Beyond the Arab Spring

By Lorne Craner (The Ripon Society)

Since the mid-1970s, Middle East experts have cited a variety of reasons as to why the Arab world would not change.

Some pointed to the belief that Islam was incompatible with democracy. Others noted the fact that Arabs generally favored strongmen as leaders. Still others pointed to the notion that the aftermath of the Iraq war had discredited the idea of democracy.

At most, it was assumed that if change did occur in the region, it would progress glacially, as it had for decades, and that whatever political openings would be generational. This assumption that developments would continue in a linear fashion generally led U.S. analysts to maintain contact primarily with individuals within official circles.

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