90 Foreign Aff. 81 (2011)
Why Middle East Studies Missed the Arab Spring: The Myth of Authoritarian Stability

handle is hein.journals/fora90 and id is 665 raw text is: Why Middle East Studies
Missed the Arab Spring
The Myth of Authoritarian Stability
F Gregory Gause III
THE VAST majority of academic specialists on the Arab world were
as surprised as everyone else by the upheavals that toppled two Arab
leaders last winter and that now threaten several others. It was clear that
Arab regimes were deeply unpopular and faced serious demographic,
economic, and political problems. Yet many academics focused on
explaining what they saw as the most interesting and anomalous aspect
of Arab politics: the persistence of undemocratic rulers.
Until this year, the Arab world boasted a long list of such leaders.
Muammar al-Qaddafi took charge of Libya in 1969; the Assad family
has ruled Syria since 1970; Ali Abdullah Saleh became president of
North Yemen (later united with South Yemen) in 1978; Hosni
Mubarak took charge of Egypt in 1981; and Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali
ascended to Tunisia's presidency in 1987. The monarchies enjoyed
even longer pedigrees, with the Hashemites running Jordan since its
creation in 1920, the al-Saud family ruling a unified Saudi Arabia
since 1932, and the Alaouite dynasty in Morocco first coming to power
in the seventeenth century.
These regimes survived over a period of decades in which democratic
waves rolled through East Asia, eastern Europe, Latin America, and
sub-Saharan Africa. Even the Arab countries'neighbors in the Muslim
F. GREGORY GAUSE III is Professor of Political Science at the
University of Vermont.


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