The Great Arab Implosion and Its Consequences » Mosaic

Even in those few locales where centuries of Ottoman or colonial rule had bequeathed a more open and diverse society, clan domination and military repression rapidly became the rule. Wave after wave of political oppression, economic expropriation, and religious persecution—the last conducted not by frenzied Islamists but by the ostensibly secular Gamal Abdel Nasser, Ghaddafi, Saddam, and the Algerian National Liberation Front—squeezed out the most dynamic and creative communities: Jews certainly, but also Armenians, Greeks, and populations of European descent as well as many other Christian groups. The inevitable result was the further impoverishment of social, cultural, and educational capital. The remaining non-Sunni Arabs—like the Egyptian Copts, Sudanese Christians, and Iraqi Shiites—were completely downtrodden, or else transformed themselves into quasi-military sects like the Alawites in Syria, the Kurds of Iraq, and the Shiites in Yemen and southern Lebanon.

As the 20th century progressed, Arabic-speaking societies actually lost ground relative to the world’s other emerging regions save only sub-Saharan Africa. By the 1980s, the dirt-poor South Koreans and Taiwanese, without any significant local political traditions or natural resources, had successfully pulled themselves into the ranks of developed and democratic nations. By the 2000s, not only China and India but also Muslim-majority societies like Indonesia and Malaysia had made substantial strides in the same direction. Meanwhile, Algeria, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, beginning from a more advanced point than most of their Asian counterparts, were squandering endless opportunities and falling woefully behind. They stumbled into the 21st century completely exhausted, as well as economically and culturally bankrupt.

via The Great Arab Implosion and Its Consequences » Mosaic


About marypmadigan

Writer/photographer (profession), foreign policy wonk (hobby).
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