Cover of Morbid Symptoms by Gilbert Achcar
Morbid Symptoms
Relapse in the Arab Uprising
Gilbert Achcar


240 pages.
from $28.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503600300
Paperback ISBN: 9781503600317
Ebook ISBN: 9781503600478

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Since the first wave of uprisings in 2011, the euphoria of the "Arab Spring" has given way to the gloom of backlash and a descent into mayhem and war. The revolution has been overwhelmed by clashes between rival counter-revolutionary forces: resilient old regimes on the one hand and Islamic fundamentalist contenders on the other.

In this eagerly awaited book, foremost Arab world and international affairs specialist Gilbert Achcar analyzes the factors of the regional relapse. Focusing on Syria and Egypt, Achcar assesses the present stage of the uprising and the main obstacles, both regional and international, that prevent any resolution. In Syria, the regime's brutality has fostered the rise of jihadist forces, among which the so-called Islamic State emerged as the most ruthless and powerful. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood's year in power was ultimately terminated by the contradictory conjunction of a second revolutionary wave and a bloody reactionary coup. Events in Syria and Egypt offer salient examples of a pattern of events happening across the Middle East.

Morbid Symptoms offers a timely analysis of the ongoing Arab uprising that will engage experts and general readers alike. Drawing on a unique combination of scholarly and political knowledge of the Arab region, Achcar argues that, short of radical social change, the region will not achieve stability any time soon.

About the author

Gilbert Achcar grew up in Lebanon. He is Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His publications include The Clash of Barbarisms: September 11 and the Making of the New World Disorder (2002), published in 15 languages; Perilous Power: The Middle East and US Foreign Policy (2008), with Noam Chomsky; the critically acclaimed The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab–Israeli War of Narratives (2010); and The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising (2013).

"One of the best analysts of the contemporary Arab world."

Le Monde

"What happened to the 2011 Arab revolutions? They reverberated throughout the Middle East and North Africa and around the globe, influencing movements from Occupy to the indignados. Even after the Arab Spring had mostly passed, the wave they helped initiate continued in Gezi Park, the Corbyn and Sanders campaigns, and Black Lives Matter...Drawing on sources in Arabic, English, and French, Gilbert Achcar's Morbid Symptoms: Relapse in the Arab Uprising offers the clearest and most comprehensive analysis of the fate of these revolutions. [This book] is a sobering yet generous account of the Arab people's fight for true liberation and the lessons that have been learned from that struggle."

—Kevin B. Anderson, Jacobin

"Morbid Symptoms is a masterfully written and challenging analysis of paramount importance to put the upheaval crossing the Arab region into historical perspective. Moreover, Achcar's far-reaching assessment encourages critical thinking and provides a powerful interpretative key for understanding the nonlinear revolutionary cycle that the 2011 transnational wave of protest set in motion."

—Alessandro Tinti, Studies of Transition States and Societies