The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Credit: Trisha Kothari

Arab Spring? A “psychological rupture” is a more fitting term for the chaos in the Middle East, according to political analyst and London School of Economics and Political Science professor Fawaz Gerges.

Tuesday evening, the Middle Eastern Politics and International Relations professor discussed the political revolutions in the Middle East over the past 11 months.

“It is not only historical but a revolutionary movement,” said Gerges. “People feel awakened and emboldened. They want to seize the moment.”

Samah Elhajibrahim, a political science Ph.D. student, came to the event because of her roots as a Palestinian refugee from Lebanon. While she held different views from Gerges, Elhajibrahim still found the event very informative.

What makes the Middle East revolutions so unique, said Gerges, is the “bottom-up social revolutions.” The need for change comes directly from the indigenous people rather than outside forces, like the United States.

“Autocrats will not relinquish power easily,” said Gerges. Ten thousand Syrians have been killed and massive force, blood and torture plagues the region, he added. “A river of blood has been shed in Syria.”

College and Wharton sophomore Andrew Wynne heard a lecture given by Gerges on international relations over the summer. “I thought it was interesting how optimistic he was,” Wynne said.

In fact, Gerges remained unfazed by the violence he described earlier.

“Don’t be blinded by the dust,” he said, “because once the dust settles a new world will emerge.”

While it will take several decades before countries make substantial progress, Gerges urged the audience to “take a historical perspective and realize it is the beginning.”

Forty-three percent of Arabs live in poverty and Gerges attributed the time it’s taking for revolutions to progress to the lack of formal states and Middle Eastern capitalism.

Looking at foreign policy, Gerges defended President Obama’s decision to not send troops to Syria and examined the United States’ policy towards Iran.

“Sending American troops to Syria would cause a full-out war in the Middle East,” he said, adding that American troops would change the nature of the uprisings.

While Obama has publicly stated containment is not the American policy towards Iran, Gerges said this next year will be crucial. “Iran is a gamble — will they play by the rules?”

The struggle in the Middle East means a lot more than politics to Gerges.

Born in Lebanon during the Lebanese civil war, Gerges’ family left to America to escape the war. To him, the struggle in the Middle East “goes to the heart of who I am as a human being.” For him, studying the Middle East is about understanding his universe.

Now is the time to become politically aware, said Gerges. “In 20 years we might look back and say, ‘Wow, this was really a magnificent moment. How did I miss it?’”

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.