The Arab Revolts: Can Liberals Compete?

January 25, 2012
6:30 am -

Event Description

As the struggles of the Arab Revolt move from the streets to the ballot box, Islamists are gaining an upper hand in newly formed governments. The secular youth that led the street protests have been unable to translate their revolutionary passion to a political following. What accounts for the inability of liberal groups to gain traction in the electoral battles? How can these groups compete with Islamist parties for the political soul of Arab societies? And what role can the United States play in helping to shape the debate? FDD is pleased to host Khairi Abaza, Dan Arbell, Michele Dunne, and Reuel Marc Gerecht for a discussion on the future of secularism in the age of the Arab protests.

Khairi Abaza is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He is an expert on democratic reform in the Arab world, the spread of terrorism, and the influence of the media on politics. His columns have appeared in various publications, including The New York Times, The New Republic, Newsweek, Foreign Affairs, The National Interest, and The Weekly Standard. Mr. Abaza is also a commentator on several American and international television stations such as Fox, BBC, France 24, Al-Jazeera, and CBC.

Dan Arbell is the outgoing Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Israel in Washington. He previously served as the Acting Deputy Director General for North American Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem from 2007 to 2009. A career diplomat, Mr. Arbell also served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Israel in Tokyo from 2001 to 2005.

Michele Dunne is the Director of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. Her research interests include Arab politics, political transitions, economic reform, Egypt, Israeli-Palestinian issues, and U.S. and European policies in the Middle East. Her recent publications include Egypt’s Democratic Transition: Five Myths about the Economy and International Assistance, Egypt: From Stagnation to Revolution, The Baby, the Bathwater, and the Freedom Agenda in the Middle East, and Incumbent Regimes and the ‘King’s Dilemma’ in the Arab World: Promise and Threat of Managed Reform.

Reuel Marc Gerecht is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former Iran analyst at the CIA’s Directorate of Operations. He focuses on the Arab Revolt, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, terrorism, and intelligence. Mr. Gerecht is the author of The Wave: Man, God, and the Ballot Box in the Middle East, Know Thine Enemy: A Spy’s Journey into Revolutionary Iran, and The Islamic Paradox: Shiite Clerics, Sunni Fundamentalists, and the Coming of Arab Democracy. He is a contributing editor for The Weekly Standard and a correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, as well as a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and other publications.


Arab Politics