Rethinking the Arab "Spring": Stability and Security in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and the Rest of the MENA Region
November 8, 2011
No one can ignore the short-term problems the political upheavals in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia create for each country. New leaders must be chosen and security systems must be changed. The problems involved can kill political, economic and demographic reforms before they even begin. There is a serious danger, however, in focusing on short term needs and failing to focus on the depth of the problems that Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and virtually every other Middle Eastern and North African state now face.
Experts can debate just how much the structural problems in each state led to the current round of political unrest and upheavals, but there is no debate over the fact that only a few oil-rich states with tiny native populations are free from massive problems in dealing with population growth, youth unemployment, failed or weak governance, and security structures that do as much to repress as to protect. These are problems both the Arab world and outside analysts have tended to downplay and neglect, but they are so serious that no advances in democracy and human rights can offer most MENA countries either security or stability. Even the best election, and major reforms of national security structures, will be a prelude to a new round of political upheaval unless these forces are given fare more consideration that they have been given to date.
The Burke Chair has prepared a report on the underlying causes of instability in the MENA region, entitled: RETHINKING THE ARAB "SPRING": STABILITY AND SECURITY IN EGYPT, LIBYA, TUNISIA, AND THE REST OF THE MENA REGION. The report can be found here: