Will the Middle East Implode?
by Mohammed Ayoob
Cambridge, U.K.: Polity Publishers, 2014. 192 pp. $45.
Reviewed by Hilal Khashan
American University of Beirut
Middle East Quarterly
Ayoob ostensibly seeks to answer whether the Middle East will implode as a result of the Arab upheavals since 2010. But Ayoob, professor of international relations at Michigan State University, does not even bother to define what he means by "implode," so how can he answer his own question?
The author employs four themes to discuss the theory of probable regional implosion—the Islamist challenge, regional and global rivalries, deadlock over the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and Iran and the bomb.
But he commits two major conceptual blunders in the opening pages of the book when he claims that the current upheavals affirm "the sense of affinity and empathy among Arab publics" and "the validity of state borders and existing sovereignties that divide the Arab world politically." Is the author blind to the poor treatment by governments and Arab publics of Syrian, Iraqi, and other refugees? Has Ayoob missed the Islamic State's virtual erasure of the Iraq-Syria border? Moreover, Hezbollah, ISIS, and Jabhat an-Nusra operate on both sides of the Syrian-Lebanese line.
The book's conclusion warns against expecting to "hear much good news from the Arab world for a considerable length of time." Does one really need to read a book to know this? Will the Middle East Implode? contains almost nothing original but tediously rehashes what the media has reported. It lacks nuance and is a headache to read. It misinforms the student and frustrates the expert.
Related Topics: Middle East patterns | Hilal Khashan | Summer 2015 MEQ
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