This book looks at the way primarily external actors influenced and were influenced by the revolutionary chaos that erupted in the Arab Middle East in 2011. The Arab revolutions radically altered the Middle East dynamic and particularly the strategic standing of key actors, both locally and globally.
The ‘winners’ are leaders with strategic understanding of the region and a scheme for exploiting the chaos–Putin, Netanyahu and Iran’s Qasem Soleimani–along with, strikingly, the very institution of Arab monarchy. The ‘losers’ are the Arab autocrats who were deposed in Egypt, Libya and Yemen. The Palestinians, seemingly bypassed by the dynamic of Arab revolution, are also losers. So are the American presidents—Bush 43 and Obama—whose disastrous strategic decision-making catalyzed Arab state fragmentation and opened the gates of the Levant to Iran’s drive for regional hegemony. Western democratic society suffered too—from waves of Islamist terrorism and the effects of Muslim migration generated at least in part by Arab chaos. Only in the case of two leaders was the jury still out by 2019. The effects of the high-risk policies of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohamed bin Salman and the strategically incoherent policies of US President Trump remain to be seen.
Winners and Losers in the ‘Arab Spring’ takes a global look at a massive regional upheaval that is far from over. It is an essential read for everybody interested in the Arab revolutions, Middle East and international strategic affairs.
Table of Contents
Preface: Two Images
I. Abetting the Chaos: Western Losers
- Presidential Blunders: Bush (and Blair), Obama, Trump
- Hapless Political Philosophers, Counterproductive Social Media
- Interim Summary: US Post-Cold War Intervention and Arab Collapse
II. Reaping the Benefits: Local Winners
- Qasem Soleimani and the Quds Force
- Putin: Russia Returns to the Middle East
- Netanyahu Leverages Arab Chaos
- Erdogan and the Kurds: the Jury is Still Out
- The Arab Monarchies and MbS’s Reformist Mayhem
III. Conclusion: Understanding a Global Grand-Strategic Event
Timeline of Arab Chaos through December 2018
Yossi Alpher is a former Mossad official and served in the Israel Defense Forces Intelligence. He was director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies (today INSS) at Tel Aviv University. Now retired, he researches and writes about Middle East strategic issues. His book Periphery: Israel’s Search for Middle East Allies (2015), won two awards in Israel for best book in the security field.
'At 125 pages, the book is slim but peppered with anecdotes and almost epic in dimensions. Alpher traces “Arab state fragmentation and chaos” to the 2003 Iraq invasion. He examines the role of individual Western and regional leaders in creating or reacting to events and argues Arab collapse has had global consequences, partly through a refugee crisis. Alpher said he’s been repeatedly informed the “Arab spring” isn’t over: “This is all open-ended but I think I was able to draw some fairly stable conclusions.”' — Gareth Smyth, The Arab Weekly