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  • Author: Fouad Ajami
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Throughout 2011, a rhythmic chant echoed across the Arab lands: "The people want to topple the regime." It skipped borders with ease, carried in newspapers and magazines, on Twitter and Facebook, on the airwaves of al Jazeera and al Arabiya. Arab nationalism had been written off, but here, in full bloom, was what certainly looked like a pan-Arab awakening. Young people in search of political freedom and economic opportunity, weary of waking up to the same tedium day after day, rose up against their sclerotic masters.
  • Topic: Economics, Oil
  • Political Geography: America, Europe, Arabia
  • Author: Lisa Anderson
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: In Tunisia, protesters escalated calls for the restoration of the country's suspended constitution. Meanwhile, Egyptians rose in revolt as strikes across the country brought daily life to a halt and toppled the government. In Libya, provincial leaders worked feverishly to strengthen their newly independent republic. It was 1919. That year's events demonstrate that the global diffusion of information and expectations -- so vividly on display in Tahrir Square this past winter -- is not a result of the Internet and social media. The inspirational rhetoric of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points speech, which helped spark the 1919 upheavals, made its way around the world by telegraph. The uprisings of 1919 also suggest that the calculated spread of popular movements, seen across the Arab world last winter, is not a new phenomenon. The Egyptian Facebook campaigners are the modern incarnation of Arab nationalist networks whose broadsheets disseminated strategies for civil disobedience throughout the region in the years after World War I. The important story about the 2011 Arab revolts in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya is not how the globalization of the norms of civic engagement shaped the protesters' aspirations. Nor is it about how activists used technology to share ideas and tactics. Instead, the critical issue is how and why these ambitions and techniques resonated in their various local contexts. The patterns and demographics of the protests varied widely. The demonstrations in Tunisia spiraled toward the capital from the neglected rural areas, finding common cause with a once powerful but much repressed labor movement. In Egypt, by contrast, urbane and cosmopolitan young people in the major cities organized the uprisings. Meanwhile, in Libya, ragtag bands of armed rebels in the eastern provinces ignited the protests, revealing the tribal and regional cleavages that have beset the country for decades. Although they shared a common call for personal dignity and responsive government, the revolutions across these three countries reflected divergent economic grievances and social dynamics -- legacies of their diverse encounters with modern Europe and decades under unique regimes.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Libya, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Daniel Byman
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: On December 17, Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor, set himself on fire to protest police harassment. His death incited unrest throughout Tunisia; less than a month later, protests toppled Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. Egypt, the most populous and influential country in the Arab world, soon followed suit. Al Qaeda met both these dramatic events with near silence. Only in mid-February did Osama bin Laden's Egyptian deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, officer comments. But even then, he did not directly address the revolutions or explain how jihadists should respond. Instead, he claimed that the Tunisian revolution occurred "against the agent of America and France," gamely trying to transform Tunisians' fight against corruption and repression into a victory for anti-Western jihadists. On Egypt, Zawahiri offered a rambling history lesson, ranging from Napoleon to the tyranny of the Mubarak government. He released his statement on Egypt on February 18, a week after Hosni Mubarak resigned, and offered little guidance to potential followers on how they should view the revolution or react to it. U.S. politicians are moving quickly to claim the revolutions and al Qaeda's muted response as victories in the struggle against terrorism. "This revolution is a repudiation of al Qaeda," declared Senator John McCain during a visit to Cairo on February 27. And indeed, looking out from bin Laden's cave, the Arab world looks less promising than it did only a few months ago. Although bin Laden and al Qaeda have been attempting to overthrow Arab governments for more than 20 years, the toppling of the seemingly solid dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt caught them flat-footed and undermined their message of violent jihad. Nevertheless, al Qaeda and its allies could ultimately benefit from the unrest. For now, al Qaeda has greater operational freedom of action, and bin Laden and his allies will seek to exploit any further unrest in the months and years to come.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: F. Gregory Gause III
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The vast majority of academic specialists on the Arab world were as surprised as everyone else by the upheavals that toppled two Arab leaders last winter and that now threaten several others. It was clear that Arab regimes were deeply unpopular and faced serious demographic, economic, and political problems. Yet many academics focused on explaining what they saw as the most interesting and anomalous aspect of Arab politics: the persistence of undemocratic rulers. Until this year, the Arab world boasted a long list of such leaders. Muammar al-Qaddafi took charge of Libya in 1969; the Assad family has ruled Syria since 1970; Ali Abdullah Saleh became president of North Yemen (later united with South Yemen) in 1978; Hosni Mubarak took charge of Egypt in 1981; and Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali ascended to Tunisia's presidency in 1987. The monarchies enjoyed even longer pedigrees, with the Hashemites running Jordan since its creation in 1920, the al-Saud family ruling a unified Saudi Arabia since 1932, and the Alaouite dynasty in Morocco first coming to power in the seventeenth century. These regimes survived over a period of decades in which democratic waves rolled through East Asia, eastern Europe, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa. Even the Arab countries' neighbors in the Muslim Middle East (Iran and Turkey) experienced enormous political change in that period, with a revolution and three subsequent decades of political struggle in Iran and a quasi-Islamist party building a more open and democratic system in secular Turkey.
  • Political Geography: America, Europe, Turkey, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Dalia Dassa Kaye, Frederic M. Wehrey, Michael Scott Doran
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: READING THE NEW MIDDLE EAST MAP Dalia Dassa Kaye and Frederic Wehrey With long-standing U.S. allies toppled or under pressure from unprecedented dissent across the Arab world, Michael Doran, in "The Heirs of Nasser" (May/June 2011), warns that Iran is poised to walk away from the Arab Spring a winner. In his view, the chaotic Arab political scene will allow Iran and its radical allies -- Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syria -- to stoke public frustration over unmet expectations or engage in subversive provocations, thereby embroiling new regimes in the region's old conflicts. In previous periods of regional upheaval, revolutionaries such as Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser employed this strategy at the expense of U.S. and Western interests. Nasser played the Israel card to goad his Western-backed rivals into war, while exhorting their publics to rebel. Why, Doran argues, should one expect any less from Iran and its allies today? Certainly, the regional shakeup will give Iran and its allies much to prey on. The Arab world's secular, liberal youth movements, often hobbled by a lack of organization and leadership, will compete with long-established parties with starkly different views of the future, be they remnants of the old regimes or Islamist forces. The region's new governments will confront economic challenges that will limit their ability to meet the expectations of a youthful and increasingly impatient public. Meanwhile, the continued Israeli-Palestinian stalemate offers further ammunition for rejectionist forces to reinvigorate the region's tired scapegoats, redirecting the conversation away from talk about the failure of domestic governance. The United States' inconsistent policies toward the Arab revolts (for example, the varying U.S. responses to Bahrain and Libya) offer more fodder for Iran's resistance narrative. Still, although Iran and its allies will attempt to seize on these vulnerabilities to widen the gap between ruler and ruled, they are unlikely to achieve the success of Nasser. In fact, the political upheaval in the Arab world has led to at least three fundamental shifts in the regional order that have only sharpened the preexisting limitations of Iranian influence.
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: William McCants
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: On 9/11, the global jihadist movement burst into the world's consciousness, but a decade later, thanks in part to the Arab Spring and the killing of Osama bin Laden, it is in crisis. With Western-backed dictators falling, al Qaeda might seem closer than ever to its goal of building Islamic states. But the revolutions have empowered the group's chief rivals instead: Islamist parliamentarians, who are willing to use ballots, not bombs.
  • Topic: Cold War, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, Soviet Union, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Elliott Abrams, Oded Naaman, Mikhael Manekin
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: A HEALTHY OBSESSION Oded Naaman and Mikhael Manekin In "The Settlement Obsession" (July/ August 2011), Elliott Abrams argues:  In the end, Israel will withdraw from most of the West Bank and remain only in the major blocs where hundreds of thousands of Israelis now live. Israelis will live in a democratic state where Jews are the majority, and Palestinians will live in a state -- democratic, one hopes -- with an Arab Muslim majority. The remaining questions are how quickly or slowly that end will be reached and how to get there with minimal violence. For Abrams, there can be no other end; all that politics can do is postpone this end or bring it about. Although it would be preferable to end the conflict as soon as possible, there is no immediate need to do so. Any sense of immediacy, Abrams writes, is overblown: he claims that nongovernmental organizations and some in the international community unjustly point to a humanitarian crisis to create unwarranted urgency. In reviewing our book, Occupation of the Territories, Abrams attempts to assuage worries about the need for urgent action, going so far as to compare Israel's military behavior during its 45-year occupation of the West Bank -- in which Israel has expropriated land, seized natural resources, and settled its own population there -- to the United States' behavior during in its ten-year occupation and massive reconstruction of Germany after World War II. Abrams then implies that Breaking the Silence does not provide reliable or sufficient evidence for the claim that, in his words, "the presence of Israeli settlers and IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers in the West Bank is laying waste to the area, reducing it to misery."
  • Topic: Government, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Germany
  • Author: Ehud Yaari
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: More than 16 years after the euphoria of the Oslo accords, the Israelis and the Palestinians have still not reached a final-status peace agreement. Indeed, the last decade has been dominated by setbacks -- the second intifada, which started in September 2000; Hamas' victory in the January 2006 Palestinian legislative elections; and then its military takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007 -- all of which have aggravated the conflict.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Bernard Lewis
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The future of the Arab world will depend on the outcome of a battle between those advocating Islamic theocracy and those seeking to establish liberal democracy.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Arabia
  • Author: Stephanie London, David Anthony Abruzzi
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Foreign Affairs
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: To the Editor: L. Carl Brown begins his review of Lords of the Land ("Recent Books on International Relations," January/February 2008) this way: "After the Six-Day War, Israel could have negotiated a restoration of the territories conquered in return for a definitive peace settlement with its Arab neighbors." Really? When was that? Was that before or after the Khartoum resolution of September 1, 1967, when eight Arab heads of state committed themselves to "no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it"? Even after the intervening years, there is still no Arab consensus for peace with Israel as a Jewish state.
  • Political Geography: Israel, Arabia