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The Second Arab Awakening

The Second Arab Awakening: And the Battle for Pluralism

Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    The Second Arab Awakening
    Book Description:

    This important book is not about immediate events or policies or responses to the Arab Spring. Instead, it takes a long, judicious view of political change in the Arab world, beginning with the first Awakening in the nineteenth century and extending into future decades when-if the dream is realized-a new Arab world defined by pluralism and tolerance will emerge.

    Marwan Muasher, former foreign minister of Jordan, asserts that all sides-the United States, Europe, Israel, and Arab governments alike-were deeply misguided in their thinking about Arab politics and society when the turmoil of the Arab Spring erupted. He explains the causes of the unrest, tracing them back to the first Arab Awakening, and warns of the forces today that threaten the success of the Second Arab Awakening, ignited in December 2010. Hope rests with the new generation and its commitment to tolerance, diversity, the peaceful rotation of power, and inclusive economic growth, Muasher maintains. He calls on the West to rethink political Islam and the Arab-Israeli conflict, and he discusses steps all parties can take to encourage positive state-building in the freshly unsettled Arab world.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-18835-6
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Note to the Reader
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    Liberal revolutions have come to the Arab world before. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, a “first” Arab Awakening took the form of an intellectual revolution in which a number of Arab thinkers started questioning the control of distant Ottoman despots over their nations, and criticizing their own limited contact with the outside world. Their calls for intellectual, economic, and political change laid the groundwork for a new Arab world, eventually resulting in a wave of independence struggles in the 1940s and 1950s.

    Ultimately, however, the first Arab Awakening fell short of the aspirations of many of those who inspired it....

  6. PART I: Understanding the Awakening

    • 1 The First Arab Awakening: A Battle for Independence
      (pp. 7-27)

      In 1939, an Egyptian Christian of Lebanese origin named George Antonius wrote a book calledThe Arab Awakening.¹ Cambridge-educated, settled in Jerusalem, and personifying so much of the Arab world’s religious, cultural, and ethnic diversity, Antonius documented the first liberal era in the modern Arab world. This slowly unfolding phenomenon evolved over the course of a century from an elite intellectual renaissance into grassroots political—and eventually armed—resistance to Ottoman and then Western colonial rule. But the progression dead-ended in the mid-twentieth century. Its initial liberal promise was aborted when foreign despots were replaced by homegrown ones, who went...

    • 2 Redefining Arab Moderation
      (pp. 28-41)

      In the decades following independence, most of the Arab world lived in a state of artificially induced stability. The opposition, mostly Islamist since the 1970s, was kept outside the system. Meanwhile, Arab regimes ruled by force, giving the international community, and part of their populations, the false sense that their societies were stable and had ample time to develop economically before contemplating serious political transformations. The West was prepared to ignore the issue of political reform. It coined the phrase “Arab moderates” to describe Arab regimes in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere that did not advance political reform but...

    • 3 Islamist Movements: Despots or Democrats
      (pp. 42-77)

      Even though Iran is not an Arab country, the overthrow of its shah in 1979 catapulted the issue of political Islam onto center stage in the Arab world. The euphoria the revolution generated in countries suffering under authoritarian regimes quickly gave way to disappointment as one dictatorship was replaced by another. The revolution introduced the first—and only—theocracy in the Middle East.

      Iran adopted Ruhollah Khomeini’s interpretation of the Shia doctrine “Wilayet Al Faqih” (Guardianship of the Jurist), which gives the Islamic jurist custodianship over the people. In the months following the revolution, all secular parties were banned; tolerance...

    • 4 Assessing What Has Changed
      (pp. 78-120)

      More than three years after the start of the uprisings, what judgment can one pass on this transformational change that has swept the Arab world? With four leaders already toppled—and counting—is the Arab world moving toward democracy? Or exchanging one set of autocratic rulers for another? Or reinforcing a political order that is fiercely resistant to change? The only safe judgment is that it is too soon to tell.

      Beyond that, one’s answer depends on the prism one uses. Many who insist on issuing a verdict after such a short time cannot help but see a process that...

  7. PART II: From Awakening to Pluralism

    • 5 Education for Pluralism
      (pp. 123-141)

      In order to thrive, democracy must exist in “a culture that accepts diversity, respects different points of view, regards truths as relative rather than absolute, and tolerates—even encourages—dissent.”¹ Without such a culture, it is impossible to build a system that redistributes power. The political transitions taking place in the region today—toward parliamentary and presidential elections, coalition governments, constitution writing, and the like—will not, by themselves, necessarily lead to sustainable pluralistic systems, even if such commitments to pluralism are spelled out in the new constitutions. What makes these commitments permanent is accepting different points of view and...

    • 6 The Second Arab Awakening and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Peace Now or Never
      (pp. 142-159)

      In December 2011, Hanan Ashrawi, Shlomo Ben Ami, Dan Kurtzer, and I sat around a table with about twenty other experts to discuss the direction of the Arab-Israeli peace process. The event was held by the Toledo International Centre for Peace in Madrid—twenty years after the city helped launch the Middle East peace process by hosting an international conference at which Palestinian, Syrian, Lebanese, Jordanian, and Israeli leaders were represented. The four of us had participated in that 1991 conference—Hanan as the Palestinian spokesperson, Shlomo as Israel’s ambassador to Spain, Dan as part of U.S. Secretary of State...

    • 7 Third Forces and the Battle for Pluralism
      (pp. 160-186)

      How will history judge the uprisings that started in many parts of the Arab world in 2011? We now know that the label “Arab Spring” was too simplistic. Transformational processes defy black and white expectations. Do these movements resemble what happened in Europe in 1848, when several uprisings took place within a few weeks only to be followed by counterrevolutions and renewed authoritarian rule? Do they resemble the 1989 collapse of the Soviet Union, after which some countries swiftly democratized while others remained in the thrall of dictatorship? Whatever the case, it is clear that these processes will need decades...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 187-200)
  9. Index
    (pp. 201-210)