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The New Middle East: protest and revolution in the Arab world

Fawaz Gerges (ed)
Cambridge University Press (21 January 2014)

When the Arab Spring uprisings first broke out in 2010, their sheer scale was staggering. From Tunisia to Egypt to Libya to Syria, millions of hopeful Arabs defied fear and violence to call for bread, freedom, social justice, and more representative and egalitarian political and economic systems. Now that a few years have passed, such hope remains but the reality is complicated: Political, ideological, and sectarian divisions obstruct progress, and many still live in abject poverty. Although the Arab uprisings of 2010-12 were undoubtedly a watershed event, clearly much work and struggle remain.

The New Middle East, edited by Fawaz A Gerges, is the first comprehensive and interdisciplinary study to examine the causes, drivers, and effects of the events of the Arab Spring on the internal, regional, and international politics of the Middle East and North Africa. Gerges and his team of leading scholars investigate specific conditions, but also highlight broader connections between individual case studies and systemic conditions throughout the Arab world, which include the crisis of political authority, the failure of economic development, and new genres of mobilisation and activism, especially communication technology and youth movements. Last but not least, they also reflect on the prospects for democratic change in individual states and in the region as a whole.

Best known as an expert on Middle East politics and the author of many books including The Far Enemy: why jihad went global, Gerges leads a mix of well-established political scientists, political economists, social anthropologists, and historians. The specially-commissioned essays in this volume cover:

  • Common threads of protest, including dismal economic conditions and living standards, abject poverty, and corrupt political systems;
  • Women’s participation in protests;
  • The mobilisation of both the urban and rural poor;
  • Protests among youth and the role of agency;
  • Future challenges to progress, such as counterrevolutionary forces;
  • And many others.

"Far from over, this revolutionary moment is still unfolding before our eyes, an open-ended struggle that will play out in the coming years," says Gerges. "If history serves as a guide, revolutionary moments - as opposed to revolutions that swiftly overturn a society’s social, economic and political structure, all within a relative short time frame - will take time and space to produce a revolutionary outcome."

Rigorous and timely, The New Middle East assesses not only why the Arab Spring uprisings spread, but their impact in the years to come.

  • Fawaz A Gerges is a Professor of International Relations at LSE and holder of the Emirates Professorship in Contemporary Middle East Studies.

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The New Middle East