A Tale of Four Worlds

The Arab Region After the Uprisings

July 2019 9781787382084 240pp
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First came the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire following World War I; then, in the 1950s and ’60s, the Nasser-inspired wave of Arab nationalism and socialism. The Arab world’s third great political cataclysm of the past 100 years has also brought permanent changes, but not as its activists had hoped: the 2011 uprisings.

Their consequences have differed greatly from area to area, splintering the Arab region into four different worlds. The Levant states have disintegrated, possibly irreversibly. The Gulf monarchies have embarked on far-reaching plans of economic and social change to stave off discontent. Egypt has retreated into military authoritarianism and a war on Islamists, threatening its future stability. Only the Maghreb countries, which have started integrating Islamists into their political systems, offer some hope for progress toward democracy.

Marina and David Ottaway have brought together fifty years of experience observing the Arab world, and a wealth of first-hand information gathered from living and travelling extensively in the region. A Tale of Four Worlds is an indispensable analysis of the profound upheavals that have shaken—and continue to transform—Arab and global politics.


‘Ottaway and Ottaway bring unrivaled cumulative experience to [their analysis].’ — Foreign Affairs

‘An indispensable analysis of the aftermath of the Arab Spring.’ — CHOICE

‘At once personal (based on decades of observing the Arab world) and dispassionate (with neither heroes nor hopes dominating their story), the Ottaways’ book communicates the complexities of Arab politics with clarity, expertise, and wisdom.’ — Nathan Brown, Professor of Political Science, George Washington University

‘The Ottaways combine crisp analysis, accessible prose, and an intimate knowledge of the Middle East to produce an important and timely study of the differing paths taken by various parts of the region in the wake of the “Arab Spring”.’ — Adeed Dawisha, Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Miami University

‘In their analysis of ongoing changes across four different Arab regions, Marina and David Ottaway offer a clear-headed overview of why and how transformations occur in Arab lands, and why they will persist for some time to come.’ — Rami Khouri, Professor of Journalism, American University of Beirut, and Senior Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School


David Ottaway is a Middle East fellow at the Wilson Center. He was formerly The Washington Post’s Middle East correspondent.

Marina Ottaway is a Middle East scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She founded and directed the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Middle East Program.

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