The Arab Middle East's Lost Decades

(Foreign Affairs) Maha Yahya - In a landmark 2002 report, the UN Development Program (UNDP) concluded that Arab countries lagged behind much of the world in development indicators such as political freedom, scientific progress, and the rights of women. In the protests of 2010-11, commonly known as the Arab Spring, in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Tunisia, ordinary citizens took to the streets to challenge their authoritarian rulers and demand dignity, equality, and social justice. For a moment, it seemed as if change had finally arrived in the Middle East. Yet in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, development stalled. Authoritarian leaders in much of the region successfully clamped down on dissent and poured resources into suppressing their own people and undermining democratic transitions. Today, nearly ten years later, the situation in the Middle East looks even worse than it did before the Arab Spring. Economic growth is sluggish and unequal. Corruption remains rampant. Gender equality is more aspiration than reality. Yet something fundamental has changed. Now more than ever before, ordinary people across the Middle East remain willing to take to the streets to demand a better future, even in the face of repression. In 2018, there were protest movements in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Sudan, and Tunisia. Earlier this year, protesters in Algeria and Sudan forced their countries' leaders to step down. The Arab Spring may not have ushered in the immediate reforms that many had hoped for, but in the long run, it may have awakened the political energies of the Arab world and set in motion the long process of Arab revitalization. The writer is Director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut.

2019-11-01 00:00:00

Full Article


Visit the Daily Alert Archive