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The Price of Order

Author:  F. Gregory Gause III 

Affiliation: The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University

Publisher: Foreign affairs

Date: March/April 2022

Type: Article

Word/Page Count: 5200 words

Link: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/middle-east/2022-02-22/price-order

Keywords: Stable States, Syria, and Middle East

Brief:

The writer sheds light on the general reasons for political failure in Middle Eastern countries, but argues that despite the many reasons such as sectarianism, widespread resentment against non-representative governments, economic failure, and foreign interference, that these remain secondary causes and are not the main reason. The main reason lies in the weakness of the central authority in many countries of the region. These political vacuums call for the intervention of forces near and far, and allows sectarian and ethnic identities to become more prominent. The writer believes that some short-term compulsions are not harmful. After the Iranian revolution and the military coup in Turkey in 1980, the situation stabilized in both countries, as the governments could somewhat control the people. The writer moves to the instability in the Middle East region left by the US’ war on Iraq. The United States believed that it could destroy what remained of the Iraqi state and rebuild it from the ground up. But after the US invaded in 2003, it became a failed state under occupation. Subsequent events in the Middle East that followed included the Arab Spring revolutions, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s democratic victory in Egypt’s parliamentary and presidential elections, which were then wiped out by a military coup in 2013 to restore power to the military elite that has ruled Egypt since 1952. Tunisia’s successful democratic experiment is now being challenged by an elected and popular president who has suspended parliament and the constitution. The choice now in the Middle East is between harsh rule and no rule. As was the case in Syria, solid authoritarian regimes are more rewarding. For decades, the Ba’athist Assad regime and his father kept Syria’s border with Israel quiet. They prevented Islamic terrorist organizations from using Syria as a base for attacks on the United States. Getting back to this point would be a worthwhile goal.

By: Taqwa Abu Kmeil, CIGA Research Assistant

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