Journey

My book is about a journey through six countries — Tunisia, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Qatar, and Egypt. And the journey is used to tell the story of the Middle East after the Arab Spring. Here you can find out more about my journey — the research process, a map of the countries, pictures and quotes from people interviewed, and photos.

Photo Galleries

Egypt


View of Cairo
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Qatar


Doha skyline
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Iraq


Overlooking Erbil
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Tunisia


Bizerte
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Jordan


Wadi Rum
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Turkey


Diwan Dome at Topkapi Palace
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Cast of Characters

The Fires of Spring includes interviews with leaders in Tunisia, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Qatar, and Egypt about their views on the Arab Spring and trends shaping the Middle East. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with such courageous people – protest leaders, government officials, prominent journalists, and public intellectuals. Here you can meet some of the “cast of characters” in The Fires of Spring.

Tunisia

“Freedom of speech is the only thing we have from the revolution, and we have to preserve it.”

Lina Ben Mhenni, Nobel-nominated blogger of Tunisia’s protests on A Tunisian Girl

“All the country was drafting the constitution together at the same time. We had this opportunity to discuss the value of liberty, the meaning of dignity, the meaning of rights.”

Meherzia Labidi, Vice-President of Tunisia’s Constituent Assembly that drafted Tunisia’s constitution

Egypt

“The revolution is not a political change. It is a human change. … This is a basic change, but it is a great achievement. It is irreversible. Of course I am disappointed, like anybody who believed in this revolution, but I am still optimistic.”

Alaa Al-Aswany, Author of bestselling novel The Yacoubian Building and protest leader

“People’s relationship with authority has changed. People feel that they can be critical of the state, the regime, and the relationship mediating the government and the people. And they can change it.”

Lina Attalah, Founder of independent newspaper Mada Masr and protester

Photo by Graham Hancock / CC BY-SA 3.0

“The people who are pessimistic now are equally immature about their opinion as the people who were super optimistic at the beginning. This thing was so massive that you would definitely expect change. There are good moments; there are huge struggles. This struggle is probably going to continue for a while.”

Wael Ghonim, Organizer of Egypt’s protests on Facebook and founder of Parlio.com

Iraq

Photo by VOA Kurdish

“It is very important for us to bring back our girls and our daughters. We need now to urge the coalition forces to finish ISIS, seek support from humanitarian organizations, and bring back our daughters.”

Vian Dakhil, Member of Parliament and proponent of Yazidi rights

Photo by Lieutenant Colonel Scott Voskovitch (Kirkuk Regional Air Base Public Affaris)

“When you return back to your house, you can be Arab, Sunni, Shiite, Kurdish, or other. But if you allow people in their jobs to say, I am from this ethnic group or that ethnic group, it will be difficult for Iraq in the future.”

General Anwar Hamad Amin, Commander of Iraq’s Air Force

Photo by Kenneth C. Zirkel / CC BY-SA 3.0

“The only way to achieve region-wide concord and harmony is to create some kind of confederation of the entire Middle East with strong supranational institutions that would guide the process.”

Ali Allawi, Former Minister of Finance of Iraq, and author of The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace

Jordan

Photo by U.S. Department of Defense

“Those who are quick to pass judgment about the success or failure of the Arab Spring are way too early. … The Arab world needs a new social contract. It does not need to be bleak. There is still time to do the right thing.”

Marwan Muasher, VP Carnegie and former Deputy Prime Minister of Jordan

Photo by Joi Ito (originally posted to Flickr as Fadi Ghandour) / CC BY 2.0

“There are economic challenges across the region. We have yet to see the economic benefits [from the Arab Spring]. You can break a system very quickly, but you cannot rebuild it in two or three years.”

Fadi Ghandour, Entrepreneur and Founder of Aramex

“We are in a stage where Arab societies are still discovering themselves. They are fighting for things that are not really clear in their minds.”
“The Arab Spring helped give women a great push. Before the Arab Spring in Jordan, we rarely saw women with free opinions and independent voices. In Jordan and elsewhere in the Middle East, one of the Arab Spring advantages is that women’s voices are heard louder than before.”

Rula Al-Hroub, Member of Parliament and Host of Josat TV Talk Show

Turkey

“Everyone was side by side. It was a confrontation with the political system.”

Korhan Gumus, Founder of Taksim Platform protest movement and host of Metropolitica radio show

“I still think that Turkey is a success story. We have setbacks. We are definitely at a setback. But we are the only country in the world, despite setbacks and shortcomings, that has blended Islam and democracy.”

Barcin Yinanc, Opinion Editor at Hurriyet Daily News

Qatar

“I need others to know that there are people who think about these things. … My writing started as a way for me to let go of my questions or frustrations that I don’t have answers for.”

Maryam Al-Subaiey, Poet

“When I teach, a definition of the news is that it is something that someone in power wants to not be known. We make both sides angry…. We ask tough questions of the regimes.”

Ibrahim Helal, Director of News at Al Jazeera Arabic

Map of Locations

Here is a map of the place that I visited during the research for this book. I hope you enjoy the journey narrative through them!