Democratic movements in the Middle East have the potential to mobilize a pan-Arab public both on local issues and transnational issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, argues Professor Marc Lynch in his book The Arab Uprising. Focusing largely on the events unfolding in 2011, Professor Lynch hails Al-Jazeera as a singular force pushing for mobilization across nation-state boundaries, while criticizing it as pushing, in the later stages, too much of Qatar’s foreign policy over its alleged reputation for unbiased news reporting. “Al-Jazeera has become a major weapon in Qatar’s arsenal, allowing that tiny state to play an outsized role in shaping the Arab agenda,” he writes. For example, “Al-Jazeera framed the Tunisian protest as a pan-Arab event and the fall of Ben Ali as an unmitigated good.” Continue reading
Both Egypt and Tunisia have looked to Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) as a model for the Arab Spring in their own states. In his recent book, Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, Andrew C. McCarthy condemns this outlook as “perverse.” “It is perverse to regard the Islamist AKP as a ‘model for the Arab Spring,’” he argues. “The main lesson of the Arab Spring is that the mirage of Islam as a moderating force hospitable to democratic transformation exists solely in our own minds, for our own consumption.” Continue reading
The United States and its allies are engaged in a tense and confusing intervention within Syria, where arms and aid are being sent to rebels whose loyalties are under question. As the Washington Post reported on February 23, “A surge of rebel advances in Syria is being fueled at least in part by an influx of heavy weaponry in a renewed effort by outside powers to arm moderates in the Free Syrian Army, according to Arab and rebel officials.” The Free Syrian Army works alongside Al Nusrah, a terrorist organization associated with Al Qaeda. Continue reading
It’s been nearly a year since the death of Osama bin Laden, and the American public has become accustomed to hearing about an al Qaeda no longer under his leadership, be it in Yemen, Mali, or elsewhere. However, even while bin Laden was in hiding, al Qaeda was dominated by his micromanagement skills, whether it was the decision not to institute Anwar al-Awlaki head of Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) or suggestions on how to avoid drone strikes.
In his book, Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden from 9/11 to Abbottabad, Peter L. Bergen argues that al Qaeda is in twilight and that its new leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, “is unlikely to turn things around” for this terrorist organization. Continue reading
The Arab Spring brought a chance for democratization and the toppling of repressive regimes. However, some remain cautious given the ascendance of Islamist movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
In an incisive article detailing Al Qaeda’s responses to the Arab Spring, Donald Holbrook outlines the opportunities that these revolutions have wrought for al Qaeda in Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, as well the chaos in Syria. Continue reading