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Understanding The Arab Awakening By Kenneth Pollack

1714 words - 7 pages

The book “Understanding the Arab Awakening” was written by Kenneth Pollack and his colleagues following the events in the Middle East in order to discuss the causes of the massive uprisings, why the results of revolution varied from country to country and what kind of conclusions they help draw for the international observers in general and the United States in its policy towards the region in particular. With the introduction section of the book being taken as the point of analysis, the following paper supports the argument proposed by Kenneth Pollack that the Arab Spring mainly happened due to social unrest caused by poor economic situation across the entire Middle East which was enabled by the ruling regimes, the majority of which mostly shared the authoritarian, generally unstable, character. He critically considered the role of the US, deeming its clear distinction between short-term and long-term interests taken before invalid and required to change. However, there are some grey areas in his work that could possibly undermine his end-of-section recommendations, mainly the degree of importance attributed to the US actions for regulating the situation in the Middle East and the lack of evidence of how exactly the US would pursue its aims. The careful consideration of the article will follow the chronological order Pollack himself chose to persuasively present his case.
Pollack started with his view of why the Arab Spring took place; why the Mohamed Bouazizi’ self-immolation, a single act in Tunisia, inspired the masses on a regional scale. According to him, previously the Middle East had been already experiencing huge economic disasters for some decades: unemployment figures had been growing annually, the corruption took roots in virtually every activity in the country, the wealth gap widened and the level of foreign investment stayed very low (Pollack 2011, p.02). According to the text, the main factor behind that status quo was a large group of authoritarian regimes across the Middle East which did not care about the population’s demands and violently suppressed any step that would threaten its rule.
Building on this claim about the political influence, Pollack proceeded to explaining why the extent of revolution varied among the regional powers. In his words, in some countries such as Libya the regime manipulated pre-existing societal divisions between western and eastern parts of the country (Cyrenaica and Tripolitania) to mobilize the latter against the former and thus stay in power (Pollack 2011, p.04). That was not the case in relatively homogenous Egypt. Some Arabic states survived because they were monarchies and enjoyed greater legitimacy through established traditions and religious component (Pollack 2011, p. 05). Others used the familiar oppression tools (ibid).
Trying to generalize the significance of the Arab Spring, Pollack later claimed that, although the it did not bring the desired results for all the people in...

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