U.S. Policy and the Arab Revolutions: Improvisation, Calculated Caution and Uneven Support for Change
Since the outbreak of the so-called Arab Revolutions, the U.S. policy has undertaken a risky and at times contradictory balancing exercise between public support for change, economic, diplomatic and/or military assistance to opposition forces, condemnation of authoritarian regimes’ oppression, while avoiding interference in post-regime change political transitions and favoring a multilateral and regional approach of intervention. The instability created by the U.S. regime change policy in Iraq (2003) has placed the U.S. and its allies in front of a false choice between intervention (Libya) or non-intervention (Syria). In both cases, the consequences were very messy, with long-term distabilizing effects for the region. In the absence of credible and solid regional allies, the U.S. strategy of "leading from behind" or "building from behind" proved counterproductive and vulnerable to local actors' violent competition for power. The author concludes by showing that the Arab revolutions have accelerated the decline of U.S. influence in the region, by bringing to power political regimes that are even less prone to U.S. policies.