The Atlantic

When the Middle East Seemed Stable

Can Arab countries learn from each other to find a model that works?
Source: Louafi Larbi / Reuters

Whatever one considers the “Arab world” to be, sometimes it all just seems to be falling apart. Bombs went off in Baghdad and the Sinai killing dozens, jihadis broke into a jail and freed hardline prisoners in Bahrain, ISIS shot down an Iraqi helicopter, and more than 10,000 refugees fled Mosul. And that was all just this week.

What we should be seeing in the chaos, though, is not how much conditions are the same across the Arab world. We should be seeing instead just how different they are. Less than a decade ago, the 20-odd Arab states were converging, with their economics, politics, and societies becoming more like each other. Then the “Arab Spring” happened, even if its harvest seems less and less spring-like with the passage of time. Now

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