chapter  16
5 Pages

Arab Spring, Arab Crisis

WithMartin Kramer

Regimes have fallen, hundreds of thousands have died, millions are refugees. There is even a nominal price tag. In 2015, the Arab Strategic Forum in Dubai estimated that in the economic downturn that followed the "Arab Spring" the affected countries incurred losses of $830 billion, including $460 billion in infrastructure damage. The Arabs resisted the notion, and their leaders promised them a different path, a hybrid of the Arab-Islamic tradition with Western-style modernity. This hybrid civilization pretended to be revolutionary, but it permitted the survival of those premodern traditions that block progress, from authoritarianism and patriarchy to sectarianism and tribalism. The failure of the hybrid is most dramatically evidenced by the rise of sectarianism. The Sunni-Shi'ite divide has many layers, including a disparity of power, often the legacy of colonialism. But because the tradition had to be respected, the hybrid civilization of the region tolerated the exclusion of Jews and the marginalization of Christians.