The Great Arab Implosion and Its Consequences

Who or what will replace a century of failed Sunni Arab dominance? What, if anything, can the West do to help shape the future?

A Syrian Kurdish woman flashes a victory sign during the June 24, 2016 funeral of fighters who died in an attack against Islamic State forces. In the background, a martyrs memorial is under construction. DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images.

A Syrian Kurdish woman flashes a victory sign during the June 24, 2016 funeral of fighters who died in an attack against Islamic State forces. In the background, a martyrs memorial is under construction. DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images.

Essay
July 5 2016
About the author

Ofir Haivry, an Israeli historian and political theorist, is vice-president of the Herzl Institute in Jerusalem and the author of John Selden and the Western Political Tradition (Cambridge). He served as chairman of the Public Advisory Committee for Examining Israel’s Approach regarding Worldwide Communities with Affinity to the Jewish People, appointed by Israel’s ministry of Diaspora affairs.


In 2007, in a seminar room in Jerusalem, a day-long session was devoted to Israeli regional strategic perspectives. I was among the participants together with several other scholars, a former Israeli interior minister, a future Israeli defense minister, and two future Israeli ambassadors to the U.S. At a certain point, the talk turned to various scenarios for the regional future and the opportunities or dangers each of these entailed for Israel. When the possible breakup and partition of Arab states like Iraq or Syria was raised, the near-unanimous response was that this was simply too fantastic a scenario to contemplate.

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More about: Arab Spring, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Politics & Current Affairs, Syria