In This Review

A Tale of Four Worlds: The Arab Region After the Uprisings
A Tale of Four Worlds: The Arab Region After the Uprisings
By David Ottaway and Marina Ottaway
Hurst, 2019, 240 pp

The 2010–11 Arab uprisings undid an older order. Ottaway and Ottaway bring unrivaled cumulative experience to the analysis of a region they divide into four parts: the “non-states” in the Levant (Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria); an authoritarian Egypt; the bustling emirates of the Gulf (poorly led by Saudi Arabia); and Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia, the three Maghreb states that are drifting away from the Arab world and toward sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. The region’s newly fragmented configuration invites intervention from Iran, Russia, Turkey, and the United States. Curiously, the authors barely mention Israel, which is heavily involved in Lebanon and Syria. The Arab uprisings precipitated the greater entry of Islamic organizations into formal politics. This shift has gone furthest in the Maghreb, where Islamists have participated in elections and in governments. The authors contend that “an antecedent phase of authoritarian state-building” is a prerequisite for any kind of more liberal political opening. Nevertheless, in their analysis, only the countries in the Gulf (not including Saudi Arabia), plus Morocco and Tunisia, are poised to move toward greater democratic freedoms.