"Any way the wind blows" - Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody
I just finished reading Noah Feldman’s book, ‘The Arab Winter: A Tragedy’. A very interesting read reflecting on the results of the Arab Spring. With the exception of Tunisia (though at this point even that could be reviewed), the book concludes, the result has been (renewed) dictatorship, civil war, extremist terror, and at times all three. A sobering and depressing analysis. Yet the book does note that for the first time in modern history the Arabic-speaking people to real free and collective political action. So even if the results may not be what was hoped for, it probably is an important political development.
For me – not following the events in great detail – it was a good way to catch up. Not only on the events but also with a bit of a meta-perspective. Last summer the Economist magazine had a special on the ‘Arab World’. It’s opening article, ‘A misshapen square’ (referring to Cairo’s Tahrir Square which was at the heart of its 2011 revolution against Mubarak) concludes that Arab states suffer of ‘external weakness’, ‘internal brittleness’, and a ‘crisis of identity’. The states and their economies cannot deliver the economic growth needed, the rulers lack legitimacy, and the ‘death’ of Arab nationalism has left a gaping hole. Feldman’s analysis of ISIS as a ‘utopian’ (but of course extreme nihilistic and Islamist) movement is interesting in this perspective. An interesting and important region to keep an eye on, both from a European and African perspective.
19.03.2022, Brussels, Belgium.
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Online encampment of A. S. Barry. Disparate and not-so-disparate thoughts on international relations, development, writing, and life.