Brexit’s Ripple Effects Will Reach the Middle East, Too

Brexit’s Ripple Effects Will Reach the Middle East, Too
Saudi King Salman greets U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 24, 2015 (AP photo via SPA).

The Brexit bombshell is bad news for the Middle East region on a number of scores, in particular what it says about Western attitudes toward migrants and Muslims, and about loss of support for economic integration, a big idea that would improve prospects for the Arab world.

The shock waves after the U.K. referendum are being felt in the Middle East, but so far the reactions are fairly superficial and self-interested. Judging from comments on Twitter and other social media quoted by Arab media, the focus for many in the Arab world has been on the weakness of the major Western powers, the U.K. and U.S. in particular, that the vote reveals. Some are taking pleasure in the fact that political elites, including President Barack Obama and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, who openly advocated for the “Remain” camp, were proven wrong and out of touch with British voters’ sentiments.

Egyptian bloggers have suggested, tongue in cheek, that Egypt take the U.K.’s place in the EU. On a more serious note, others elsewhere in the region pointed out that the vote reflected yet another example of the older generation deciding for the young. It is not surprising, given the lopsidedly youthful demographics of the Arab world, that many would identify with the deeply disappointed young Europeans who see the vote as a dark omen for their future.

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