In his latest Lowy Institute Paper, Remaking the Middle East, Anthony Bubalo deftly weaves together the various threads that have made and unmade the modern Middle East, positing that the 2011 Arab uprisings were not brought about by individual conflicts, trends, or political actors, but rather were the most ostentatious representation of the decay of the entire nizam, or sociopolitical system of the region.
Although the Arab uprisings have been dismissed mostly as a failure, Bubalo argues that, regardless of the immediate outcomes of the rebellion, the current system of politics, culture, economics, and society in the Middle East is unsustainable and will eventually collapse under its own weight.
The key question, then, is what will replace it? This is the issue Bubalo grapples with in the second half of his analysis, identifying “green shoots” of a new system with the potential to remake the Middle East in ways that are “more inclusive, more accountable, less corrupt and less violent”.
These green shoots include the growth of new, independent media; the increasing role of women in all levels of society; new forms of civil and social activism that are bypassing politics; and growing economic entrepreneurship…