A BBC journalist makes a cogent prognosis for the post-revolutionary Arab world.
As the dust continues to settle after the Arab Spring, former Middle East bureau chief Danahar sifts through the chaos for some order and even hope after dictators fall and a new configuration of religion and politics takes root. The author, present at many of the recent events in Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Israel and Syria, walks readers through the region-altering revolutions since President George W. Bush’s “freedom agenda” forced the first dictator to topple in Iraq 10 years ago. The American occupation created a cataclysmic meddling of the power balance between Shia and Sunni factions, forcing a sectarian lawlessness that no one wants repeated in Syria. Indeed, one of the biggest lessons was that, in the words of the Arab American Institute’s Dr. James Zogby, “America’s leverage is much less than it was ten years ago.” As the fed-up young populaces of other Arab countries began demanding the end of dictatorships, America had to stand back and watch, whether it liked the outcome or not. The Arabs are wrestling with what they want their countries to look like: religious states or democracies? In Israel, too, which Danahar notes must stop regarding itself as a European spa and grasp its pivotal Middle Eastern role, the secular versus the religious is playing out in deeply divisive ways. In Libya, the author finds the idea of a “Year Zero,” which offers a “clean slate” to the Libyan people and much cause for optimism. However, in blood-soaked Syria, where the government barbarity against its citizens is viewed live worldwide, the people have similarly learned the terrible lesson that “there will be no foreign cavalry coming over the horizon.” Danahar’s analysis of this new configuration of power and principle is well-reasoned and useful.
A sober and sane but not pessimistic look at what may emerge from the current Arab crises.