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The New Middle East and the United States: What to Expect After the Uprisings?

Recent uprisings and unrests across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have brought new leadership to Egypt and Tunisia, and could possibly result in more leadership changes. While it is too early to assess the meaning and implications of the MENA uprisings, it is even more difficult to predict whether the current ferment could fundamentally reshape the region by bringing real democratic transformation. What is evident, however, is that the United States’ old bargain with autocrats is collapsing; and that U.S. strategic interests are seemingly better served, at least during this historic period, by working with governments that genuinely reflect the will of their people. This essay’s central argument is that change and transformation in MENA has resulted from bottom-up, anti-establishment popular movements that have exposed the flaws of the U.S. foreign policy and will most likely challenge the conventional U.S. policies in the region for years to come.

 

Awave of unrest and political change across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has brought new leadership to Egypt and Tunisia, and could result in yet more leadership changes in the future. While it is too early to gauge the meaning of the uprisings in the MENA region, it is even more difficult to foretell whether the current ferment could fundamentally reshape the region by bringing real democratic change. Revolutionary changes are typically slow to come by and usually take many years to become fully visible. What is evident, however, is that the United States’ old bargain with autocrats is unraveling and that the strategic interests of the United States are better served, at least during this historic period, by working with governments that genuinely reflect the will of their people. 

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