In This Review

The Arab Revolution: Ten Lessons from the Democratic Uprising
The Arab Revolution: Ten Lessons from the Democratic Uprising
By Jean-Pierre Filiu
Oxford University Press, USA, 2011, 208 pp

Filiu has produced an annotated chronology of the Arab uprisings that began in late 2010, based on the evidence available as of May 2011. It is an optimistic rendering, predicting the end of Arab presidents for life. He believes Islamists and jihadists were wrong-footed by the revolts, alluding to “the irrelevance of the Islamic factor” -- a conclusion that recent events call into question. Nevertheless, he rightly emphasizes the role of the youth bulge and high levels of unemployment in the Arab world, and he highlights the role of organized labor in launching the protests in Egypt and Tunisia. He concludes that the uprisings signaled a “tide” of an Arab democratic renaissance. Although he predicts temporary reversals, he does not see that tide ebbing in the near term. Unfortunately, Filiu makes almost no effort to situate his analysis in the broader literature on authoritarianism and democratic transitions. Thus, although he claims to reject the notion of Arab exceptionalism, he nevertheless treats the Arab world as somehow sui generis.