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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.
A Foreign Policy "Book to Read in 2012"
Robin Wright, author of Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion across the Islamic World"A wonderfully thoughtful book that captures a truly historic juncture in the Arab world. By chronicling the first volatile year of the Arab uprisings, Lynch has provided the essential guide to understanding what happens next - both for the participants living through it and for the anxious outside world surprised by the passions unleashed."
Colin Kahl, Associate Professor, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East"The extraordinary events associated with the Arab Spring have produced a chaotic mix of transitioning democracies, reactionary autocracies, and civil strife. But, as Marc Lynch explains in his brilliant new book, The Arab Uprising, regardless of the fate of individual rulers or the course of particular movements, the nature of politics in the Arab world has been forever transformed. A new generation has leveraged 21st-century technologies and tapped into a sense of interconnectedness and common identity to obliterate the old order. Nobody is better suited to navigate the reader through these turbulent waters than Lynch, one of the world's top Middle East scholars and a pioneer in the study of new media and social activism in the Arab world. Lynch has produced the most comprehensive and balanced account yet written of the origins and implications of the changes currently sweeping this vital region. The Arab Uprising promises to remain essential reading on the subject for years to come." Anne-Marie Slaughter“If you read only one book about the uprisings sweeping the Arab world, it should be this one. Marc Lynch coined the term “the Arab public sphere” a decade before anyone in the West knew it existed and has been an active observer of and participant in it ever since. He chronicles decades of Arab protests, pan-Arabism, and Arab government repression to provide vital context for present events and draws on his deep country-by-country expertise to map future challenges for American foreign policy across the Arab world.” Kirkus"[Lynch] who has been following recent events closely...reexamines important precedents in mass uprisings that took place in convulsive waves during the Arab Cold War of the 1950s, and were brutally suppressed....[he] also examines the key role initially played by the Al-Jazeera network in coverage of the Tunisia uprising, keenly watched by the Egyptians in convincing them their own efforts could be successful....A timely survey of complex historical and current events."
“A nuanced, insightful analysis of the Arab insurrections, with ample historical context . In this thought-provoking book, Lynch earns his right to implore U.S. citizens to trust Middle Eastern countries to reshape their political space.”
“Lynch, a political scientist and advisor to the Obama administration, analyzes the recent and ongoing political changes taking place in the Middle East and ventures some predictions about what may come .Timely, informative, and recommended for current events and regional history collections.”
Al-Ghad (Jordan)“One of the most profound books about the nature of the transformations under way, of the consciousness of the public squares and the new popular anger in today's Arab world.”
“Of all the books on the extraordinary events of the past 15 months, this is one of the most illuminating and, for policymakers, the most challenging.”
“informed and engaging”
Washington Monthly“Lynch has written a clear-eyed, highly readable guide to the forces in the region that gave rise to the Arab uprisings and the very real challenges they present for the U.S. Indispensably, he presents the material in a way that is neither excessively romantic about democracy’s chances nor excessively fearful about the greater role Islamists will no doubt play in a newly empowered Arab public square.” Madawi al-Rasheed, Middle Eastern Studies
“The Arab Uprising is a joy to read. It should appeal to a non-specialist audience looking for a nuanced and short but engaging narrative of the ongoing Arab revolts without descending into obscure academic jargon. This is definitely not a book written for those seeking a serious analysis of individual uprisings, or theoretical academic accounts on the underlying causes of revolutions. It will be several years before such sophisticated monographs will emerge. For scope and depth, as well as the empathy he imbues in the book, Lynch remains within the unusual bracket of scholars who possess a genuine concern, not only for his own state’s national interest, but also for those who have been sacrificed for it."
Middle East Journal“The Arab Uprising is a superb book. If you are able to read only one account of the Arab spring, this should be it.”
The Nation“It is this shortage of well-informed writing based on a grasp of the recent history of the Arab world that gives such great value to The Arab Uprising: The Unfinished Revolutions of the New Middle East, by Marc Lynch, an associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University and a frequent contributor to Foreign Policy. Published earlier this year, The Arab Uprising is much the best book on the origins and course of the protests and uprisings up to the end of 2011. It is a measure of Lynch’s perception and knowledge that nothing important has happened in Syria, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and Tunisia since he finished his book that could show his judgment of developments in these countries to be at fault."
AMERICA Magazine“Marc Lynch, a professor of political science at George Washington University, has written one of the best books to date on the popular revolts that have swept the Arab world over the past two years. The Arab Uprising is a very readable overview of these remarkable events, suitable both for those with background in Middle Eastern politics as well as those less familiar with the region.
offers an incisive policy analysis, based partly on his access to the Obama administration. A well-known blogger and author of the well-regarded Voices of the New Arab Public
Lynch is an excellent guide to the most important development in the 21st-century Middle East: the Arab Spring of 2011.”
Chapter 1 The Arab Uprisings 7
Chapter 2 The Arab Cold War 29
Chapter 3 Building Toward Revolution 43
Chapter 4 A New Hope 67
Chapter 5 The Tidal Wave 101
Chapter 6 The Empire Strikes Back: The Counterrevolution 131
Chapter 7 Intervention and Civil War 161
Chapter 8 America's Challenge 193