Join getAbstract to access the summary!

The New Arab Wars

Join getAbstract to access the summary!

The New Arab Wars

Uprisings and Anarchy in the Middle East

Public Affairs,

15 min read
9 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

The United States should stand off in the Middle East and find partners committed to democratic reform.

Editorial Rating



  • Controversial
  • Analytical
  • Eye Opening


Political science professor Marc Lynch chronicles 2012 to 2016 – as the Arab Spring soured to Arab winter. He partially defends Barack Obama’s administration, criticized for Middle East timidity. Lynch could have offered more policy prescriptions, but he says the region needs an end to autocrats more than it needs new policies. He draws a pessimistic future of declining economies, falling oil prices, political instability and proxy wars. He says the United States should keep retrenching and seek reform partners. Academics and those with regional interests, in particular, will find this food for thought. 


Autocracy is the core cause of violence and extremism in the Arab Middle East.

The Arab Spring that unfolded with such promise in 2010 began with millions of protesters in dozens of countries appearing almost at the same time. The protesters did not share class or ideology, but rather a common conviction that they could — peacefully — bring about democratic reform, share power with moderate Islamists and together recast the Arab world. This transformational moment was inherently transnational. As a popular tweet said, “Injustice is injustice whether in Bahrain or Libya or Syria.”

Mobilization, broadcast through the bullhorn of Al Jazeera, first ignited in Tunisia and Egypt. Then it hit Libya, where NATO airpower took several months to subdue Qaddafi’s forces. When rebels finally killed Qaddafi in October 2011, hope grew that a long history of despotism was over. But even then, democratic elections couldn’t create a foothold for progressive change. In September 2012, the militia Ansari al-Sharia Libya overran the United States consulate in Benghazi, killing the ambassador and three others.&#...

About the Author

George Washington University political science professor Marc Lynch has written three books about Arab politics and is a contributing editor to The Washington Post’s academic blog, Monkey Cage.

Comment on this summary

More on this topic

By the same author


    Customers who read this summary also read