The Bitter Fruits of the Arab Spring

In a new book entitled A Rage for Order, the journalist Robert Worth tells the story of the Arab Spring and its bloody aftermath through a series of vignettes. Adam Kirsch writes in his review:

[I]n Egypt, as in Syria and the other places Worth covers, the initial enthusiasm [of 2011] obscured the fatal deficit of trust among citizens. Divisions between liberals and Islamists, civilians and the military, rebels and supporters of the old regime proved to be too poisonous and deeply rooted to be overcome. When the Muslim Brotherhood managed to elect their candidate, Mohammed Morsi, to the presidency, many former rebels urged the military to step in and oust him. The new military ruler, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, immediately became the subject of a cult of personality, his likeness appearing on “flags, pins, pictures, chocolate, cups, and other forms of Sisi mania,” in the words of a newspaper article quoted by Worth. When Sisi’s forces massacred 800 Islamists in Cairo, liberals applauded.

In Egypt, however, at least the state survived. The same can’t be said of Yemen, where the decades-long dictatorship of Ali Abdullah Saleh had no sooner ended than Saleh was back at the head of a Shiite coalition, doing battle with Saudi-funded Sunni forces. . . .

It is the disintegration of countries like Yemen, Syria, and Libya that, in Worth’s view, explains the rise and the surprising allure of Islamic State. As his title A Rage for Order suggests, Worth sees the Arab peoples as motivated by a longing not for freedom or justice but for something more basic: the rule of law, the basic predictability of life, that only a functioning state can provide. . . . This is a Hobbesian view of government: rather than a state of nature where all war against all, better to have a single ruler with a monopoly on violence, no matter how arbitrary.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Arab Spring, Egypt, General Sisi, Middle East, Politics & Current Affairs, Thomas Hobbes, Yemen

Planning for the Day after the War in the Gaza Strip

At the center of much political debate in Israel during the past week, as well as, reportedly, of disagreement between Jerusalem and Washington, is the problem of how Gaza should be governed if not by Hamas. Thus far, the IDF has only held on to small parts of the Strip from which it has cleared out the terrorists. Michael Oren lays out the parameters of this debate over what he has previous called Israel’s unsolvable problem, and sets forth ten principles that any plan should adhere to. Herewith, the first five:

  1. Israel retains total security control in Gaza, including control of all borders and crossings, until Hamas is demonstrably defeated. Operations continue in Rafah and elsewhere following effective civilian evacuations. Military and diplomatic efforts to secure the hostages’ release continue unabated.
  2. Civil affairs, including health services and aid distribution, are administered by Gazans unaffiliated with Hamas. The model will be Area B of Judea and Samaria, where Israel is in charge of security and Palestinians are responsible for the civil administration.
  3. The civil administration is supervised by the Palestinian Authority once it is “revitalized.” The PA first meets benchmarks for ending corruption and establishing transparent institutions. The designation and fulfillment of the benchmarks is carried out in coordination with Israel.
  4. The United States sends a greatly expanded and improved version of the Dayton Mission that trained PA police forces in Gaza after Israel’s disengagement.
  5. Abraham Accords countries launch a major inter-Arab initiative to rebuild and modernize Gaza.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security, U.S.-Israel relationship