Peering Ahead in the Middle East

Summary: Tenth chapter of new Arab Digest / Global Policy Journal E-book considers the breakdown of the old order in the region, takes a bold look at the future and concludes with some advice for western policymakers.

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  1. The author of “Peering ahead in the Middle East” writes that ” Arabs do not in general see themselves as part of national states, particularly if the state fails to deliver basic needs and suppresses all opposition. Egypt is the principal exception to this rule.” Fifty years of engagement with the Maghreb is that the overwhelming majority of citizens of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia see themselves as part of their national states however much their media and politicians may go on about the Umma. Some observers did see the Arab Spring coming: just read Gilbert Achcar’s The People Want (Saqi 2013) and he was far from alone. That the West in general and the US in particular were “convinced, after 9/11 that if governments they considered hostile, corrupt and fossilized were removed, then the people of these countries would be liberated and would welcome the imposition of western systems” is no doubt true. Some seasoned observers had not forgotten what happened in Algeria in 1998-1992. Had their memories not been so short, they would have been less naive – or just plain stupid.

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