Governance and International Relations in the Middle East

Mohsen M. Milani

Published by: University Press of Florida

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Governance and International Relations in the Middle East

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Contentious Politics in the Middle East

Political Opposition under Authoritarianism

Holger Albrecht

Scholarship examining the governments in the Middle East and North Africa rarely focuses on opposition movements, since those countries tend to be ruled by a centralized, often authoritarian government. However, even in an oppressive state, there are civil society and oppositional forces at work. The contributors to Contentious Politics in the Middle East reveal how such forces emerge and are manifested in nondemocratic states across the region.

In most cases, the essays offer a comparative perspective, highlighting similarities across political borders. Providing historical context for current events, they examine the sociopolitical situations in Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Algeria and analyze the role of Islam in Arab states' governments and in the opposition movements to them. They also demonstrate that not all opposition forces propose the overthrow of authority and point out the various forms opposition takes in societies that leave little room for political activism.

The contributors to the volume are drawn from countries across three continents and bring backgrounds in political science, conflict resolution, and history. Challenging the assertion that state-society relations are limited to coercive top-down arrangements in authoritarian regimes, the book will inspire debate on the topic of contentious political participation within the region as well as in similar settings throughout the world.

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Inter-Arab Alliances

Regime Security and Jordanian Foreign Policy

Curtis R. Ryan

There is a method to the apparent madness of Arab politics. In a region where friends can become enemies and enemies become friends seemingly at the drop of the hat, Curtis Ryan argues that there is logic to be found. Through fourteen years of field research and interviews with key policy makers, Ryan examines the remarkably stable Jordan as a microcosm of the region’s politics. He traces the last four decades of Jordanian foreign policy in an attempt to better understand what seems like chaos.

What Ryan finds is an approach that is fundamentally different from alliances made in the West, in both how and why they are made. With governmental change and upheaval occurring on a seemingly regular basis, Arab nations approach diplomacy with much different means and potential ends. The impact of this diplomacy is arguably the most immediate in the world today, as conflict with words and conflict with weapons are sometimes separated by mere days.

The topic of international relations in the Arab world is as complex as it is important. Ryan gives the reader the theoretical background, and shows its direct applicability through the foreign policy of Jordan.

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War and State Building in the Middle East

Rolf Schwarz

War and State Building in the Middle East addresses the strengths and weaknesses of the authoritarian-regime governments commonly found in the Middle East, particularly among oil-rich countries. In this region, war has interacted with processes of state making in ways that fundamentally differ from the European experience. In short, unlike in Europe, wars do not make states in the Middle East; they destroy them.

According to economic theory, most oil-rich countries are rentier states; that is, they rely upon the extraction of a natural resource to generate revenue and authority for the central government. As a result, there is little reliance upon domestic taxation and a general lack of political accountability and transparency.

By examining how such governments wage war, Rolf Schwarz turns the prevailing wisdom of modern state building on its head. He closely analyzes the real-world experiences of the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, and Iraq to show how rentierism leads to internal weaknesses when it comes to governing. His comparative approach allows him to demonstrate how varying levels of reliance upon external resource rents are reflected in the structure of the regime.

By highlighting the perils of funding wars through the sale of natural resources, fighting with imported weaponry, and accepting peace settlements negotiated and guaranteed by foreign powers, Schwarz offers provocative insights into post-conflict peace building, state failure, and the potential for democratic rule in the region.

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