Middle East in 2013: Promise and (Lots of) Peril

Published: 
December 18, 2012
By: 
Robin Wright and Garrett Nada

A new peace brief by Robin Wright and Garrett Nada provides an overview of four “Arab Spring” uprisings and a look ahead to the challenges of 2013.

Summary

  • The Middle East faces even bigger challenges in 2013 than it did during the first two years of the so-called Arab Spring. So far—a pivotal caveat—the Arab uprisings have deepened the political divide, worsened economic woes and produced greater insecurity. Solutions are not imminent either.
  • More than 120 million people in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen have experienced successful uprisings that ousted four leaders who together ruled a total of 129 years. But more than half of the Arab world’s 350 million people have yet to witness any real change at all.
  • Defining a new order has proven far harder than ousting old autocrats. Phase one was creating conditions for democracy. Phase two is a kind of democratic chaos as dozens of parties in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia do political battle (and in some cases physical battle) over constitutions.
  • Ancien regimes have not totally given up, as in Yemen. The cost of change has exceeded even the highest estimates, as in Syria. So most Arabs are probably disappointed with the “Arab Spring” for one of many reasons.
  • Nevertheless the uprisings were never going to happen in one season. This is instead only the beginning of a decades-long process—as most in the West should know from their own experiences.

About This Brief

This peace brief provides an overview of four “Arab Spring” uprisings and a look ahead to the challenges of 2013. It was co-authored by Robin Wright, author of “Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World” and a distinguished scholar at both the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Garrett Nada, a program assistant at USIP’s Center for Conflict Management. Wright blogs at http://robinwrightblog.blogspot.com and tweets at @wrightr

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December 18, 2012
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