The Storm: The States of the Middle East Confront a Series of Powerful Disruptions

We are witnessing a particularly dynamic moment as the region grapples with three wrenching simultaneous disruptions: a set of daunting internal challenges; a set of formidable external challenges; and a profound crisis of confidence, brought on by the uprisings and revolutions of 2011 and a sense of imminent Western abandonment. In an earlier age, each of these disruptions, alone, would have been enough to provoke a widespread crisis. Now, they are happening all at once—amplifying, reinforcing, and building on top of one another.

The so-called Arab Spring demonstrated how connected Arab politics are across the region. Thanks to these disruptions, the next decade will show us how different Arab politics are from state to state. While hopeful signs of reform, resilience, and renewal are evident throughout the Middle East, the challenges to a regional order will grow more acute before the region finds a new equilibrium.
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Jon B. Alterman
Senior Vice President, Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy, and Director, Middle East Program