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The 'Arab Spring': Investing in Durable Peace

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White paper

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The purpose of this White Paper is to offer a strategic analysis that could form the basis of the U.S. Armys engagement strategy in response to the Arab Spring. To help appreciate the complexities of the rapidly unfolding events and the type of engagement required, the strategic direction proposed is presented against the background of pre-Arab Spring U.S. policy and Army engagement in the Middle East and North Africa. The White Paper consists of four sections Section I is an overview of the main developments in the countries at the center of the Arab Spring, namely, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain, and Syria. It explains the different manifestations of the Arab Spring in each of these countries, discusses their significance, and identifies the importance of the U.S. Armys role in influencing its counterparts in the region through its education and training programs primarily IMET. Section II examines the short-term challenges posed by the Arab Spring and the long-term opportunities to which it could lead. Short-term challenges include concerns over how to limit the level of violence during the process of political transition and maintaining the stability of the new political order. Long-term opportunities include forging alliances with political actors who share our civil and political values, and countering violent extremism by rendering the jihadist narrative obsolete. Section III provides an overview of the U.S. Armys engagement in the Middle East prior to the Arab Spring, enumerating and assessing the value of existing IMET programs. This section highlights that the Arab countries that are highly represented in IMET programs have been the most stable, or have exhibited the most peaceful transitions from dictatorship during the Arab Spring. Section IV outlines recommendations on how the U.S. Army can best adapt its engagement in the Middle East. Its key role should be to prevent conflict and enhance stability.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Geography
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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