The Arab Uprisings What Everyone Needs to Know®

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2012-03-06
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
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Beginning in December 2010 popular revolt swept through the Middle East, shocking the world and ushering in a period of unprecedented unrest. Protestors took to the streets to demand greater freedom, democracy, human rights, social justice, and regime change. What caused these uprisings? What is their significance? And what are their likely consequences? In an engaging question-and-answer format,The Arab Uprisingsexplores all aspects of the revolutionary protests that have rocked the Middle East. Historian James Gelvin begins with an overview--What sparked the Arab uprisings? Where did the demands for democracy and human rights come from? How appropriate is the phrase "Arab Spring"?--before turning to specific countries around the region. He looks at such topics as the role of youth, labor, and religious groups in Tunisia and Egypt and discusses why the military turned against rulers in both countries. Exploring the uprisings in Libya and Yemen, Gelvin explains why these two states are considered "weak," why that status is important for understanding the upheavals there, and why outside powers intervened in Libya but not in Yemen. Next, Gelvin compares two cases that defied expectations: Algeria, which experts assumed would experience a major upheaval after Egypt's, and Syria, which experts failed to foresee. He then looks at the monarchies of Morocco, Jordan, and the Gulf, exploring the commonalities and differences of protest movements in each. The final chapter discusses the implications of the uprisings. What do they mean for the United States? For Iran? Has al-Qaeda been strengthened or weakened? What effects have the uprisings had on the Israel-Palestine conflict? What conclusions might we draw from the uprisings so far? For anyone wishing to understand the dramatic events in the Middle East,The Arab Uprisingsis the place to turn.

Author Biography

James L. Gelvin is Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of The Modern Middle East: A History and The Israel-Palestine Conflict: One Hundred Years of War.

Table of Contents

A Revolutionary Wave?p. 1
What is the Arab world?p. 1
How homogeneous is the Arab world?p. 1
Why do Arabs identify with one another?p. 2
What was political life in the Arab world like on the eve of the uprisings?p. 4
Why have authoritarian governments been so common in the Arab world?p. 7
What was the state of the economy in the Arab world on the eve of the uprisings?p. 10
What benefits did Arab regimes originally promise their populations?p. 12
Why and how did Arab regimes renege on the promises they had made to their populations?p. 16
How did the demography of the Arab states make them vulnerable to uprisings?p. 19
How did a food crisis make Arab states vulnerable to uprisings?p. 21
Why did populations wanting change in the Arab world have to take to the streets?p. 23
Can we pinpoint the factors that caused the uprisings?p. 24
What was the spark that ignited the Arab uprisings?p. 26
Where did the demands for democracy and human rights come from?p. 28
How appropriate is the word wave to describe the spread of protests throughout the Arab world?p. 30
Where did the phrase "Arab Spring" come from, and how appropriate is it to describe events in the Arab world?p. 32
The Beginning: Tunisia and Egyptp. 34
What characteristics do Tunisia and Egypt hold in common?p. 34
How entrenched were the autocracies ruling Tunisia and Egypt?p. 37
Were there political parties in Tunisia and Egypt?p. 38
How did the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt attempt to control their populations?p. 39
How widespread was corruption in Tunisia and Egypt?p. 40
How did the Tunisian uprising play out?p. 42
Was the uprising in Egypt like that of Tunisia?p. 44
What did protest leaders in Egypt learn from earlier protests there?p. 47
Why was one of the group that organized the January 25 protests called "We are all Khaled Said"?p. 49
What was the role of social media in the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings?p. 50
Who led the Egyptian uprising in Cairo?p. 52
Why did the Tahrir Square protesters and others adopt the tactic of nonviolent resistance?p. 53
What was the role of labor in the two uprisings?p. 55
What was the role of Islamic groups in the two uprisings?p. 57
Why did the armies in Tunisia and Egypt refuse to put down the uprisings?p. 60
What changes did the uprising in Tunisia bring about?p. 63
What changes did the uprising in Egypt bring about?p. 64
What are the ten greatest myths about the Egyptian uprising?p. 66
Uprisings in Weak States: Yemen and Libyap. 67
What did the political systems of Yemen and Libya have in common before the uprisings?p. 67
What was political life in Yemen like before the uprising there?p. 67
What was political life in Libya like before the uprising there?p. 70
Why do political scientists consider Yemen and Libya "weak states"?p. 73
Why is the fact that Yemen and Libya are weak states important for understanding the uprisings there?p. 77
What role have tribes played in Yemen and Libya?p. 77
How did the uprising in Yemen evolve?p. 78
How did the uprising in Libya begin?p. 80
Was Qaddafi crazy, or crazy like a fox?p. 82
Why did the uprisings in Yemen and Libya turn violent?p. 83
Who were the "rebels" in Libya?p. 84
Why did outside powers intervene directly in Libya and not in Yemen?p. 85
What is "R2P"?p. 88
Why is al-Qaeda in Yemen?p. 89
What are the fissures in Yemen and Libya that might divide them in the future?p. 90
Two Surprises: Algeria and Syriap. 93
Why did events in Algeria and Syria surprise most experts?p. 93
Why did observers believe that after Tunisia, Algeria would be next?p. 93
What were the Algerian protests of early 2011 like?p. 97
Why did the results of the uprising in Algeria differ from those in Tunisia and Egypt?p. 98
Did Algeria ever experience a pro-democracy uprising?p. 99
Why was the Syrian uprising a surprise?p. 100
How did the uprising in Syria begin?p. 103
How has the Syrian regime responded to the uprising?p. 104
What made the Syrian regime vulnerable?p. 106
What made the Syrian regime so resilient?p. 109
Who is the opposition in Syria?p. 111
Why have foreign powers treated Bashar al-Assad with kid gloves?p. 115
What would happen to the Syrian alliance with Iran should Bashar al-Assad's regime fall?p. 117
The Monarchiesp. 119
Why are there so many monarchies in the Arab world?p. 119
Why did Morocco retain its king?p. 121
How did the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan come to be?p. 122
What was the origin of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?p. 122
What was the British role in creating Gulf monarchies?p. 123
Why have so many monarchies in the Arab world endured?p. 125
How has oil affected the stability of Arab monarchies?p. 126
How have ethnic and sectarian divisions affected the stability of Arab monarchies?p. 128
Does monarchical rule inhibit development of political institutions?p. 131
What were the demands of protesters in the Arab monarchies?p. 132
Who were the protesters in the Arab monarchies?p. 133
How did Arab monarchs react to protests?p. 133
How did the uprising in Bahrain differ from uprisings in other monarchies?p. 135
How have the uprisings transformed the Gulf Cooperation Council?p. 138
What might Bahrain's experience with a "national dialogue" tell us about future national dialogues in the Arab world?p. 139
Stepping Backp. 141
Was George W. Bush right?p. 141
How did the United States come up with its policy toward the uprisings?p. 143
Whatever happened to Iraq?p. 145
Have the uprisings strengthened or weakened al-Qaeda?p. 147
What was the state of the Israel-Palestine conflict at the time of the first uprisings?p. 150
What effects have the uprisings had on the Israel-Palestine conflict so far?p. 150
How has Iran greeted the uprisings?p. 153
What can history tell us about "revolutionary waves"?p. 155
When will we be able to judge the significance of the Arab uprisings?p. 156
What conclusions might we draw from the uprisings so far?p. 157
Notesp. 159
Further Readingp. 165
Websitesp. 167
Indexp. 169
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