Major changes have taken place in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) since the eruption of the ‘Arab Spring’ in 2010. Concepts such as the new world order, democracy, freedoms and human rights have widely circulated in the Arab world, particularly after the invasion of Iraq. Moreover, the progression of what turned out to be a civil war in Syria triggered an array of academic studies on the past, present and future shape of the region. Within that volatile context, the emergence of jihadi groups that constantly renew themselves and spread over a wide territory with the claim to defend religion makes it all the more necessary to comprehensively study the structure of the region.
The title of Filiu’s book, From Deep State to Islamic State: the Arab Counter-Revolution and its Jihadi Legacy may lead its readers to assume that this is an exclusive discussion of jihad organizations. Instead, the book examines the deep-seated structures and processes that prepare the ground for the emergence of these groups. Filiu starts with the fundamental argument that global jihadist groups such as al-Qaida and ISIS [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] did not fall from the blue sky. Each built itself upon major critical events, a group of frustrated or ruined people and a sound ideology. A historical perspective is therefore the sine qua non for understanding the social and political structure of states in the MENA region. In this regard, Jean-Pierre Filiu, who has extensive first-hand experience of the region as a diplomat, offers an informed comparative analysis to identify, for instance, the structure of military and intelligence agencies, which can be deemed guardians of the state in Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen and Algeria.
The author begins by analyzing the deep state, which as a term originates from near Turkish political history and is usually composed of high-level elements within i