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False Dawn

Protest, Democracy, and Violence in the New Middle East

Steven Cook (Senior Fellow, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations)



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Oxford University Press
15 March 2017
Half a decade after Arabs across the Middle East poured into the streets to demand change, hopes for democracy have disappeared in a maelstrom of violence and renewed state repression. Egypt remains an authoritarian state, Syria and Yemen are in the midst of devastating civil wars, Libya has descended into anarchy, and the self-declared Islamic State rules a large swath of territory. Even Turkey, which also experienced large-scale protests, has abandoned its earlier shift toward openness and democracy and now more closely resembles an autocracy. How did things go so wrong so quickly across a wide range of regimes?

In False Dawn, noted Middle East regional expert Steven A. Cook looks at the trajectory of events across the region from the initial uprising in Tunisia to the failed coup in Turkey to explain why the Arab Spring did not succeed. Despite appearances, there were no true revolutions in the Middle East five years ago: none of the affected societies underwent social revolutions, and the old structures of power were never eliminated. Even supposed successes like Tunisia still face significant barriers to democracy because of the continued strength of old regime players.  Libya, the state that came closest to revolution, has fragmented into chaos, and Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has used the recent coup against him as grounds for a widespread crackdown on his opponents, reinforcing the Turkish leader's personal power.

After taking stock of how and why the uprisings failed to produce lasting change, Cook considers the role of the United States in the region. What Washington cannot do, Cook argues, is shape the politics of the Middle East going forward. While many in the policymaking community believe that the United States must  get the Middle East right,  American influence is actually quite limited; the future of the region lies in the hands of the people who live there.

Authoritative and powerfully argued, False Dawn promises to be a major work on one of the most important historical events of the past quarter century.
By:   Steven Cook (Senior Fellow Senior Fellow Council on Foreign Relations)
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 161mm,  Spine: 31mm
Weight:   584g
ISBN:   9780190611415
ISBN 10:   0190611413
Pages:   352
Publication Date:   15 March 2017
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Further / Higher Education
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Reviews for False Dawn: Protest, Democracy, and Violence in the New Middle East

'False Dawn' is a name fit for the next Dwayne Johnson action movie, however, it talks about the biggest action movie that has never been made: The Arab spring. Steven Cook gives one of the best detailed accounts about the hopes and disappointments in our modern times. The hope that was there and then never fulfilled. A must read book for anyone who wants to know what the hell happened there and doesn't want to get second hand information from pundits sitting on a CNN panel pretending to know what they are talking about. * Bassem Youssef * For those who want to understand the deeper dynamics that explain what happened specifically in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Turkey, they now have an excellent book to read. False Dawn, Steven Cook's latest work, offers a smart and analytically compelling explanation for why the events of 2011 were bound to fall short of the promise and hopes they raised. Ultimately, the uprisings forced out individual leaders but not the power structures and institutions that sustained them except in Libya where Qaddafi's demise left a vacuum. Authoritarian governance, the struggle over identity, and ongoing conflicts are going to define the Middle East for the foreseeable future, and Cook calls for American policy-makers to understand the limits of our ability to change these basic sources of instability in the area. Even those who may not fully subscribe to his policy prescription will profit highly from reading this very well constructed and thoughtful book. * Dennis Ross * The collapse of the Arab Spring was more than a defeat for democracy in the Arab world, it broke the Middle East. In this incisive book, [Steven Cook] has masterfully applied the tools of the social sciences to separate fact from fiction in explaining how that moment of hope in the region turned into calamity. Intelligent and well-written this is must reading for anyone interested in understanding the tumult that is unfolding in the Middle East today. * Vali Nasr * How did the Arab Spring become the long winter we now see? Steven Cook is one of Washington's most astute and informed observers of the Middle East, and anyone wanting to understand how the region has ended up in its current unraveling state would do well to read his new book False Dawn. The backlash - and Western misreadings of it - are all too real, and Cook's book is a major contribution in understanding what we got wrong. * Susan Glasser, chief international affairs columnist of Politico, and former Editor in Chief of Foreign Policy * The promise of the 'Arab Spring' now seems a distant memory. False Dawn offers a sweeping account, a combination of on-the-ground narrative and deep historical analysis of what went wrong. Stephen Cook's excellent book opens with a quote from deposed Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011 that seemed like a threat at the time but now reads more like a prophecy: 'The youth who called for change and reform will be the first to suffer.' Cook tells us why. * Deborah Amos * This book is very readable and presents clear logic in its analysis of what occurred during the Arab Spring and what we can expect in the near future ... it constitutes an important contribution to our understanding of the Arab uprisings. * Esther Webman, Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs * Cook points to authoritarianism in Egypt, civil wars in Yemen and Syria, anarchy in Libya and even the retreat from democracy in Turkey to argue that the 2011 uprisings in the Middle East failed to bring about revolutionary change. * Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, Vol. 60.2 *

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