“No culture, no society can prosper without a culture of diversity,” said Carnegie’s Marwan Muasher, “and yet, that is not what we have seen, or are seeing, today [in the Middle East].” Speaking to Voice of America’s Press Conference USA about his new book, The Second Arab Awakening and the Battle for Pluralism, Muasher said the region has not been living in a culture of democracy and diversity, and therefore, it did not have institutions capable of filling the void and vacuum that appeared as a result of the revolutions.

Muasher contended that the Middle East is seeing exclusionary forces, both Islamist and secular, engaging in a winner-take-all strategy in the Arab world. “As long as this remains a zero-sum game between Islamists and the secular elements in society, I’ve argued that the sum with be zero,” he said. He maintained that both forces should work to guarantee the right for others to operate in such a system, even if they don’t agree with their views—until that is done, Muasher said, the Arab world will be mired in conflicts, without putting in the necessary foundations for democracy.

This interview was originally broadcast on Voice of America.