Book review - Marc Lynch: The New Arab Wars: Uprisings and Anarchy in the Middle East

The New Arab Wars: Uprisings and Anarchy in the Middle East is a comprehensive and in-depth analysis of the causes of the Arab uprisings. The book opens with a quotation: “We are coming tonight. There won’t be any mercy”, a warning issued by the late Muammar Qaddafi to rebel leaders to show the reason of the international action. In this sense, while Lynch supports international intervention when necessary, he also condemns that intervention when it stokes violence. To this end, Lynch assesses the popular movements in the Arab world and the international response, both as it was and it should have been. The author first deals with Obama’s decision regarding the uprisings in Libya. The Obama administration’s decision to join NATO and its Arab allies to intervene militarily in Libya stands today as a crucial turning point in the Arab uprisings - one with effects far beyond that country’s borders. According to Lynch, the lessons of that intervention remain deeply contested. The intervention succeeded in its short-term goal of protecting Libyan civilians by preventing a near-certain massacre, and helped to remove one of the nastier of the Arab dictators. He also deduces that had Obama not acted, America would certainly have been blamed for allowing the uprising to end in bloodshed. But acting, in turn, caused a whole set of other unintended problematic outcomes.

Authors: Özgür Tüfekçi