The Arab Uprising: The Unfinished Revolutions of the New Middle East; The Invisible Arab: The Promise and Peril of the Arab Revolutions

In This Review

The Arab Uprising: The Unfinished Revolutions of the New Middle East
By Marc Lynch
PublicAffairs, 2012
288 pp. $26.99
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The Invisible Arab: The Promise and Peril of the Arab Revolutions
By Marwan Bishara
Nation Books, 2012
272 pp. $26.00
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Lynch, an Arabist and blogger, and Bishara, a political analyst at Al Jazeera English, have both written informed and engaging accounts of the uprisings that have brought down four regimes (in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen), been resisted by two others (in Bahrain and Syria), and shaken the entire Arab world. Both books perceptively analyze the interrelatedness of these developments and the coinciding events in Algeria, Iraq, Sudan, and non-Arab states such as Turkey. Lynch and Bishara are in broad agreement about the causes and consequences of the uprisings (the brittleness of security states led by all-in-the-family presidential monarchies), the vital role played by youth in the revolutionary movements, the significance of the delayed participation of Islamists, the impact of new media technologies, and the continuing importance of Arab and Muslim perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They differ in appraising the United States’ role. Although they share scorn for the Bush administration’s approach to the Middle East, Lynch sees the Obama administration’s response to the so-called Arab Spring as rapid and effective, whereas Bishara concludes that Barack Obama “has lacked any discernible policy.”

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