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

On May 17th, IPI hosted a Distinguished Author Series event featuring Steven A. Cook, author of False Dawn: Protest, Democracy, and Violence in the New Middle East. The conversation was moderated by IPI Senior Adviser for External Relations, Warren Hoge.

Half a decade after Arabs across the Middle East poured into streets to demand dignity, representative government and economic empowerment, hopes for democratic change have evanesced. Despite appearances, there were no true revolutions in the Middle East five years ago; none of the affected societies underwent social revolution, and the old structures of power were never eliminated.

Egypt remains a repressive state, Syria and Yemen are in the midst of devastating civil wars, Libya has descended into anarchy, Turkey has abandoned an earlier shift toward openness and now more closely resembles an autocracy, and even supposed successes like Tunisia face significant barriers to progress because of the continued strength of old regime players. And the self-declared Islamic State, though embattled, still rules a large swath of territory.

After taking stock of how and why the Arab Spring uprisings failed to produce lasting change, Cook, a noted analyst of the Middle East, considers the diminished role of the US there and reasons that the Trump Administration and Western policy makers may have to adjust to thinking small and waiting for the world to turn again.

IPI’s Distinguished Author Series brings critically acclaimed writers to IPI to present on international issues and to engage in a lively discussion with experts from the permanent missions to the UN and other members of the foreign affairs community in New York.