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Articles of Interest Tagged Middle East

Op-Ed: The West and the Durability and Problems of Monarchies in the Arab Spring

December 2011 | Dr. W. Andrew Terrill

The regional response to the Arab Spring has alarmed a number of international observers because a variety of ugly governments are displaying their ugliest side. No civilized person condones the nature of Libyan leader Muhammar Qadhafi’s final hour, but equally no one doubts that he worked hard to earn such a fate. Likewise, in Syria and Yemen dictators are struggling to maintain power against waves of popular unrest and anger hoping to avoid the fate of their counterparts in Cairo, Tripoli, and Tunis. The Syrian regime is stronger than that in Yemen and continues to use unrelenting brutality because it can. The Yemeni president, by contrast, schemes and attempts to buy time. He kills demonstrators as well, but has no realistic chance of stamping out the rebellion by force as Damascus is attempting to do. Yet, the Arab World has monarchies as well as nonmonarchical authoritarian regimes, and it is worth considering the less violent ways in which the majority of these countries are coping with revolutionary upheaval. (Continue reading...)

The Arab Spring and the Future of U.S. Interests and Cooperative Security in the Arab World

August 2011 | Dr. W. Andrew Terrill

Map of the middle eastThe Arab Spring is an ongoing and deeply significant process occurring in the contemporary Middle East that will have important implications for the United States government. In general, the spread of less corrupt and more democratic governments in the Middle East will be of tremendous benefit to the United States, since such governments are more often immune to radicalism and are more moderate, stable, and inclusive. Nevertheless, each country involved in the Arab Spring needs to be examined individually, and it must be understood that democracy is not an inevitable outcome for any of the countries involved in the current unrest. Many revolutions start out well and end badly. Consequently, caution is needed in assessing U.S. interests in this whirlpool of events.1 (Continue reading...)

The Arab Upheavals and the Future of the U.S. Military Policies and Presence in the Middle East and the Gulf

June 2011 | Dr. W. Andrew Terrill

Egyptians at Tehrir SquareThe political and social upheaval in the Arab World known as the Arab Spring is one of the most significant set of events to unfold in the Middle East since the fall of the Ottoman Empire following World War I. The United States seeks a democratic outcome to all of these conflicts and is also concerned about the human rights of demonstrators in countries where they are treated with brutality. Additionally, traditional U.S. concerns for the region discussed by President Obama in a May 19, 2011, address include: (1) fighting terrorism, (2) opposing nuclear proliferation, (3) supporting freedom of commerce, including commerce in oil, and, (4) supporting Israel and the Middle East peace effort. Currently, the Arab Spring has had only a limited impact on these U.S. interests. The Arab monarchies, which are allied with the United States, appear to be the least vulnerable to regional unrest (except for Bahrain) and are moving rapidly to increase the stake of individual citizens within their political systems so as to prevent serious unrest. Bahrain, by contrast, is simmering with sectarian anger after the brutal suppression of its mostly Shi’ite demonstrators. Despite this situation, the United States can probably be more helpful to Shi’ites in that country by remaining engaged with the Bahraini government which has already shown itself responsive to some U.S. concerns about building an inclusive society. (Continue reading...)