Voices of the New Arab Public

Iraq, al-Jazeera, and Middle East Politics Today

Marc Lynch

Columbia University Press

Voices of the New Arab Public

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Pub Date: August 2007

ISBN: 9780231134491

320 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $35.00£30.00

Pub Date: January 2006

ISBN: 9780231134484

320 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $105.00£88.00

Pub Date: January 2006

ISBN: 9780231508810

320 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $34.99£30.00

Voices of the New Arab Public

Iraq, al-Jazeera, and Middle East Politics Today

Marc Lynch

Columbia University Press

Al-Jazeera and other satellite television stations have transformed Arab politics over the last decade. By shattering state control over information and giving a platform to long-stifled voices, these new Arab media have challenged the status quo by encouraging open debate about Iraq, Palestine, Islamism, Arab identity, and other vital political and social issues. These public arguments have redefined what it means to be Arab and reshaped the realm of political possibility. As Marc Lynch shows, the days of monolithic Arab opinion are over. How Arab governments and the United States engage this newly confident and influential public sphere will profoundly shape the future of the Arab world.

Marc Lynch draws on interviews conducted in the Middle East and analyses of Arab satellite television programs, op-ed pages, and public opinion polls to examine the nature, evolution, and influence of the new Arab public sphere. Lynch, who pays close attention to what is actually being said and talked about in the Arab world, takes the contentious issue of Iraq-which has divided Arabs like no other issue-to show how the media revolutionized the formation and expression of public opinion. He presents detailed discussions of Arab arguments about sanctions and the 2003 British and American invasion and occupation of Iraq. While Arabs strongly disagreed about Saddam's regime, they increasingly saw the effects of sanctions as a potent symbol of the suffering of all Arabs. Anger and despair over these sanctions shaped Arab views of America, their governments, and themselves.

Lynch also suggests how the United States can develop and improve its engagement with the Arab public sphere. He argues that the United States should move beyond treating the Arab public sphere as either an enemy to be defeated or an object to be manipulated via public relations. Instead of wasting vast sums of money on a satellite television station nobody watches, the United States should enter the public sphere as it really exists.

Voices of the New Arab Public is an unusually compelling book that examines a crucial issue for the Arab world, Europe, and the United States. Marc Lynch's clear and persuasive arguments add vividness and immediacy to discussions of the role of Iraq in the emergence of an Arab public sphere. The events of September 2001 and those following the invasion of Iraq make an understanding of this issue particularly urgent.

Dale F. Eickelman, Dartmouth College, coeditor of New Media in the Muslim World: The Emerging Public Sphere

Marc Lynch's work is a unique and valuable contribution to understanding issues vital to Americans. Its wealth of detail on what Arabs discuss among themselves will help Westerners understand the true nature of Arab media and opinion. Marc Lynch lets us listen to ongoing Arab discussions Westerners rarely hear.

Ambassador William Rugh, author of Arab Mass Media: Newspapers, Radio, and Television in Arab Politics

In Voices of the New Arab Public... Marc Lynch does an excellent job of appraising the impact of this change.

Philip Seib, Dallas Morning News

Voices of the New Arab Public is a closely argued and highly provocative study.

John R. Bradley, Newsweek

No other has addressed the intersection between the media and the prospects for social change in such a meaningful way.

Sally Bland, Jordan Times

Lynch's authoritative and exciting book, rooted in local knowledge, urgently demands that we engage with this modern Arab world.

Jean Seaton, New Statesman

This study is lucidly written, and an excellent discussion of the true nature of the Arab media and opinion... Highly recommended.


Lynch offers a fascinating study of the history, present day, and future of new voices flourishing in the middle east.

Michael J. Carson, The Midwest Book Review

A highly scholarly study, extensively researched, well documented, and lucidly written, combining a wealth of data and keen analysis.

Mahmud A. Faksh, Perspectives on Politics

A wonderful read.

Soek-Fang Sim, Global Media and Communication

A must-read work for anyone interested in political communication, civil society, democratization or transformation process in Arab societies.

Carola Richter, Transnational Broadcasting Studies

Lynch has performed a methodological breakthrough.

Jon W. Anderson, Middle East Studies Journal

A great read for readers who want a Western scholar's insight on the trends of the new Arab public.

Tal Azran, Melbourne University, Meida International Australia

A worthwhile read for academics and policy makers alike.

Joana Odencrantz, Middle East Policy

An empirically rich and challenging statement about the political effects of the "new media."

International Journal of Middle East Studies
1. Iraq and the New Arab Public
2. The Structural Transformation of the Arab Public Sphere
3. The Iraqi Challenge and the Old Iraqi Public
4. The al-Jazeera Era
5. Baghdad Falls
6. New Iraq, New Arab Public

Read the chapter >"Iraq and the New Arab Public" (pdf)

CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, 2006

About the Author

Marc Lynch is Professor of Political Science at Williams College and author of State Interests and Public Spheres: The International Politics of Jordan's Identity (CUP, July, 1999)