In the Arab world, pact-making has proven painful and sometimes politically (if not literally) fatal. There are many reasons for this. Two particularly worth mentioning are the persistence of sharp identity conflicts in Arab societies, and the skill with which the Arab world’s “protection-racket” autocracies have played upon these tensions for so long. Where they have fallen, these autocracies have left behind a tricky dilemma: Groups that they once shielded remain significant but cannot win elections, while their rivals (who can win elections) wonder why they should make concessions to sure losers.