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Research Report

The 2011 Arab Uprisings and Israel’s National Security

Efraim Inbar
Copyright Date: Feb. 1, 2012
Pages: 33
OPEN ACCESS
https://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep04712
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-2)

    Dramatic events have unfolded in the Middle East since the beginning of 2011. Large numbers of demonstrators have gathered in central squares to voice outrage against their rulers while demanding sweeping governmental reforms. Four long-time dictators have already been removed from power. The Arab world is in turmoil and authoritarian regimes are under great duress. The trajectory of these events is not entirely clear, creating much political uncertainty. While the nature of these domestic upheavals is novel internationally, the ongoing Middle East turmoil only underscores current regional trends. While the Arab states become weaker, non-Arab states – like Turkey and...

  2. (pp. 2-5)

    Despite over a century of Western cultural influence, the Arab world has failed to modernize in many respects. As of yet, no Arab state has evolved into a stable democracy.¹ Several UN reports point out that the Arab world lags behind the rest of the international community in civil liberties, political rights, education, gender equality, and economic productivity.² This deplorable state of affairs is the root cause of discontent and frustration, which fuels mass protest. Absent a liberal-democratic political culture, however, mass mobilization in pursuit of political change is unpredictable and is not necessarily conducive to democracy.³ Heralding the “Jasmine...

  3. (pp. 5-7)

    In 2011, developments in the Middle East underscored the further erosion of the US position in the region. This is partly due to the Obama administration's deliberate, “multilateral retrenchment… designed to curtail the United States’ overseas commitments, restore its standing in the world, and shift burdens onto global partners.”14 It is also partly due to its confused, contradictory, and inconsistent responses to the unfolding events in the Middle East. First, there was a quick demand to oust then Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, an action unequivocally viewed in the region as betrayal of a loyal friend and ally.15 Then, the American...

  4. (pp. 7-18)

    From an Israeli perspective, the current Middle East trends are hardly positive.19 Indeed, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has frequently expressed his apprehensions about the direction of the “Arab Spring.”20 Despite its economic and military strength, Israel remains a small state with limited resources and diplomatic leverage to shape its environment. It cannot attain what Arnold Wolfers once called “milieu objectives.”21 Moreover, as a status quo power, it has displayed little desire to play any leading role in regional affairs. While ending the conflict with the Arab world has been a permanent feature of Israel’s foreign policy, integration within the Middle...

  5. (pp. 18-24)

    Jerusalem realizes that the demonstrating crowds in the Arab streets are not likely to be effective agents of democratization and that the popular sentiment in the Arab world is largely anti-Western and of course anti-Israel. While Israel would welcome peace-loving, democratic neighbors, its strategic assessments must be based on a worst-case scenario. After all, conflict and bloodshed have been a historical constant in the region. Understanding that its survival is largely dependent upon its national power, Israel has cultivated over the years a remarkable military machine. As a result, the last large-scale war fought by Israel was in 1973. Since...

  6. (pp. 24-25)

    The Arab Middle East remains a stagnant region in deep socio-political crisis with small chances for positive change in the near future. The current regimes may stay in power or be replaced by new dictatorships, moderate or radical. In either case, the immediate future will feature weak states grappling with domestic problems and facing uncertainty over the direction of their foreign policy – this is mixed news for Israel. The changing regional balance of power in favor of Turkey and Iran, who both encourage radical elements in the region, does not favor Israel. As well, the seeming decline of American...