The Middle East is one of the world’s most volatile regions. In recent years, from the optimism and then crushing disappointment of the Arab uprisings through the rise and fall of the Islamic State, it has presented key international security challenges. With the resilient jihadi terror threat, large-scale migration due to warfare and climate change, and fierce competition for control over oil, it promises to continue to be a powder keg. What ignited this instability?
Away from Chaos is a sweeping political history of four decades of Middle East conflict and its worldwide ramifications. Gilles Kepel, called “France’s most famous scholar of Islam” by the New York Times, offers a clear and persuasive narrative of the long-term causes of tension while seamlessly incorporating on-the-ground observations and personal experiences from the people who lived through them.
From the Yom Kippur/Ramadan war of 1973 to the aftermath of the Arab Spring, Away from Chaos weaves together the various threads that run through Middle East politics and ties them to their implications on the global stage. With keen insight stemming from decades of experience in the region, Kepel puts these chaotic decades in perspective and illuminates their underlying dynamics. He also considers the prospects of emerging from this long-lasting turmoil and for the people of the Middle East and the world to achieve a more stable future.
Gilles Kepel is chair of Middle East and Mediterranean studies at the Université Paris Sciences et Lettres and director of the Middle Eastern Mediterranean Freethinking Platform at the Università della Svizzera italiana in Lugano. He is the author of many widely acclaimed books, including, most recently translated into English, Terror in France: The Rise of Jihad in the West (2017).
Introduction: A Testament for Syria
Part I. The Barrel and the Koran
1. The Islamization of the Political Order
2. The Onset of International Jihad: Taking on the Near Enemy (1980–1987)
3. The Second Jihadist Phase: Against the Distant Enemy (1998–2005)
4. The Third Jihadist Generation: Networks and Territories (2005–2019)
Part II. From Arab Spring to Jihadist Caliphate
5. The Arab Spring in Context
6. From the Fall of Despots to Societies in Turmoil
7. Sectarianism and Derailed Rebellions: The Shiite-Sunni Fault Line
Part III. After ISIS: Disintegration and Regrouping
8. The Fracturing of the Sunni Bloc
9. The Global Stakes in the Fight for the Levant
Conclusion: Middle Eastern Fault Lines and Global Tectonics