Four years and three drafts later, UNC political science professor Andrew Reynolds is publishing “The Arab Spring: Pathways of Repression and Reform.” Reynolds wrote the book with Jason Brownlee of the University of Texas at Austin and Tarek Masoud of Harvard University. Staff writer Jun Chou sat down with Reynolds to talk about his book.
THE DAILY TAR HEEL: Why did you write the book?
ANDREW REYNOLDS: I’d been in the Arab world a lot but I’m not steeped in history or the Arabic culture and Islamic politics. I’d been in Lebanon and Jordan and Yemen before the Arab Spring doing some democratization work. I was the first international expert into Libya — there was no airport open; we just flew in on a little UN plane and the war was still going on and Gaddafi was still on the run. When I got back, I knew I wanted to write a book about the Arab Spring.
DTH: And what played out?
AR: In Tunisia, there was the case that civilians pretty much controlled what happened. They wrote the new constitution, they relegated the police and the army to a minor role and, ultimately, Tunisia adopted pretty good institutions that were inclusive and reassured people. They had an election where the government changed hands and it was fine. I mean, Tunisia is not perfect but it’s doing a whole lot better than the other cases. In Egypt, the military controlled the transition. They chose institutions that just gave the military power and shut out the liberals. In Libya and Yemen, politics just collapsed to the rule of the gun in villages and regions. There’s no central government in either place anymore; it’s just collapsed to anarchy.