In This Review

The New Arab Wars: Uprisings and Anarchy in the Middle East
The New Arab Wars: Uprisings and Anarchy in the Middle East
By Marc Lynch
304 pp, PublicAffairs, 2016

Lynch, a prolific and keen observer of the Arab world, has written the leading title in what amounts to a second wave of analyses of the Arab revolts of 2010–11, focusing on what went wrong. In his view, the cautious policies of the Obama administration were not to blame. Rather, the problem was Washington’s traditional allies in the region: Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states. In particular, Lynch casts Qatar and the United Arab Emirates as mice that roared, arming proxies in conflicts that have reduced Libya, Syria, and Yemen to figurative and actual rubble. Although Lynch posits that domestic politics have tended to determine outcomes since the revolts, his analysis in fact places a great deal of importance on the interventions launched by these two tiny (but rich) countries. His case would be more persuasive if he offered additional details about the flow of financial support from these states to their proxies in Libya and Syria. Looking to the future, Lynch sees reasons for both optimism and pessimism. There will be more waves of Arab discontent, but the United States will put itself steadfastly on the wrong side of history by backing its autocratic allies.