In 2011, the political trajectories of many Arab states appeared to converge as protesters across the region revolted against corruption and authoritarianism, demanding dignity and acknowledgement of their basic rights, writes Intissar Fakir, editor in chief of Sada. Yet since that time five years ago, not only has the optimism of the moment faded, but post-revolutionary Arab states have proceeded along diverse paths. This has brought—in varying forms—chaos, unpredictability, stagnation, and perhaps progress. These divergences present challenges for governments, political parties, the private sector, and civil society in the Middle East, as well as for policymakers in the West.
Increasingly, the “Arab Spring” is becoming shorthand for failure, disappointment, disillusionment, or fear in policy circles. But rather than allowing the last five years to become a cohesive, historical footnote in our broader understanding of the region and where it is heading, now more than ever there is a need for granular analyses that reject simplification and embrace painful complexity….
Algeria, though it escaped the tumult of 2011, stands at a crossroads, with an uncertain leadership transition ahead amid sharply declining government revenues due to lower oil prices. Morocco’s tentative reforms and the rise of popular politics show clear signs of influence from the same trends that grew out of 2011. Similarly, Jordan is attempting to balance reforms and stability while government after government falls short of addressing pressing social and economic needs. Libya has continued to see central authority and state capacity fracture as multilayered conflicts continue in the wake of the initial 2011 war. Lebanon has struggled to inoculate itself from the extreme warfare and explosive politics that have ravaged neighboring Syria.
Sada’s first eBook, The Middle East Unbalanced, draws on the extensive research and fieldwork of young authors with connections to the region to provide unique insights into a breadth of challenges and issues in an array of Arab countries.