The Second Arab Awakening: Revolution, Democracy, and the Islamist Challenge from Tunis to Damascus

Adeed Dawisha, Author
Adeed Dawisha. Norton, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-393-24012-2
Reviewed on: 01/28/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-393-24032-0
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Many question whether the blossom of democracy after 2011’s Arab Spring remains viable, or if indeed the new normal will prove even worse than what preceded it. In his latest, Iraqi political scientist and Middle East specialist Dawisha (Iraq: A Political History) surveys the political situation in 10 Arab countries, focusing on how recent developments in each have strengthened, or subverted, democracy, and how these changes compare to the Arab nationalist struggles of the 1950s and ‘60s. He sagely warns that the decline of “authoritarian rule by corrupt and inefficient regimes, built around the hegemonic presence of one man” does not imply a consequent outbreak of liberty. Dawisha bases his analysis throughout on Hannah Arendt’s theory that any revolution worthy of the name must necessarily lead to freedom. While Dawisha’s knowledge of the area and its politics is deep, the studies of countries presented basically recap the news. When he does offer his own opinions, he is sometimes glib, as when he characterizes the Salafists as “seem[ing] to believe that the persistent chanting of al-Islam huwal hal (“Islam is the solution”) [is] the remedy for solving all of the world’s problems.” Those seeking a basic overview of the last two years in the Middle East will find the book useful, but readers well versed in the situation may be disappointed. (Apr.)
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