hate them. Every so often something would spark their ire, a riot would ensue, and the store owners would be forced to pull down their shutters.

I made my way into a side street eager to get back to my little budget hotel. But many of the rioters had been hemmed in there. Rival gangs of young men were beating the hell out of each other. More shots were fired into the air by the soldiers. More tear gas rained down on them. Again the demonstrators dispersed. In their wake I saw a man bleeding profusely from the head. I watched as a medical team arrived, declared him dead, and wrapped him in the white shroud of a martyr. For a moment the rioters, who had recongregated to witness the removal of the corpse, were united by their refocused anger and distress, and the entire downtown area was filled with a chorus of whistles. They had gotten it into their heads that it was the army, rather than one of their own rank and file, who had killed the young man. The owner of a little kiosk where I had taken refuge was as ignorant as everyone else as to what had really happened.

"Hiya fawda," he told me. It's chaos.

On impulse I had videoed the events. Before what came to be known as Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution, the police would have rounded on me, too. Foreign correspondents were being closely observed, if granted permission to enter the country in the first place. Half an hour later, standing over a pool of blood that seeped into a sprinkling of sand, I asked myself: What did this young man die for? So that I and others could freely video his painful demise?

On my subsequent trips around Tunisia, I remembered this moment as one local after another asked me a variation on the same rhetorical question: "What use is freedom of speech and voting every five years if I can't feed my children?" Not that this young man's death even got reported. The foreign media, for whom Tunisia once again became irrelevant because it had lost its headline appeal, did not cover that evening's mayhem. But I was flabbergasted that even the local media ignored it. I searched in vain in the Arabic-language newspapers for three days for any kind of coverage. Editors who had once spouted praiseful Ben Ali propaganda mostly kept their jobs and threw their weight behind the interim regime—just a watered-down version of what existed before the uprising but having no authority.


THE YOUNG RIOTERS' GRIEVANCES WERE LEGITIMATE. Nobody could deny that. Early on, it became clear that the revolution had not overthrown the old order. The former elite, after a little exercise in window dressing, once again consolidated its hold on power. The revolution had been an abysmal failure. It rid the country only of the regime's top layer.

But who would have expected anything else?

Crucially, the revolutionaries had not enjoyed the active support of the middle class, who had stayed at home during the uprising. And did the revolutionaries really believe that an elite that had spent five decades building the foundations of the modern Tunisian state were then going to hand over everything—the economy, the army, the education and health systems, the airports, the police force—unless forced to at the barrel of a gun? Least of all, perhaps, to a few dozen Facebook activists who had been among the most prominent groups of revolutionaries, and who tried to keep the revolutionary spirit alive after almost everyone had had abandoned hope of serious positive change. For all they were feted by the Western media, few in Tunisia knew who these revolutionaries were. Barely out of their teens, they had no experience to speak of, other than screaming slogans.

Worse, their blind enthusiasm for Western democracy—childishly egged on by supporters safe and secure in the West—was fundamentally flawed.

When the revolution broke out, the poverty rate in Britain was 20 percent, the same as it had been during the Victorian era, and some 40 million Americans were living on food stamps. In Tunisia, the poverty rate, according to the World Bank, was 4 percent. So how was a rapid transition to democracy supposed to resolve overnight Tunisia's economic woes? Like Tunisia, both Britain and America were mired in their worst economic downturns in decades. Many of the governments of western Europe, too, were facing bankruptcy, heading cap in hand to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The masses there were facing the indignity of eking out a living in the face of massive youth unemployment and endless rounds of cruel austerity measures.

Some parts of Tunisia, as was often pointed out, were far more prosperous than others. The coastal cities had been developed at the expense of the industrial and agricultural hinterland. But compare Manhattan to downtown Detroit, the beachfronts of Florida with the impoverished farming towns of the Midwest. In the coverage of Tunisia's supposed economic mismanagement, which became the model for coverage of the rest of the Arab world, these comparisons were never made. Instead, journalists held tight to the myth that we had got everything right, while they wanted nothing more than to emulate our fine example.

How inconvenient that, within months of Tunisia's uprising, there would be mass rioting in cities throughout England. And how telling that, immediately after the revolution, some 20,000 Tunisians fled to Europe, where they are hated. Here was a truer story about how little faith they had in their country's future, revolution or no revolution, democracy or no. It also illustrated how starry-eyed was the understanding in Tunisia of the harsh economic and social realities on the other side of the Mediterranean that awaited them, if they did not drown trying to get there.


THE TUNISIAN REVOLUTION HAD BEEN SPONTANEOUS. It spread from the impoverished hinterland to the working-class suburbs of the main cities. But it had no agenda other than rage at the regime. After Ben Ali and his family fled came the question that always poses a greater challenge following revolutionary upheaval, in which a well-trained vanguard is not ready to seize power: What comes next?

The answer was pandemonium.

I found it difficult to believe that Tunis had been my favorite city for the best part of two decades. This was where I had escaped to from the cultural backwater Saudi Arabia and ever more reactionary Egypt. It was here that I would relax in an ambiance of sophisticated, laid-back modernity. On this, my first trip to postrevolutionary Tunis, I was reflecting, with increasing horror, on the downtown district's dramatic transformation.

Before the revolution, the absence of beggars, aside from a small group of children who stashed away their shoes to evoke more sympathy from tourists, had been extraordinary. Now the mentally ill, roaming aimlessly, relieved themselves in full view, and hungry kids stole the leftovers on the restaurants' outdoor tables. In the old days, few women among the promenaders had worn the veil, and most of those who had were older and married with children in tow or visitors from the conservative countryside. Now maybe one in three wore the headscarf—even in this, the most cosmopolitan part of town—with a small percentage even donning the full facecovering niqab. The garment is historically alien to this country's traditional secular culture. Any woman wearing it before the revolution would have been arrested and made to sign a pledge that she would not repeat the absurd act. Indeed, for decades, beautiful women in tight jeans and T-shirts had strolled this stretch without any fear of leers and gropes and insults from men, in stark contrast to the rest of the Arab world. Since the 1950s, women had been fully integrated into urban society. But in the chaos of a country now ruled by an unelected interim revolutionary regime making vague promises of future elections, a small army of bearded zealots were filling the vacuum. They prowled the streets with piles of the Quran under their arms, making it their business to remind these Westernized women of their supposed lack of modesty.

Among the nonproselytizing young men, too, the beard had made a comeback. It might fairly be described as a new fashion statement. Under the prerevolutionary regime, men who had wanted to grow a long, Islamic-style beard had been asked to get a license from the local police station. The deposed regime's perspective on the beard had been equal to that on the veil: a political manifestation of a religion that should properly be viewed as a private affair, expressed not in terms of ostentatious symbols but rather quiet good deeds. After an investigation proved that they had no links to Islamist political or terror groups, permission would be granted, in the form of a letter that could then be presented to police.

For decades the police politely looked the other way as boys and men cruised each other in full view of coffee-sipping local families. The latter accepted such goings-on without a second thought. There were no roundups of "deviants" here, as there had been in many other Arab countries. The regime refused to give in to an Islamist moral order. Sex scandals did not exist. For as long as anyone could remember, the main downtown movie theater in Tunis had served as a meeting place for gay sex. Most of the city's smaller cinemas showed soft porn. But after the revolution, all that was advertised there were trashy Hollywood flicks— as though that were a sign of cultural advancement. It was said that security guards, with powerful torches and menacing looks, doubled as morality police. They had taken with a vengeance to patrolling the cinemas' aisles, though there had been no change in the law.

Tunis had also been one of the safest cities on earth. Violent crime was so rare that, when it did occur, it was gossiped about for weeks. But few now ventured out after dark. The postrevolutionary downtown's side streets were no-go areas, occupied by drunks, drug dealers, muggers, and aggressive prostitutes. The suburbs were worse: completely lawless. The police were too cowed to risk carrying out even an occasional patrol. Taxi drivers refused to pick up customers and sped home as soon as the sun went down. Thousands of criminals had escaped from the country's jails during the upheaval, including countless Islamist radicals, but also murderers, rapists, and serial delinquents. But the previously law-abiding youth had also been let off the leash. There was no controlling, either, drunken youths with time on their hands and a warped sense of what it meant finally to be "free." After the interim regime unblocked the web, removing all restrictions and thus making it possibly the freest Internet in the world, the most popular pages among the famously tech-savvy young Tunisians were not pro-democracy or even news sites, but porn. So much for the Twitter revolution. Compulsory reading classes in high schools, the norm for half a century, were meanwhile dropped. Subsidies given to local book publishers were withdrawn. Book sales were down—although, aside from titles on the revolution, Islamist political texts were suddenly flying off the shelves. Works by Said Qutb, considered the father of modern jihad, took pride of place in the display windows.

By the time I arrived in Tunisia, its once vast middle class, which had shunned the uprising, had sunk into a collective depression. Many were openly stating what, at the height of the uprising, would have been considered sacrilege: The revolution was a terrible mistake. A friend from the tourist resort of Sousse bumped into me in the capital. He was desperately seeking a job after being laid off by a hotel where he had worked as a waiter. He summed up the mood among his compatriots. "Those who didn't have work before the revolution still have some hope, because for them things were bad before and so they've lost nothing," he told me. "Anyway, they don't want to admit that things are worse now. It's kind of a question of pride. Who wants to admit that they were wrong? But you won't find anyone who works in the tourism industry or owns a business who's happy."

Those who previously did not have work had perhaps lost nothing in the short term, I told him. But their chances of finding work in the future were now slimmer. Tourism revenue, which had been the lifeblood of the economy, was down more than half, and there were no signs of the droves of Europeans tourists who used to pack the beaches. The second pillar of the economy, foreign investment, had also crumbled; foreign investors always value stability more than democracy. The neglected south of the country, where revolutionary fervor had first erupted, had been entirely dependent on trade with neighboring war-torn Libya. Now its industries ground to a halt as Libya descended into civil war. The poverty rate had, in the space of a few months, shot up from 4 percent to 25 percent, and unemployment was now officially 40 percent.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from After the Arab Spring by John R. Bradley. Copyright © 2012 John R. Bradley. Excerpted by permission of Palgrave Macmillan.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

John R. Bradley is a widely published British foreign correspondent. Fluent in Egyptian Arabic, he is also the author of Inside Egypt, Saudi Arabia Exposed, and Behind the Veil of Vice.

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After the Arab Spring: How Islamists Hijacked the Middle East Revolts 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
willyvan More than 1 year ago
In this splendid book, John Bradley, an experienced foreign correspondent, exposes the myth of the ‘Arab Spring’, which, like every Eastern European ‘colour’ revolution, was not for freedom or democracy but for reaction. He reminds us that Tunisia “was ruled by the most secular Arab regime and was the most socially liberal and progressive Muslim country in the Middle East. As such, before its revolution it had been the last bulwark against the Saudi-funded Wahhabi form of Islam that, since the oil boom of the 1970s, had spread everywhere else in the Islamic world.” Bradley points out that Tunisia was a “Muslim country where abortion was legal, where schools taught sex education, and where the veil was banned in government institutions (and severely discouraged elsewhere).” Polygamy had been outlawed for decades. Schools and health care were free. More was spent on education than on the army. Its education was excellent, ranked 17th in the world, and seventh in maths and science. A third of Tunisia’s young people went to university, where 60 per cent of students were women. The army had no role in politics. The government opposed regionalism, tribalism and Islamism. “In Tunisia, there was a reason that the Islamists were not the vanguard: for decades the regime had imprisoned or exiled them.” In 2009, only 4 per cent of Tunisians were poor; after the counter-revolution, 25 per cent were poor, and 40 per cent were jobless. The Islamists won the October 2011 election. Islamist storm-troopers smashed up cinemas, TV stations, bars, synagogues and university buildings, and attacked unveiled women, artists and secularists. This was the fascist murder of Tunisia’s secularism. In Egypt a military coup ousted Mubarak. Saudi Arabia gave $4 billion in soft loans to Egypt’s new military regime. The generals promised civilian rule, but reneged and have jailed even more people than Mubarak did. Bradley comments, “In 2011 the pro-democracy activists had from the outset foolishly declared their own revolution ‘leaderless’; they had learned nothing from history about how revolutionary movements lacking a vanguard are crushed by more entrenched and better-organized forces in the aftermath of massive social and political upheaval.” In February 2011 Saudi forces shot down Bahrain’s unarmed protestors. President Obama backed the Saudi invasion. Saudi Arabia backed an Islamist revolt in the Yemen. It funds madrassas in Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, southern Thailand and Afghanistan. It is the paymaster of Islamist terrorism around the world. Its fronts include the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, the International Islamic Relief Organisation and the Muslim World League. The USA thinks that its interests, and Israel’s, are best served by a pact with Saudi Arabia. So Obama backs all the Saudi counter-revolutions, supports the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and backed the Al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Libya. Bradley notes, “Syria, the only ostensibly secular Arab country apart from Tunisia, was ruled by a minority Shia cult, and there, too, the Sunni fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood was ready to pounce.” In this, the only remaining secular Arab country, the USA and Britain back the Islamist, Al-Qaeda-linked, Saudi-backed rebels trying to overthrow the government by force. Bradley concludes, “Socially and economically, the Arab Spring has put back countries like Tunisia, Yemen, and Syria by decades.”