Introduction: The Changing Geopolitical Landscape

Part of: Religious Radicalism after the Arab Uprisings

In the introduction to Religious Radicalism after the Arab Uprisings, Jon B. Alterman provides a strategic overview of how the Arab uprisings have shaped religiously inspired violence and religious radicalism across the region. The melting away of police and security forces in many countries and the endurance of anti-state violence in Syria, Iraq, and Libya created new opportunities for radicals and jihadists, providing a cause for which young men could gather and fight, regardless of their origins. And yet, across the Arab world in late 2014, radicals have not secured control over any country. For all of the openings that the Arab Spring provided long-time oppositions, it somewhat improbably reinforced governments’ advantages. Yet the dynamism and innovation that have emerged among radical and opposition groups throughout the Middle East will continue. Governments will need to use all their existing tools as well as some new ones to face the challenges of this emerging reality.

Jon Alterman
Senior Vice President, Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy, and Director, Middle East Program