A solid overview of the Arab revolutions, country by country, from the first nationalist stirrings of the 1950s that put the dictators in place to the snowballing events in recent years.
Dawisha (Political Science/Miami Univ., Ohio; Iraq: A Political History) lends his insight into recent upheavals in the Arab world prompted by the staggering oppression of the many by the venal, rich few that has gone on for far too long. There is a satisfying sense of fatal payback in the Baghdad-born author’s narrative of the spreading “virus of liberation” catching on from Tunis to Cairo to Tripoli and beyond. The people of these oppressed lands demanded greater political rights from their leaders and were not going to back down in 2011, thanks to greater numbers, social media and the inability of police forces to keep news of insurrection from spreading. Flooding the streets with security police and offering the people a few cosmetic reforms worked in some hot spots, such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Morocco, but the same tactics quickly led to the toppling of dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen. In Libya and Syria, however, the leaders did not hesitate to use shocking force against the demonstrators. While Gadhafi died by the same sword, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad continues to butcher his own people with impunity, convinced perversely that they love him. Dawisha steps back to examine Nasser’s role as galvanizer of the first Arab Revolution, tapping into the humiliation Arabs felt at Western imperialism by the mid-1950s—followed by the “predatory authoritarianism” of the young, idealistic leaders who took the helms and were never really interested in “freedom.”
A knowledgeable survey for students and a glimpse into what the Islamist future might offer.