Since Muhammad Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunisia on December 17, 2010, galvanizing the Arab uprisings that continue today, the entire Middle East landscape has changed in ways that were unimaginable years before.
In spite of the early hype about a so-called "Arab Spring" and the prominence observers gave to calls for the downfall of regimes and an end to their abuses, most of the protests and uprisings born of Bouazizi's self-immolation have had disastrous results across the whole Middle East. While the old powers reasserted their control with violence in Egypt and Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, and Syria have virtually ceased to exist as states, torn apart by civil wars. In other states, namely Morocco and Algeria, the forces of reaction were able to maintain their hold on power, while in the "hybrid democracies" of Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq, protests against government inefficiency, corruption, and arrogance have done little to bring about the sort of changes protesters have demanded. Simultaneously, ISIS, along with other jihadi groups (al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda affiliates, Ansar al-Shariahs, etc.) has thrived in an environment marked by state breakdown.
This book explains these changes, outlining the social, political, and economic contours of what some have termed "the new Middle East." One of the leading scholars of modern Middle Eastern history, James L. Gelvin lucidly distills the political and economic reasons behind the dramatic news arriving each day from Syria and the rest of the Middle East. He shows how and why bad governance, stagnant economies, poor healthcare, climate change, population growth, refugee crises, food and water insecurity, and war increasingly threaten human security in the region.
"Using a question-and-answer approach, Gelvin presents an overview of the contemporary Middle East, touching on topics including the 'perverse results' of the Arab Spring, the Syrian civil war, the rise of ISIS and other jihadi groups, the involvement of external actors and more." -- Survival: Global Politics and Strategy Vol.60.2
"Balanced, rigorous, and sparkling with insights, The New Middle East: What Everyone Needs to Know is a wonderful primer on a region long dominated by polemics and easy generalizations. James L. Gelvin brings a historian's sensibility and jargon-free prose to illuminate the afflictions that have wracked the modern Middle East-civil war, militancy, and authoritarianism, to name a few-while never losing sight of its enormous human potential. This is a
must-read for veteran observers and newcomers alike."-- Frederic Wehrey, Senior Fellow, Middle East Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, author of Sectarian Politics in the Gulf: From the Iraq War
to the Arab Uprisings?
"...the author constructs a narrative that connects modern-day events with their history, showing how the forces that shaped the Middle East indirectly led to today's problems and describing what recent history might suggest about the near future." -- Zander Guzy-Sprague, Middle East Institute
"The New Middle East is an outstanding contribution to our understanding the complexity, importance and tragedy of the modern Middle East ... The author clearly, skillfully, and smartly reveals the fundamental struggles that the region has endured since 2010. Equally as important, the author approaches the topic in a pragmatic, realistic manner and respects the limits of writing about history while in the midst of living it ... This is a book I will
refer to often and be sure to have my students read regardless of the stage of their intellectual journey in the region." - Dr. Christopher P. Dallas-Feeney, Middle East Journal
"The author clearly, skillfully, and smartly reveals the fundamental struggles that the region has endured since 2010. Equally as important, the author approaches the topic in a pragmatic, realistic manner and respects the limits of writing about history while in the midst of living it." - Dr. Christopher P. Dallas-Feeney, Professorial Lecturer in Political Science and International Affairs, George Washington University