The Broken Politics of the Middle East
From Yemen to Iraq and from Libya to Syria, the Middle East is drenched in chaos and violence. The bright promises of the Arab Spring uprisings have disappeared into a dark winter. Egypt, where a popular revolt overthrew Mubarak, is once again under the thumb of a military dictator with, are you sitting down, support from Washington. In pursuit of what is called moderation and stability the U.S. has backed a string of tyrants in the region. Democratic institutions were never encouraged beyond the rhetoric of press releases. The fundamental basis of the relationship between the U.S. and most Arab countries? Obey orders and keep the oil flowing. Corruption, autocratic rule, unemployment, poverty and extreme inequality are the norm in most of the Middle East. In this landscape, the appeal of messianic groups like ISIS strikes a chord.
Nader Hashemi is Director of the Center for Middle East Studies and teaches Middle East and Islamic politics at the Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. He is the author of Islam, Secularism and Liberal Democracy and co-editor of The People Reloaded, The Syria Dilemma and Sectarianization: Mapping the New Politics of the Middle East.