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Brookings Fellow Lays Out Transition Plan for New Middle Eastern Regimes

By Lena R. Episalla, Contributing Writer

In his new book on unfinished revolutions in the Middle East, Brookings Institution Senior Foreign Policy Fellow Ibrahim Fraihat proposed that new governments lead inclusive national discussions to avoid violence and civil war.

The Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs hosted the event Monday as part of its Middle East Initiative, which organizes academic panels, research presentations, and guest lectures covering public policy issues relevant to the Middle East.

Fraihat, who is also an affiliate scholar at Georgetown University, discussed his book, "Unfinished Revolutions: Yemen, Libya, and Tunisia after the Arab Spring." Published six days ago, the book is the culmination of three years of intense on-the-ground research in Middle Eastern countries, Fraihat said.

“The lessons that I got from the field are so extremely valuable in my view, and I wanted to make sure I share these lessons with the outside world—to know what is really happening in these countries and how these countries can be supported to avoid civil war,” Fraihat said.

Fraihat stressed the importance of taking measures to ensure stable regime changes following shifts in the leadership of many Middle Eastern nations.

“When countries go through transition, they need to avoid violence and civil wars and to begin peace, stability, and development,” he said.

Fraihat argued that the key to creating stability is to engage in post-conflict development that focuses on unity and national inclusivity.

“They need to immediately engage in inclusive national reconciliation processes that involves everyone through national dialogue within the society. They can talk about the challenges that they are facing without excluding anyone,” Fraihat said.

Fraihat added that holding human rights violators and corrupt political actors accountable for their crimes is vital to establishing post-conflict stability. He also said that implementing institutional reform and providing reparations for victims of revolutions, such as prisoners of war, was also integral to creating national stability.

“You have to deal with the refugees, for example,” he said, discussing the number of internally displaced people within Libya. “You cannot make a successful transition without reintegrating the ex-combatant back into society.”

Nadia Ali ’17 was pleased with Fraihat’s exploration of solutions to current, salient political issues facing the Middle East.

“There’s always something interesting because the revolution is ongoing; it’s still ongoing—hence the title of the book 'Unfinished Revolutions,'” she said. “There’s always more to learn about what’s going well and what can be improved.”

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BooksPoliticsHarvard Kennedy SchoolEventsMiddle East