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The new post-World War II political order in the Middle East did not differ from the norm, present in other regional orders.The Cold War was fought out in the Middle East, just as in other regional orders.If the "Arab Awakening" marked the transition from Ottomanism to Arabism in the early 20th century, the return of political Islam marked post-1967 Arab politics. To be sure, political Islam was not a newcomer to the region, but was weakened since the 1940s and could not compete with the two dominant variants of Arab nationalism, Nasserism and Baathism. For two decades, Arab regimes were the exception to the norm, until the Arab Spring took both rules and ruled by surprise.In the last few years, a different Middle East has emerged, instigated in part by the Arab Spring and its aftermath.Second, Islamist groups have come to power or are active political actors.Third, Salafi-jihadi groups compete with Islamists in several Arab countries. The Middle East today is the sick man of the international system, just as the Ottoman Empire was the sick man of Europe in the late 19th century.
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