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Table of contents :
Governance in the Middle East and North Africa
List of illustrations
List of contributors
List of abbreviations
Part I Overview
Chapter 1 Governance-constrained growth in the MENA region
Chapter 2 Stuff is not enough: Resources and governance in the Middle East
Chapter 3 The Middle East political economy and the Arab Awakening: A diffcult symbiosis?
Chapter 4 Trade agreements in the MENA region: Contribution to better governance
Chapter 5 Illegitimate governance: The roots of Islamist radicalization in the MENA
Chapter 6 Arab intellectuals and authority: A continuity of an implied system
Chapter 7 The prospects for democratization in the Middle East
Chapter 8 The improvement of women’s rights in the Arab world: The importance of governing authorities
Chapter 9 The Islamic veil in civil societies
Chapter 10 Revolutions in the Middle East: Demands for political, social and economic changes and the states’ repressive response
Part II Country studies
Chapter 11 Transition in progress: Governance in Iraq 2003–11
Chapter 12 Managing the Islamic Republic: Governance in post-revolutionary Iran
Chapter 13 Civilianizing Turkish policy: Civil society in decision-making and civil-military relations
Chapter 14 The Kingdom: Can the magic last?
Chapter 15 Qatar: Democratic reforms and global status
Chapter 16 Government in the United Arab Emirates: Progress and pathologies
Chapter 17 Political pluralism and governance challenges in Kuwait and Bahrain
Chapter 18 Yemen on the precipice: Governing the ungovernable
Chapter 19 The solitary sultan and the construction of the new Oman
Chapter 20 Antimonies of economic governance in contemporary Syria
Chapter 21 Governance, reform and resurgent ethnic identity politics in Jordan
Chapter 22 Palestinian governance: Against all odds
Chapter 23 The evolution of governance in Israel
Chapter 24 Governance in Egypt
Chapter 25 Sudan: Governance in a divided country, 1956–2010
Chapter 26 Governance reforms in Morocco: Beyond electoral authoritarianism?
Chapter 27 Governance in Algeria: The protracted transition to democratic rule
Chapter 28 Governance in Libya
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Governance in the Middle East and North Africa A Handbook Edited by Abbas Kadhim

Governance in the Middle East and North Africa

Governance in the Middle East is a major topic of interest to scholars, activists and policy-makers. The purpose of this volume is to shed light on the contemporary challenges of governance in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and to provide an up-to-date account in historical perspective of the political changes currently under way in the region. With analysis of issues including resources and governance, women’s rights, radicalization and political economy, and with the inclusion of country case studies looking at the democratic process unfolding in Iraq, the debate over reform in Iran, the South–North conflict in Yemen and the question of political transition in Egypt and Libya, this book is invaluable to those interested in Middle Eastern affairs. It aims to present the first comprehensive framework of the question of governance in the Middle East in its various forms and manifestations. The Handbook consists of two parts:  Part I provides a theoretical and thematic framework for the mutual influence between governance factors such as economics, trade, culture, social conditions, religion and the status of women.  Part II examines individual case studies in 19 countries and territories of the Middle East. Each case study is written by a leading regional expert and sheds light on the particular challenges to governance in the country in question. The chapters in this volume follow a variety of research methodologies, depending on the topic of each chapter and the contributor’s field of research. This volume offers the most comprehensive and timely reading in the field of MENA governance, and will be an invaluable resource for students, researchers and policy-makers, and for those with a general interest in the region. Abbas Kadhim is an Assistant Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California, USA, who specializes in Islamic Studies and Middle East History. He is the author of Reclaiming Iraq: The 1920 Revolution and the Founding of the Modern State (University of Texas Press, 2012).

Governance in the Middle East and North Africa

A handbook

Editor: Abbas Kadhim

First edition published 2013 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2013 Routledge The right of Abbas Kadhim to be identified as editor of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Governance in the Middle East and North Africa: a handbook/ editor, Abbas Kadhim. – 1st ed. p. cm. ISBN 978-1-85743-584-9 (hardback : alk. paper) ISBN 978-0-203-85005-3 (ebook) 1. Middle East—Politics and government—1945–. 2. Africa, North—Politics and government—20th century. 3. Africa, North—Politics and government—21st century. I. Kadhim, Abbas K. JQ1758.A58G68 2012 320.956–dc23 2012002335 ISBN: 978-1-85743-584-9 (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-203-85005-3 (ebk) Typeset in Bembo by Taylor & Francis Books Europa Commissioning Editor: Cathy Hartley


List of illustrations Preface List of contributors List of abbreviations

viii x xii xxiii






Governance-constrained growth in the MENA region ROBERT E. LOONEY


Stuff is not enough: Resources and governance in the Middle East




The Middle East political economy and the Arab Awakening: A difficult symbiosis?




Trade agreements in the MENA region: Contribution to better governance




Illegitimate governance: The roots of Islamist radicalization in the MENA




Arab intellectuals and authority: A continuity of an implied system




The prospects for democratization in the Middle East




The improvement of women’s rights in the Arab world: The importance of governing authorities




The Islamic veil in civil societies FAEGHEH SHIRAZI


vi Contents 10 Revolutions in the Middle East: Demands for political, social and economic changes and the states’ repressive response




Country studies


11 Transition in progress: Governance in Iraq 2003–11



12 Managing the Islamic Republic: Governance in post-revolutionary Iran



13 Civilianizing Turkish policy: Civil society in decision-making and civil-military relations



14 The Kingdom: Can the magic last?



15 Qatar: Democratic reforms and global status



16 Government in the United Arab Emirates: Progress and pathologies



17 Political pluralism and governance challenges in Kuwait and Bahrain



18 Yemen on the precipice: Governing the ungovernable



19 The solitary sultan and the construction of the new Oman



20 Antimonies of economic governance in contemporary Syria



21 Governance, reform and resurgent ethnic identity politics in Jordan



22 Palestinian governance: Against all odds



23 The evolution of governance in Israel JONATHAN FINE AND ITZHAK GALNOOR


Contents 24 Governance in Egypt

vii 399


25 Sudan: Governance in a divided country, 1956–2010



26 Governance reforms in Morocco: Beyond electoral authoritarianism?



27 Governance in Algeria: The protracted transition to democratic rule



28 Governance in Libya






Figures 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16

GDP per capita GDP per capita growth rate Regional governance patterns, 1996–2008: voice and accountability MENA governance patterns, 1996–2008: voice and accountability Regional governance patterns, 1996–2008: political stability/absence of violence MENA governance patterns, 1996–2008: political stability/absence of violence Regional governance patterns, 1996–2008: government effectiveness MENA governance patterns, 1996–2008: government effectiveness Regional governance patterns, 1996–2008: regulatory quality MENA governance patterns, 1996–2008: regulatory quality Regional governance patterns, 1996–2008: rule of law MENA governance patterns, 1996–2008: rule of law Regional governance patterns, 1996–2008: control of corruption MENA governance: control of corruption Economic freedom summary score Trade freedom

5 6 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 22 23

Tables 1.1 1.2 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4

4.1 4.2

Economic freedom in the MENA region, 2010 Predictions of the impact of increased defence expenditure on growth Oil reserves, production (selected Middle Eastern countries, selected years) Natural gas reserves, production (selected Middle Eastern countries, selected years) Social indicators for selected Middle Eastern and North African hydrocarbon exporters Trends in the value of arms exports to selected Middle Eastern hydrocarbon producers, 1973–2009. Total for the period (per-year average, calculated) in 1990, US$ Trade openness of the MENA countries MENA countries regional and global exports, 2000–2011

21 28 34 34 40

41 64 65

Illustrations 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 4.10 13.1

MENA countries regional and global imports, 2000–2011 Regional trade agreements in the MENA region Bilateral trade agreements and date of entry into force Governance indicators for MENA countries, 1996 and 2009 Applied MFN tariffs of MENA countries, 2009 Trade restrictiveness: non-tariff barriers and tariffs Ease of trading across borders ranking, 2010–11 Ease of doing business ranking, 2011 The increase of NGOs establishment in Turkey (1980–2011)

ix 66 67 70 72 73 73 74 77 222


When this book was commissioned, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) was a safe place for brutal dictators and authoritarian monarchs. Regional regimes spent eight years and untold resources to prevent the spread of the Iraqi experience to their countries and seemed to have succeeded, at the end of 2010, in defeating any hopes for replicating the post-Saddam transition from static authoritarianism to democratization. The MENA region had no signs of political change to expect or to predict in a book like this one. The only event we had to worry about was the referendum to determine the fate of the southern part of Sudan, which was to be held after David Shinn was going to provide his chapter. In the first days of 2011 I was doing my typical book editor’s job of nagging the few contributors whose to-do lists had other projects competing with their contribution to this book, and I was very satisfied with their assurances to send me the chapters ‘very soon’, so I had no doubt about meeting the deadline I had set for myself and the team. That was when everything in the MENA turned upside down and so did this book’s timeline. In a matter of weeks, many chapters needed serious revision before the manuscript was ready to be sent to the publisher. The most memorable example was Roger Owen’s chapter on Libya. He submitted his chapter one evening and the very next morning I found an e-mail message from him telling me that he needed to revise his chapter: while we slept, Libya’s dictator was captured and killed and Roger Owen’s chapter was no longer up to date. While this book’s manuscript was prepared, many countries witnessed great political change: Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Syria have all seen different levels of popular protest against decades of oppression. Some of these countries experienced regime change, others are still struggling to resolve their internal struggle, while some countries have managed to continue their iron fist rule because they have strong alliances with Western powers or they are ‘too big to fail’, as in the case of Saudi Arabia, the share in the world’s oil exports of which is large enough to force ‘the free world’ to look the other way. This book is timely because it sets the stage for many future studies that will focus on governance in the MENA. Part I consists of 10 chapters focusing on theoretical and thematic issues that relate to governance: economic performance, trade agreements, political economy, religious radicalization, state-intellectual relations, women’s status, and the role of social movements in the latest events. Part II includes 18 case studies that examine governance in 19 countries in the MENA region. Writing on unfolding revolutionary events always comes with many risks, because it is impossible to know the outcome of such events. Therefore, the authors of the following

Preface xi chapters deserve special credit for agreeing to take these risks and to write about governance in countries facing an historic revolutionary wave not seen since the fall of authoritarianism in Eastern Europe. As I present this well-timed volume to the readers, I would like to thank all of the contributors for their diligence and scholarly efforts, which made this book possible. Also, many thanks to Cathy Hartley, Europa Commissioning Editor, for her foresight in recognizing the importance of this book and her patience throughout the past two years. Roya Tobin and Alison Neale have worked tirelessly on the preparation of the final version of the book and deserve very special thanks. Finally, I would like to thank my family for their continued love and support. Abbas Kadhim


Samer N. Abboud is Assistant Professor of International Studies at Arcadia University. He received his doctorate in Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter, where he completed a dissertation entitled ‘The Political Economy of Marketization in Syria’. In addition to having published journal articles and book chapters related to economic policy in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and the Gulf Cooperation Council, he is currently working on a manuscript entitled Neoliberalism, Privatization, and Political Change in the Arab World. Aqeel Abood is an independent scholar. He earned his BA in philosophy from the University of Baghdad. Following his participation in the 1991 uprising in Iraq, he spent 18 months in the Iraqi refugee camp in Saudi Arabia before resettling in the USA in 1992. He earned his MA in political science from the San Francisco State University for his thesis, ‘The Sadrist Movement: Success in Mobilizing People in Iraq’. He is currently working on a book manuscript on social movements in post-Saddam Iraq. Louay Yunis Bahry is currently an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Tennessee. Between 2004 and 2008 he was an Adjunct Scholar at the Middle East Institute, Washington, DC. Between 2001 and 2004 he was Chairman, Department of Public Administration at the University of Qatar, in Doha. He is a political scientist who specializes in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, and has written and lectured extensively on the subject. Born in Baghdad, Iraq, he received a degree in law from the University of Baghdad and a doctorate in political science from the University of Montpellier, France. Dr Bahry taught political science at the University of Baghdad in 1962–77. He has also taught in several other universities, including King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the University of Algiers, Algeria, and Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, USA, and has spent a year as a Research Fellow at the University of Cologne, in Germany. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA. Since 2002 he has acted as a consultant to the US government. Dr Bahry has published extensively on Iraq, the Persian Gulf and the Middle East. He wrote a major study on the Baghdad Railway Question, published in Baghdad, 1967. His recent publications include two articles on the opposition in Bahrain, one in the Mediterranean Quarterly, Summer, 2000, and one in Middle East Policy, May 1997; articles on elections in Qatar and on Qatar’s Al Jazeera, in Middle East Policy, 1999 and 2001; and two articles on Qatar and on railroads in the Middle East in Middle East

Contributors xiii Insight in 2001. In 2002 he co-authored, with Phebe Marr, an article on Qatari women published in Middle East Policy, 2005. Dr Bahry has been a contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica for the past 13 years, contributing articles on Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq. In 2007–08, he contributed articles on Qatar, Iraq and the Gulf to the Middle East Institute website. As an expert on Iraq, the Gulf and the Middle East, Dr Bahry has given numerous interviews to major newspapers, such as The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Izvestia, and appeared on major TV networks, including CNN, the BBC, Al Jazeera and Iraqi TV stations. Sylvia I. Bergh is a Swedish national and an academic active in Morocco’s democratic decentralization, good governance and local government themes since 2002. Her PhD thesis (in Development Studies, University of Oxford, 2008) was on decentralization and participatory approaches to rural development in Morocco. She has taught, presented and published widely on decentralization (including fiscal issues), participatory approaches to rural development, local governance, civil society-state interactions, capacity building and institutional sustainability, water governance, donor policies and aid harmonization, theory-based evaluation as well as migration issues. Since 2007 Bergh has been working as a (senior) lecturer in development management and governance at the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague (part of Erasmus University Rotterdam), and a member of the teaching teams responsible for the MA specializations in Public Policy & Management, and Governance & Democracy. Her work experience includes two years at the World Bank in both the President’s Office and the Morocco Country Office, as well as consultancy assignments for UNIFEM (UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women—now UN Women) (evaluating the gender responsive budgeting programme in Morocco) and Dutch non-governmental organizations (NGOs) (on democracy assistance in Morocco). She also has hands-on experience in training local government staff and local politicians in Uganda. Her language skills include fluent English, French, German and Swedish, as well as intermediate Arabic, having earned an MA degree (First Class Honours) in Arabic and International Relations from the University of St Andrews in Scotland in 1999. She also holds an MPhil degree in Modern Middle Eastern Studies (with Turkish language) from the University of Oxford (2001). Claire Brunel was a research assistant at the Peterson Institute for International Economics 2007–9, and a trade policy attaché at the French Embassy. While at the Institute, Brunel focused on trade issues, particularly regarding North Africa, North America and the European Union (EU). Before joining the Institute, she worked at the European Commission in the Economics and Financial Affairs Directorate General, for BNP Paribas in macroeconomic studies, and for Schroeder Salomon Smith Barney in mergers and acquisitions. She obtained a BSc in mathematics and economics from Georgetown University and an MPhil in economics from the University of Oxford. She is coeditor of Capitalizing on the Morocco-US Free Trade Agreement: A Road Map for Success (2009), and Maghreb Regional and Global Integration: A Dream to Be Fulfilled (2008). Christopher M. Davidson is a reader in Government and International Affairs at Durham University. He was formerly an assistant professor at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates and a visiting associate professor at Kyoto University in Japan. He is a listed expert with the UN’s Alliance of Civilisations, has been consulted by the



UN’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, and his work has been cited by the UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency). He is the author of four books: The United Arab Emirates: A Study in Survival; Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success; Abu Dhabi: Oil and Beyond; and The Persian Gulf and Pacific Asia: From Indifference to Interdependence. He has delivered public lectures at a number of leading universities, including Stanford, Yale and Oxford. He has written articles for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, Foreign Policy, Al-Akhbar and OpenDemocracy. He has appeared on most mainstream current affairs television and radio shows, including BBC 2’s Newsnight, BBC Radio 4’s PM and Today shows, Sky’s Jeff Randall Show, CNN’s Connect the World, and NPR’s All Things Considered. He can be followed at Charles Dunbar has practised, written about and taught international relations for 50 years. In 2011, having been professor of international relations at Boston University for seven years, he resigned his full-time position and now teaches two courses a year. From 1962 to 1993 Ambassador Dunbar was a career State Department foreign service officer and was ambassador to Qatar (1983–5) and to Yemen (1988–91). He was chargé d’affaires at the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan (1981–3) and later developed and helped carry out a strategy for strengthening the political dimension of the Afghan resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Earlier in his career, he served in Iran, Afghanistan, Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania. In 1998 he was UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative in Western Sahara, seeking to organize a referendum to determine whether the territory would become independent or a part of Morocco, which has occupied it since 1975. After leaving the State Department, Ambassador Dunbar was President of the Cleveland Council on World Affairs for eight years. During that time he taught at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University and Hiram College. For three years prior to joining the faculty at Boston University, he was the Warburg Professor in International Relations at Simmons College. Ambassador Dunbar has published journal articles and chapters in edited volumes on American foreign policy, the Western Sahara, Yemen and Afghanistan. His ‘op-ed’ articles have appeared in The Boston Globe, The Cleveland Plain Dealer and other newspapers. He also comments regularly on foreign affairs on local, national and international radio and television. David Dunford spent 29 years in the US Foreign Service, including three years as US Ambassador to Oman and four years as Deputy Ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the 1990–1 Gulf War. He worked for General Garner and Ambassador Bremer in Iraq in 2003 as the senior official in charge of reorganizing Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His other assignments have included Economic Minister-Counselor in Cairo, Director of Egyptian Affairs in Washington, Deputy Assistant US Trade Representative in the Executive Office of the President, and Coordinator of the multinational team tasked with setting up MENABank, a proposed regional multilateral development bank in Cairo. Ambassador Dunford teaches courses on the Arab-Israeli Conflict and the Middle East Business Environment at the University of Arizona, and consults for government and the private sector on Middle East issues. He is former Chairman and active board member of the Association for International Practical Training (AIPT), a non-profit organization specializing in international exchanges.

Contributors xv Jonathan Fine is the undergraduate adviser of the international programme in government, diplomacy and strategy at both the Raphael Recanati International School and the Lauder Government School at the interdisciplinary centre (IDC, Herzlyia, Israel), and a fellow researcher at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT). Recently, he was appointed as the academic adviser of the joint programme between the IDC and the Maxwell Government School at the University of Syracuse. He is a member of the International Counter-Terrorism Academic Community (ICTAC) and the International Center for Study of Radicalization and Political Violence (ICSR) at King’s College London. Dr Fine received his PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is a graduate of the Executive Course in Counter-Terrorism at the ICT and the special programme in Intelligence Services and International Security sponsored by the University of Cartagena, Spain. He has a wide background in history, comparative religion, political science and international relations, and specializes in comparative politics with emphasis on the transition from secular agenda political violence to religious agenda political violence, focusing on global and regional perspectives, with emphasis on monotheism and its concept of holy war. He is also an expert on the Middle East and Israeli Studies, with special interest in government structures, arms control and conflict resolution. Dr Fine has been published in numerous academic journals, such as the Middle East Quarterly in Washington and Middle Eastern Studies in London, and has several chapters in books, both in Israel and abroad. Forthcoming books in the USA are: Holy War in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—a Comparative Analysis: Past & Present (University of Texas Press, Austin), and The Israeli Governmental System: The Establishment of a Sovereign State 1947–1951 (The State University of New York: SUNY Press). Itzhak Galnoor is Herbert Samuel Professor of Political Science (emeritus) at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He served on the Executive Committee of the International Political Science Association, and edited Advances in Political Science, Cambridge University Press and IPSA book series. In 1994–6 he was the Head of the Civil Service Commission. Professor Galnoor has served on Israel Science Foundation’s Executive Committee and on the Governing Board of Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 2007–8 he served as the Deputy Chair of the Israeli Council of Higher Education. He is currently the head of a research project at the Van Leer Institute on ‘the responsibility of the state and the boundaries of privatization’. His research interests are comparative politics, the Israeli political system, humour and politics. He has written several books and many articles. His new book with Dana Blander, The Israeli Political System, will be published in Hebrew and English in 2012. Heather S. Gregg is an assistant professor at the Naval Postgraduate School’s (NPS) Department of Defense Analysis. Prior to joining the faculty at NPS, she was an associate political scientist at the RAND Corporation. Dr Gregg earned her PhD in Political Science in 2003 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she focused on international relations and security studies. Dr Gregg also holds a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School, with a concentration in Islam, and a BA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Dr Gregg has published articles and books on issues relating to security in the Middle East, including ‘Setting a Place at the Table: Ending Insurgencies Through the Democratic Process’ (in Small Wars and Insurgencies, 2011); ‘US Relations with Al Qaeda’ (in The Middle



East and the United States, fifth edition, edited by David W. Lesch and Mark L. Haas, Wiley-Blackwell, 2011); and ‘US Relations with Islamic Organizations in the Middle East’ (in Middle East Handbook, edited by Robert E. Looney, Routledge, 2009). She was also an editor and contributor to The Three Circles of War: Understanding the Dynamics of Modern War in Iraq (Potomac, 2010). Ekrem Eddy Güzeldere is a political analyst with the European Stability Initiative (ESI), a think tank working on political and social change in Turkey. He is based in ESI’s Istanbul office. His fields of interest are the Kurdish question, minorities, Turkey’s ‘deep state’, its changing foreign policy, civil-military relations, as well as the debate in Germany about integration and Turkey-EU relations. Besides his work for ESI he is the Turkey tour expert of political tours, an agency organizing group tours and tailormade itineraries on politics and current affairs. He is also the host of a weekly radio programme about current domestic and international affairs on Acik Radyo, in English. Prior to working with ESI he worked for the German political foundation Heinrich Böll in Istanbul, where he was responsible for projects on human rights and energy issues. Previously Güzeldere worked in the European Parliament in Brussels and the communication agency Walueurope in Rome. He holds a master’s degree in political science from the Free University of Berlin (2000), a postgraduate ‘Euromasters’ degree obtained in universities in Bath, Paris and Madrid (2001), and a master’s degree in Peace Studies from Hagen University (2008). Mohammed M. Hafez earned his PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is now an Associate Professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Previously, he served as Visiting Professor of Political Science at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. A specialist in Islamic movements and political violence, his books include Why Muslims Rebel: Repression and Resistance in the Islamic World (2003); Manufacturing Human Bombs: The Making of Palestinian Suicide Bombers (2006); and Suicide Bombers in Iraq: The Strategy and Ideology of Martyrdom (2007). Dr Hafez is also the author of numerous book chapters and journal articles on Islamic movements, political radicalization and jihadist ideologies. He regularly briefs government and military analysts on issues related to terrorism, war of ideas and countering radicalization. Dr Hafez has made several appearances on NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, NPR, C-SPAN, and other national and international media outlets. Gary Clyde Hufbauer has been a Reginald Jones Senior Fellow since 1992, was formerly the Maurice Greenberg Chair and Director of Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (1996–8), the Marcus Wallenberg Professor of International Finance Diplomacy at Georgetown University (1985–92), senior fellow at the Institute (1981–5), deputy director of the International Law Institute at Georgetown University (1979–81); deputy assistant secretary for international trade and investment policy of the US Treasury (1977–9); and director of the international tax staff at the Treasury (1974–6). He has written extensively on international trade, investment and tax issues. He is coauthor of Figuring Out the Doha Round (2010), Global Warming and the World Trading System (2009), Economic Sanctions Reconsidered (third edition, 2007), US Taxation of Foreign Income (2007), Toward a US-Indonesia Free Trade Agreement (2007), US-China Trade Disputes: Rising Tide, Rising Stakes (2006), The Shape of a Swiss-US Free Trade

Contributors xvii Agreement (2006), NAFTA Revisited: Achievements and Challenges (2005), Reforming the US Corporate Tax (2005), Awakening Monster: The Alien Tort Statute of 1789 (2003), The Benefits of Price Convergence (2002), and World Capital Markets (2001); and coeditor of Capitalizing on the Morocco-US Free Trade Agreement: A Road Map for Success (2009), Maghreb Regional and Global Integration: A Dream to Be Fulfilled (2008), The Ex-Im Bank in the 21st Century (2001), Unfinished Business: Telecommunications after the Uruguay Round (1997), and Flying High: Liberalizing Civil Aviation in the Asia Pacific (1996). He is author of Fundamental Tax Reform and Border Tax Adjustments (1996) and US Taxation of International Income (1992), and coauthor of Western Hemisphere Economic Integration (1994), Measuring the Costs of Protection in the United States (1994), NAFTA: An Assessment (revised edition, 1993), North American Free Trade (1992), Economic Sanctions Reconsidered (second edition, 1990), Trade Policy for Troubled Industries (1986), and Subsidies in International Trade (1984). Amaney Jamal is Associate Professor of Politics at Princeton University, and she currently directs the Workshop on Arab Political Development. Jamal’s current research focuses on democratization and the politics of civic engagement in the Arab world. She extends her research to the study of Muslim and Arab Americans, examining the pathways that structure their patterns of civic engagement in the USA. Jamal has written four books. Her first book, Barriers to Democracy, which won the Best Book Award in Comparative Democratization at the American Political Science Association (2008), explores the role of civic associations in promoting democratic effects in the Arab world. Her second book, an edited volume with Nadine Naber (University of Michigan), looks at the patterns and influences of Arab-American racialization processes. She is revising a third book on patterns of citizenship in the Arab world, tentatively entitled Of Empires and Citizens: Authoritarian Durability in the Arab World (under contract with Princeton University Press). Jamal is also a co-author on the book, Citizenship and Crisis: Arab Detroit after 9-11. Finally, Jamal is working on a new single-authored book project entitled Living Poverty: The Urban and Rural Poor in Comparative Development. Jamal is a principal investigator of the ‘Arab Barometer Project’, winner of the Best Dataset in the field of Comparative Politics: Lijphart/Przeworski/Verba Dataset Award (2010); co-PI of the ‘Detroit Arab American Study’, a sister survey to the Detroit Area Study; and Senior Advisor on the Pew Research Center Projects focusing on Islam in America (2006) and Global Islam (2010). In 2005 Jamal was named a Carnegie Scholar. Abbas Kadhim is Assistant Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. He has also held a Visiting Scholar status at Stanford University since 2005. He earned his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2006. His recent publications include: Reclaiming Iraq: the 1920 Revolution and the Founding of the Modern State (Austin: The University of Texas Press, forthcoming 2012); ‘Re-building the Iraqi Military: Democratic Civilian Control, Effectiveness and Efficiency’ (in Handbook on Civil-Military Relations, edited by Thomas Bruneau and Cristiana Matei, London: Routledge 2012); ‘Beyond the Oil Curse: Iraq’s Wealthy State and Poor Society’ (in Handbook of Oil Politics, edited by Robert Looney, London: Routledge 2012); ‘Efforts at Cross-Ethic Cooperation: the 1920 Revolution and Iraqi Sectarian Identities’ (International Journal of Contemporary Iraq Studies vol. 4, issue 3, 2010); ‘Forging a Third Way: Sistani’s Marja’iyya between

xviii Contributors Quietism and Wila-yat al-Faqı-h’ (in Iraq, Democracy and the Future of the Muslim World, edited by Ali Paya and John Esposito, Routledge, July 2010); ‘Widows’ Doomsday: Women and War in the Poetry of Hassan al-Nassar’ (in Women and War in Muslim Countries, edited by Faegheh Shirazi, Austin: The University of Texas Press, June 2010); ‘Opting for the Lesser Evil: US Foreign Policy Toward Iraq, 1958–2008’ (in Handbook of US Middle East Relations, edited by Bob Looney, London: Routledge, 2009); and ’Shi’i Perceptions of the Iraq Study Group’ (Strategic Insights vol. VI, issue 2, March 2007). His book translations include Shi‘a Sects (Firaq al-Shi‘a): A Translation with an Introduction and Notes (London: Islamic College for Advanced Studies Press, 2007); Wahhabism: A Critical Essay, by Hamid Algar (Arabic translation, Köln, Germany: Dar al-Jamal, 2006); and Runaway World: How Globalization is Reshaping our Lives, by Anthony Giddens (Arabic translation, with Dr Hassan Nadhem, Beirut, 2003). Vickie Langohr is associate professor of political science at the College of the Holy Cross, where she also serves as the director of the Peace and Conflict Studies program. She earned her PhD in political science at Columbia University and has published articles in Comparative Politics, Comparative Studies of Society and History, the International Journal of Middle East Studies, the Journal of Democracy, and Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, as well as at Foreign and Foreign Fred H. Lawson is Lynn T. White, Jr. Professor of Government at Mills College. In 2009/10 he was Senior Visiting Fellow at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar. His publications include Constructing International Relations in the Arab World (Stanford University Press, 2006), Why Syria Goes to War (Cornell University Press, 1996), The Social Origins of Egyptian Expansionism during the Muhammad ‘Ali Period (Columbia University Press, 1992), and Bahrain: The Modernization of Autocracy (Westview Press, 1989). He edited Demystifying Syria (London: Saqi Books, 2009), and Comparative Regionalism (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2010). From 2009 to 2011 he was president of the Syrian Studies Association, and spent the 1992/93 academic year as Fulbright Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Aleppo. Robert E. Looney is a Distinguished Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. He received his PhD in Economics from the University of California, Davis. He specializes in issues relating to economic development in the Middle East, East Asia, South Asia and Latin America. He has published 22 books, including: The Pakistani Economy: Economic Growth and Structural Reform (Praeger Publishers, 1997); and Iraq’s Informal Economy: Reflections of War, Sanctions and Policy Failure (Abu Dhabi: The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research 2007); and as editor, Handbook of US-Middle East Relations (London: Routledge, 2009), and Handbook of Oil Politics (London: Routledge 2012). He is currently editing the Handbook of Emerging Economies for Routledge. Dr Looney is on the board of editors of the International Journal on World Peace and Journal of Third World Studies. In addition, he has had over 250 articles appearing in numerous professional journals, including: World Economics, Journal of Development Economics, Middle East Policy, Middle Eastern Studies, Orient, OPEC Review, Middle East Journal, Economic Development and Cultural Change, Journal of Energy and Development, Development Policy Review, American-Arab Affairs, Iranian Studies, Challenge, World Development, Pakistan Development Review, Modern African

Contributors xix Studies, Asian Survey, International Organization, Mediterranean Quarterly, South Asia, Economia Internationale, Journal of Economic Development, Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, The National Interest, and Contemporary South Asia. As an international consultant, Dr Looney has provided advice and assistance to the governments of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Mexico, Panama and Jamaica, as well as the World Bank, International Labor Office, Inter-American Development Bank, Stanford Research Institute, RAND Corporation, and the International Monetary Fund. Laurence Louër is a research fellow at Sciences Po, the Centre for International Studies and Research (CERI), National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris. She is the editor of the French peer-reviewed, quarterly journal Critique Internationale. She served as a permanent consultant for the Direction of Prospective (DP) of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs between 2004 and 2009. Her research focuses on identity politics in the Middle East and social and employment policies in the Gulf monarchies. She is the author of To Be an Arab in Israel (London: Hurst/New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), Transnational Shia Politics. Religious and Political Networks in the Gulf (London: Hurst/New York: Columbia University Press, 2008), and Shiism and Politics in the Middle East. Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Gulf monarchies (London: Hurst/New York: Columbia University Press, forthcoming 2012). Hassan Nadhem is a Research Director at BAE Systems Corporation. He received his doctorate in modern Arabic literature at the University of Mustansiriyah, Baghdad, in 1995. Dr Nadhem has taught in several Arab universities and institutions of higher education. He wrote a module on the Quranic and Hadith Sciences at the Islamic College for Advanced Studies (ICAS), validated by Middlesex University at London. Since 2009 he has been working as a module teacher responsible for the MA specializations in the Quran and Hadith Studies. His work experience includes more than 10 years of teaching, as well as five years as a research director. Dr Nadhem has published 17 original and translated books in Arabic. His current research activities mainly involve cross-cultural studies, critical theory, linguistics and modern Arabic literature. His most recent research approached the great poet Fuzuli between two countries (Iraq and Azerbaijan). He has been a contributor to various Arabic magazines and newspapers, such as al-Aadaab (Beirut), al-Ittihad (UAE), Nawafidh (Saudi Arabia), al-Gasrah (Qatar), al-Ayam (Bahrain), Azzaman (London), al-Rai (Jordan), al-Sabah and al-Mada (Iraq), and Alaalem (Iraq). Roger Owen is currently the A.J. Meyer Professor of Middle East History at Harvard University and a former director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies there. He previously taught Middle East political and economic history at the University of Oxford, where he was also many times the Director of St Antony’s College Middle East Centre. His books include Cotton and the Egyptian Economy, The Middle East in the World Economy: 1800–1914, and State, Power and Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East (third revised edition, 2004), and a biography of Evelyn Baring, the first Lord Cromer, Lord Cromer: Victorian Imperialist, Edwardian Proconsul (Oxford University Press, 2004). He is also the co-author (with Sevket Pamuk) of A History of the Middle East Economies in the Twentieth Century. His most recent publication is The Rise and Fall of Arab Presidents for Life (Harvard University Press, 2012). He has written a regular column for the Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat since the late 1980s.



J.E. Peterson is an historian and political analyst specializing in the Arabian Peninsula and Gulf. He has taught at various universities in the USA and has been associated with a number of leading research institutes in the USA and abroad. Until 1999, he served in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for Security and Defence in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. He is the author or editor of a dozen books, the most recent of which are Defense and Regional Security in the Arabian Peninsula and Gulf, 1973–2004: An Annotated Bibliography (Gulf Research Center, 2006); Historical Muscat: An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer (Brill, 2007); and Oman’s Insurgencies: The Sultanate’s Struggle for Supremacy (Saqi, 2007). He has also published some 40 scholarly articles in such journals and annuals as American Historical Review, Arab-American Affairs, Arabian Studies, Asian Affairs, Encyclopædia Britannica, Hoover Institution Yearbook on International Communist Affairs, Mediterranean Quarterly, Middle East Journal, Middle East Policy, Orbis, RUSI/Brassey’s Defence Yearbook, Survival and Washington Quarterly, as well as over 20 contributions to edited works. He is presently working on a book on Oman since 1970, an historical biography of Saudi Arabia, and a modern history of Arabia. Babak Rahimi is an Associate Professor of Communication, Culture and Religion at the Department of Literature, University of California, San Diego, Rahimi received a Ph.D. from the European University Institute, Florence, Italy, in October 2004. Rahimi has also studied at the University of Nottingham, where he obtained a MA in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy, and the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he was a Visiting Fellow at the Department of Anthropology, 2000–1. Rahimi has written numerous articles on culture, religion and politics and regularly writes on contemporary Iraqi and Iranian politics. He has also made several appearances on BBC (Persia), CNN, NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, NPR and other national and international media outlets. His book, Theater-State and Formation of the Early Modern Public Sphere in Iran: Studies on Safavid Miuharram Rituals, 1590–1641 CE, studies the relationship between ritual, social space and state power in the early modern Iranian history. He has been a visiting scholar at the Internet Institute, University of Oxford and the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. He has been also the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and Jean Monnet Fellowship at the European University Institute, and was a Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, Washington DC, 2005–6. Rahimi’s current research project is on the relationship between digital culture, politics and religion. Curtis R. Ryan specializes in international relations and comparative politics, with particular interests in Middle East politics, Islam and politics, and international terrorism. Dr Ryan holds a PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also a Fulbright Scholar to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the author of Jordan in Transition: From Hussein to Abdullah, and Inter-Arab Alliances: Regime Security and Jordanian Foreign Policy. David H. Shinn has been an adjunct professor in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University since 2001. He served for 37 years in the US Foreign Service, with assignments at embassies in Lebanon, Kenya and Tanzania. He served as the deputy chief of mission at embassies in Mauritania, Cameroon and

Contributors xxi Sudan, and as ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia. His State Department positions included assistant desk officer for Ethiopia, desk officer for Somalia, Djibouti, Uganda and Tanzania in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He was the State Department co-ordinator for Somalia during the international intervention in the early 1990s, and director for East and Horn of Africa affairs in the mid-1990s. He has written extensively on the Horn of Africa and serves on several NGO boards dealing with the region. He lectures around the world and is co-author of a book on China-Africa relations published by the University of Pennsylvania press in June. Ambassador Shinn continues to visit the region. He has a PhD in political science from George Washington University. He blogs at Faegheh Shirazi is professor in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests and specializations are Islamic veiling, popular religious rituals and their influence on gender identity and discourse in Muslim societies, and the Islamic material culture, textiles and clothing. In addition to her numerous published articles, she is the author of Velvet Jihad: Muslim Women’s Quiet Resistance to Islamic Fundamentalism (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2009), The Veil Unveiled: Hijab in Modern Culture (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2001), and as editor, Muslim Women in War and Crisis: From Reality to Representation (Austin: The University of Texas Press, 2010). Currently she is working on a new manuscript, Marketing Piety: Islamic Commodity. Robert Springborg is a Professor in the Department of National Security Affairs of the Naval Postgraduate School, and Program Manager for the Middle East for the Center for Civil-Military Relations. Until August 2008, he held the MBI Al Jaber Chair in Middle East Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), in London, where he also served as Director of the London Middle East Institute. Before taking up that Chair he was Director of the American Research Center in Egypt. From 1973 until 1999 he taught in Australia, where he was University Professor of Middle East Politics at Macquarie University. He has also taught at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. His publications include Mubarak’s Egypt: Fragmentation of the Political Order; Family Power and Politics in Egypt; Legislative Politics in the Arab World (co-authored with Abdo Baaklini and Guilain Denoeux); Globalization and the Politics of Development in the Middle East (co-authored with Clement M. Henry); Oil and Democracy in Iraq; Development Models in Muslim Contexts: Chinese, ‘Islamic’ and Neo-Liberal Alternatives, and several editions of Politics in the Middle East (co-authored with James A. Bill). He has worked as a consultant on Middle East governance and politics for the US Agency for International Development, the US State Department, the UN Development Programme, and various UK government departments, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development. Ghada Hashem Talhami is D.K. Pearsons Professor of Politics emerita, Lake Forest College, Illinois. She was born in Amman, Jordan, to Palestinian parents and grew up mostly in Jerusalem and Amman. She has taught at various universities such as Damascus University as a senior Fulbright scholar, the University of Illinois-Chicago, California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, and University of Tunisia at al-Manar. She serves on the boards of Arab Studies Quarterly and Muslim World. She

xxii Contributors has authored several books, among which are: Palestinian Refugees: Pawns to Political Actors; Syria and the Palestinians: The Clash of Nationalisms; The Mobilization of Muslim Women in Egypt; Palestine and the Egyptian National Identity; Massawa and Suakin under Egyptian Rule; Palestine in the Egyptian Press: From al-Ahram to al-Ahali. She is also the author of several articles on the Jerusalem issue and a shorter study on the education of women in the Arab Gulf region. She is currently working on an historical dictionary of women in the Middle East and North Africa. Mary Ann Tétreault is the Una Chapman Cox Distinguished Professor of International Affairs at Trinity University. Her publications include books and articles about social movements, gender, oil markets, war crimes, international political economy, world politics, and American foreign policy. Her regional specialization is the Middle East, especially Kuwait and the Persian Gulf. Yahia H. Zoubir is Professor of International Relations and International Management, and Director of Research in Geopolitics at Euromed Management, Marseille School of Management. Prior to joining Euromed in September 2005, he was Managing and Academic Director of Thunderbird Europe, French-Geneva Centre in Archamps, France. He was full, tenured Professor of Global Business and International Studies at The American Graduate School of International Management, Glendale, Arizona, USA. He was Editor-in-Chief of the refereed Thunderbird International Business Review (1996–2007). From May 2006 to May 2009 he was Co-Editor-in-Chief of Global Business and Organizational Excellence—A Review of Research and Best Practices, published by Wiley in the USA. Dr Zoubir is co-author of Doing Business in Emerging Europe (UK: Palgrave, 2003); co-editor of North Africa: Politics, Region, and the Limits of Transformation (Routledge, 2008); editor of and main contributor to North Africa in Transition—State, Society & Economic Transformation in the 1990s (University Press of Florida, 1999); co-editor of L’Islamisme Politique dans les Rapports entre l’Europe et le Maghreb (Lisbon: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, 1996); and co-editor of and main contributor to International Dimensions of the Western Sahara Conflict (Praeger Publishers, 1993). His publications have appeared in major US, Canadian and European scholarly journals, and as chapters in edited volumes. He has also contributed to various encyclopaedias.



association agreement Arab Cooperation Council Arab Common Market Abu Dhabi Investments Authority African Economic Community Arab Maghreb Union African Peer Review Mechanism al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula Arabian-American Oil Company Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures Agadir Technical Unit African Union air warning and control systems Bahrain Petroleum Company bilateral investment treaties Brazil, Russia, India, China Committee for the Defence of Legal Rights Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women European Committee for Standardization Community of Sahel Saharan States Central Intelligence Agency (USA) Council of Ministers (UAE) Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa Comprehensive Peace Agreement (Sudan) Declaration of Principles Democratic Unionist Party Executive Committee Economic Development Board (Bahrain) European Free Trade Association Economist Intelligence Unit European Neighbourhood Policy European Union Federal Bureau of Investigation (USA) foreign direct investment Federal National Council (UAE)


free trade agreement Greater Arab Free Trade Area General Agreement on Trade in Services Gulf Cooperation Council (or Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf) gross domestic product Golden List Program gross national product Government of National Unity (Sudan) Government Procurement Agreement Gulf Standards Organization Human Development Index Islamic Action Front (Jordan) International Criminal Court Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq Israeli Defence Forces Irrigation and Drainage Project International Energy Agency Iraq Governing Council International Labour Organization International Monetary Fund industry modernization programme intellectual property rights Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation Joint Security Cooperation Commission Knowledge and Human Development Authority (Dubai) Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company low-to-medium income liquefied natural gas Muslim Brotherhood Middle East and North Africa Manpower and Government Restructuring Programme (Kuwait) Ministry of Defence and Civil Aviation (Saudi Arabia) member of parliament North Atlantic Treaty Organization National Consultative Council (Abu Dhabi) National Congress Party (Sudan) non-governmental organization new institutional economics National Islamic Front (Sudan) non-tariff barrier Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Organization of Islamic Conference Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine


Palestine Legislative Council Palestinian Liberation Organization Palestine National Authority Palestine National Council Palestine National Fund Popular Congress Party (Sudan) personal status law qualified industrial zone regional conformity assessment scheme Revolutionary Command Council Reserve Fund for Future Generations Republic of Yemen Reporters Without Borders Saudi Arabian National Guard structural adjustment packages Supreme Council of Rulers (UAE) small and medium-sized enterprises Standard Oil of California Special Programme for Food Security Sudan People’s Liberation Army Sudan People’s Liberation Movement Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly Sovereign Wealth Funds Transitional Administrative Law Technical Barrier to Trade total factor productivity Trade-Related Investment Measures Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights United Arab Emirates United Nations UN Committee Against Torture UN Development Programme UN Emergency Forces United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UN Refugee Agency UN Relief and Works Agency United States (of America) United States Agency for International Development US Military Training Mission value-added tax Worldwide Governance Indicator World Muslim League World Trade Organization


Part I


Chapter 1

Governance-constrained growth in the MENA region Robert E. Looney

I would suggest that the rate at which countries grow is substantially determined by three things: their ability to integrate with the global economy through trade and investment; their capacity to maintain sustainable government finances and sound money; and their ability to put in place an institutional environment in which contracts can be enforced and property rights can be established. I would challenge anyone to identify a country that has done all three of these things and has not grown at a substantial rate.1 The importance of institutions to a country’s economic growth and development has become almost axiomatic. Indeed you would be hard-pressed to find a recent research paper on economic growth and development which does not spotlight institutions—the set of rules that govern the relationships between actors in the economy—as fundamental for economic performance, through their influence on the incentives for saving, investment, production and trade.2 when the ambition of regimes tends to be overwhelmingly the perpetuation of the current system of government, longer-term exigencies are often relegated to a secondary order of importance. As we found under any totalitarian system, these tendencies eventually lead to broad underperformance in the [MENA] region’s economies with real incomes failing to grow at anything comparable to the experience of other emerging markets.3

Introduction The acknowledged importance of good governance and institutions in supporting growth and development around the world is beginning to have a marked impact on economic thinking across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. While their intrinsic value as ends of development in their own right is now universally accepted, it has been only recently that improved governance, together with sound institutions, have been seen by the region’s policy-makers as having a central role to the process of economic growth and development. Still, there are many gaps in understanding the growth and development process. Despite the new focus on governance and institutions as a means to better growth performance, it is not entirely clear how this prescription translates into short- to medium-term policy priorities and actions, especially for the MENA region’s institutionally weaker and low-income countries. Is the MENA region unique in its pattern of governance? If so, do these differences together with the region’s high levels of defence expenditure and violence alter many of the governance growth patterns found elsewhere?

4 Robert E. Looney The objective of this chapter is to partially fill this gap in the literature by examining the governance-growth relationship in the MENA region. It begins with a brief overview of MENA’s recent growth experience relative to other parts of the world. As a prelude to our examination of the role played by governance in affecting these growth patterns, the next section provides a brief review of the theoretical literature linking governance to economic growth and deployment. This is followed by an examination of the region’s progress made to date in improved governance. After a discussion of the existing empirical literature on the governance-growth linkages in the MENA region, a framework is developed for identifying governance constraints. A final section sums up the role of governance reform as a means of possibly sustaining the region’s growth and development.

Economic growth in the MENA region In assessing the linkages between governance and growth performance in the MENA region, it is important to note first that the countries in this part of the world share a number of common features. These include the effects of the Arab-Israeli conflicts, the Iran-Iraq War, the Gulf War, the post-Saddam conflict in Iraq, oil price volatility, the rise of Islamist fundamentalism, and Islamic-based institutions setting rules for a wide variety of practices.4 However, the region’s countries also differ in a number of important respects, all of which will affect individual country growth patterns irrespective of the level of governance. Key differences include: geographic size; population density; amount of cultivable land; extent of globalization; extent of reserves of oil and other natural resources; income and wealth; ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity; and vulnerability to civil and international wars and other conflicts.5 MENA countries also vary tremendously in their scores on numeral institutional indexes. For example, in the World Economic Forum’s competitiveness reports,6 countries are ranked with respect to technological infrastructure, the quality of public institutions and the macroeconomic environment, all of which affect the environment for business competitiveness and economic growth. Significantly, MENA countries score relatively low in these critical areas. In particular, the larger MENA countries all score below the average of the 102 countries listed in the index. In the last several decades these sets of forces have combined to produce sub-optimal patterns of economic growth.7 Despite MENA’s generous endowment of natural resources, the area as a whole has experienced the weakest real per capita growth performance of all regions in the world, with the possible exception of sub-Saharan Africa. Not only has growth been disappointing, given the region’s potential, but it has also contained an element of instability due in part to the high volatility of oil and commodity prices. Still, there are encouraging signs. Real per capita gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates (see Figure 1.1 and Figure 1.2) have picked up over the past decade. However, in the period since 1998, emerging market economies in Asia and in Central and Eastern Europe have continued to perform significantly better, while sub-Saharan Africa has achieved an even more impressive acceleration in real per capita GDP growth.8 As the sections below attempt to demonstrate, many of these differences in the regional patterns of growth are linked to the relative progress made in improved governance.

Governance-constrained growth in the MENA 6


1978-1987 1988-1997 1998-2007









Latin America

Central & Eastern Europe


SubSaharan Africa

Figure 1.1 GDP per capita (%) Source: World Bank, World Development Indicators database

Governance and the deep determinants of growth The increased interest in the economics literature over the role of governance and institutions can be viewed as part of an ongoing search for the ‘deep determinants’ of economic growth and development. To a large extent, this can be traced to a growing dissatisfaction beginning in the late 1980s with what was until then the preeminent ‘neoclassical’ paradigm introduced independently in the 1950s by Robert Solow9 and Trevor Swan.10 This model assumes that growth is caused by capital accumulation and exogenous rates of change in population and technological progress. These factors alone are assumed to account for the observed patterns of long-run national economic growth.11 A unique feature of the neoclassical model is that it predicts all market-based economies will eventually reach the same constant growth rate if they have the same rate of technological progress and population. Most importantly, in the current context, the model assumes that the long-run growth rate is out of the reach of policy-makers. The main limitation of the neoclassical model is its inability to account for a large share of observed growth—the residual. This difficulty led to a reconsideration of the concept of the ‘factors of production’ to include human capital,12 and in the late 1980s and early 1990s the

6 Robert E. Looney 5

1978-1987 1988-1997 1998-2007

4 3 2 1 0 -1 -2 -3









Figure 1.2 GDP per capita growth rate (%) Note: ALG = Algeria, EGY = Egypt, PAK = Pakistan, JOR = Jordan, LBN = Lebanon, MAR = Morocco, SYR = Syria, TUN = Tunisia, WBG = West Bank and Gaza. Source: World Bank Development Indicators database

development of endogenous growth models to incorporate the level of technology and the rate of innovation.13 The proliferation of endogenous growth models began with the work of Romer.14 Romer observed that the neo-classical growth models failed to reconcile its predictions of convergence (lower per capita income countries experiencing higher rates of growth than high per capita incomes), with the empirical observations that over the long run countries appear to have accelerating growth rates and among countries growth rates differ substantially. Endogenous growth theories are based on the idea that long-run growth is determined by economic incentives. A popular variant of this model maintains that inventions are intentional and generate technological spill-overs that lower the cost of future innovations. As might be expected, factors such as an educated workforce play a special role in these models in determining the rate of technological innovation and long-run growth. At a more fundamental level, however, it can be said that the mainstream growth models, including the exogenous group noted above, fail to answer truly causal questions. Even if capital accumulation or technological innovation accounts for significant

Governance-constrained growth in the MENA


differences in long-run levels of per capita output across countries, the question remains why certain societies succeed while others fail to take the actions necessary to accomplish such accumulation or innovation.15 Douglass North and R.P. Thomas16 examined the causation issue by arguing that the commonly held growth factors (innovation, economies of scale, education, capital accumulation, etc.) are not causes of growth; they are growth. It is in this sense, therefore, that existing growth models have elucidated only the ‘mechanics’ or ‘correlates’ of growth, but have not truly touched on its deep determinants.17 Against this background a new stream of the economics literature has emerged as part of the continued search for ‘deep determinants’. Often referred to as the new institutional economics (NIE), this body of research builds on the research originally undertaken by Nobel Prize winner Douglass North.18 The NIE attempts to extend neoclassical economics by incorporating institutional analysis,19 focusing on the role of institutions in explaining long-term economic performance.20 Once endogenous growth models opened up the possibility of governmental policy having a significant impact on economic growth, political and governance factors became one of the main focuses for explaining growth patterns. One can easily imagine that an extremely unstable government (one that is, for example, susceptible to rapid policy reversals) would create insecurity about the future and decrease incentives to invest in future development. In fact, Harvard’s Robert Barro estimated that political instability as measured by the number of revolutions and political assassinations in a country decreased GDP growth per capita. With greater political stability, the Republic of Korea’s (South Korea) growth rate would have been 6.25 per cent per year rather than 5.25 per cent in 1960–85. More dramatically, El Salvador might have lost almost 7 per cent per year in per capita growth because of its extreme political instability. If political instability has a negative influence on growth, how does the size of government affect economic growth? Here, Barro found that the larger the share of government spending (excluding defence and education in total GDP), the lower are growth and investment. This early empirical analysis stimulated follow-on work in a number of different contexts. Beginning in the 1990s a number of studies21 examining aid effectiveness concluded that the effectiveness of external assistance depends not only on the nature of the policies pursued, but also on the nature of government and other fundamental development and growth processes. In a major study, Easterly22 discovered that countries pursuing destructive policies such as high inflation, distorted exchange rates and chronically high budgets are likely to have poor rates of growth; however, it does not follow that one can create growth simply with macroeconomic stability. The involvement of larger structures in the determination of policy, its implementation and outcomes, is where ‘governance’ enters the picture as a key element in the growth process.

Operationalizing governance While the concept of governance is rather intuitive, it has been used with various connotations. Specifically, ‘governance’ has been used to refer to entire systems of political institutions and traditions. Often, the phrase ‘governance issues’ has become a euphemism for corruption. In the economics and development literature, however, the term ‘governance’ usually refers to political processes and behaviour.

8 Robert E. Looney The current use of the governance concept developed below stems from a World Bank study23 on Africa that defined governance as the exercise of political power to manage a nation’s affairs. Later the World Bank began to view governance as the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),24 on the other hand, views governance as the exercise of authority in government and the political area. Accordingly, good governance helps to: strengthen democracy and human rights; promote economic prosperity and social cohesion; reduce poverty; enhance environmental protection and the sustainable use of natural resources; and deepen confidence in government and public administration. Starting with a rather broad definition of governance to include all aspects of the exercise of authority through formal and informal institutions, in the management of the resource endowment of a state, Kaufman25 and associates at the World Bank advanced a working definition of governance as the traditions and institutions by which authority in a country is exercised. This led to what is not probably the most widely used set of governance indicators measuring: 1 the process by which those in authority are selected, monitored and replaced; 2 the capacity of the government to effectively formulate and implement sound policies and provide public services; and 3 the respect of citizens and the state for the institutions that govern economic and social interactions among them. The growing importance attached to good governance and institutions has stimulated empirical research aimed at providing an operational definition of the concept and its many dimensions. Among the most popular and widely used today are the Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGIs) produced by the World Bank and stemming from Kaufman and associates.26 The WGIs are based on about 30 opinion/perception-based surveys of various governance measures from investment consulting firms, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), think tanks, governments and multilateral agencies, and are classified into six clusters: 1 Voice and accountability, measured by the extent to which a country’s citizens are able to participate in selecting their government, as well as freedom of expression, association and the press. 2 Political stability and absence of violence, measured by the likelihood that the government will be destabilized by unconstitutional or violent means, including terrorism. 3 Government effectiveness, measured by the ability of the government to provide sound policies and regulations that enable and promote private-sector development. 4 Regulatory quality, measured by the ability of the government to provide sound policies and regulations that enable and promote private-sector development. 5 Rule of law, measured by the extent to which agents have confidence in and abide by the rules of society, including the quality of property rights, the police and the courts, as well as the risk of crime. 6 Control of corruption, measured by the extent to which public power is exercised for private gain, including both petty and grand forms of corruption, as well as elite ‘capture’ of the state. For each economy, the various component indicators in each cluster are rescaled and aggregated, using an unobserved-components method, to yield a value centred at zero and ranging from −2.5 to 2.5, with larger positive values indicating better governance.

Governance-constrained growth in the MENA


Patterns of governance in the MENA region Using the WGI data, several interesting patterns have developed in the MENA region over time. As noted above, the common perception is that progress in MENA towards better governance has lagged behind other parts of the world. Clearly this is an oversimplification. A more detailed examination of the main dimensions of governance reveals a somewhat different picture, both with regard to other regions of the world as well as within the MENA region. Another comparison, with the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China, but here minus Russia), also provides some interesting insights into the progress made in closing the gap with some of the world’s most dynamic economies. Voice and accountability This dimension of governance possibly fits the common MENA stereotype the best. The MENA countries have consistently (Figure 1.3) been the region scoring the lowest average (around the 20th percentile) in this area—considerably lower even than in Africa

Percentile: Voice and Accountability

55 50 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 1996








Country/Group MENA East Asia Latin America Africa Figure 1.3 Regional governance patterns, 1996–2008: voice and accountability Source: World Bank, Worldwide Governance Indicators, 1996–2008




Robert E. Looney 45 40


35 30 25 20 15 10 5 1996










Country/Grouping Non-GCC MENA GCC Non-GCC Oil Exporters BRIC (minus Russia) Figure 1.4 MENA governance patterns, 1996–2008: voice and accountability Note: Non-GCC MENA: Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Syria, Turkey and Tunisia; Non-GCC oil exporters: Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Iran, Iraq and Yemen; GCC: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE; BRIC (minus Russia): China, India and Brazil Source: World Bank Governance Indicators, 2009

(35th percentile). More troubling is the consistent decline in overall regional scores since 2005, widening even the gap between the MENA countries and those in East Asia (consistently above the 45th percentile). Within the MENA countries themselves (Figure 1.4), the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries score consistently higher (20th–25th percentile) in voice and accountability than the non-MENA GCC, while the non-GCC oil exporters (10th percentile) lag considerably behind. In part, this pattern dispels and confirms the commonly held notion that developing country oil exporters have uniformly more authoritarian governments than their non-oil counterparts. If anything, the gap between MENA and the BRIC (minus Russia) countries (40th percentile) has widened over time. Another way of identifying possible governance gaps is to compare MENA country scores with those of countries in similar income groups. For voice and accountability, of in 2008 the 17 MENA countries examined, all had less attainment of this governance dimension than countries of similar income levels in other parts of the world.

Governance-constrained growth in the MENA


Political stability, absence of violence The MENA countries also lag (Figure 1.5) in this governance dimension (30th–35th percentile). In addition, MENA was also the lowest region in this dimension over the 2004–8 period. That said, the region as a whole does not have a significant governance gap with regions other than East Asia. The governance gap with East Asia (50th–55th percentile), while not widening considerably over time, still places the MENA countries as a whole at a distinct disadvantage in areas such as the attraction of foreign investment and capital. Within the MENA region, the GCC countries (Figure 1.6) have made the best progress (60th percentile) in establishing political stability. In fact, their average has been consistently above that of the BRIC (minus Russia) countries (30th–35th percentile). On average, the rest of the MENA countries have not made significant progress in this area, averaging slightly less than the 30th percentile over the 1996–2008 period. Again, the non-GCC oil producers lagged considerably behind, with their scores averaging in the 15th percentile range.

Percentile: Political Stability

60 55 50 45 40 35 30 1996









Country/Group MENA East Asia Latin America Africa Figure 1.5 Regional governance patterns, 1996–2008: political stability/absence of violence Source: World Bank, Worldwide Governance Indicators, 1996–2008



Robert E. Looney 70


60 50 40 30 20 10 0 1996










Country/Grouping Non-GCC MENA GCC Non-GCC Oil Exporters BRIC (minus Russia) Figure 1.6 MENA governance patterns, 1996–2008: political stability/absence of violence Note: Non-GCC MENA: Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Syria, Turkey and Tunisia; Non-GCC oil exporters: Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Iran, Iraq and Yemen; GCC: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE; BRIC (minus Russia): China, India and Brazil Source: World Bank Governance Indicators, 2009

Comparisons with countries of similar income produced results somewhat better than those noted in the area of voice and accountability. In 2008, of the 17 MENA countries, four (Qatar, Oman, Libya and Tunisia) had higher attainment in this area than the average of countries with similar income levels. Still, for most countries in the region a significant governance gap exists in the area of political stability. Government effectiveness As a whole, the MENA countries (Figure 1.7) perform better than the first two governance dimensions. Over the 1996 to 2008 period they were in roughly the same percentile (40th–45th) as the Latin American countries—considerably ahead of the trailing African countries (35th percentile). However, the MENA countries had a significant governance gap with their counterparts in East Asia (65th percentile). Another notable fact was, in sharp contrast to the steady-state MENA region, the constant improvement in government effectiveness in East Asia (especially after 2004) and Africa (after 2000).

Governance-constrained growth in the MENA


Percentile: Government Effectiveness


65 60

55 50

45 40 35 30 1996










Country/Group MENA East Asia Latin America Africa Figure 1.7 Regional governance patterns, 1996–2008: government effectiveness Source: World Bank, Worldwide Governance Indicators, 1996–2008

Again, the GCC countries had a wide lead over the rest of MENA (Figure 1.8), and to a lesser extent the benchmark, BRIC (minus Russia) countries. While lagging considerably behind the other MENA countries, the non-GCC oil producers did experience some slight improvement in government effectiveness over the 1998–2004 period. Unfortunately, most of these relative gains were lost in subsequent years. Finally, five MENA countries in 2008—Oman, Tunisia, Jordan, Morocco and Egypt—made progress in improved government effectiveness relative to countries in similar income groups in other regions. While this represents a slight improvement over the situation with regard to political stability, it still illustrates that lagging governance has placed the MENA countries at a distinct disadvantage relative to their potential competitors in other parts of the developing world.


Robert E. Looney 70 60


50 40 30 20 10 1996










Country/Grouping Non-GCC MENA GCC Non-GCC Oil Exporters BRIC (minus Russia) Figure 1.8 MENA governance patterns, 1996–2008: government effectiveness Note: Non-GCC MENA: Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Syria, Turkey and Tunisia; Non-GCC oil exporters: Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Iran, Iraq and Yemen; GCC: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE; BRIC (minus Russia): China, India and Brazil Source: World Bank World Governance Indicators, 2009

Regulatory quality Regulatory quality is one area of governance where there are encouraging signs for the MENA countries. Some progress (Figure 1.9) at the start of the period under consideration, 1996–2004, together with Latin America’s retrogression has enabled the MENA countries to have roughly the same relative level of regulatory quality as that region. MENA’s 40th percentile ranking is considerably above that of Africa (30th percentile), but well below that of East Asia (60th percentile). Unfortunately, the gap with East Asia widened slightly over the 2002–8 period. By averaging nearly in the 70th percentile (Figure 1.10), the GCC countries are approaching developed country standards in regulatory quality. This performance is considerably better than the BRICs (minus Russia) and the non-GCC MENA countries. After starting the period (1996) with a considerable lead over the BRICs (minus Russia), the non-GCC MENA countries are in danger of falling significantly behind this group of countries. Following their normal pattern, the non-GCC oil producers lagged considerably in improved regulatory quality, failing to reach even the 15th percentile, even after several years of slight improvement. Compared with countries at similar levels of income elsewhere in the developing world in 2008, six of the 17 sample MENA countries (Oman, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco,

Governance-constrained growth in the MENA



Percentile: Regulatory Quality

60 55

50 45

40 35 30 25 1996










Country/Group MENA East Asia Latin America Africa Figure 1.9 Regional governance patterns, 1996–2008: regulatory quality Source: World Bank, Worldwide Governance Indicators, 1996–2008

Egypt and Yemen) had better than expected levels of regulatory quality. Jordan, with the fifth-highest attainment of regulatory quality, was the highest non-GCC country. Rule of law The MENA countries showed (Figure 1.11) gradual improvement in 1996–2004 in rule of law, but have suffered slight setbacks since. The region ranks second to East Asia in this important governance dimension; however, the MENA-East Asia governance gap has again widened in recent years. Still, the region enjoys a significant lead (43rd percentile) over Latin America/Africa (31st percentile).


Robert E. Looney 70


60 50 40 30 20 10 1996










Country/Grouping Non-GCC MENA GCC Non-GCC Oil Exporters BRIC (minus Russia) Figure 1.10 MENA governance patterns, 1996–2008: regulatory quality Note: Non-GCC MENA: Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Syria, Turkey and Tunisia; Non-GCC oil exporters: Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Iran, Iraq and Yemen; GCC: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE; BRIC (minus Russia): China, India and Brazil Source: World Bank Governance Indicators, 2009

The GCC countries’ progress (70th percentile) in the rule of law has enabled them to hold a commanding lead (Figure 1.12) over the BRIC’s (minus Russia) 50th percentile. The picture is not so bright for the non-GCC MENA countries. After nearly reaching the 40th percentile in 2004, retrogression has set in, with their ranking now approaching the 30th percentile. A similar pattern characterizes the non-GCC oil producers. After raising their scores in rule of law from below the 10th percentile in 1996 to slightly above the 20th percentile in 2004, these countries slipped back to the 17th percentile. Despite the relatively good performance of the MENA countries on the rule of law dimension, only five (in 2008) of the 17 MENA countries had attainments over that of the average for their income class—Oman, Jordan, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco.

Control of corruption In contrast to the five previous dimensions of governance, MENA’s progress (Figure 1.13) on the control of corruption has been mixed, with good and bad news. The good—in 2002 the MENA countries had made sufficient progress to reach East Asian levels (53rd percentile). Unfortunately the region has regressed since that date, with current levels declining to the 43rd percentile. Still, the region’s progress is considerably above that

Governance-constrained growth in the MENA



Percentile: Rule of Law

55 50 45 40 35 30 25 1996










Country/Group MENA East Asia Latin America Africa Figure 1.11 Regional governance patterns, 1996–2008: rule of law Source: World Bank, Worldwide Governance Indicators, 1996–2008

of Africa (33rd percentile), but only slightly better than Latin America (45th percentile). This result is discouraging, especially given the publicity directed at corruption as well as the anti-corruption efforts in many MENA countries. Again, progress in the MENA region was set by the GCC countries, increasing their percentiles from 57th in 1996 to slightly over 80th in 2002 (Figure 1.14). While these levels have come down slightly in recent years (72nd percentile), they are still considerably above those of the BRICs (minus Russia) (48th percentile). The real problem of corruption is in the non-GCC oil producers. These countries have dropped to nearly the 20th percentile after a little progress brought them to the 25th percentile in 2003. The non-GCC MENA countries have also been backsliding, with their corruption rankings falling from the 42nd percentile in 2003 to 35th by 2008. Despite MENA’s rather spotty record on corruption, this dimension of governance had (in 2008) the highest number of countries (seven) with scores above the average for countries of similar levels of income. These included Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Yemen.


Robert E. Looney 80 70


60 50 40 30 20 10 0 1996










Country/Grouping Non-GCC MENA GCC Non-GCC Oil Exporters BRIC (minus Russia) Figure 1.12 MENA governance patterns, 1996–2008: rule of law Note: Non-GCC MENA: Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Syria, Turkey and Tunisia; Non-GCC oil exporters: Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Iran, Iraq and Yemen; GCC: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE; BRIC (minus Russia): China, India and Brazil Source: World Bank World Governance Indicators, 2009

In sum, several common patterns of governance characterize the MENA region: 1 The GCC countries have made remarkable progress, in many cases reaching levels of governance approaching many of the upper middle-income countries 2 Offsetting this progress is the fact that given their levels of income, the GCC countries outside of Oman and Qatar have not kept up with the pace of reform present in countries of similar levels of income. 3 As noted in an extensive literature, the MENA governance gap is greatest in the area of voice and accountability. 4 Conversely, the region has done relatively well in the area of rule of law. 5 The inability of oil countries to make significant progress in governance reform is certainly brought out by the non-GCC oil producers. As a group, these countries have, across the board, some of the lowest governance scores anywhere.

Governance-constrained growth in the MENA


6 For the region as a whole, little progress was made in improving their relative governance standing during the times when progress might have been the easiest—the oil-boom years of the 2000s. 7 Finally, corruption remains a significant problem, with progress in many countries limited and, if anything, regressing.

Economic freedom

Percentile: Control of Corruption

Economic freedom, while defined largely in terms of economic policies and reforms, is interrelated with governance structures. Rarely have countries made significant progress in one area without corresponding improvements in the other. Both the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal’s Index of Economic Freedom27 and the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World28 provide good measures of the relative progress made by countries in moving to a deregulated, limited government, free-market environment. Because the Heritage Foundation data set included more of the MENA countries, it was used for the first part of the analysis that follows. The Heritage Index reflects the absence of government constraint or coercion on the production, distribution or consumption of goods and services. Stripped to its essentials, economic freedom is concerned with

55 50

45 40 35 30 1996








Country/Group MENA East Asia Latin America Africa Figure 1.13 Regional governance patterns, 1996–2008: control of corruption Source: World Bank, Worldwide Governance Indicators, 1996–2008




Robert E. Looney 90


80 70 60 50 40 30 20 1996










Country/Grouping Non-GCC MENA GCC Non-GCC Oil Exporters BRIC (minus Russia) Figure 1.14 MENA governance: control of corruption Note: Non-GCC MENA: Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Syria, Turkey and Tunisia; Non-GCC oil exporters: Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Iran, Iraq and Yemen; GCC: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE; BRIC (minus Russia): China, India and Brazil Source: World Bank World Governance Indicators, 2009

property rights and choice. To measure economic freedom, the Heritage Foundation/ Wall Street Journal Index takes 10 different factors into account: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Trade policy; Fiscal burden of government; Government intervention in the economy; Monetary policy; Banking and finance; Capital flows and foreign investment; Wages and prices; Property rights; Regulation; and Informal market

Implied in these measures is the notion that economic freedom also requires governments to refrain from many activities. They must refrain from actions that interfere with

Governance-constrained growth in the MENA


personal choice, voluntary exchange, and the freedom to enter and compete in labour and product markets. Economic freedom is reduced when taxes, government expenditure and regulations are substituted for personal choice, voluntary exchange and market co-ordination. Restrictions that limit entry into occupations and business activities also retard economic freedom. The index provides a framework for monitoring reform efforts in the region: how open countries are to competition; the degree of state intervention in the economy, whether through taxation, spending or overregulation; and the strength and independence of a country’s judiciary to enforce rules and protect private property. Some countries may have freedom in all factors; others may have freedom in just a few. One of the most important findings of research carried out using the index is that economic freedom is required in all aspects of economic life. That is, countries must score well in all 10 of the factors in order to improve their economic efficiency and consequently the living standards of their people. As in the case of governance, the MENA countries have made some progress in economic liberalization. While no countries are classified as ‘free’ by the Heritage House Index of Economic Freedom, Bahrain is considered ‘mostly free’ (Table 1.1), with Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Jordan and Saudi Arabia classified as ‘moderately free’. The remaining MENA countries are classified as ‘mostly unfree’ or ‘unfree’. Tracking several key MENA countries over time (Figure 1.15), Egypt liberalized (higher scores represent more freedom) its economy in the late 1990s, but with more limited gains in the 2000s. Iran, on the other hand, had a sharp increase in freedom in the early 2000s, only to retrogress somewhat in recent years. In the key area of trade freedom (Figure 1.16), progress has been fairly steady over time (with the possible exception of Iran). This appears to be one area where further

Table 1.1 Economic freedom in the MENA region, 2010 Classification



Freedom score

Free Mostly free Moderately free

– Bahrain Qatar Kuwait Oman UAE Jordan SaudiArabia Lebanon Morocco Egypt Tunisia Algeria Yemen Mauritania Syria Iran

– 13 39 41 43 46 52 65 89 91 94 95 105 121 133 145 168

– 76.3 69.0 67.7 67.7 67.3 66.1 64.1 59.5 59.2 59.0 58.9 56.9 54.4 52.0 49.4 43.4

Mostly unfree


Source: Heritage Foundation, 2010 Index of Economic Freedom


Robert E. Looney

Overall Index of Economic Freedom

70 65 60 55 50 45 40 35 30 1995








Country/Grouping Egypt Jordan Saudi Arabia Iran Algeria Figure 1.15 Economic freedom summary score Source: Compiled from Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal, Index of Economic Freedom, various issues

reforms are possible—might we expect freer trade to exert the right pressures to initiate a series of follow-on reforms in governance?

Governance and the economy: empirical linkages A growing number of empirical studies have identified the critical role of governance and institutional factors in explaining MENA’s relatively poor growth performance. For example, Page and Van Gelder29 show that institutional capability—measured by international indices of the state’s ability to perform critical institutional functions—is strongly correlated with economic growth and its sources (investment and total factor productivity). It follows that the MENA region’s relatively low institutional capability adversely affects the capacity of the region’s governments to implement policy change. Another pair of researchers, El-Badawi30 and Nabli31 have identified the low efficiency of capital in many MENA countries as resulting from the inadequate institutional

Governance-constrained growth in the MENA


Index of Freedom of Trade

90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 1995








Country/Grouping Egypt Jordan Saudi Arabia



Figure 1.16 Trade freedom Source: Compiled from Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal, Index of Economic Freedom, various issues

support for investment and private-sector development common throughout the region. Makdisi, Fattah and Limam32 have also highlighted the importance of the quality of institutions (as well as the stock of human capital) in explaining the low productivity performance of MENA countries in comparison with the high-performing East Asian countries and with the rest of the world in general.33 In their examination of the main determinants of total factor productivity (TFP) growth, Loko and Diouf 34 confirmed the importance of reforms aimed at strengthening human capital, increasing the volume of trade, and improving the business environment. The problem of corruption’s negative impact on economic growth in the MENA region is well documented.35 Less well known is the manner in which corruption’s corrosive effects operate at the firm level. In a recent study, Norman Bishara36 developed and tested a model of corruption constraint on organizational growth and development in the form of a business ethics glass ceiling. In this model corruption combines with other influences such as weak corporate governance to act as a serious constraint on the business growth of local firms.

24 Robert E. Looney Other empirical research37 suggests that both on conceptual and empirical grounds, a strong case can be made for giving corruption a high priority in the MENA region. Improved control of corruption appears critical for moving up the per capita income ladder. Given the political dynamics in the region, efforts in the realm of corruption appear to pay high dividends in inducing follow-on improvements in other areas of governance, especially voice and accountability, political stability, government effectiveness and, to a lesser extent, regulatory quality. Unfortunately, an improved corruption environment does not appear to significantly stimulate follow-on reforms in the economic realm. In sum, empirical studies suggest that part of the explanation for MENA’s relatively poor growth performance has to do with the slow pace of factor accumulation over the last two decades or so, as reflected in labour skill shortages, inadequate infrastructure (with the important exception of most of the Gulf countries), and difficulties in accessing capital (particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises). However, another important explanation emphasized in the literature relates to institutional weaknesses that negatively affect the productivity of labour and capital, and limit TFP growth.38

Defence expenditure and the governance constraint on growth39 One limitation of the empirical studies summarized above is that they do not systematically take into account the interrelationship between the main dimensions of governance and defence expenditure. For the Arab Middle East, the increasing authoritarian nature of many regimes lies at the centre of the governance gap. Successful economic performance in the 1960s and 1970s helped cement an ‘authoritarian bargain’ with citizens, effectively trading restrictions on political participation in exchange for economic security and the pubic provision of social services and welfare. This authoritarian bargain is most pronounced in the Gulf states, where vast oil revenues lessened the need for taxation and permitted redistribution, and such revenues also supported large internal security apparatuses protecting authoritarian governments and preventing popular mobilization.40 The strength of this coercive apparatus has been further reinforced by an exceptionally high level of defence expenditure. Added to these is the role of external powers, which have consistently supported authoritarian governments in the region, historically as part of superpower rivalry and concern for oil security.41 As noted above, ultimately the types of links between governance and economic growth are an empirical matter. In addition, because of the elements of diversity across the MENA countries, it is likely that this relationship may vary from one subenvironment to another. This is especially likely when defence expenditure is factored into the analysis of growth patterns. One of the main conclusions coming out of the empirical work on the impact of defence expenditure on economic growth is that statistical studies of large samples of countries often reach inconclusive results because distinct sub-grouping of countries often have markedly different environments. As a result, many studies have found negative linkages between defence and growth, while several empirical studies42 have suggested that defence expenditure taking place in environments of plentiful savings or foreign exchange often produced positive impacts on growth. Similarly, when these factors were relatively scarce, defence expenditure often had a negative effect on economic growth. In today’s rapidly evolving and liberalizing world economy, might not the relative progress made in economic liberalization and governance reforms act in a similar

Governance-constrained growth in the MENA


manner? Are countries achieving relatively high levels of economic liberalization and governance more likely to have removed institutional constraints on growth, thus enabling the positive impacts of defence on the economy to predominate? These issues are examined below. For the task at hand, one compelling difference between countries is their defence burden (measured in terms of the share of the defence budget in GDP). For a large sample of developing countries, the mean of the average share of defence in GDP over the 2000–3 period was 2.66 per cent, with the countries below this level averaging 1.49 per cent, while those above the mean average 5.49 per cent. For the Middle Eastern countries in our sample, only Sudan and Tunisia are in the low defence expenditure group. As a basis of comparison, the four South Asian countries of Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan were also examined. These were evenly split between the two groups, with Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the high defence expenditure group and India and Bangladesh in the low group. In addition to the defence burden, other significant differences exist between the low defence countries and those with higher defence burdens: 1 Even greater differences in budgetary shares allocated to defence exist between the low defence and high defence countries, with allocations to the military in low defence countries averaging 6.3 per cent of the budget, as opposed to 18.35 per cent in the high defence countries. In the Middle East, Iran (21.6 per cent) and Oman (42.8 per cent) were above the mean, while in South Asia, Pakistan is somewhat above the mean with an average defence budgetary share of 24.29 per cent. 2 In the mid-to-late 1990s both groups of countries had higher defence burdens and shares of the budget allocated to defence than in the early 2000s. As expected, many of the Middle Eastern countries had burdens above the mean for high defence expenditure. These included Jordan (8.6 per cent), Kuwait (9.9 per cent), Oman (11.7 per cent), Saudi Arabia (10.2 per cent), Syria (6.3 per cent), Yemen (5.7 per cent) and Israel (8.4 per cent). Both Sudan (2.5 per cent) and Tunisia (1.6 per cent) had values above the mean for the low defence spending group of countries. 3 Interestingly, despite the great differences in defence budgetary shares between the two groups, both groups allocated roughly the same shares of their budgets to education (6.0 per cent) and health (4.5 per cent). In the mid-to-late 1990s the high defence countries as a group actually had higher budgetary shares allocated to education and health. 4 With regard to the key macroeconomic aggregates, several additional differences characterize the high and low defence countries: 

The most striking difference occurs in the area of foreign direct investment (FDI, as a share of GDP), with the low defence countries able to attract a significantly higher amount (18.29 per cent as opposed to 5.43 per cent). In the earlier period (1995–9) these differences were considerably less (5.43 per cent compared to 4.93 per cent). The low defence countries also exhibit slightly better macro-performance in several key areas, government consumption where they have considerably lower shares (14.98 per cent compared to 18.42 per cent) and gross domestic savings where their share is somewhat above that (17.73 per cent compared to 14.98 per cent) of the high defence countries. These differences between the two groups were similar to those found in the mid-to-late 1990s.

26 Robert E. Looney 

Despite the higher rate of government consumption and lower savings rates, the investment rates of the high defence countries were only marginally lower (19.23 per cent compared to 20.91 per cent), and had actually been above (21.83 per cent compared to 20.70 per cent) the low defence countries in the mid-to-late 1990s. In part, these investment rates translate into slightly superior per capita growth rates for the non-defence countries in the early 2000s (2.32 per cent compared to 1.88 per cent) and the high defence countries (2.99 per cent compared to 2.17 per cent) in the mid-to-late 1990s. Other macroeconomic indicators show a varied pattern of difference between the two groups, with the low defence countries having considerably higher per capita incomes. However, the high defence countries experienced higher investment growth in the 1990s, but not in the early 2000s. Similarly, the high defence countries had greater growth in government consumption in the 1990s, but not in the 2000s.

With regard to economic liberalization,43 the Fraser Institute’s measures suggest that the low defence countries have generally made better progress. Yet the differences are not as great as one might imagine. Clearly the Middle East countries have made considerable progress in recent years in liberalizing their economies. As noted above, the main area of difference between the high and low defence expenditure countries is their governance structures. In all six areas of governance compiled by the World Bank, the low defence countries have made considerably more progress (reflected in higher scores) than their high defence counterparts. The differences are especially great in the area of voice and accountability, where the gap has widened somewhat over that in the mid-to-late 1990s. Specifically, all the Middle Eastern countries with the exception of Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Turkey and Israel were below the mean for voice and accountability in the high defence group. In the low defence group, both Sudan and Tunisia were considerably below the group mean. In sum, high military expenditure countries lag considerably behind low military expenditure countries in progress towards improved governance. Significantly within each group the Middle Eastern countries are for the most point considerably below the group mean in all the dimensions of governance, especially the important area of voice and accountability. Examining the high and low groups of military expenditure separately, military expenditure retains its negative impact on growth for the high defence countries, while the low defence countries’ military expenditure does not appear to dampen growth (the military expenditure term is positive, but statistically insignificant). These results are consistent with the theory that defence expenditure has positive and negative impacts on the economy. Specifically, in some situations the positive impacts will prevail and the overall net impact of expanded defence budgets will be higher growth. Conversely, in other situations the negative aspects prevail with increased allocations to the military dampening economic growth. This hypothesis is further tested with several additional country groupings. In the first group countries are subdivided based on their relative governance. Here, a main governance dimension, voice and accountability, is used to proxy overall governance with those countries above the mean classified as high voice and accountability, and those below the mean placed in the low group.

Governance-constrained growth in the MENA


Next, high and low defence countries are further subdivided, first on the basis of their progress in improved governance and second on their relative attainment of economic freedom. Several interesting patterns emerge: 1 Countries with relatively high levels of economic freedom and governance do not appear to experience negative effects from increased defence expenditure. 2 On the other hand, defence expenditure impacts negatively on growth in those countries lagging in governance and/or economic freedom. Significantly, most of the MENA countries fall in this group. While these findings are suggestive of the ways in which defence expenditure may impact in the MENA region, the results need to be taken with great caution. Most importantly, the correlations are very low in nearly all cases. Also, several of the country groupings contain a limited number of countries (e.g. the low economic freedom/high defence spending group, and the high economic freedom/high defence spending group), causing the degrees of freedom to be below normally acceptable ranges. Although the general pattern noted above is one in which high defence countries tend to have made limited progress in governance and economic freedom (and the opposite for the low defence countries), there are notable exceptions. Also, while voice and accountability served well as a proxy for governance, a more refined measure is called for. With these considerations in mind, further analysis was undertaken in an attempt to profile the high and low defence countries on the basis of their relative progress in governance and economic freedom. Basically, this type of analysis is used in profiling— what characteristics do groups of countries have in common and can be used to distinguish one group from another? Using the six major dimensions of economic freedom compiled by the Frasier Institute for the early 2000s and the five dimensions of governance developed by the World Bank for the same period, the analysis assesses the extent to which high and low defence countries could be uniquely profiled simply in terms of these variables. The analysis produced several clear patterns: 1 Of the economic freedom and governance variables, only three governance variables were statistically significant in profiling high and low defence spending countries. In order of importance these were: (a) voice and accountability; (b) political stability; and (c) rule of law. 2 These three variables correctly predicted 77 per cent of the high and low defence countries as being in a corresponding high/low governance grouping. 3 With regard to the Middle Eastern countries, given their low levels of governance, Sudan and Tunisia were reclassified as being more similar to those countries in the high defence group—i.e. in their low attainment of governance they fit more the profile of the high defence countries. With these new country groupings, an analysis similar to that performed in the first phase was undertaken. In general, the patterns were much sharper than those obtained in the first part of the analysis: 1 Countries in the high defence spending (low governance) group were broken into two sub-groupings: (a) those originally classified as high defence spenders; and (b) those originally placed in the low defence spending category. For the high defence

28 Robert E. Looney






spenders (Group I, Table 1.2), military expenditure has a strong and negative impact on economic growth, while for the low defence spenders, the effect is negative. Countries now in the low defence profile (high governance) continued to experience no adverse effects from defence expenditure—this included those countries originally classified as high defence spending countries and those falling in the original low defence spending categories. A similar pattern was found for those countries in the high defence (low governance) grouping that had rates of economic growth higher than that predicted (over-achievers) and lower than predicted (under-achievers). Defence expenditure in both the over- and under-achievers impacted negatively on economic growth. Again, negative growth effects were absent in the low defence profile group (high governance). A third grouping of countries was formulated, based on the expected level of military expenditure given the progress made in improved governance. Two governance variables—(a) voice and accountability, and (b) the rule of law—were deemed particularly significant in affecting the percentage of national resources allocated to military expenditure. Those countries with defence burdens higher than predicted by these variables were placed in a high group and those with defence expenditure lower than that predicted by the equation were placed in a low group. In the case of high defence profile (low levels of governance) countries, those countries with defence expenditure higher than that predicted by their progress in governance experienced negative growth effects from expanded defence expenditure. The significant difference from the previous two groupings is that countries with relatively low defence expenditure, given their pattern of governance, did not experience these negative growth effects even though they belonged to the high defence profile group of countries. Again, in the case of the low defence profile countries there were no statistically significant links between defence expenditure, either in countries with higher than anticipated defence to governance patterns or in those with low defence expenditure relative to that normally associated with their progress in governance.

From the above analysis, it is clear that for the purpose of assessing the economic impact of defence expenditure, a key consideration is the level of this defence expenditure Table 1.2 Predictions of the impact of increased defence expenditure on growth Grouping profile I Increased defence expenditure negative impact on growth II Increased defence expenditure neutral or possibly weekly positive on growth III Increased defence expenditure neutral on growth IV Increased defence expenditure positive on growth

Algeria, Iran, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey and Yemen (Pakistan, Sri Lanka) Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Tunisia (India) (Bangladesh)

Note: Grouping profiles: I High defence/low governance profile countries with defence expenditure higher than anticipated given the level of governance; II High defence/low governance profile countries with defence expenditure lower than anticipated given the level of governance; III Low defence/high governance profile countries with defence expenditure higher than anticipated given the level of governance; IV Low defence/high governance profile countries with defence expenditure lower than anticipated given the level of governance.

Governance-constrained growth in the MENA


relative to the progress made in improved governance. High defence expenditure itself is not necessarily harmful to the economy, provided it is undertaken in environments with relatively good governance structures. To explore the generality of this last finding, additional analysis was undertaken. Specifically, to gauge the extent to which defence expenditure relative to governance significantly affected economic growth, two new independent variables were introduced in place of the defence share of GDP: (a) the level of expected defence expenditure (again as a share of GDP), given governance structures; and (b) the difference between the expected level of defence expenditure and the actual level of defence expenditure. These new formulations of the defence term allow for the identification of more subtle linkages with the underlying governance structures. The results of this analysis again produced a series of interesting patterns: 1 Using the groupings of high defence (low governance), and low defence (high governance), derived from the profiling exercise, the level of expected defence expenditure (given governance) does not have a statistically adverse impact on economic growth. On the other hand, if the low defence profile countries keep their levels of defence expenditure in the range normally associated with their governance structures, a positive impact occurs. 2 For the high defence profile countries, those countries with defence expenditure high relative to their governance found the expected level of defence expenditure impacted negatively on growth, while for those countries with defence expenditure below that anticipated by governance expected defence expenditure had no adverse impact. 3 Those countries in the low defence profile group avoided any adverse effects stemming from their expected levels of defence expenditure (relatively low defence expenditure to governance), and actually obtained an economic stimulus from an expected level of defence expenditure. If it is their level relative to governance attainment that is the key link between defence expenditure and economic performance, then positive differences between the actual level and that expected (given governance) can be expected to be statistically significant. Is the reverse the case—can countries obtain a positive stimulus from defence expenditure by reducing below the levels normally found with their governance structure? For the high defence spending profile countries, defence expenditure is consistently detrimental to economic growth—that is, if they are relatively high given levels of governance or just plain high as in the original high/low defence groups examined initially, no positive relationships to the economy exist. On the other hand, low defence spending countries can obtain positive benefits from defence by cutting back their allocations to the military further than that normally associated with governance structures. Unfortunately for the high defence spending countries, as is the case with the Middle Eastern countries, just cutting defence expenditure back below the norm for their level of governance may eliminate their negative impact on growth, but it is unlikely to produce a positive stimulus.

Conclusions/implications Clearly, governance plays a key role in setting MENA growth patterns. For nearly all of the countries in the Middle East, the current environment is such that increased defence

30 Robert E. Looney expenditure is quite likely to strain their economies, resulting in lower overall rates of economic growth (Table 1.1). This occurs because the region’s defence expenditure is relatively large given intuitional foundations, especially those associated with the main areas of governance. In contrast, a country like India appears to be at the stage where these effects are likely to be neutral and possibly even positive if the current trends in improved governance are continued. Unfortunately, developments in the international economy appear to be contributing to the defence/governance imbalance found across the Middle East. A global arms bazaar is fuelling a regional arms race, set off in part by the post-Iraq power void. Here oil revenues play a dual role in not only financing massive influxes of weaponry, but also inducing the major powers to structure attractive armament packages to assist in maintaining some degree of influence over regional decision-making. Furthermore, increased concern over terrorism and potential regional instability has caused the major Western powers, especially the USA, to reduce pressures for improved governance and increased democracy. While these forces are gaining momentum, the situation is becoming one that the Western countries, especially the USA, can control.44 Yet unlike during the Cold War, when the U.S. and Soviet Union could regulate the quantity and lethality of weapons they sold their client states, there is little the world’s sole superpower can do to control this build-up. Not only is Washington bogged down militarily and diplomatically in Iraq, American arms makers no longer enjoy unchecked commercial clout. Since the Cold War ended their share of global arms exports has nearly halved owing to challenges from rival producers in Western Europe, Russia and Asia. In this regard, the prospects for the future of the Middle East do not look good. While country differences exist due to initial defence expenditure/governance imbalances and the volume and extent of oil revenues, increased instability is the likely outcome for many. Specifically, given the current climate of uncertainty and tension, major governance reforms are not likely. Many of the major countries may also be in a vicious circle, whereby the link between the military and military industries retard reforms thus creating more domestic instability, which in turn calls for increased defence expenditure and a postponement of economic/governance reforms. Ironically, if ever politically possible to implement, improved governance in many of the key Middle East countries may be one of the more effective means of assuring long-run security, stability and growth. On the other hand, the only politically acceptable option to achieve increased stability in the current climate may be an increased allocation for security expenditure. Sadly, the results presented above suggest that this action may well be self-defeating, producing greater instability and a further reduction in security.

Notes 1 Quote attributed to Harvard’s Larry Summers in ‘International Monetary Fund, Institutions and Economic Growth in Arab Countries’, IMF-Arab Monetary Fund High Level Seminar, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 19–20 December 2006. 2 Mustapha K. Nabli, ‘Institutional Reform for Economic Growth in the Arab Countries’, paper presented at the IMF/AMF Seminar, Abu Dhabi, 19–20 December 2006, 1.

Governance-constrained growth in the MENA


3 Crispin Hawes, ‘Change in the Middle East: Why Governance Counts’, OECD Observer May 2005: 249–50. This is a theme developed at length in Hossein Askari, Middle East Oil Exporters: What Happened to Economic Development? (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2006). 4 Timur Kuran, ‘Why the Middle East is Economically Underdeveloped: Historical Mechanisms of Institutional Stagnation’, Journal of Economic Perspectives summer 2004. 5 Jeffrey Nugent and Hashem Pesaran (eds), Explaining Growth in the Middle East (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2007), 2. 6 See for example, World Economic Forum, The Arab Competitiveness Report 2007 (Davos: World Economic Forum, April 2007). 7 A theme developed at length in Paul Rivlin, Arab Economies in the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009). See also Marcus Noland and Howard Pack, The Arab Economies in a Changing World (Washington, DC: Peterson Institute for International Economics, 2007). 8 Rina Bhattacharya and Hirut Wolde, Constraints on Growth in the MENA Region (IMF, February 2010), 3. 9 Robert Solow, ‘A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth’, Quarterly Journal of Economics 70, 1956: 65–94. 10 Trevor Swan, ‘Economic Growth and Capital Accumulation’, Economic Record 32, 1956: 334–61. 11 Juzhong Zhuang, Emmanuel de Dios and Anneli Lagman-Martin, Governance and Institutional Quality and the Links with Economic Growth and Income Inequality: With Special Reference to Developing Asia (Asian Development Bank, February 2010), 2. 12 Gary Becker, ‘Investment in Human Capital: A Theoretical Analysis’, Journal of Political Economy 70, 1962: 9–49. 13 G.M. Grossman and E. Helpmen, Innovation and Growth in the Global Economy (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1991). 14 See Paul Romer, ‘Endogenous Technological Change’, Journal of Political Economy 98 (October, part 2, 1990); and Paul Romer, ‘Increasing Returns and Long-Run Growth’, Journal of Political Economy 94 (October 1986): 1002–37. 15 Juzhong Zhuang, Emmanuel de Dios and Anneli Lagman-Martin, Governance and Institutional Quality and the Links with Economic Growth and Income Inequality: With Special Reference to Developing Asia (Asian Development Bank, February 2010), 3. 16 D. North and R.P. Thomas, The Rise of the Western World: A New Economic History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973). 17 Juzhong Zhuang, Emmanuel de Dios and Anneli Lagman-Martin, Governance and Institutional Quality and the Links with Economic Growth and Income Inequality: With Special Reference to Developing Asia (Asian Development Bank, February 2010), 3. 18 See for example, Douglass North and R.P. Thomas, The Rise of the Western World: A New Economic History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976); Douglass North, Structure and Change in Economic History (New York: W.W. Norton, 1981); Douglass North, Institutions, Institutional Change, and Economic Performance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990); and Douglass North, Understanding the Process of Economic Change (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005). 19 An excellent summary of this literature is contained in Gema Fabro and Jose Aixala, ‘Income Growth and Institutional Quality: Global and Income-Level Analysis’, Journal of Economic Issues XLII, 4 December 2009: 997–1023. 20 Juzhong Zhuang, Emmanuel de Dios and Anneli Lagman-Martin, Governance and Institutional Quality and the Links with Economic Growth and Income Inequality: With Special Reference to Developing Asia (Asian Development Bank, February 2010), 3. 21 See for example, C. Burnside and D. Dollar, ‘Aid Policies and Growth’, American Economic Review 90(4), 2000: 847–68. 22 William Easterly, The White Man’s Burden (New York: Penguin Books, 2006). 23 Sub-Saharan Africa—From Crisis to Sustainable Growth: A Long-Term Perspective Study (Washington, DC: World Bank, 1989). 24 D. Tarschys, ‘Wealth, Values, Institutions: Trends in Government Governance’, in OECD, Governance in the 21st Century (Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2001). 25 See for example, Daniel Kaufman, A. Kraay and P. Zoido-Lobation, Aggregating Governance Indicators, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 2195 (Washington, DC: World Bank, 1999); Daniel Kaufman, A. Kraay and M. Mastruzzi, Governance Matters 2009: Learning From Over a Decade of the Worldwide Governance Indicators (Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 2009); and

32 Robert E. Looney

26 27 28 29

30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39

40 41 42

43 44

Daniel Kaufman and A. Kraay, Governance Indicators: Where Are We, Where Should We Be Going? World Bank Research Working Paper No. 4370 (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2008). Daniel Kaufman, A. Kraay and M. Mastruzzi, Governance Matters III: Governance Indicators for 1996–2002, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 3106 (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2003). This database is now updated annually. The Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal, The Link Between Economic Opportunity and Prosperity: The 2010 Index of Economic Freedom (Washington, DC: The Heritage Foundation, 2010). Fraser Institute, Economic Freedom of the World 2010 Annual Report (Vancouver: The Fraser Institute, 2010). John Page and Linda Van Gelder, ‘Missing Links: Institutional Capability, Policy Reform and Growth in the Middle East and North Africa’, in Hassan Hakimian and Ziba Moshaver (eds), The State and Global Change: The Political Economy of Transition in the Middle East and North Africa (Richmond, Surrey, UK). I. El-Badawi, ‘Can Reforming Countries Perform an Asia Miracle? Role of Institutions and Governance on Private Investment’, in I. Liman (ed.), Institutional Reform and Development in the MENA Region (Arab Planning Institute, 1999). M. Nabli, ‘Long-Term Economic Challenges and Prospects for the Arab Countries’, in Breaking the Barriers to Higher Economic Growth: Better Governance and Deeper Reforms in the Middle East and North Africa (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2007). S. Makdisi, Z. Fattah and I. Limam, ‘Determinats of Growth in the MENA Countries’, in Jeffrey B. Nugent and Hashem Pesran (eds), Explaining Growth in the Middle East (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2007). Rina Bhattacharya and Hirut Wolde, Constraints on Growth in the MENA Region (IMF, February 2010), 3. B. Loko and M.A. Diouf, Revisiting the Determinants of Productivity Growth: What’s New, IMF Working Paper 09/225 (Washington, DC: International Monetary Fund, 2009). See for example, Robert Looney, ‘Reconstruction and Peacebuilding Under Extreme Adversity: The Problem of Pervasive Corruption in Iraq’, International Peacekeeping 15:3 April 2008: 424–40. Norman Bishara, Governance and Corruption Constraints: The Business Ethics Glass Ceiling in Middle East Corporate Governance, Ross School of Business Working Paper, Working Paper No. 1443 (University of Michigan, April 2010). Robert Looney, ‘Profiles of Corruption in the Middle East’, Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies XXVII (4), Summer 2005. Rina Bhattacharya and Hirut Wolde, Constraints on Growth in the MENA Region (IMF, February 2010), 3. This section draws on ongoing research at the Naval Postgraduate School. See in particular, Robert Looney and Robert McNab, ‘Can Economic Liberalization and Improved Governance Alter the Defense-Growth Trade-off?’ Review of Financial Economics 17:3 August 2008: 172–86; Robert Looney and Robert McNab, ‘Pakistan’s Economic and Security Dilemma: Expanded Defense Expenditures and the Relative Governance Syndrome’, Contemporary South Asia 16:1 March 2008: 63–82; and Robert Looney, ‘Politics, Economics and Governance Environments Shaping Middle East Defense Expenditures and Their Impact on Growth’, in Isaiah Wilson III and James J.F. Forest, Handbook of Defence Politics: International and Comparative Perspectives (London: Routledge, 2008), 213–26. Joel Beinin, ‘Labor, the State, and the Social Contract in Non-Oil Exporting Countries of the Middle East and North Africa’. Unpublished paper, Stanford University, 2003. See Tarik Yousef, ‘Development, Growth and Policy Reform in the Middle East and North Africa Since 1950’, Journal of Economic Perspectives 18:3, Summer 2004: 96; and Rashid Khalidi, Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America’s Perilous Path in the Middle East (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2004). See for example, P.C. Frederiksen and R.E. Looney, ‘Another Look at the Defense Spending and Development Hypothesis’, Defense Analysis (September 1985): 205–10; R.E. Looney and P.C. Frederiksen, ‘Profiles of Latin American Military Producers’, International Organization (Summer 1986): 745–52. A description of the different dimensions of economic freedom, together with an earlier application to Pakistan, can be found in Robert Looney, ‘Pakistan’s Progress Towards Economic Freedom’, Contemporary South Asia 6:1 (1997): 79–98. Stephen Glain, ‘Locked and Loaded: Wall Street is Hot on Weapons Makers as Developing Nations Bolster their Defenses’, Newsweek International, 20–27 August 2007.

Chapter 2

Stuff is not enough Resources and governance in the Middle East Mary Ann Tétreault

The current wave of demonstrations sweeping the Middle East is a strong indication of the depth of discontent arising from failures in governance. What might be surprising to some is that oil-exporting states are not exempt. Despite the large literature on the rentier state and how it mutes popular desires for political participation, events have shown that hydrocarbon income does not guarantee passive populations. Although some contemporary oil exporters built their regimes on rentier income before the coming of oil, how they used it and how well they adjusted to the social changes that oil rents inaugurated explain some of the differences in state-society relations even among these classical examples cited by rentier state and other rational choice theorists. Having said that, natural resources and, in the Middle East, hydrocarbons in particular, do confer a particular set of advantages on state- and nation-building governments. They open gateways to international capital markets, provide higher levels of national income than states without such endowments enjoy, and are a source of foreign and domestic policy leverage. The disadvantages that come with hydrocarbons constitute a longer list, however. In addition to projecting a money illusion that encourages waste during periods of high resource prices,1 they turn the advantages upside down. Hydrocarbons open avenues for foreign penetration of one’s political economy, support an environment leading to rentierism and dependent development, along with tools and external support for repression, and generate environmental pollution.2 Consequently, governance under hydrocarbons is a tricky business and there is no one-size-fits-all explanation for its successes and failures.

The rentier state thesis The rentier state is theorized as a polity that relies for significant state income on external sources, allowing it to escape demands for popular participation in politics and constitutional limits on the regime.3 The sheer magnitude of their oil and gas production (see Tables 2.1 and 2.2) shows why rentier state theory is a common explanation for authoritarianism in Middle Eastern states. Yet rentier resources, including in oil-exporting states, are not limited to hydrocarbons. Others include remittances, service fees, foreign aid and access to religious sites, all of which provide opportunities for states to collect income independent of direct taxation of domestic populations. Oil-exporters, the rents of many of which are enormous, are depicted in this literature as states that live by the inverse of the slogan pushing the 13 American colonies to revolt from Britain in the late eighteenth century: They are regimes flying the banner of no representation without taxation.4 Rulers with

34 Mary Ann Tétreault Table 2.1 Oil reserves, production (selected Middle Eastern countries, selected years)

Algeria Egypt Iran Iraq Kuwait Libya Oman Qatar Saudi Arabia Sudan UAE Yemen

Proven reserves (billion barrels)

Production (million barrels per day)

end 1989

end 1999

end 2009







9.2 4.3 92.9 100.0 97.1 22.8 4.3 4.5 260.1 0.3 98.1 2.0

11.3 3.8 93.1 112.5 69.5 29.5 5.7 13.1 262.8 0.3 97.8 1.9

12.2 4.4 137.6 115.0 101.5 44.3 5.6 26.8 264.6 6.7 97.8 2.7

1.1 n.a. 5.9 2.0 3.0 2.2 n.a. 0.6 7.6 n.a. 1.5 n.a.

0.7 n.a. 2.4 1.0 1.1 1.1 n.a. 0.3 5.1 n.a. 1.1 n.a.

1.3 0.9 3.7 0.4 1.9 1.4 0.8 0.5 9.0 0.003 2.4 0.2

1.5 0.7 4.2 1.3 2.3 1.5 0.8 0.9 10.2 0.2 2.6 0.4

2.0 0.7 4.3 2.4 2.9 1.8 0.8 1.4 10.8 0.5 2.9 0.3

1.8 0.7 4.2 2.5 2.5 1.7 0.8 1.3 9.7 0.5 2.6 0.3

Source: (Reserves: from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2010. Production: 1973, 1983 from Tétreault 1985: 77. Production: 1993 from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, June 2004. Production: 2003–09, from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2010)

Table 2.2 Natural gas reserves, production (selected Middle Eastern countries, selected years)

Algeria Bahrain Iran Kuwait Oman Qatar Saudi Arabia UAE

Proven reserves (trillion cubic metres)

Production (billion cubic metres)

end 1989

end 1999

end 2009







3.3 0.2 17.0 1.4 0.3 4.6 5.2 0.2

4.5 0.1 25.0 1.5 0.8 11.2 6.2 0.5

4.5 3.0 29.6 1.8 1.0 25.4 7.7 0.5

3.2 n.a. 17.8 4.0 n.a. 1.6 2.3 1.3

36.3 n.a. 14.6 4.0 n.a. 5.2 4.4 8.4

53.9 6.9 36.9 5.4 n.a. 13.5 40.0 23.0

82.8 9.6 81.5 10.0 16.5 31.4 60.1 44.8

85.8 12.7 116.3 12.8 77.0 77.0 80.4 50.2

81.4 12.8 131.2 12.5 89.3 89.3 77.5 48.8

Source: (Reserves: from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2010. Marketed Production: 1973–2003, from OPEC Annual Statistical Bulletin, 2005, except Oman. Production: 2008–9, from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2010. Oman Production 2003, from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2010)

resources that do not derive from collecting taxes are thought to garner support from citizens/subjects by allocating resources to rather than extracting resources from them.5 Payoffs to citizens are not the only source of the strength of Middle Eastern states. In his analysis of the rentier state school, Michael Ross points out other regime-sustaining uses of rentier income.6 It buys the means of coercion to repress dissent. Particularly with regard to income generated from assets the exploitation of which is geographically confined, earnings from such enclave industries create little in the way of forward and backward economic linkages, thereby retarding social changes with the potential to shift cultural norms and expectations, and economic changes that reduce direct citizen dependence on the state. Rentier income also enables these states to nurture traditional political forms, such as tribes, to keep populations divided and dependent on their rulers.7

Resources and governance in the Middle East


Rentier income insulates the state from citizen demands because it offers few occasions for national conversations that, in addition to building broadly based support for the state, open the state to demands for active citizen participation in social and political decision-making.8 Giacamo Luciani strikes a note of caution against choosing such a no-cost state-building strategy, because he doubts that citizens who do not invest in its collective welfare have much loyalty to the political community.9 Allocation has additional flaws as a strategy for building regime support. Looking at another example, water is a distributable resource that is allocated as such. Yet dependence on the distribution of water is, like dependence on oil and gas, inherently limited because both are wasting assets. In addition, governance-by-distribution creates rent-seekers, some of whom use their regime-conferred strengths to squeeze more from the state in the future.10 In this essay I argue that a critical problem of governance by Middle Eastern states that are resource-rich is that their modern state-building exercises are embedded in rentierisme. In consequence, sovereignty for these states is shaped primarily by distributive politics.11 The magnitude of their riches lets them put off envisioning and carrying out policies designed to create loyalty and support for a regime that embodies institutions authorized to define and mediate obligations of each member, including the governing classes, to the others. Such states lack positive sovereignty.

Positive and negative sovereignty Robert Jackson suggests that the post-colonial international system was populated by two types of polities: states and what he terms quasi-states.12 The latter numbered most of the entities that had become nominally independent from their colonial masters by grace of the United Nations (UN) and its endorsement (and putative enforcement)13 of the norm of negative sovereignty. Negative sovereignty consists in the externally guaranteed rights of sovereign states, that is, it is juridical sovereignty.14 Yet, Jackson argues, quasi-states the existence of which are a product of this international norm are primarily juridical. They are recognized as independent, but few are empowered because they lack state capacity and institutions capable of constraining and outlasting the individuals who occupy their offices.15 Their citizens are without the liberty, rights and supports that would enable them to engage in the political life of their nations, and to command access to the services and protections that meet the standards of empirical statehood at any time.16 State capacity is not an absolute classification, like juridical statehood, but rather a relational measure of the success of state-building.17 It is a product of positive sovereignty: stable institutions and rules, political competence, international recognition and efficacy, and popular support. Without positive sovereignty, Jackson sees quasi-states as the equivalent of welfare cases, dependent on transfers from abroad to maintain themselves. In many ways, this neat separation of negative and positive sovereignty is overstated. All states are subject to erosion of, and assaults on, their negative sovereignty, although those with superior resources retain greater autonomy than those without. Resources support their political and moral authority to devise rules to constrain sovereignty-devouring penetration by internal and external challengers from interest groups to terrorists—should they be willing to use it.18 Over the past 30 years, however, positive and negative sovereignty both have eroded in virtually all states, a result of globalization, government corruption and incompetence, and the absence or disappearance of adequate national and global regulatory and enforcement mechanisms and capacity.19 All these trends affect governance in the

36 Mary Ann Tétreault Middle East, including in hydrocarbon-exporting states the financial resources of which have expanded thanks to high energy prices throughout much of the first decade of the twenty-first century, but the modalities of governance of which expanded much less.

Regimes The Middle East is known to be resistant to the adoption of democratic institutions such as civil liberties, transparency, the right of citizens to choose the national executive, and rule of law.20 It features more ruling monarchs (and their families) than any other world region and fiercely authoritarian post-revolutionary regimes with remarkable tenacity.21 As I write, popular, non-violent protest against corrupt and repressive authoritarianism has erupted throughout the region, even in resource-rich countries like Bahrain and Libya. Protesters everywhere are demanding constitutions that limit executive power, guarantee civil and human rights, and lead to a fairer sharing out of the nations’ resources. Tunisians and Egyptians succeeded in deposing their corrupt autocrats, but whether they will be able to move from caretaker military regimes to constitutionally limited governance is not assured in either case. Rebellions against authoritarian regimes in Iran, which began after the presidential election in 2009, and in Syria in 2011 were met with brutal repression. In Iran, where demonstrations were sparked by what some Iranians perceived to be a stolen presidential election, citizens endure continuing bloodshed and repression in the form of arrests, torture, and a dramatic upsurge in executions.22 In early 2011, executions in Iran reached a rate of one every eight hours.23 Even so, the upsurge in protests elsewhere in the region brought Iranian Greens back into the streets in spite of the risks. Syria’s ruling family declared civil war against demonstrators there, one that continues as I write. How and where Bahrain will move is unclear, with some pressures on the king pushing for and others against an application of repression resembling the crackdown of the late 1990s. Prior to the demand for political and economic opening, political closure in the Gulf states24 formed part of an already active regional and global counter-trend that undermined citizens’ rights by making positive sovereignty defined as civil rights and liberties and rule of law appear to be less important than positive sovereignty directed towards economic and strategic security.25 Pushing against this tide is difficult for all the countries of the Middle East, including Israel which, in the Economist Intelligence Unit ‘Democracy Index 2010’ was rated a flawed democracy.26 That even soft proponents of the rentier state school (see below) regard an abundance of hydrocarbons as structurally inimical to democracy27 reflects the beliefs of scholars who study political transitions,28 along with comparative analysts,29 that the rentier nature of these states prevents progress and democratization and permits regimes to keep civil societies under their rulers’ thumbs, primarily through the politics of distribution.

Distributive politics and rentier regimes Distributive politics buys support directly. Regimes allocate resources, services, money and privileges that arguably belong to the community as a whole, to individuals and groups, including members of ruling families and their major supporters. In return, the rulers receive political support and services.30 In the Middle East, as elsewhere, water

Resources and governance in the Middle East


preceded oil as a prize of distribution. Most Middle Eastern countries are predominantly desert. They receive less than 1,000 cubic metres of water per inhabitant per year, the global standard for an adequate water supply,31 and many receive far less. Many analysts assume that Middle Eastern water wars will pit states against one another over rights to river water, such as the Tigris and Euphrates waters that flow through Turkey, Syria and Iraq, or the Nile waters that flow through Sudan and Egypt. However, in a 2010 report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies,32 the authors reported that water wars in this region are not only domestic but also already in progress in countries that privatized fossil water (water from aquifers with a recharge capacity lower than current rates of usage) and conferred privileged access to irrigation from rivers and wells to build support among elites and mass publics. In the Saudi case, the capture of distributable resources was a major impetus for the Al Sa’ud drive to conquer al-Hasa and the Hedjaz, and to press into Yemen. Water and arable land were coveted as a means of controlling tribal rivals. Water was allocated to badu in exchange for an end to raiding and other activities that endangered oil production and challenged the sovereignty of the state.33 Saudi Arabia became famous during the 1980s for using huge volumes of fossil water for commodity agriculture. For a time, it was the world’s sixth-largest exporter of wheat, which it produced at a cost of nearly 10 times the international price.34 A similarly water-based regime-building strategy was employed in Jordan, the ground water of which was swallowed up by about ‘a dozen powerful families [which] control the agricultural market … including two families of former prime ministers’.35 In return for a hands-off government that gave them full rights to land and the water under it, these families ‘pump water and grow crops free of government intervention … [while theoretically] provid[ing] employment for the Jordanian Bedouins’.36 Natural resources also include location, such as territory encompassing a sacred space. The proprietor can earn money by regulating access to this space through fees for visiting and using it. Pilgrims were an early source of rentier income in the Middle East. Pilgrims may be renewable resources, but their visits to holy sites are not automatic. Pilgrim traffic depends on the reputation and condition of the site itself, the availability of transport and accommodation, and security. The lack of security in Mecca and Medina during their last years under Hashemite rule presented an opportunity to ibn Sa’ud. The integral contribution of the hajj to the fortunes of the Al Sa’ud are reflected in the results of ibn Sa’ud’s decision to capture the Hedjaz when British subventions to him were cut off following the end of World War I. This coastal state had forms of income far more lucrative than ibn Sa’ud’s one-time British subsidy: hajj pilgrimage taxes, customs duties and funds from pious endowments around the Muslim world designated for the upkeep of the Hedjaz’s two holy cities, Mecca and Medina.37 Crime cut pilgrim traffic to virtually nothing by 1925, but after ibn Sa’ud deployed his military to clean out troublesome robbers and thieves, pilgrims poured back into the holy cities. By the mid-1930s the Saudi ruler was getting about 50 per cent of his income in direct fees from the hajj. Hajj-related income from indirect revenues like customs receipts brought the total up to 80 per cent, leaving relatively little to be raised from the population.38 Sean Foley suggests that ibn Sa’ud’s deployment of hajj revenues to govern the Saudi state was later adapted by him and adopted by other Gulf rulers as the regional model for building a distribution state based on rentier income.

38 Mary Ann Tétreault Saudi Arabia had become a rentier state economically, with hajj dues serving as the exogenous rent that permitted the government to forgo internal taxes. This model of government finance, built on external income and low domestic taxation, would eventually be adopted by every Arab Gulf state in the twentieth century.39 In addition, control of Mecca and Medina conferred other benefits, such as allowing the Al Sa’ud to claim legitimacy as the protectors of the holy sites and the people who visited and lived there. The title ‘Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ was formally adopted by King Fahd in 1986, the year when world oil prices collapsed, and Saudi Arabia’s attempt to control the market by restraining its own production threatened to produce domestic shortages of electricity and water.40 Yet the regime’s dependence on hajj revenues also reduced its autonomy by making legitimacy explicitly dependent on authority conferred by religion and thereby vulnerable to religiously framed opposition.41 Rentierism based on any source is a risky governance strategy. The Saudi government created a bouquet of failed water projects, along with vested interests that made correcting those earlier bad decisions difficult—and costly politically.42 The wastage from national water projects was extravagant. The large Irrigation and Drainage Project (IDP) expropriated local water resources, aggravating sectarian and class antagonisms and pushing small farmers off the land by depriving their gardens of water and killing their date palms.43 From the regime’s perspective, however, the policies were successful. Formerly self-sufficient agricultural communities in al-Hasa and the economic elites who benefitted directly from the IDP both became more dependent on the state, while Aramco, the regime’s main financier, was able to get unemployed local men to work for a pittance under terrible conditions.44 Precious freshwater supplies went for industrial use including, according to contemporaries, secondary petroleum recovery operations.45 Globalization in al-Hasa intensified with the depletion of aquifers. The decline of local agriculture altered Saudi diets. It made the country dependent on food imports46 and commodity price cycles against which citizens could not protect themselves without government assistance. The cost of rentier-fostered dependency is high and its impact is pervasive. In addition to the huge variability in oil income that forces rentier governments to sell off assets or borrow to keep benefits at acceptable levels during crude-price and/or production downturns,47 state intervention is not always enough. For example, during the flush period that coincided with the rapid rise in food prices in 2008, governments were able to mitigate only some of its effects. The six GCC countries—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—produce about 23% of the world’s oil and control more than 40% of the world’s oil reserves. Rising oil prices … allowed the GCC to mitigate the social impact of rising food prices … by almost doubling wages for civil servants. They also kept fuel prices stable domestically and increased public spending [leading to] significant inflation.48 The region-wide uprisings that began in December 2010 featured high and rising food prices as a key element fuelling widespread popular discontent. As in 2008, the linkage among sources of rentier financing in the Middle East imposes growing limits on the possibility of effective remediation. Oil is integral to the industrial farming that produces basic commodities like wheat and corn. Hydrocarbons generate electricity—and the water that supplements or replaces depleted groundwater.49 Water, air conditioning and other hydrocarbon-dependent life supports are critical for attracting revenue-generating pilgrims

Resources and governance in the Middle East


to holy places, as well as keeping citizens quiet and dependent. Additional connections could be drawn, and all of them show the vulnerability of state dependence on rentier resources. The political results of allocation also are problematic. Handouts almost invariably lead to rent-seeking and dependency. Both increase the fiscal burden on the state, aggravate social tensions linked to high levels of inequality, and add to difficulties in building a community of obligation among citizens that could carry over into shared sacrifice in bad times. In my interviews of Kuwaitis who had remained inside the country during the Iraqi occupation, the ability of the community to function as a unit was attributed to the respondents’ perception that most of the people who remained behind were sharing the burdens of occupation, including difficult and unattractive ones like disposing of garbage and tending the sick.50 In contrast, allocation heightens perceptions of divisions. Kuwaitis outside during the occupation were seen as living lavishly on government handouts while those inside suffered deprivation, torture and death.51 Similarly, in Jordan, the land and water rights given to elites came first at the expense of small farmers and then from local workers when these owners shifted towards cheaper imported labour.52 The disaffection of the dispossessed among non-Palestinian Jordanians was revealed in demonstrations during the 2011 protest wave. Divide and rule may contribute to the acceptance of a ruler by his preferred key constituencies, but it has limited value when he has to expand his constituency base to retain his power.53

Governance and security Looking broadly at security to include economic and social supports to citizens, along with being able to defend them against domestic criminals and military attacks, hydrocarbon exporters have performed reasonably well on the former. Hindering their ability to ensure stable domestic economies was the same global macroeconomic instability that, ironically, had enabled oil exporters to raise their national incomes from hydrocarbon exports beginning in 1970.54 Economist Walter J. Levy called the period following the oil revolution the years that the locust hath eaten.55 It is true that this first explosion of oil revenues was spent with abandon, but even then the locust did not eat everything. New money bought infrastructure, weapons and consumer goods, some of which constituted extravagant purchases encouraged by money illusion:56 although the quadrupling of crude prices in 1973, coupled with marginal increases during subsequent years, fixed everyone’s eyes on nominal prices, real prices for hydrocarbons actually fell between 1974 and the Iranian revolution.57 In spite of this, solid investments were made in health, education and services that improved the living conditions of citizens and built up their human capital.58 With the exception of Kuwait and Bahrain, the oil-financed general welfare programmes of which began earlier, the newly rich Gulf exporters had not invested much in mass education and health before 1973. By 2010, however, male and female youth literacy rates (15–24 year olds) for all the GCC states were at or above 95 per cent.59 GCC life expectancy in 2008 ranged from 73.6 years in Oman to 77.4 years in Kuwait (see Table 2.3). Despite my criticism of the distributive politics of oil-dependent states, for those interested in social justice it is noteworthy that three Gulf Arab states (Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE) appear in the very high human development category established by the UN, and that the only other major oil exporter on that list is Brunei.60 In 1976 Kuwait established the Reserve Fund for Future Generations (RFFG) to develop a source of external income for the country’s post-oil future. By law, the Fund

40 Mary Ann Tétreault Table 2.3 Social indicators for selected Middle Eastern and North African hydrocarbon exporters Life expectancy

Literacy male


Internet penetration


GCC countries Bahrain 74.68 86.5 83.6 Kuwait 77.36 94.4 91 Oman 73.62 86.8 73.5 Qatar 74.14 89.1 88.6 Saudi Arabia 75.88 84.7 70.8 UAE 75.69 76.1 81.7 Other Middle Eastern and North African hydrocarbon exporters Algeria 73.52 79.6 60.1 Egypt 71.57 83 59.4 Iran 70.56 83.5 70.4 Iraq 69.31 84.1 64.2 Libya 76.86 92.4 72 Sudan 49.11 71.8 50.5 Syria 70.61 88 73.6

Corruption rank


60 64 74 86 72 66

88 39.4 41.7 51.8 38.1 75.9

48 54 41 19 50 28

4.9 4.5 5.3 7.7 4.7 6.3

68 67 n.a. n.a. 83 n.a. 69

13.6 21.2 43.2 1.1 5.5 10 17.7

105 98 146 175 146 172 127

2.9 3.1 2.2 1.5 2.2 1.6 2.5

Source: Life expectancy in years, 2008, from Literacy in percentage, CIA World Factbook, from 2103.html, most recent year available. Inequality as GINI coefficient, total population including migrants, most recent year available, from Internet penetration, percentage of population as of 2010, from Internet World Stats, Usage and Population Statistics, Corruption, rank/score on corruptions perceptions index, 2010, from Transparency International, cpi/2010/results.

receives 10 per cent of the state’s oil revenues, most of which was invested in North America and Western Europe. Other oil-exporting states, with economies, like Kuwait’s, yet to become self-sustaining in the absence of foreign earnings, set up similar funds to serve as repositories for their financial assets. These Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) are not transparent, and they are less accountable than the RFFG, the accountability of which also leaves something to be desired.61 Virtually all SWFs have shifted from being passive accumulators of securities issued by Western governments to aggressive direct and portfolio investors in a wide range of assets. The SWFs bear the usual hallmarks of rentier income: they accrue directly to the state; they are allocated by the state; and they enjoy little or no institutional oversight with the partial exception of what is provided by Kuwait’s Audit Bureau.62 During the Iraqi invasion and occupation, for example, the Kuwaiti government liquidated an estimated two-thirds of the RFFG to support citizens abroad and at home, pay a large share of the costs of liberation, and pay off some coalition countries (Table 2.4).63 Even without wars and occupations, government ownership makes SWFs vulnerable to external interference. Host countries frequently impose constraints on sovereign investors; in contrast, hedge funds and investment banks rarely, if ever, have to deal with such political pressure. Although many countries have rules regarding the proportion of a domestic asset that can be owned by a government or private investor,64 lax regulation of private-sector investors involved in risky ventures continues, especially with regard to derivatives markets. The primary concerns of GCC sovereign wealth portfolio investors include being able to

Resources and governance in the Middle East


Table 2.4 Trends in the value of arms exports to selected Middle Eastern hydrocarbon producers, 1973–2009. Total for the period (per-year average, calculated) in 1990, US$ 1973–9 Total

1980–6 Per-year average


1987–99 Per-year average


GCC countries Bahrain 18 2.6 437 62.4 1,221 Kuwait 1,625 232.1 1,703 243.3 5,139 Oman 844 120.6 876 125.2 1,219 Qatar 164 23.4 968 138.3 1,131 Saudi 4,377 625.3 11,837 1,691.0 21,956 Arabia UAE 1,118 159.7 1,582 226.0 5,820 Selected other Middle Eastern and North African hydrocarbon exporters Algeria 4,993 713.3 5,413 773.3 4,003 Egypt 5,348 764.0 10,290 1,470.0 12,528 Iran 25,308 3,615.4 3,834 547.7 7,025 Iraq 9,985 1,426.4 23,656 3,379.4 8,092 Libya 17,408 2,486.9 12,025 1,717.9 412 Sudan 266 38.0 489 69.9 433 Syria 13,286 1,898.0 12,830 1,832.9 4,933

2000–10 Per-year average


Per-year average

93.9 395.3 93.77 87.0 1,689.0

647 706 905 349 4,271

58.8 64.2 82.3 31.7 388.3




307.0 963.7 540.4 2,023.0 31.69 33.3 379.46

5,877 6,809 2,862 1,970 308 1,058 782

534.3 619.0 260.2 179.1 28.0 96.2 71.1

Note: No transfers reported for Iraq, 1991–2003. Averages calculated based on reported years only. Source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

maintain, and preferably increase, the value of their capital; to maintain the security of those investments in the face of political or economic pressures; to be entitled to take an active role in companies in which they have a stake;65 and to be granted the same advantages as others in making acquisitions under favourable investment conditions.66 The ‘Great Recession’, which started in 2008, placed a premium on access to investment funding in the developed world which reduced these political pressures on SWFs, but they still persist.67 Direct investment abroad was rare prior to the 1970s. It accelerated after the second oil shock, which boosted oil-exporter income, however temporarily, and heightened awareness of the fundamental precariousness of dependence on income from the sale of a single commodity as the basis of national wealth. Even so, much of that early overseas investment was concentrated in the industry oil-exporters knew best. The Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (KUFPEC) was established in 1981 to engage in upstream operations in developing countries.68 Kuwait also pioneered in foreign direct investment (FDI) downstream with its 1983 purchases of refining, storage and marketing assets in Europe. Saudi Arabia and Venezuela also invested in foreign downstream assets69 to capture the value added from processing their own raw materials and to take advantage of the inverse relationship between production and refining profits. Upstream investments in developed countries proved to be less well received than those in developing countries, however. The US government opposed the acquisition of US production rights when Kuwait purchased the drilling and production firm Santa Fe International in 1982. This conflict culminated in a lawsuit and an eventual divestiture.70 Kuwait’s purchase of shares

42 Mary Ann Tétreault of BP triggered British pressure for divestiture. The history of mixed signals indicates structural obstacles to FDI by oil-exporting country governments. Like foreign aid, FDI gives each partner a stake in the economic health and longevity of the other, but the reciprocal relationship mediated by investment is not welcome to developed-country partners when the other party is not one of them.71 Military expenditure is the investment most conventionally seen as directed towards national security. The purchase of military goods from abroad, charted for 13 hydrocarbonproducing countries in Table 2.4, indicates the extent of these ambiguous security investments of hydrocarbon windfalls. Most GCC purchases seem to follow the money, rising when oil prices are high and national incomes swell, and falling when oil prices and incomes decline. Under-represented in this table is the extent of the recent upsurge in interest in arms deals and negotiations for nuclear power facilities. Both have burgeoned as a result of Iranian efforts to develop an independent nuclear industry with the capacity to produce materials for nuclear weapons, and the threatening responses of the USA and European countries to this development. The seven non-GCC states demonstrate a variety of strategic options, including Libya which spent relatively little on weapons from its post-2003 oil revenues. Most of the ambiguity of military purchases rests on what these weapons will be used to defend against. The GCC nations, for example, are small relative to likely external enemies. Their defence programmes concentrate on policing and are not international or even regional.72 If the GCC states had to join forces against an external attack, their multiple sources of military equipment would translate into a logistics nightmare of systems without interchangeable parts or even standard ammunition. It is true, of course, that the best weapons are the ones that are never fired, and at least some of these purchases were likely to have been made with other than fighting in the field in mind. The Silkworm missile purchase from China by Saudi Arabia in the late 1980s was intended to deter and defend against attacks during the bitter first Gulf War, and perhaps also to put the USA on notice that Saudis had ample access to military transfers not limited by the US Congress. The Gulf Arab states have reason to fear terrorist attacks, given their proximity to theatres of ongoing conflict, their prominence as locations for US military bases, and their identity as the ‘near enemy’ of Islamist fighters.73 Even so, the utility of military force against terrorists, even as a deterrent, is far from proven, while terrorism itself is related more to failures in governance than to insufficient military force.74 The most critical weapons-and-governance issue is whether arms purchased from abroad will be used as the rentier state model suggests, that is, against rebellious domestic populations. The classical example of oil-exporting country use of imported weapons against its citizens was their deployment against the people of Iran by the Shah.75 Concern that weapons purchased from their countries were being used against dissidents in Bahrain and Libya during the 2011 wave of demonstrations prompted the British and French governments to halt most weapons shipments to those countries.76 Television viewers of the current unrest have seen tanks and other heavy weapons on the streets not only of Bahrain and Libya, but also Egypt, Iraq and Yemen. Col Muammar al-Qaddafi used planes to bomb protestors and ammunition dumps in Libya.77 How much the weapons investments reported in Table 2.4 represent measures to defend their purchasers against external enemies would be questionable anyway, given the small size of the military forces of most oil-producing countries (the major exceptions used to be Egypt, Iran, Iraq and Syria, but Iraq’s forces presently are much reduced and

Resources and governance in the Middle East


highly compromised in terms of their efficacy as a result of the 2003 US/UK invasion) and the lack of co-ordination among them for a common defence. Since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, little has changed. In spite of GCC policies that purport to establish measures for mounting a common defence against external enemies, there is no joint force, no effort to co-ordinate weapons systems, no formal military alliances with more heavily militarized states like Egypt or Syria (the hope of Western governments following the liberation of Kuwait), or other evidence that these countries actually expect to be able to defend themselves against an opponent such as Iran with a large military force.78 It seems reasonable to assume that arms purchases by small oil-exporting countries are designed in part to mobilize developed-country defenders from outside the region in the event that they are attacked. Perhaps in response to concern about Iran and its attempts to build nuclear weapons and means to deploy them, arms purchases by the other Gulf states suddenly have shot up. Also on the increase are nuclear development agreements signed with Western countries such as the February 2011 agreement between Saudi Arabia and France.79 Other Gulf states, such as the UAE, which signed contracts for three nuclear generating plants with the Korea Electric Power Corporation in 2009, are clearly investing in power generation. The Saudi contract with France also is for power generation, but comes at a critical time for France’s troubled nuclear industry,80 and also can be seen as a way to link the independence of this major Arab oil exporter to another North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) government. In the end, the chief external guarantor of the strategic security of the Gulf hydrocarbon-exporting countries continues to be the USA, in spite of the yawning divergence in policy goals between it and Middle Eastern nations. With its own extensive strategic interests in the Gulf, it remains the only external power likely to intervene should any of them be attacked from abroad,81 although its support of dissidents in Egypt and Bahrain increases already evident doubts about the trustworthiness of the USA as a strategic (or economic) partner. A recent global security concern is access to reasonably priced food. Commodity food crops like wheat are subject to normal supply and demand pressures on prices and, like other commodities, including oil, to price movements fuelled by speculation. Food supplies at stable prices are additionally threatened by fuel strategies that seek to reduce purchases of oil and gas from Middle Eastern suppliers by supplementing hydrocarbon stocks with ethanol, much of it made from food crops like corn. The high cost of and limited results from food production in most Arab oil-exporting states has pushed many of them to look for foreign investments that could guarantee food supplies from abroad,82 but ambiguity also characterizes GCC foreign investment in agricultural land. International leasing and purchases of farmland by state and private interests expanded after the fall of the Soviet Union. Some say food is the new oil;83 others call these land deals a new approach to oil-for-food.84 From the perspective of GCC governments, direct investment in fertile agricultural land abroad is more practical, not to mention politically less burdensome, than food-security policies that support local attempts to grow crops unsustainable under desert conditions.85 The land rush adds to macroeconomic destabilization by pushing prices up. Again, linkage is evident in that soaring grain prices, especially for rice, spurred further interest in foreign land leases and purchases, both as a profitable investment and as a source of food. Rentierism is echoed in these transactions, which feature centralization with little transparency.86 Similar to the results of the privatization of water rights discussed earlier,

44 Mary Ann Tétreault bidding up land prices cuts small farmers off from land-holdings under customary tenure arrangements and sparks fears about food insecurity in host countries.87 Critics focus on the lack of transparency and the absence of explicit arrangements for mitigating social and economic dislocations. They also question whether Middle Eastern buyers are complying with national and international trade regulations and policies, and meeting requirements for sustainability.88 Some go so far as to argue that investment in foreign land is just neocolonialism in another guise. The security of direct agricultural investment also is questionable. As oil exporters themselves found, negative sovereignty carries extensive benefits, not the least of which is an international legal regime that recognizes very broad parameters for the rights of states to control their territories and populations. In the 1950s and 1960s Middle Eastern oil exporters used their negative sovereignty to demand relinquishment of land allocated to oil companies for exploration and development when they did not carry out their obligations in a timely way.89 In the 1970s some of the Gulf oil producers nationalized foreign operations and paid normal compensation to the former owners.90 In the process, they regained not only the rights to their hydrocarbons but also acquired all the infrastructure the companies had installed during the time when they had owned those rights. There is no reason to believe that agricultural land cannot similarly be reclaimed by host governments, along with any improvements the investors might have made. Terms for compensating the investors would undoubtedly be coloured by perceptions of justice with regard to foreign ownership, already questioned in much of the literature on international investment in farmland. As Ibrahim Saif notes, investing more in nationally based agriculture and relying on markets, however distorted by speculation and environmentally damaging ethanol farming, would be safer and probably also cheaper than buying or leasing land from quasi-states overseas.91

Long-term security issues In spite of very real successes, the uprisings sweeping the Middle East show that the region’s governance model is seriously flawed. Much of the opprobrium infusing the literature on the rentier state focuses on the moral hazard of bought-and-paid-for consent. Recipients of resources expect their benefits to continue and even to expand. In addition to undemanding government jobs, they regard cheap food, half-hour showers, and full swimming pools as entitlements. The weight of these expectations on resources is immense, even in Saudi Arabia where oil-fuelled desalination provides as much or more water than declining groundwater supplies. [G]roundwater … is being sucked up at a rate of four times natural replenishment, [leaving] Saudis increasingly dependent on water from electricity-intensive desalinisation plants. But … there is no incentive for limiting water consumption … Consumers pay ten halalas, or 2.7 cents, per cubic metre of water, one percent of the cost to the state water utility, and far below the average world price of 1.81 dollars … Christopher Gasson, publisher of Global Water Intelligence, [observed], ‘If you have unlimited demand for something that’s essentially free, the system is bound to fail’.92 Yet much of the wealth of Middle Eastern hydrocarbon producers comes from exports whose markets are fickle and whose prices are highly variable. Living standards in these states also

Resources and governance in the Middle East


depend on the direct use of hydrocarbons to generate water and electricity, and to power the expensive automobiles that clog their streets. Ironically, security increasingly means preserving domestic access to fuels, the sale abroad of which is the foundation of the edifice of state and society. Nuclear power, which also depends on a wasting resource, cannot be seen as more than an environmentally risky stopgap on the way to an economy based on renewable sources of power, including tapping the region’s abundant wind and solar resources. Investment in alternative fuels, especially at a time of rising food prices, water and electricity shortages, and citizen demands for employment that could support them in the style to which their states have accustomed them, could be difficult. It would be less so if the notion of governance as a partnership between state and nation, where each contributes and each benefits, could replace the distributive politics of rentierism. Indeed, I would argue that the absence of a norm of shared sacrifice is the most serious security problem for Middle Eastern nations and regimes. As the uprisings also show, force is not sufficient to maintain regimes that lack positive sovereignty. The regimes’ presumed shared interests with the military forces that protect them cannot be counted on below the level of top generals who share privileged access to distributive benefits enjoyed by the governors themselves. The scope of the current unrest indicts not only military-backed dictatorships like Mubarak’s Egypt and Assad’s Syria, but also those oil-exporting states whose fiscal generosity to their populations is seen from nearly every external perspective as paying for popular support. Yet distribution targets specific individuals and groups such that distributive politics is both vulnerable to corruption and visibly unfair.93 Some citizens enjoy privileges—licit or illicit—at other citizens’ expense. The struggles in Bahrain, for example, incorporate long-standing Shi’i disaffection at discrimination against the Shi’a as a group. Group antagonisms mark contentious politics throughout the region. Some Gulf observers expect a rise in conflict between nationals and the huge numbers of foreign workers who make these economies work in the absence of sufficient and suitable citizen workers.94 Naturalization policies designed to limit the expansion of (expensive) citizen populations add to perceptions of injustice that may elicit support for regimes that maintain the wall between citizen beneficiaries and foreign workers,95 and opposition from those that do not.96 Either way, they threaten peace and stability if the legitimate demands of all residents are not met.97 External strategic dependence also threatens the security of small oil-exporting countries. Well before the uprisings, Middle Eastern governments in the Gulf were reconsidering their relations with the USA. Sanctions on Iran had already turned its government towards Asia, where energy and weapons markets were open for business. The smaller Gulf states also turned towards Asia, for hydrocarbon markets and as locations for direct foreign investments. The status of the USA as a reliable strategic partner has been shaken by its responses to the uprisings, while close relations with the USA are not welcomed by many of their citizens.98 The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, televised into homes across the region, transmitted images of civilian casualties and, in 2004, of US torture and degrading treatment of Iraqi prisoners. Throughout the George W. Bush Administration, US relations with Israel were given priority over relations with Arab and other Middle Eastern partners. The 2006 war in Lebanon was a multi-focal crisis for the entire region. Not only did the USA support Israel and drag its feet on measures to bring the conflict to an end, but the Hezbollah ‘victory’, which was welcome, added to sectarian tensions.

46 Mary Ann Tétreault Gerd Nonneman argues that the Gulf monarchies use global politics to build power and status, which they then utilize domestically and regionally.99 A similar argument could be made about large Middle Eastern states with messianic ambitions. Yet the demonstrations sweeping the Middle East show that a large number, in many cases a majority, of the citizens in these countries are far more focused on the quality of governance and think their leaders should be as well. While external observers stress the need for democratization and some seem satisfied if governments open markets and hold periodic elections,100 local populations are more interested in fairness, competence, honesty and dignity. Yet the region’s current governance model is built on discrimination, deception, and a lack of transparency that encourages corruption which free-trade agreements and façade elections have done little to remedy.101 The uprisings have created an opportunity to do things differently because they have made a rupture in the structure of what ‘everybody knows’ about the Middle East. In this space, new faces can appear, new ideas, institutions and social contracts can be devised, and a more inclusive politics can result. Resources could help this transition along, or be absorbed by existing distribution networks to ensure that these infant movements will be smothered in their cradles. That would be a pity, a waste of a historical moment during which it is at least possible to reshape a governance model that has a limited future into one that offers something better than disappointment, division, exclusion and bitterness.

Notes 1 Walter J. Levy, ‘The Years that the Locus Hath Eaten: Oil Policy, and OPEC Development Prospects’, Foreign Affairs 57 (Winter 1978/79): 999–1015. 2 See Hazem Beblawi, ‘The Rentier State in the Arab World’, in Giacomo Luciani (ed.), The Arab State (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1990), 85–98; Mark J. Gasiorowski, US Foreign Policy and the Shah: Building a Client State in Iran (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991); Giacomo Luciani, ‘Allocation vs. Production States: A Theoretical Framework’, in Giacomo Luciani (ed.), The Arab State (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1990), 65–84; Timothy W. Luke, ‘Dependent Development and the OPEC States: State Formation in Saudi Arabia and Iran Under the International Energy Regime’, Studies in Comparative International Development 20(1), 1985: 31–54; and Mary Ann Tétreault, ‘Complex Consequences: Hydrocarbon Production as a Route to Economic Health’, in Leonard Binder (ed.), Rebuilding Devastated Economies in the Middle East (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 77–94. 3 For example, Beblawi, 1990. 4 Paul Aarts, ‘Oil, Money, and Participation: Kuwait’s Sonderweg as a Rentier State’, Orient 32(2), 1991: 205–16; see also, Michael Herb, ‘No Representation without Taxation? Rents, Development, and Democracy’, Comparative Politics 37(3) April 2005: 297–316. 5 Luciani, 1990. 6 Michael L. Ross, ‘Does Oil Hinder Democracy?’ World Politics 53(2) April 2001: 325–61. 7 Jill Crystal, ‘Authoritarianism and its Adversaries in the Arab World’, World Politics 46(2) January 1994: 262–89; see also, Mary Ann Tétreault and Mohammed al-Ghanim, ‘Transitions in Authoritarianism: Political Reform in the Arab Gulf States Reconsidered’, paper prepared for presentation at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, Montréal, February 2011. 8 Charles Tilly, ‘War Making and State Making as Organized Crime’, in Peter B. Evans, D. Rueschemeyer and T. Skoçpol (eds), Bringing the State Back In (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 169–91. 9 Luciani, 1990; see also, Anh Nga Longva, ‘Citizenship in the Gulf States: Conceptualization and Practice’, in Nils A. Butenschon, Uri Davis and Manuel Hassassian (eds), Citizenship and the State in the Middle East: Approaches and Applications (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2000), 179–97. 10 Kirin Aziz Chaudhry, The Price of Wealth: Economics and Institutions in the Middle East (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997); see also, Sean Foley, The Arab Gulf States: Beyond Oil and Islam (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2010).

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11 Theodore J. Lowi, ‘American Business, Public Policy, Case Studies and Political Power’, World Politics 16, July 1964: 677–715. 12 Robert H. Jackson, States and Quasi-States (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990). 13 See Cynthia Weber, Simulating Sovereignty: Intervention, the State and Symbolic Exchange (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995). 14 Jackson, 1990, 21. 15 Jackson, 1990, 22. 16 Jackson, 1990, 25. 17 Joel S. Migdal, Strong Societies and Weak States: State-Society Relations and State Capabilities in the Third World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988); also, Tilly, 1985. 18 Weber, 1995. 19 John Cassidy, How Markets Fail: The Logic of Economic Calamities (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009); James H. Mittleman (ed.), Globalization: Critical Reflections (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1997); Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler, The Global Political Economy of Israel (London: Pluto Press, 2002); Yda Schreuder, The Corporate Greenhouse: Climate Change Policy in a Globalizing World (London: Zed Books, 2009); and Transparency International, ‘Corruption Perceptions Index 2010’, 20 Crystal, 1994; Steven Heydemann, ‘Upgrading Authoritarianism in the Arab World’, Analysis Paper No. 13 (Washington, DC: Saban Center at the Brookings Institution, October 2007); Marsha Pripstein Posusney and Michele Penner Angrist (eds), Authoritarianism in the Middle East: Regimes and Resistence (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 2005); Oliver Schlumberger, ‘Arab Authoritarianism: Debating the Dynamics and Durability of Nondemocratic Regimes’, in Oliver Schlumberger (ed.), Debating Arab Authoritarianism: Dynamics and Durability in Nondemocratic Regimes (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007), 1–20; and Tétreault and al-Ghanim, 2011. 21 Michael Herb, All in the Family: Absolutism, Revolution and Democracy in the Middle Eastern Monarchies (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1999); and Joseph Kostiner (ed.), Middle East Monarchies: The Challenge of Modernity (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 2000). 22 Human Rights Watch, ‘Iran: Deepening Crisis on Rights’, posted 26 January 2011, en/news/2011/01/26/iran-deepening-crisis-rights. 23 Iran Human Rights, ‘UN experts call for a moratorium on death penalty in the Islamic Republic of Iran’, Geneva, posted 2 February 2011, 24 Tétreault and al-Ghanim, 2011. 25 Jack Goldsmith, The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration (New York: Norton, 2007); Mittleman, 1997; Schreuder, 2009. 26 Charles M. Blow, ‘The Kindling of Change’, The New York Times, 4 February 2011: A15, www. 27 Ellis Goldberg, Erik Wibbels and Eric Mvukiyehe, ‘Lessons from Strange Cases: Democracy, Development, and the Resource Curse in the US States’, Comparative Political Studies 41(4/5) 2008: 477–514. 28 Phillippe Schmitter, ‘Is it Safe for Transitologists and Consolidologists to Travel to the Middle East and North Africa?’ Working Paper (Stanford, CA: Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, February 2010), link_between_liberalization_and_democratization_in_the_middle_east. 29 Beblawi, 1990; and Luciani, 1990. 30 Lowi, 1964; also Tilly, 1985. 31 Jeannie Sowers and Chris Toensing, ‘From the Editors’, Middle East Report 254, Spring 2010, 1–3, 13. 32 Jon B. Alterman and Michael Dziuban, Clear Gold: Water as a Strategic Resource in the Middle East (Washington: Center for Strategic and International Studies, December 2010). 33 Toby Jones, ‘Saudi Alchemy: Water into Oil, Oil into Water’, Middle East Report 254, Spring 2010: 25. 34 Jones, 2010, 26. 35 Alterman and Dziuban, 2010, 5. 36 Alterman and Dziuban, 2010, 5. 37 Foley, 2010, 22. 38 Foley, 2010, 23. 39 Foley, 2010, 23.

48 Mary Ann Tétreault 40 Mary Ann Tétreault, Revolution in the World Petroleum Market (Westport, CT: Quorum Books, 1985), 84. 41 Pascal Menoret, ‘Fighting for the Holy Mosque: The 1979 Mecca Insurgency’, in C. Christine Fair and Sumit Ganguly (eds), Treading on Hallowed Ground: Counterinsurgency Operations in Sacred Spaces (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 117–39. 42 Chaudhry, 1997; Jones, 2010; Ibrahim Saif, The Food Price Crisis in the Arab Countries: Short Term Responses to a Lasting Challenge (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2008), 43 Jones, 2010, 29. 44 Robert Vitalis, America’s Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006). 45 Jones, 2010; Vitalis 2006. 46 Jones, 2010, 26. 47 Foley, 2010. 48 Saif, 2008, 3. 49 Paul Handley, ‘Saudi subsidies incur huge costs, threaten oil exports’, Middle East Online, 4 October 2010, 50 Mary Ann Tétreault, Stories of Democracy: Politics and Society in Contemporary Kuwait (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000). 51 Tétreault, 2000. 52 Alterman and Dziuban, 2010, 5. 53 Tétreault and al-Ghanim, 2011. 54 Tétreault, 1985. 55 Levy, 1978/79. 56 George A. Askerlof and Robert J. Shiller, Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy and Why it Matters for Global Capitalism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009). 57 Tétreault, 1985. 58 Tétreault, 2000. 59 United Nations, Millennium Development Goals Indicators (New York: United Nations, 2010), mdgs. 60 United Nations, 2010. 61 Tétreault, 2000, 187; Edwin M. Truman, Sovereign Wealth Funds: The Need for Greater Transparency and Accountability (Washington, DC: Peterson Institute for International Economics, 2007); Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, ‘The GCC States and the Shifting Balance of Global Power’, occasional paper no. 6 (Doha: Center for International and Regional Studies, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar, 2010). 62 Tétreault, 2000. 63 Foley, 2010, 98. 64 Nermina Biberovic, ‘A Common European Approach to Sovereign Wealth Funds: Continuity of the Status Quo’, Insight, 10 May 2008; United States Government Accountability Office (USGAO), ‘Sovereign Wealth Funds: Publicly Available Data on Sizes and Investments for Some Funds Are Limited’, Report to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, United States Senate (Washington, DC: GAO, September 2008), 28–32. 65 Biberovic, 2008, 6. 66 USGAO, 2008, 32–34. 67 Ulrichsen, 2010. 68 Mary Ann Tétreault, The Kuwait Petroleum Corporation and the Economics of the New World Order (Westport, CT: Quorum Books, 1995), 30. 69 Valerie Marcel, Oil Titans (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2006). 70 Tétreault, 1995, 35. 71 Ulrichsen, 2010. 72 Matteo Legrenzi, ‘Defense Cooperation: Beyond Symbolism?’ in Mary Ann Tétreault, Gwenn Okruhlik and Andrzej Kapiszewski (eds), Political Change in the Arab Gulf States: Stuck in Transition (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2011), 271–87. 73 Fawaz A. Gerges, The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

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74 Menoret, 2008; Madawi al-Rasheed, Contesting the Saudi State: Islamic Voices of a New Generation (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007); Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (New York: Alfred Knopf, 2006). 75 Mark J. Gasiorowski, US Foreign Policy and the Shah: Building a Client State in Iran (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1991). 76 UPI, ‘France, Britain halt arms sales to Bahrain’, 19 February 2011, World-News/2011/02/19/France-Britain-halt-arms-sales-to-Bahrain/UPI-60271298170703. 77 Al Jazeera, ‘Fresh violence rages in Libya’, 22 February 2011, 2011/02/201122261251456133.html. 78 Foley, 2010. 79 Al Arabiyya, ‘France signs nuclear agreement with Saudi Arabia’, 23 February 2011, www.alarabiya. net/articles/2011/02/23/138860.html. 80 Al Arabiyya, 2011. 81 Legrenzi, 2011. 82 Saif, 2008; Ulrichsen, 2010; Benjamin Shepherd, ‘Above Carrying Capacity: Saudi Arabia’s external policies for securing food supplies’, paper prepared for delivery at WOCMES, July 2010a; Benjamin Shepherd, ‘A need for new institutions? Bilateral deals over food producing resources point to the need for greater international co-operation on food security’, unpublished paper, 2010b. 83 Horand Knaup and Juliane von Mittelstaedt, ‘Foreign investors snap up African farmland’, Salon. com, 31 July 2009, 84 Meena Janardhan, ‘Development: Gulf Eyes Oil-For-Food Deal With Neighbours’, IPS, 19 June 2009, 85 AFP, ‘Gulf states look to harvest food from investment in Asia’,, 21 July 2008, services.; Joachim von Braun and Ruth MeinzenDick, ‘Land Grabbing by Foreign Investors in Developing Countries: Risks and Opportunities’, IFPRI Policy Brief 13, April 2009,; Chaudhry, 1997; Saif, 2008. 86 Ulrichsen, 2010. 87 von Braun and Meinzen-Dick, 2009. 88 von Braun and Meinzen-Dick, 2009; Carin Smaller and Howard Mann, A Thirst for Distant Lands: Foreign investment in agricultural land and water (Manitoba: International Institute for Sustainable Development, May 2009). 89 Edith T. Penrose, The Large Multinational Firm in Developing Countries: The International Petroleum Industry (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1968). 90 Tétreault, 1985. 91 Saif, 2008. 92 Handley, 2010. 93 Margaret Atwood, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth (Toronto: O.W. Toad, 2008). 94 Syed Ali, Dubai: Gilded Cage (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010); John Chalcraft, ‘Monarchy, migration and hegemony in the Arabian Peninsula’, No. 12 (London: Kuwait Programme on Development, Governance and Globalisation in the Gulf States, 2010); Foley, 2010. 95 Longva, 2000. 96 Gianluca Parolin, ‘Reweaving the Myth of Bahrain’s Parliamentary Experience’, in Mary Ann Tétreault, Gwenn Okruhlik and Andrzej Kapiszewski (eds), Political Change in the Arab Gulf States: Stuck in Transition (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2011), 21–48. 97 Eurasia Review, ‘Kuwait: Dozens Injured, Arrested in Bidun Crackdown’, 1 March 2011, www. 98 Foley, 2010. 99 Gerd Nonneman, ‘Determinants and Patterns of Saudi Foreign Policy: Omnibalancing and Relative Autonomy in Multiple Environments’, in Paul Aarts and Gerd Nonneman (eds), Saudi Arabia in the Balance: Political Economy, Society, Foreign Affairs (London: Hurst, 2005), 315–51. 100 Heydemann, 2007. 101 Tétreault and al-Ghanim, 2011.

Chapter 3

The Middle East political economy and the Arab Awakening A difficult symbiosis? Charles Dunbar

The Arab Spring has captured the world’s imagination. Three seemingly entrenched leaders have been removed from office, a fourth was captured and killed after being driven from office by an internationally supported armed insurrection, a fifth clings to power amid violence that what is effectively a civil war, and a sixth has violently quelled protests with the aid of a powerful neighbour. Kings and presidents in most other Arab countries hurried to make the political concessions they hoped would defuse the protests. Autocratic governments beyond the Arab world have watched developments there with alarm and moved to keep what they regarded as the Arab world’s plague from infecting the states they rule. How the Arab Spring will turn out is an open question; that its constituent parts are already the most significant region-wide series of political events in decades is not. Throughout the spring of 2011, the analytical focus of outside observers has been on three broad questions: who are the protesters, what caused them to rise up when they did, and will their efforts produce lasting change in the nature of politics and society in the Arab world? The role of better educated, younger generations and their imaginative use of social media in organizing their protests and publicizing their demands have been the subject of much commentary. A great deal has properly been made of the divide between the protesters on the one hand, who demand an end to authoritarianism, pervasive corruption and cronyism that is a substitute for real representative government, and on the other, the established political (often Islamist) parties that have been involved for years in what has passed for political activity in the countries where the protests have gained traction. As spring gave way to summer, it became clear that revolutionary change was not a foregone conclusion, that other authoritarian rulers were not about to follow Tunisian President Ben Ali into exile perhaps made permanent by a 35-year in absentia prison sentence, or Egyptian President Mubarak to jail, and that the nature and role of the armies would be crucial. In Tunisia and Egypt the army remained coherent, and in Tunisia it has largely stepped aside. In Egypt it has taken the lead in running the country, and it is increasingly clear that it seeks a privileged and powerful position in the country’s political and economic life. By contrast, longstanding divisions along religious and/or tribal lines in Syria and Yemen have meant that portions at least of the armed forces have shown themselves loyal to their rulers and ready to shoot down their fellow citizens in large numbers over a period of months. Indeed, despite the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) intervention, enough of the various armed forces in Libya remained loyal to Colonel Qaddafi to keep him and his regime from their violent end. Also, in some countries, particularly Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, longstanding opposition political parties—Islamist in all three cases—have been playing a large role in shaping the

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course of events. In the past, these parties have been involved in negotiations (largely unsuccessful) with the authoritarian regimes they now seek to replace, and thus their hostility towards ‘the devil they know’ may be more nuanced than that of the original protestors. They are drawing first and foremost on their discipline and organizational strength, and the Nahdah (Renaissance) Party in Tunisia has a comfortable lead in the legislative elections held on 23 October 2011. In Egypt and Yemen the Muslim Brotherhood and Yemeni Gathering for Reform (Islah)1 were late to cast their lot with the protesters, but both now seem to seek commanding political positions. Some figures bridge the gap between protesters and old-line opposition movements; a prominent example is Tawukkul Kamran, the Yemeni woman who won a share of the Nobel Peace Prize for her leading role in the demonstrations in Yemen’s capital San’a. Kamran joined the protestors early and was notable as a bridge between Islah and the Yemeni civil society organizations that have been active in the protests.2 If the politics of the Arab Spring are murky at this writing, the economic and social difficulties facing the region are clear and longstanding, and the way in which these challenges are addressed will have a major influence on the outcome of the current political upheaval. While the demands of the protestors have more to do with the political bankruptcy of the governments, the fall of which they sought, their frustration also springs from the failure of the regimes to be able to hold up their end of a bargain that involved more social services and jobs in return for political acquiescence. State domination of the ‘commanding heights’ (and the foothills) of national economies stunted private sector-led economic development and fostered the spread of corruption and crony capitalism in the process. Apart from the oil industry, foreign direct investment (FDI) in the region is low. Above all, the pressing need to create more and better jobs for the region’s growing workforce must be addressed if governments, whether produced by the Arab Spring or holding on despite it, are to have any chance of building or restoring the trust of the people they are supposed to serve. This chapter has two objectives. The first is to assess the present state of the political economy in the Middle East, with particular attention to the efforts at reducing state domination of national economies and to promote private enterprise, and to the crisis created by the need to meet the employment demands of a rapidly growing and better educated workforce. The second is to consider how these problems and the demand for change represented by the Arab Spring are likely to interact and to hazard a guess as to what sorts of outcomes that interaction may produce.

The past as prologue The political economy of the Arab world changed dramatically in the third quarter of the twentieth century. In 1945, with the exception of Saudi Arabia and what was then the Yemeni imamate (later the Yemen Arab Republic or North Yemen), the entire Arab world was under European colonial rule of one kind or another. By 1977 all present-day Arab states had gained their independence.3 No fact of geopolitical life in this period is more important in explaining the development of the Arab world’s political economy than the widely held belief that some form of socialism was the wave of the future for the developing world. In economic terms, the state was expected to play a predominant role in managing the economy and in changing the structure of the colonial economies in which the colony served as a source of raw

52 Charles Dunbar materials and as a market for the colonizing power’s industrial production. The strategy for achieving these objectives was import-substituting industrialization in which local industries, often state-owned or parastatal, were to produce the goods that would substitute for those that had previously been imported and would be protected by state policies such as tariffs until they had developed to be able to compete in the world marketplace. Agriculture was generally not similarly favoured, and agricultural production was damaged by land reform schemes—notably in Egypt and Algeria. Heavy-handed Egyptian government intervention in purchase and sale of long-staple cotton, the export of which had long been a source of foreign exchange, disrupted the production of cotton and caused farmers to switch to other crops. In Algeria, the country’s richest farms along the Mediterranean coast were nationalized/expropriated from their colonial owners; following their subsequent collectivization, their productivity declined sharply.4 Hand-in-hand with socialist, state-directed economics came authoritarian politics and one-party rule, often by military officers. In Egypt, Iraq and Syria, the monarchs and politicians who had co-operated with the British and French colonial administrations were swept aside by a younger generation of ‘home-grown’ leaders whose worldview was epitomized by Colonel Gamal Abd al-Nasir (Nasser), Egypt’s charismatic second president, who ruled the country with an iron hand until his death in 1970. In most of the Arab republics—Lebanon being the outstanding exception—leaders created corporatist states in which increasingly sclerotic ruling parties were supposed in theory to represent the interests of the people, but for the most part were not empowered to do so. The monarchies in Morocco and Jordan and the Kuwaiti emirate permitted elections with more than one candidate and a measure of political and press freedom, but when push came to shove, as it frequently did, the rulers ruled and the political and civil society institutions, like those in the republics, obeyed and became what have been described as ‘policy-takers’. Reinforcing the predominance of some governments in the Middle East political economy has been the wealth and consequent power that accrued to them as they began to tap and take increasing control over the hydrocarbon resources with which many of them are endowed. The economic rents5 flowed to them as they were first to gain a larger share of the revenues coming from the sale of their oil and later, in varying degrees, control over the entire industry from exploration through marketing. These increased economic power enabled governments for the better part of three decades to spend heavily on providing those they governed with a rising standard of living and to receive in return tacit acceptance for ruling as they chose, including the development of the powerful security services that have been prominent in various ways during the Arab Spring. The economic and social achievements of many Arab governments in the 25 or so years since the end of World War II were impressive and led to an acceptance and expectation of a large role for the state in the lives of its citizens. Economies grew at rates that were respectable by world standards, government services and educational opportunities were expanded, and the creation of jobs that were an attractive alternative to subsistence farming led to an increasing flow of migrants into the cities from the countryside. Although the creation of the infrastructure to support growing urban populations tended not to keep up with demand, governments were able to put in place subsidies that kept the prices of basic commodities low. The capacity of governments in oil-producing states grew swiftly as they gained control over their oil resources and thus acquired the

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wherewithal to finance large development schemes and to build the institutions needed to carry them out. Algeria, with its network of national companies, the flagship of which is the national oil company SONATRACH,6 is noteworthy in this respect. The expansion of the education system emphasized the creation of the higher educational institutions that had been rudimentary or non-existent under colonial rule. In political terms, there were political parties, trade union and student movements, press and other civil society groups that opposed and protested the authoritarian ways of governments in the region and that attracted a measure of popular support. Broadly speaking, however, there was a willingness to accept—even to expect—government predominance as long as living standards were rising. The sharp drop in the price of oil in the mid-1980s marked the beginning of a prolonged decline in the economic fortunes of much of the Arab world. Following the second major oil price increase, brought on by the Iranian revolution in 1979, the price of oil peaked at over US$35 per barrel in 1980,7 fell to $27 in 1986 and plunged to less than $10 in the 1990s. The glut that followed the second price shock was particularly dramatic for the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), with the annual income from oil of members falling from $572 billion to just over $100 billion between 1980 and 1986 (in constant 2005 dollars).8 The impact of the price decline and subsequent geopolitical events was most direct on the oil-producing states, but others suffered as well. Among the major non-Gulf producers, Algeria and Iraq found themselves unable to fund major national projects, the state-led development effort in the case of the former and a debilitating war with Iran for the latter. For labour-exporting countries like Egypt, Jordan, Yemen and Palestine, the downturn combined with the wars in the Gulf meant the repatriation of large numbers of workers, loss of remittances, and a surge in domestic unemployment. Faced with insolvency, a number of Arab governments turned to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which offered short-term financial relief to governments in return for ‘structural adjustment’ of their state-dominated economies. The IMF’s structural adjustment programmes (SAPs), which were proposed to a number of Arab governments, were based on what came to be called the ‘Washington consensus’ as to how best to reorient and thus revive failing state-managed economies.9 The consensus, so called because three of its main proponents—the World Bank, the IMF and the US Treasury Department—are based in Washington, DC, has been described as ending the era in which state-led import substituting industrialization policies were widely seen and followed as the basis for economic development. The original Washington consensus, by contrast, had three main bases: market-based economics, openness to the world and macroeconomic discipline.10 In one way or another, SAPs required governments to: 1 open their economies to trade and investment by reducing impediments such as tariffs and conditions on foreign direct investment; 2 reduce and eventually eliminate subsidies on basic commodities; 3 devalue their currencies so as to discourage imports and favour exports; 4 hold government spending to a fixed percentage of gross domestic product (GDP); 5 encourage privatization of state-owned companies; 6 make such enterprises more efficient, often through personnel or wage reductions; and 7 favour domestic agriculture both as a source of supply for local needs and of export income. SAPs have proved to be bitter medicine for the governments that have sought to carry them out. Efforts to reduce government subsidies on basic commodities hit those living in urban market economies particularly hard and have continued to spark riots until the present time. In Algeria, for example, the struggle between the government and urban

54 Charles Dunbar populations over the former’s periodic efforts to roll back subsidies has become a kind of political institution in which the two sides discuss a subsidy-reducing proposal, those opposed to them riot, and then a deal is struck.11 Privatization and reduction of government jobs and spending have also been unpopular not just with ordinary workers but with state company managers, who have an intellectual as well as a material stake in the worth and thus the survival of the enterprises and the import-substituting industrialization strategy that led to their creation. Although some governments fared better than others, 20 years of structural adjustment efforts in the Arab world have not led to the kind of transformation of economies envisaged by the Washington consensus and in some cases have arguably done more harm than good. A case supporting the last point is that of Yemen, which after resisting a SAP in the late 1980s, put one into effect beginning in 1995. The programme achieved a number of Washington consensus objectives, but a report from the US embassy in San’a midway through the programme noted that economic stabilization came at a cost in reduction of real incomes and particular distress to the urban poor because of a reduction in subsidies.12 A paper presented in Washington in 2002 made it clear that the rationalization of the Yemeni economy came at the price of imposing a severe economic recession, from which the country has arguably never recovered.13 The Washington consensus has come in for heavy criticism on the ground that its policy prescriptions failed to produce sustained development. Economists point out that the successful ‘East Asian tigers’ in the late 1980s, and later China and India, did not open their economies to the world market but protected their developing industries until they could compete effectively. Looking particularly at Latin America, critics contended that Washington consensus policies tended to benefit the few while impoverishing the middle and working classes. Also, the Barcelona Development Agenda, established as part of the European-Mediterranean Dialogue begun in 1995, introduces the principle of balance between state and market in economic development and income distribution, poverty and the environment.14 The response of Washington consensus proponents was to blame the governments for the failure of the policies they advocated and to add to their agenda such policies as better corporate governance and curbing corruption, as well as social safety nets, poverty reduction and female education, producing what has been called a ‘post-Washington consensus’. This broadening of the consensus agenda has been dismissed as ‘the Washington Consensus-plus’. The last word on the consensus can perhaps be left to Columbia University’s economics Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz. He argues that there is now a ‘Post-Washington Consensus Consensus’ that stresses equity, employment, and a balance between government and the market in which the former provides regulation, institutional and physical infrastructure, and promotes innovation, technology and educational development. He also stresses the importance of economic theory and learning from historical experience rather than relying on ‘one-size-fits-all’ prescriptions for broad-based development.15 From the middle of the past decade until the start of the 2008 recession, the rising price of oil and natural gas has fuelled the return of economic growth in much of the Arab world, but has not led to structural transformation. The price increase has led to a redoubling of efforts at economic diversification, particularly in the Gulf states, which brought the state of Dubai to the front page and to the brink of bankruptcy. Saudi Arabia continued to build its industrial base and made some commitment to develop its capacity to produce solar power as an alternative to petroleum. Still, by the time of the

Political economy and the Arab Awakening


outbreak of the protests that have become the Arab Spring, there was little evidence that fundamental realities of state-dominated economics and authoritarian politics in the Arab world were changing in ways that would pave the way for the sort of change the protesters were seeking to come about.

Wanted: jobs, jobs, jobs In the quarter century since the collapse of oil prices in the mid-1980s, there has been a shift in the emphasis of the international financial institutions as to what is needed to improve the region’s economic performance. In the late 1990s the IMF was emphasizing the lack of investment as the key impediment to growth. An IMF working paper published in November 1996 reported that over the course of the 15 years between 1980 and 1995, real per capita income in the Fund’s Middle East and North Africa region fell by 25 per cent, while that of all developing countries and of Asia rose by 50 per cent and 150 per cent, respectively. By contrast, during the 1970s the region’s GDP grew at an average of just under 5 per cent per year. The authors of the paper noted that the poor 1980–95 performance was brought on by the collapse of the price of oil, but attributed the 15-year slump to the predominance of public- versus private-sector investment, a low rate of FDI and inefficient use of capital. They called for greater attention to Washington consensus concerns with greater macroeconomic stability, privatization, deregulation, trade liberalization, more attention to education, and the creation and development of the institutions needed to oversee these reforms effectively.16 By 2007 the focus had shifted to job creation as the greatest challenge facing the Middle East and North Africa. In that year, Mustapha Kamel Nabli, then the World Bank’s Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa and now Governor of the Central Bank of Tunisia, wrote, ‘perhaps there is no more pressing economic challenge for the Arab world today than that of employment’.17 He went on to note that official figures put unemployment in the region at 15 per cent of the workforce, but added that the actual rate was probably higher. With two-thirds of the Arab world’s population under the age of 30, he observed, the burden of unemployment is borne disproportionately by the region’s youth and pointed out that 90 per cent of the unemployed were first-time job applicants. Prospects are particularly bleak for women, for whom the unemployment rate is 30 per cent higher than that of men on average, and two-to-three times higher in Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Further, the rate of growth of the female workforce, after rising to a high of 5 per cent annually in the 1990s, fell to 3 per cent by the start of the present decade, the same as it was in the 1950s. Finally, labour productivity in the region stagnated in the 10 years between 1995 and 2005, and is lower than in any region other than sub-Saharan Africa.18 There are two broad points to be made about population and labour in the Arab world. The first is that, according to the United Nations (UN), the rate of population increase in the region is now significantly lower than the 3.2 per cent reported by Nabli for 1985.19 The UN census taken in 2010, which estimated the region’s population growth rate to have peaked at about 2.8 per cent between 1980 and 1985, found that the rate had fallen to something in the neighbourhood of 1.7 per cent. National rates of growth range from lows for Lebanon (0.73 per cent), Morocco (0.99 per cent), and Tunisia (1.01 per cent), to highs of 3.1 per cent and 3.0 per cent in Iraq and Yemen, respectively. By way of comparison, the rates for China, India and the USA are 0.42 per cent, 1.32 per cent and 0.85 per cent, respectively. Most countries in the Arab world are expected to see their populations begin to

56 Charles Dunbar shrink in the second half of this century, and for a few (Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia), the decline will begin sooner. Two eye-popping exceptions to this rule are Sudan and Yemen, whose present populations of 24 million and 44 million, will reach 99 million and 128 million, respectively, by the end of the century, and are expected still to be growing even then.20 The foregoing relatively good news of declining rates of population increase is often overlooked in the West, where it is widely assumed that Arab world population growth rates are much higher than they are, and that the Muslim clerical establishment, like important segments of the Christian church, is opposed to birth control as a matter of religious doctrine. This view is at odds with the reality both of social development in the Arab world and of the nuanced attitudes of Muslim religious leaders and scholars to family planning and birth control. In 1986 the clerical regime in Iran, alarmed by the country’s rapidly increasing population growth, reversed its earlier decision to suspend birth control measures developed by the Shah’s government and embarked on a comprehensive family planning effort. This undertaking was welcomed by Iranians and gave Iran one of the lowest rates of population growth in the world in the middle of the last decade.21 Since then, the rate of Iran’s population has increased by most measures.22 The second major point is that the good news of the slowing of population growth rates in most of the Middle East is more than offset by the daunting present and future challenges that past high rates of population increase have created. Those born in the Arab world’s baby boom in the 1970s and 1980s are coming onto the job market in their millions; the US Census Bureau reports an increase in the number of young men entering the labour force in the Middle East and North Africa from just under 20 million in 1995, to 30 million in 2005, and projects an increase to 33 million by 2020.23 The World Bank estimated in 2003 that 100 million new jobs, more than double the number then in existence, would need to be created between 2000 and 2020 in order for new job market entrants and those then unemployed to find jobs.24 Although the picture varies between states and sub-regions of the Arab world, most Arab economies have failed to produce sufficient jobs for their ‘baby boomers’, and the obstacles governments and societies face in trying to do so show no sign of going away. Why this is so needs to be examined in greater detail.

Impediments to increasing employment The failure of job creation in the Arab world is well documented. The World Bank estimated the unemployment rate at around 14 per cent in 2004.25 More recent data on unemployment rates available on 20 of the 22 Arab League member states suggest that the overall rate at or near the end of the last decade is nearly 15 per cent. These data make it clear that in the 12 states for which information is available, the rate is far higher for workers between the ages of 15 and 22, and the rate for women in this category is higher than that for men.26 There is some good news behind the foregoing numbers in that, taken as a whole, economies in the Arab world have grown enough to offset for the most part the region’s slowing but still significant population growth. For example, between 2000 and 2008, among the oil-poor countries of the region, Jordan and Tunisia maintained an average annual rate of per capita growth of nearly 4 per cent and 5 per cent, respectively, while Egypt and Morocco averaged something close to 3 per cent. The oilrich countries did substantially better.27 That said, addressing the region’s 15 per cent rate of unemployment, the world’s second highest after sub-Saharan Africa, and absorbing the

Political economy and the Arab Awakening


new workers, who were increasing its labour force at a world-leading 3 per cent annual rate in the middle of the last decade,28 are enormous challenges. A good way to begin understanding the difficulties Arab governments and societies have encountered in creating jobs and filling them with qualified workers, is to consider the growth of worker productivity, that is to say the increase in output per worker created by the labour force over time. The World Bank reports that the productivity of the region’s labour force grew at an annual rate of just 0.5 per cent between 1990 and 2004. This rate was lower than that of any region of the world other than Europe and Central Asia;29 the comparable rates in Asia were 8 per cent in East Asia (2.5 per cent, excluding China) and 4.5 per cent in South Asia. In other words, the large number of new entrants into the Arab world’s employed labour force in the 14-year period produced only a small increase in the region’s total output per employed worker, and thus did not produce the growth needed to reduce unemployment rates significantly. The low worker productivity metric helps explain, and is explained by, a number of ills that beset economies and societies in the Arab world. In the first place, the employment that is being produced does not translate into the same sort of growth as the private sector of the economy found in East and South Asia. The World Bank notes that much of the new employment created in the Arab world in recent years has been in the public sector, particularly in state companies, which have failed to produce growth. In this connection, the Bank points out that over 50 per cent of the Middle East and North Africa’s GDP comes from the public sector. Particularly in the energy-rich states, the ties between governments and the state-owned companies once seen as leading links to rapid economic development have proved to be enduring. State-owned oil companies, often built on operations formerly owned and run by foreign firms, were the centrepiece in these efforts, but ‘diversification’ into other industries that relied on petroleum, sometimes as a feedstock, sometimes simply as a source of energy, became another watchword for development in the oil-rich countries. Two early examples, both in Qatar, are petrochemicals, for which oil was the feedstock, and iron and steel reprocessing, for which oil was the energy source. In the 1960s and 1970s Algeria also invested massively in state companies that produced a wide range of goods such as automobile assembly to electrical and electronic goods. Tariffs and other policy instruments protected these enterprises against foreign competition, and managers and workers have been part of a culture that emphasizes employment security at the expense of efficiency. Meanwhile, private entrepreneurs in the region has tended to seek opportunities to find and fill needs in the public and parastatal sector instead of creating the independent enterprises considered best able to produce higher rates of growth.30 Many governments paid strong lip-service to the idea of privatizing parastatal enterprises, but their deeds have not matched their words. As a result, privatization, regarded as crucial for attracting foreign investment, has stalled in many countries, and measures aimed at opening economies to free trade have been half-hearted. Further, supposedly privatized companies continued to be favoured by governments, and state-owned banks loaned money to local businessmen with little regard to the viability of their project. At the same time, the private sector in the region has tended to continue its practice of finding needs that it can fill in the public sector instead of establishing the truly independent enterprises considered best able to produce higher rates of growth. Finally, the addiction of some governments to subsidizing basic commodities as a means of coping with urban discontent also works against the reform agenda.31

58 Charles Dunbar Looking to the future, the energy-rich states of the Arab world are likely to continue benefiting, as they have in the first years of the twenty-first century, from strong growth in the world’s demand for oil and natural gas. The US Energy Information Administration estimates that the annual value of oil production in the Arab world will rise by something over 30 per cent, from a level of over $900 billion in 2008 to something in the order of $1.3 trillion by 2020.32 It remains to be seen whether this expected benefit will be translated into sustained higher levels of economic growth, and hence an increase in labour productivity and wages. For the energy-poor states, the picture is mixed. In terms of per capita GDP growth, the energy-poor outperformed the energy-rich between 1989 and 2007. In 1989–99—a decade of very low growth for the energy-rich—the energy-poor economies grew at an annual rate of 1.9 per cent compared to just 0.9 per cent for the rich; in 1999–2007 the annual rates of growth were 3.0 per cent and 2.9 per cent, respectively.33 Some energypoor governments have benefited from more liberal trade policies and have shown some willingness to remove barriers to investment and the establishment of new businesses, and to privatize state-owned enterprises. Also, budgetary pressure has forced energy-poor governments to bear the political costs associated with reducing subsidies. At the same time, however, subsidies both for consumer goods and for favoured domestic producers continue to dot the policy landscape in the energy-poor countries, and the culture of supporting state companies and maintaining the state as the employer of first resort has proven hard to change. The bloated bureaucracies that have resulted create inefficiencies as well as the petty and larger-scale corruption that restrain economic growth and stifle entrepreneurship. Two points should be made about corruption in the Arab world, a subject much discussed and a focus of the Arab Spring protestors’ wrath. The first is that, at least by one widely quoted measure, the level of corruption in the Arab region is on a rough par with that prevalent in the rest of the world, other than in the large majority of OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) member states. According to Transparency International’s 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index, which ranks 178 states, three of the seven most corrupt are Arab League members. However, of the three, Somalia, ranked 178th, has been the archetype of a failed state for 20 years; Iraq (175th) only now may be emerging from the bitter civil war that consumed it following the overthrow of Saddam Hussain in 2003; and Sudan (172nd) has been at war with itself for most of the last half century. If one excludes these three states, corruption in the Arab region is in the same order of magnitude as that found in Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, South and East Asia, and Latin America.34 Second, Transparency International’s Index is probably not capable of measuring the sort of political corruption that is a major cause of the Arab world’s woes and of protestor rage. Like the reaction it provoked, the effort by four Arab potentates35 to create hereditary presidencies is without precedent since the end of the European colonial project following World War II. The effect of co-optation and/or systematic repression of political parties and movements that sought to challenge the power of the region’s monarchies and to compete against failed corporatist parties in its republics cannot be measured, and the cost to countries in the region of the nepotism that enriched the few at the expense of the many can only be estimated. The point is simply that, first, the Arab world is a much more ‘corrupt’ place, in a larger sense of the word, than Transparency International’s Index makes it appear; and second, both the realities of this corruption and the way it is perceived in the region have had a large, if immeasurable, impact on the protests that have become the Arab Spring.

Political economy and the Arab Awakening


Education and the knowledge society36 Before turning to a concluding estimation of the relationship between the nature of the region’s political economy and the likely future course of the Arab Spring, a word should be said about education in the Arab world. As noted at the start of this chapter, Arab governments have consistently sought to overcome the knowledge deficit their societies faced as a result of the sometimes wilful neglect of the problem by their former colonial masters, or of very low levels of human development. The result of a rate of spending on education in the Arab world which the UN Development Programme (UNDP) puts at 5 per cent of its GDP and 20 per cent of its government budgets of 40 years, both respectable amounts by world standards,37 has been: substantial rises in the rate of literacy and school enrolment; rapid growth in the number of primary and secondary schools; and the building, for all intents and purposes from scratch, of a system of higher education and a proliferation of universities throughout the region. Beginning in the 1990s, the number of universities—primarily in the Gulf and with a strong Western orientation—increased dramatically. As of early 2009, 70 universities, roughly two-thirds of the total opened in the region since 1993, were private and around 50 were branches of Western (largely US) institutions. How these very Western and US institutions will be received in the region over the long term, and how they will come to terms with the more or less authoritarian political environments in which they find themselves, remains to be seen. For the moment, it is reasonable to say that their impact on Arab education, particularly in the natural and technical sciences, and on the effort to build knowledge societies, could be both large and positive.38 Still, very large problems remain to be overcome. Despite the decrease in the region’s rate of illiteracy, the number of illiterate people is still growing because of the population increase, and progress in overcoming adult illiteracy has been slow. Although the gaps are narrowing, the level of education being attained by women is substantially lower than that of men, and educational opportunities and consequent attainment in rural areas are much less than they are in cities and towns. With respect to tertiary education, Arab families have proven reluctant to have their children pursue vocational training and, as is the case elsewhere in the world, prefer the more prestigious route of a university education followed by a job in the public sector, even if that job does not require the knowledge acquired at the university. There is also a perception both of shortcomings in the quality of engineering, science and computer education being offered at Arab universities, and of a shortage of graduates in those disciplines to fill jobs in and related to the petroleum and other industries in the region. The UNDP also notes ‘reasonable progress’ in the implantation of information and communications technology in the region, and greater Arab interest and investment in scientific research and publication, but says that thanks in part to lack of an ‘enabling environment’, the gap between the Arab world and ‘other advanced regions’ of the world remains wide. The $2 billion being invested annually in research is small given the size of the region’s gross national product (GNP), and the ‘development returns’ on this investment are meagre, with only slightly more than 38 patents being sought each year. Furthermore, research institutions are not adequately linked with the economy. By ‘enabling environment’, the UNDP means freedom of thought and expression, areas in which it asserts ‘the Arab states have made no tangible progress’.39 It is hard to assess the affect of deficiencies in education systems and slowness in building knowledge societies on the region’s ability to cope with its economic and

60 Charles Dunbar social difficulties. The most that can be said is that the region’s educational systems, the societies they serve, and the economic environment in which education and societies must live and seek to prosper may not be interacting in a way that transforms the Arab world to being a producer of knowledge, rather than simply a receiver.40

The Arab political economy and the Arab Spring: a symbiotic relationship? As noted at the start of this chapter, the sum of the events that make up the Arab Spring is easily the most significant political development to have occurred in the Arab world since its present political landscape took shape following the European colonization. The disappearance in particular of the Mubarak regime—the epitome of the repressive and deeply entrenched political systems and failed state-directed economies that had become the norm in the Arab world—may turn out to be an enduring historical landmark. For their part, the Tunisian legislative elections may have provided a basis for building a new political order in that country and an example for others to follow. Whatever emerges in Egypt and Tunisia out of the fog of armed conflict in Libya and Yemen, and from brute repression in Syria, it is unlikely that the pre-17 December 2011 political and economic order will not be restored in the five states just mentioned, and that there will be significant change elsewhere in the Arab world. Such change is possible, but by no means certain. This chapter has sought to explain how deeply the culture of the state-centred political economy is imbedded in the psyche of the Arab world. During the third quarter of the twentieth century, when the system was delivering economic and social benefits, all-powerful states grew deep roots, and despite their manifest failure/unwillingness over the course of the past 30 years to mend their ways, there remains an expectation on the part of policy-makers, as well as policytakers, that the states should somehow direct rather than simply encourage a structural transformation process. As noted above, the pressures that will be created by the need to absorb an expanding labour force will be intense. In these circumstances, the temptation on the part of policy-makers to continue relying on governments and decrepit, protected, state-owned enterprises as sources of the employment the policy-takers are demanding may prove overwhelming. Should such policies be continued, the muchneeded structural transformation is likely to be slowed or stalled. Further, in four of the ‘big five’ states, the re-emergence of military strongmen is a possibility that cannot be dismissed. In Libya, Syria and Yemen there is ample precedent for military coups, and in Yemen, General Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar is a ‘man-on-horseback’ whose forces let the fight against President Saleh and whose tribal credentials are impeccable. A similar development in Libya appears possible should the political process outlined by the transitional authorities falter, and a military figure could perhaps ease President al-Assad from power in Syria. As far as Egypt is concerned, it seems clear that the army is bent on restoring as much of the old order as it can; how successful it is in doing so will have a major influence on the degree of structural transformation that occurs in Egypt. Only in Tunisia does it seem unlikely that an army officer may try to replicate former President Ben Ali’s 1987 coup. In other words, a symbiosis between meeting the demands of the Arab Spring protestors and addressing the need for economic, social and political transformation in the

Political economy and the Arab Awakening


Arab world will be hard to achieve. Progress must be made on both fronts if the Arab Spring is to produce bounty in the fall and beyond.

Notes 1 The Yemeni Gathering for Reform, or Islah which means Reform in Arabic, is the largest party in a grouping that is called the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP). The JMP includes the Yemen Socialist Party, the former South Yemen’s Marxist regime. 2 See Stacey Philbrick Yadav, ‘Tawakkul Kamran as Cause and Effect’, Middle East Report, Fall 2011, (accessed 25 October 2011). 3 The states of the Arab world are defined here as the 22 members of the League of Arab States (Arab League). 4 Alan Richards and John Waterbury, A Political Economy of the Middle East, third edition (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2008), 160–2. 5 ‘Economic rent is the difference between the market price of a good or a factor of production and its opportunity cost (the price needed to produce the good or to keep the factor of production in its current use) … ’ Richards and Waterbury, 2008, 15. 6 SONATRACH: La Société Nationale pour la Recherche, la Production, le Transport, la Transformation, et la Commercialisation des Hydrocarbures. 7 Annual Energy Review, US Energy Information Administration, Annual Review, 2006, www.eia. gov/totalenergy/data/annual/index.cfm (accessed 26 October 2011). 8 US Energy Information Administration, ‘OPEC Revenues Fact Sheet’, December 2010, www.eia. gov/emeu/cabs/OPEC_Revenues/Factsheet.html (accessed 26 October 2011). 9 Richards and Waterbury, 2008, 228. 10 Narcis Serra and Joseph Stiglitz, The Washington Consensus Reconsidered (Washington, DC: Initiative for Policy Dialogue, 2010), 3, pdf (accessed 10 September 2011). 11 Azzedine Layachi, ‘Algeria’s Revolution by Installments’, Middle East Report, 12 March 2011, (accessed 26 October 2011). 12 Cable numbered 349, dated 25 January 1997 and captioned UNCLASSIFIED, from the US Embassy in San’a to the Secretary of State, entitled ‘1996: the Year of Reform’. 13 Muhammad A-Maithami, Paper on the economy of Yemen presented at the Middle East Studies Association annual meeting in Washington, DC, December 2002. 14 Serra and Stiglitz, 2010, 6. 15 (accessed 10 September 2011). 16 IMF Middle East Department, ‘Investment and Growth in the Middle East and North Africa’ (WP/96/124, November 1996), 7. The IMF’s definition of the Middle East and North Africa includes all Arab League members except the Comoros, plus Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, www. (accessed 13 September 2011). 17 Mustapha Kamel Nabli, ‘Long-Term Economic Development Challenges and Prospects for the Arab Countries’, in Mustapha Kamel Nabli (ed.), Breaking the Barriers to Higher Economic Growth (Washington, DC: The World Bank, 2007), 4. The World Bank includes Iran (but not Afghanistan and Pakistan) among the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, and excludes Arab League members Djibouti, Sudan and the Comoros. 18 Nabli, 2007, 4–7. 19 Nabli, 2007, 8. 20 The 2010 census taken by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs puts the annual rate of growth in North Africa at 1.6 per cent and for Western Asia at 1.88 per cent, based on populations for each region as 209 million (including Sudan but excluding Mauritania and Western Sahara), and 232 million (including Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia), respectively. Data for 1980–5 on the Population Division’s website put Northern African and Western Asian growth at peaks of 2.83 per cent and 2.78 per cent, respectively, wpp/index.htm (accessed 10 September 2011). 21 22

62 Charles Dunbar 23 Keith Crane, Steven Simon and Jeffrey Martini, The Future Challenges for the Arab World: The Implications of Demographic and Economic Trends (Santa Monica, CA: The Rand Corporation, 2011) (prepared for the US Air Force), 16. Sudan and some smaller Arab countries are not included in the Census Bureau Middle East and North Africa statistics, pubs/technical_reports/2011/RAND_TR912.pdf (accessed 8 October 2011). 24 Nabli, 2007, 169. 25 Nabli, 2007, 172. As noted above, World Bank data on the Middle East and North Africa do not include Sudan and several smaller Arab League states. 26 Percentages compiled from the CIA World Factbook, (accessed 15 October 2011). 27 Crane et al., 2011, chapters 3 and 4. 28 Nabli, 2007, 172. 29 The World Bank makes a distinction between ‘High Income/OECD’ countries and those in ‘Europe and Central Asia’, and says the ‘Europe’ in the latter is ‘heavily influenced by Russia’, Nabli, 2007, 172. 30 Nabli, 2007, 184. 31 Nabli, 2007, 184. Examples of the mixed record of privatization in the Arab world are found in Richards and Waterbury, 2008, chapter 7. 32 Cited in Crane et al., 2011, 32. The projected increase is measured in 2007 dollars. 33 Crane et al., 2011, 55. 34 Transparency International, ‘Corruption Perception Index’, 2010, research/surveys_indices/cpi/2010/in_detail#1 (accessed 20 October 2011). 35 The four are the al-Assads in Syria, Mubarak in Egypt, Qaddafi in Libya, and Saleh in Yemen. Hafiz al-Assad in Syria was the only ruler who set a precedent by having his son succeed him, but Bashar al-Assad will likely be unable to continue it. 36 The principal source for this section of the chapter is the UNDP’s Arab Knowledge Report 2009, (accessed 12 October 2011). 37 UNDP, 2009, 20. 38 Vincent Romani, ‘The Politics of Higher Education in the Middle East: Problems and Prospects’, Middle East Brief 36, May 2009, Crown Center for Middle East Studies, Brandeis University, www. (accessed 27 October 2011). 39 Romani, 2011, 22. 40 Romani, 2011, 4.

Chapter 4

Trade agreements in the MENA region Contribution to better governance Claire Brunel and Gary Hufbauer

Good governance plays a crucial role in economic development. Good governance, however, is composed of numerous themes in economic and political life. More intense trade with the outside world can contribute to better governance across several of those themes— not in the grand drama of acquiring and exercising political power but rather in the daily life of commerce: curbing corruption, limiting monopoly power, enforcing contracts, improving products and processes, ensuring honest and competent courts. Moreover, countless scholars have shown that more intense trade with the outside world spurs economic growth and raises living standards. In this chapter we summarize the multiple trade agreements entered into by countries in the Middle East and North Africa, the MENA region. Trade agreements do not guarantee more intense trade, nor do they ensure good governance in commercial life; however, they can help. By and large, as we shall see, the MENA region has a rich tapestry of agreements, but the larger challenge is to apply the agreements on the ground and thereby improve economic governance.

Overview of trade flows We start with a snapshot of trade flows within the MENA region and between the MENA region and the rest of the world. Regional trade openness for the MENA region as a whole (measured by two-way merchandise trade relative to gross domestic product— GDP) rose from 52 per cent in 2000 to 81 per cent in 2008 (Table 4.1).1 On average, resource-rich countries display greater trade openness than resource poor countries. However, according to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) study, the volumes exported by MENA countries are generally well below potential (86 per cent below what would be expected given their economic characteristics), while the volumes imported are largely in line with expected levels.2 Most MENA countries could be engaging with their neighbours and the outside world to a greater extent by enhancing their exports. As we shall see, MENA exports have grown sharply, but they could be still larger. Trade within the MENA region is low. Intra-MENA exports only account for 9 per cent of total exports from the MENA region to the world (Table 4.2). However, MENA exports to the world have grown considerably in the 2000s, from US$306 billion in 2000 to $1,306 billion in 2011 (Table 4.2).3 This rise is mostly attributable to resource-rich economies (Algeria, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Mauritania, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Yemen), and reflects the sharp increase in the price of oil. Exports for these countries rose from $252 to $1,154 in the

64 Claire Brunel and Gary Hufbauer Table 4.1 Trade openness of the MENA countries (total trade as a percent of GDP) 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 Resource Rich Countries Algeria Bahrain Islamic Republic of Iran Iraq Kuwait Libya Mauritania Oman Qatar Saudi Arabia Sudan Syrian Arab Republic United Arab Emirates Republic of Yemen Resource poor countries Djibouti Egypt Israel Jordan Lebanon Morocco Tunisia West bank and Gaza Regional trade openness

56 142 43 n.a. 69 44 109 81 84 56 25 51 64 66

51 147 35 n.a. 67 46 113 87 83 54 27 60 67 59

54 145 37 n.a. 64 70 124 85 78 52 27 61 63 57

59 152 42 n.a. 63 75 124 84 78 57 30 67 72 68

58 165 44 n.a. 64 83 129 89 77 62 37 198 99 58

64 164 46 97 63 83 124 88 79 68 43 86 114 62

65 172 48 90 62 90 103 88 82 75 39 86 109 77

64 177 44 88 66 82 124 94 82 78 39 80 111 77

69 185 51 91 71 83 131 96 73 88 41 79 126 76

62 167 34 93 63 89 127 89 73 70 29 59 101 58

61 184 40 92 68 80 130 94 71 74 28 66 117 60

55 179 47 90 62 78 152 98 73 79 36 n.a. 126 62

138 29 55 70 40 51 67 n.a. 0 52

165 18 51 80 42 50 73 n.a. 0 48

148 20 55 82 38 49 71 n.a. 0 49

178 21 55 87 45 46 68 n.a. 0 52

174 26 63 102 53 49 72 n.a. 0 61

209 34 65 118 54 52 73 n.a. 0 62

252 32 65 111 60 54 77 n.a. 0 64

273 33 66 111 58 61 87 n.a. 0 64

300 49 63 106 65 67 96 n.a. 0 70

258 36 49 81 57 50 76 n.a. 0 56

275 36 54 81 59 57 88 n.a.

314 45 58 87 60 64 92 n.a.



Source: Trade statistics from IMF Dots May 2012, GDP statistics from IMF WEO April 2012

2000s. On the other hand, resource-poor countries (Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and the West Bank and Gaza) experienced much less growth in their exports between 2000 and 2011, from $54 billion to $151 billion. The picture is somewhat more balanced on the import side as between the two groups of countries. Overall, MENA imports rose from $206 billion in 2000 to $922 billion in 2008 (Table 4.3).4 Resource-rich countries saw their imports rise nearly six fold from $116 billion to $668 billion, while resource-poor economies enjoyed a tripling of their imports, from $90 to $254billion between 2000 and 2011.

Existing trade initiatives Regional agreements We consider the Middle East and North Africa region to include 22 countries: the 21 members of the World Bank MENA group, plus Mauritania.5 Over the past half century, subgroups of MENA countries have engaged in nine regional trade agreements (see Table 4.4). The level of regional integration actually achieved through those different agreements varies widely. For example, despite an agreement between them, Morocco and Algeria trade very little because of their acute and long-standing dispute

Table 4.2 MENA countries regional and global exports 2000–2011 (in billions of dollars)

Resource rich countries Algeria Bahrain Iran Iraq Kuwait Libya Mauritania Oman Qatar Saudi Arabia Sudan Syria UAE Yemen Subregion Resource poor countries Djibouti Egypt Israel Jordan Lebanon Morocco Tunisia West Bank and Gaza Subregion Regional total Source: IMF Dots April 2012

Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports Total exports MENA exports

as a share of total exports as a share of total exports as a share of total exports as a share of total exports as a share of total exports as a share of total exports as a share of total exports as a share of total exports as a share of total exports as a share of total exports as a share of total exports as a share of total exports as a share of total exports as a share of total exports as a share of total exports

as a share of total exports as a share of total exports as a share of total exports as a share of total exports as a share of total exports as a share of total exports as a share of total exports as a share of total exports as a share of total exports as a share of total exports



21.9 1% 7.7 7% 27.0 3% 14.9 7% 18.8 2% 12.7 3% 0.5 1% 10.7 14% 11.6 6% 74.8 7% 1.6 12% 4.8 16% 40.8 10% 4.1 5% 251.9 7%

58.2 4% 33.7 10% 130.7 3% 67.8 3% 84.1 6% 18.5 11% 3.0 0% 44.4 16% 103.2 1% 329.7 9% 12.7 5% 15.5 66% 242.3 19% 10.4 12% 1154.3 10%

0.2 76% 6.4 12% 31.9 0% 1.3 46% 0.7 46% 7.4 4% 5.8 8% n.a. n.a. 53.7 5% 305.6 6%

0.5 95% 36.0 27% 67.3 1% 6.8 49% 4.1 48% 20.0 5% 16.6 13% n.a. n.a. 151.3 13% 1305.6 10%

Table 4.3 MENA countries regional and global imports 2000–2011 (in billions of dollars)

Resource rich countries Algeria Bahrain Iran Iraq Kuwait Libya Mauritania Oman Qatar Saudi Arabia Sudan Syria UAE Yemen Subregion Resource poor countries Djibouti Egypt Israel Jordan Lebanon Morocco Tunisia West Bank and Gaza Subregion Regional total

Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports Total imports MENA imports

Source: IMF Dots April 2012

as a share of total imports as a share of total imports as a share of total imports as a share of total imports as a share of total imports as a share of total imports as a share of total imports as a share of total imports as a share of total imports as a share of total imports as a share of total imports as a share of total imports as a share of total imports as a share of total imports as a share of total imports

as a share of total imports as a share of total imports as a share of total imports as a share of total imports as a share of total imports as a share of total imports as a share of total imports as a share of total imports as a share of total imports as a share of total imports



9.0 2% 3.6 36% 14.3 10% 3.4 11% 7.4 20% 4.0 14% 0.7 6% 5.0 35% 3.3 17% 30.6 7% 1.5 18% 5.4 8% 25.5 8% 2.3 38% 116.0 11%

47.4 5% 13.0 34% 94.6 32% 36.6 25% 25.2 22% 10.2 36% 3.4 6% 25.8 37% 24.1 30% 127.5 9% 10.8 27% 26.4 42% 212.6 8% 10.4 41% 668.0 18%

0.6 22% 22.0 6% 36.8 0% 4.6 24% 6.2 13% 11.5 16% 8.6 8% n.a. n.a. 90.4 6% 206.4 9%

3.4 22% 69.7 11% 73.5 0% 18.7 37% 19.2 15% 43.4 14% 26.1 10% n.a. n.a. 254.0 11% 922.0 16%

Trade agreements in the MENA region


Table 4.4 Regional trade agreements in the MENA region

Algeria Bahrain Djibouti Egypt Iran Iraq Israel Jordan Kuwait Lebanon Libya Mauritania Morocco Oman Qatar Saudi Arabia Sudan Syria Tunisia UAE West Bank and Gaza Yemen



































Note: GAFTA: Greater Arab Free Trade Area; ACM: Arab Common Market; GCC: Gulf Cooperation Council; AMU: Arab Maghreb Union; AEC: African Economic Community; COMESA: Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa; CEN-SAD: Community of Sahel Saharan States.

over the political status of the Western Sahara. Progress on regional integration might be hindered by the recent wave of political change across the region. This section provides a brief overview of the state of regional integration in each of the trade agreements. The Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA) was adopted in 1997 between 17 of the 22 members of the Arab League.6 It is the largest regional initiative in the MENA region. The original goal was to establish a free trade area by 2008, but the deadline was pushed forward to 2005. Since then, all industrial and agricultural goods have travelled through the region duty free—but of course that does not mean that all barriers have suddenly disappeared. The impact of this agreement is limited by coverage: the agreement covers only merchandise trade while services and investment are excluded. Moreover, strict rules of origin remain a major obstacle, as are Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBTs), and the absence of dispute settlement mechanisms. Attempts to harmonize rules or adopt a mutual recognition approach quickly stalled. Consultations in issue areas such as competition policy, intellectual property rights (IPR), and government procurement were planned but never materialized. The original GAFTA text sought to apply international rules to trade remedies involving countervailing and anti-dumping duties, and safeguards. However, at the time of signing in 1997, only seven members of GAFTA were also members of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Moreover, most countries do not have the institutional capacity to implement trade remedy rules in a reasonable way.7

68 Claire Brunel and Gary Hufbauer The Arab Common Market (ACM) was established as a common market in 1965 between Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Mauritania, Syria and Yemen. In 1989 a subset of these members—Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and (then) North Yemen—formed the Arab Cooperation Council (ACC), aimed at intensifying the pursuit of a common market. Neither initiative has made any serious progress. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was created in 1981 between Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In 1983 an economic agreement was implemented between those countries that provided for the duty-free circulation of agricultural goods, industrial goods (with the exception of petroleum products), among those countries, along with liberalized movement of labour and capital. The GCC established a common market in January 2008. In 2003 the countries formed a customs union with an external tariff of 5 per cent (with some exceptions) on 417 commodities;8 moreover, industrial inputs are exempt from all duties. GCC countries have a common customs law, as well as unified customs, financial and administrative procedures with respect to imports, exports and re-exports. The customs union also stipulates that all goods produced in any of the GCC states are entitled to national treatment with respect to taxes and regulations in the other GCC states. Administrative questions have, however, delayed full implementation of the customs union. One of the goals of the GCC included a currency union by 2010, but the timeline was pushed back. In 2010, the UAE and Oman, which represent a third of the GCC GDP, backed out of the proposed union.9 The loss of these two members, and the current challenges faced by the European Union monetary union will likely hamper any progress of the initiative in the near future. In 1989 Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia formed the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU). Its goals were to create a customs union by 1995 and a common market by 2000. Neither goal was accomplished, even in part, largely because of the dispute over the Western Sahara. Attempts to revive the AMU have failed as political tensions have not been resolved; moreover, the AMU countries find themselves torn between allegiances to the Arab world, the European Union (EU) and Africa. Nonetheless, in June 2010 the trade ministers of the AMU member countries met and signed the text of a free trade area among the countries, which could be interpreted as a sign of increased political engagement. The agreement covers merchandise trade, government procurement, financial services, contingency measures, intellectual property and dispute settlement. However, the economic results are quite limited. Intra-regional trade within the Maghreb, as a share of total trade, has remained very low, around 1.3 per cent. Maghreb countries impose multiple nontariff and regulatory barriers that impede trade and investment. The Agadir Agreement between Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia was signed in 2004, but implementation did not begin until March 2007. This agreement has achieved reasonable success as it builds heavily on existing regional and bilateral initiatives such as GAFTA and bilateral association agreements (AA) with the EU. Some of the temporary exceptions are taken from the liberalization schedule of the AAs that those countries have with the EU. The liberalization of agriculture follows the GAFTA, although progress in this part of the GAFTA agenda is limited. Service liberalization draws from WTO commitments.10 Countries abide by Pan-European rules of origin (though these are not the same as GAFTA rules).11 The countries benefit from technical assistance from the EU. The Agadir Agreement remains open to any country that is a member of GAFTA and has an AA with the EU. The African Economic Community (AEC) Treaty was signed in 1991 between 51 countries, including Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Sudan and Tunisia.12

Trade agreements in the MENA region


It was ratified in May 1994. The treaty plans to promote integration in the region by building on existing regional trade agreements, which would be harmonized. The end goal is the creation of a continent-wide economic and monetary union by 2028—a distant and difficult aspiration. Established in 1994, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has 19 members.13 As the name indicates, the goal is to create a common market among the 19 countries, three of them in the MENA region. In 2000 nine members (Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe) formed a free trade area, joined by Rwanda and Burundi in 2004, and Comoros and Libya in 2006. The Community of Sahel Saharan States (CEN-SAD) was formed in 1998 and regroups 23 countries.14 The goal was to establish free trade between the countries, and allow for the free movement of people and the right to establishment. CEN-SAD covers investment in the agricultural, industrial, social, cultural and energy fields. Two accomplishments were the creation of the African Bank for Development and Trade in 1999 and the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) in 1995.15 Otherwise progress remains limited. The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, initiated in 1995, establishes a framework for economic, political and social relations between the EU and nine Mediterranean partners.16 The goal is to establish a trade area in the Mediterranean, but progress on a regional basis has been limited. Instead, select MENA countries have established AAs with the EU on a bilateral basis. Since the launch of the Barcelona Process, some progress has been made in liberalizing merchandise trade. Mediterranean countries now enjoy duty free access to the EU market for manufactured goods. The AAs also provide for a gradual dismantling of tariffs for EU exports to the Mediterranean. However, liberalization of the agricultural sector has been quite limited. Although the liberalization of services and investment are enumerated as key objectives for AAs, negotiations on investment have not taken place and discussions on services are slow to start. Representatives of the EU and the Mediterranean countries, meeting in Marrakech in 2007, agreed to start negotiations towards regional liberalization of services and the right of establishment for firms engaged in direct investment. In 2008, as an interim step towards a regional agreement, the EU and four Mediterranean partners (Egypt, Israel, Morocco and Tunisia) began negotiations to liberalize services. Although the Mediterranean countries have been receptive to opening up services trade with the EU, they are reluctant to extend the same advantages to their immediate neighbours. The Euro-Med partners also agreed on a series of measures to facilitate trade, including the convergence of legislation in the field of standards and conformity assessment,17 and a pan-European system for the cumulation of origin. In light of slow progress, the Union for the Mediterranean, launched in July 2008, aims to spur regional integration between the EU and the Mediterranean countries. This initiative expands the members to 16 Mediterranean countries,18 and each of the individual 27 member states of the EU. Bilateral agreements MENA countries have also entered into bilateral trade agreements with trade partners across the world. As mentioned, nine countries have signed AAs with the EU. One of them, Morocco, has enhanced that agreement by obtaining Advanced Status from the EU. With the exception of Algeria and Syria, MENA countries that have signed an

70 Claire Brunel and Gary Hufbauer Table 4.5 Bilateral trade agreements and date of entry into force European Union

European Free Trade Association*


Algeria Bahrain Djibouti Egypt



Iran Iraq Israel









Jordan Kuwait Lebanon Libya Mauritania Morocco

Turkey Others

2005 2006

AA in 2000, 1999 Advanced Status in 2008

Oman Qatar Saudi Arabia Sudan Syria 1977 Tunisia 1998 UAE West Bank 1997 and Gaza Yemen




Libya – 1991, Syria – 1991, Tunisia – 1999, Morocco – 1999, Lebanon – 1999, Jordan – 1998, Iraq – 2001


Bulgaria – 2002, Canada – 1997, Mexico – 2000, Romania – 2001 Singapore – 2005


UAE – 2003

2007 2005


Note: * Member countries are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland Source:

AA with the EU have also signed free trade agreements (FTAs) with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which consists of four countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. In addition, many MENA countries have signed FTAs with Turkey (Egypt, Israel, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia) and the USA (Bahrain, Israel, Jordan and Morocco). Many other preferential trade agreements have been signed by MENA countries. Table 4.5 lists all bilateral FTAs that engage MENA countries, and their dates of entry into force. WTO membership Of the 22 countries in the MENA region, 13 are members of the WTO: Bahrain (1995), Djibouti (1995), Egypt (1995), Israel (1995), Jordan (2000), Kuwait (1995), Mauritania (1995), Morocco (1995), Oman (2000), Qatar (1996), Saudi Arabia (2005), Tunisia (1995) and UAE (1996). The remaining countries, with the exception of the West Bank and Gaza, are observers at the WTO.

Trade agreements in the MENA region


Economic governance in the MENA region According to recent data from the World Bank, roughly half the MENA countries improved their economic governance indicators between 1996 and 2009, while the other half saw their indicators deteriorate. Overall, a simple average of MENA scores shows that the region does not score above 50 (on a scale of 100) in any of the performance categories: voice and accountability, political stability and absence of violence, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law, and control of corruption (Table 4.6).19 Trade agreements could potentially improve economic governance. The prospect of signing an FTA with a major trading partner can motivate structural changes in economic policy. Once the agreement has been settled, the text generally mandates changes that lead to better governance. Those changes cover subjects that are clearly related to trade: tariff structures, customs procedures, investment and business climate, health and safety regulation, intellectual property protection, and labour rights. US agreements, for example, demand alignment of legislation on IPRs. EU agreements touch on social domains, notably labour and the environment, and require adopting large swaths of EU standards and norms. Trade agreements will lock-in those reforms, and provide investors with a long-term, credible vision of the economic developments of a country. They can be an important component in a larger strategy to improve the quality of economic governance. Tariff barriers Trade agreements play an important role in reducing tariffs. Low tariffs enable better export access to the markets of other parties, cheaper and better inputs for firms, and a wider and less expensive array of goods for consumers. Through a combination of bilateral and regional trade agreements, WTO membership and unilateral tariff reductions, MENA countries have reduced their tariff rates to a regional average of 12.8 per cent (22.3 per cent for agricultural goods, and 11.3 per cent for non-agricultural goods— Table 4.7). However, some countries maintain high tariffs, notably on agricultural goods; this is the case for Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. Perhaps the lead example of tariff reduction in the MENA region is the GCC: this grouping created a customs union among its members with a common external tariff rate of 5 per cent on most goods (moreover, some foodstuffs and industrial inputs benefit from a zero tariff). However, each of the member countries can list exceptions, and on these goods apply tariffs ranging from 12 per cent to 20 per cent. Non-tariff barriers Beyond tariff barriers, non-tariff barriers (NTBs) remain high. NTBs cover all barriers that do not take the form of tariffs—for example, quotas, standards and regulations, government subsidies and obstructions at the customs house. Given progress on cutting tariffs, NTBs now account for the most import trade barriers, and often are more costly than tariff barriers. Table 4.8 presents the results of a study by Kee, Nicita and Ollareaga,20 which concludes that, on average, NTBs restrict trade as much as tariff barriers in the MENA region.

13 25 17 25 21 0 70 43 46 41 9 33 39 35 29 10 2 11 34 36 18 27 27

18 25 14 13 7 17 68 27 32 36 3 23 28 18 19 4 4 5 10 24 26 12 20

4 31 32 25 32 5 11 44 50 21 17 54 37 71 52 38 1 33 49 74 7 10 32

12 33 56 18 6 2 9 34 61 8 42 12 28 70 87 36 1 22 50 76 4 2 31

Source: World Bank World Governance indicators (2011)

Algeria Bahrain Djibouti Egypt Iran Iraq Israel Jordan Kuwait Lebanon Libya Mauritania Morocco Oman Qatar Saudi Arabia Sudan Syria Tunisia United Arab Emirates West Bank and Gaza Yemen Regional average





Political stability and absence of violence

Voice accountability

16 73 17 51 32 1 82 58 60 54 19 52 56 70 68 47 12 28 67 73 11 31 44

1996 34 70 15 40 37 9 87 57 59 43 10 17 49 69 78 53 7 35 63 76 41 14 44


Government effectiveness

Table 4.6 Governance indicators for MENA countries, 1996 and 2009

23 71 19 52 5 1 84 54 56 32 3 28 47 50 50 46 8 13 53 74 21 31 37

1996 11 75 25 47 3 15 85 57 56 54 10 22 50 68 70 55 7 19 53 62 58 30 42


Regulatory quality

11 63 25 55 26 8 88 62 69 49 17 44 64 71 61 63 3 45 51 71 52 10 46

1996 27 64 29 52 20 2 76 61 66 30 18 22 50 68 76 60 6 35 59 63 49 14 43


Rule of Law

33 63 36 56 28 2 90 53 78 36 26 60 65 61 55 28 5 26 49 55 20 41 44

1996 38 64 49 34 20 5 72 59 67 22 6 29 53 68 91 62 4 15 55 80 48 11 43


Control of Corruption

17 54 24 44 24 3 71 52 60 39 15 45 51 59 53 39 6 26 50 64 21 25 38



23 55 31 34 15 8 66 49 57 32 15 21 43 60 70 45 5 22 49 64 38 14 37


Trade agreements in the MENA region


Table 4.7 Applied MFN tariffs of MENA countries, 2009 (simple average)

Resource-rich countries Algeria Bahrain Iran* Iraq Kuwait Libya Mauritania Oman Qatar Saudi Arabia Sudan Syrian Arab Republic United Arab Emirates Republic of Yemen Resource-poor countries Djibouti Egypt Israel Jordan Lebanon Morocco Tunisia West Bank and Gaza Regional average




18.6 5.2 26.0 n.a. 4.7 n.a. n.a. 5.7 5.1 4.8 20.4 14.2 4.9 n.a.

23.3 8.5 28.9 n.a. 5.2 n.a. n.a. 12.2 8.0 5.9 31.7 22.6 6.8 n.a.

17.8 4.7 25.6 n.a. 4.7 n.a. n.a. 4.7 4.6 4.7 18.7 12.9 4.7 n.a.

20.9 17.3 6.5 10.2 n.a. 18.1 21.5 n.a. 12.8

14.2 70.7 16.5 18.6 n.a. 42.1 40.9 n.a. 22.3

21.9 9.2 5 9 n.a. 14 18.6 n.a. 11.3

Note: * Figures for Iran are for 2008 Source: World Trade Organization, Tariff Database Table 4.8 Trade restrictiveness: non-tariff barriers and tariffs

Egypt Jordan Morocco Tunisia MENA

Trade restrictiveness due to tariffs

Trade restrictiveness due to tariffs and NTBS

0.44 0.13 0.25 0.25 0.12

0.68 0.24 0.51 0.37 0.22

Note: MENA region does not include Mauritania here. Source: H. L. Kee, A. Nicita and M. Ollareaga, Estimating Trade Restrictiveness Indices (The World Bank Working Paper nr. S3840, 2006)

Customs Trade agreements can have a wholesome impact on improving customs procedures. However, according to the World Bank Doing Business Survey 2011, the performance of the countries of the MENA region is mixed. This World Bank surveys ranks 183 countries (rank 1 is the best) on their performance in terms of facilitating doing business, including trading across borders. As can be seen in Table 4.9, the performance of MENA

124 33 38 21 131 179 10 77 113 95 163 80 88 46 18 120 30 3



136 28 158 94 129 166 29 111 74 113 165 114 57 50 11 144 55 40






8 5 5 6 7 10 5 7 8 5 11 7 9 5 5 8 4 4

Documents to export (number)

Trading across borders

Source: World Bank, Doing Business Survey 2010

Algeria Bahrain Djibouti Egypt Iran Iraq Israel Jordan Kuwait Lebanon Mauritania Morocco Oman Qatar Saudi Arabia Syria Tunisia United Arab Emirates West Bank and Gaza Yemen

Ease of doing business rank


Table 4.9 Ease of trading across borders ranking, 2010–11



17 11 19 12 25 80 11 14 17 26 39 14 14 21 13 15 13 7

Time to export (days)



1,248 955 836 613 1,090 3,550 670 825 1,060 1,000 1,520 700 766 735 580 1,190 773 521

Cost to export (US$ per container)



9 6 5 6 8 10 4 7 10 7 11 10 9 7 5 9 7 5

Documents to import (number)



23 15 18 12 32 83 10 18 19 35 42 17 17 20 17 21 17 7

Time to import (days)



1,428 995 911 698 1,735 3,650 605 1,335 1,217 1,200 1,523 1,000 890 657 686 1,625 858 542

Cost to import (US$ per container)



136 20 163 106 137 153 29 100 61 108 166 128 65 39 13 143 69 33

Ease of doing business rank




122 32 34 29 134 180 11 71 109 95 163 72 123 41 23 118 40 5

Trading across borders rank

Trade agreements in the MENA region


countries in ease of trading across borders goes from close to the top for the UAE, to close to the bottom for Iraq, with an average rank of 80 for the region. The average cost to export a shipping container in the MENA region is $1,054, while to import a container the average cost is $1,212. These figures compare favourably with Latin America ($1,244 for exports; $1,481 for imports), but less well with East Asia and the Pacific ($909 for exports; $952 for imports). On average, exporting from the MENA region (excluding Iraq) takes about 18 days and importing into MENA takes around 21 days. Just five years ago, in 2005, it took over 33 days to export from MENA and almost 42 days to import into MENA. This goes to show that MENA countries have made enormous progress in reducing the delays in export and import processing times. Moreover, the MENA region on average is now roughly at the same level as the East Asia and Pacific region, though slightly slower than Latin America and the Caribbean. Some progress has been made in customs reform throughout the MENA region. The GCC is exemplary, with its common customs law. The customs union allows for a single point of entry with a single customs declaration. Import licences were eliminated and a regional customs information centre was created.21 However, questions about the division of tariff revenues and compliance with WTO rules have delayed full implementation of the GCC agreement.22 Through the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the EU has tried to improve the performance of customs systems within ENP countries.23 For example, Lebanon has recently implemented significant reforms to automate its customs procedures. The latest ENP Action Plan for Lebanon plans to extend automation to the whole customs territory, to encourage the use of risk-based controls, and reinforce controls against counterfeit and pirated goods.24 Similar work is being undertaken with other members of the ENP throughout the Mediterranean. Improvements in customs procedures were also achieved through US FTAs, notably with Jordan. In response to its FTA with the USA, the Jordanian government implemented the TIJARA initiative, a public-private partnership involving the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Jordanian Border Patrol, the Jordan Customs Department, the Jordan Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the Coalition of Jordanian Chambers of Commerce. The most notable programme arising from this initiative is the Golden List Program (GLP). The GLP expedites customs procedures for low-risk firms that meet the high security and trade standards of the US Customs Trade Partnership against Terrorism, the US Container Security Initiative, and the World Customs Organization.

Rules of origin Cumbersome rules of origin remain a major impediment to trade within the region. The benefits to MENA countries from their network of trade agreements are significantly eroded by costly differences in rules of origin, which determine whether or not a product is eligible for preferential tariff treatment. There are many complexities, but in general the rules of origin exclude goods with a significant percentage of non-originating inputs. More often than not, the rules are too restrictive to facilitate integrated supply chains for merchandise made from components originating in different countries across the MENA region. For example, within GAFTA member countries follow an origination rule which requires that over 40 per cent of value-added be contributed in a single other GAFTA

76 Claire Brunel and Gary Hufbauer member country for the imported product to qualify for tariff relief. While that rule was meant to be temporary, the members have failed to negotiate more relaxed rules. Moreover, the approval process for certificates of origin in the importing country’s embassy acts as its own non-tariff barrier. There have been some reports of falsified certificates of origin, but without an effective dispute settlement mechanism, such trade frictions are never resolved.25 Many GAFTA countries are parties to other trade agreements, with significantly different regional and bilateral rules of origin. Thus, firms in Jordan must comply with three different systems: GAFTA rules, EU rules and US rules. Every business firm must incur a large cost to familiarize itself and comply with the ‘spaghetti bowl’ of rules. This can be burdensome for start-up firms, and small and medium-sized enterprises. One method to limit the cost of compliance with rules of origin is to allow for cumulation of origin, as was undertaken by the EU through its pan-European system. This system allows for cumulation of inputs among partner countries, for purposes of qualifying for preferential duties. One study estimates that trade between the countries participating in the pan-Euromed system has increased 43 per cent due to the cumulation of origin. Nonetheless, progress remains, even within the pan-European system. Morocco, for example, faces different rules of origin depending on whether it uses inputs from Algeria and Tunisia, which are subject to ‘full cumulation’,26 or other Mediterranean countries, which are subject to ‘diagonal cumulation’.27 It would be better for all countries to settle on full cumulation. As of now, the USA does not allow for cumulation of origin between its FTA partners (some exceptions apply regarding the movement of goods among qualified industrial zones—QIZs).28 If that could be reformed, a change to full cumulation would boost the exports of MENA countries that have FTAs with the USA. Investment A crucial aspect of economic governance is to improve the overall attractiveness of the country for business activity, which will in turn enhance international trade and longterm foreign investment. Trade and investment reinforce one another: foreign direct investment (FDI), whether inward or outward, boosts trade between partners, while two-way trade boosts FDI. However, the picture of overall ease of doing business is mixed in the MENA region (Table 4.10). On average, the region ranks 95th out of the 183 countries, compared to 90th in 2010. The top performing country is Saudi Arabia (rank 12) and the bottom ranked countries are Djibouti (170) and Iraq (164). As a region, MENA countries perform best in terms of paying taxes (69th), and worst in terms of obtaining credit (118th) and enforcing contracts (113th). Despite strong performance of certain countries in specific categories, considerable room remains for progress. Still, trade agreements have contributed to positive changes in the business and investment climate, notably through improved regulations. The EU association agreement with Morocco, for example, achieved some progress in promoting investment: it ensures that foreign and locally owned enterprises are treated equally (except in the construction sector), and 100 per cent foreign ownership is allowed in most sectors.29 In 2004 the EU estimated that the two main obstacles to investment in Morocco were complicated procedures for business registration and a lack of

148 38 170 110 144 164 34 96 67 104 159 94 49 36 12 135 134 46 33 131 99 95

153 82 179 21 53 176 43 95 142 109 159 93 68 116 10 126 129 56 42 177 66 100

Starting a Business 118 7 142 154 164 120 137 93 121 161 64 75 64 24 4 130 133 86 12 129 35 94

Dealing with Construction Permits

Source: World Bank Doing Business Survey 2011

Algeria Bahrain Djibouti Egypt, Arab Rep. Iran, Islamic Rep. Iraq Israel Jordan Kuwait Lebanon Mauritania Morocco Oman Qatar Saudi Arabia Sudan Syrian Arab Republic Tunisia United Arab Emirates West Bank and Gaza Yemen, Rep. Regional average

Overall rank

Table 4.10 Ease of doing business ranking, 2011

164 49 143 101 162 46 93 36 57 47 122 107 61 18 18 107 83 45 10 85 52 76

Getting Electricity 167 30 148 93 163 98 147 101 88 105 59 144 21 37 1 41 82 65 6 78 55 82

Registering Property 150 126 177 78 98 174 8 150 98 78 166 98 98 98 48 166 174 98 78 166 159 118

Getting Credit 79 79 179 79 166 122 5 122 29 97 147 97 97 97 17 155 111 46 122 46 133 96

Protecting Investors 164 18 70 145 126 49 59 21 15 30 175 112 9 2 10 103 111 64 7 39 116 69

Paying Taxes 127 49 37 64 138 180 10 58 112 93 143 43 47 57 18 151 122 32 5 114 118 82

Trading Across Borders 122 114 160 147 50 140 94 130 117 120 79 89 107 95 138 148 175 76 134 93 38 113

Enforcing Contracts

59 25 141 137 118 183 45 104 48 125 152 67 76 37 73 84 102 38 151 183 114 98

Resolving Insolvency

78 Claire Brunel and Gary Hufbauer transparency in the regulatory framework.30 The subsequent EU Action Plan included measures to improve the administrative and judicial systems for business registration, and to make them more transparent. Moreover, through the new ‘Advanced Status’ of Morocco, the EU aims to bring Morocco’s business environment up to the level of EU member states in selected sectors. Current projects span the realms of information technology, communication infrastructure, and compatibility of internet and cellular networks. To achieve these goals, the EU will provide technical assistance to strengthen the security of critical information infrastructure. Morocco also receives EU assistance through the Agadir Agreement. The Agadir Technical Unit (ATU), which is in charge of implementing the agreement, benefits from EU assistance and financial aid in the amount of €4 million ($5.5 million) annually. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Investment Policy Review for Morocco for 2010 suggests that Morocco’s preferential trade agreements and bilateral investment treaties (BIT) with the USA, the EU and others have improved the investment climate in Morocco. For example, the US FTA investment chapter contributed to more transparent investment policies. In 2006 Morocco signed into law new provisions related to the protection of trademarks, measures against counterfeit goods, and the creation of a national registry of geographic indications and appellations of origin, in response to commitments accepted by Morocco under the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and the FTA with the USA. Egypt has similarly benefited from its agreement with the EU. For example, the Egyptian economy received €250 million for the industry modernization programme (IMP), designed to ready the Egyptian economy for the full implementation of the AA with the EU. A portion of that aid was dedicated to the harmonization of Egyptian standards with European and international standards, and to the establishment of centres that provide targeted business facilitation services in industrial clusters (Kheir-El-Din and Ghoneim 2005). Through BITs with the EU and the USA, Egypt committed to a variety of improvements in its investment climate, including national treatment for foreign investors, and dispute settlement mechanisms both for state-state and investor-state disputes. Through its EU AA, Egypt further committed to accede to six international agreements that govern intellectual property rights. Moreover, though AAs do not cover investment per se, they do cover a variety of topics that improve the business and investment climate, such as regulatory issues or financial services. Egypt has acceded to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), the TRIPs Agreement, the Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs), the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (ASCM), and the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA)—and all of these have positive impacts. A review by the OECD of Egypt’s investment climate found that improvements in governance through investment policy reforms, undertaken by Egypt to abide by its FTA and international commitments, made Egypt a candidate for adherence to the OECD Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises.31 According to the most recent WTO Trade Policy Review for Jordan,32 over the past few years Jordan has implemented a series of new laws to comply with WTO rules, including a competition law (notably curtailing the scope of price controls), a trade remedies law covering countervailing and anti-dumping duties along with safeguard measures, and aspects of intellectual property rights. Jordan is also working to eliminate its export subsidies by 2015, now conferred through the corporate income tax law.

Trade agreements in the MENA region


Before its accession to the WTO, Jordan had significantly altered its intellectual property rights regime to comply with the TRIPS accord. Jordan also liberalized its telecommunications sector in accordance with GATS commitments, and liberalized its agricultural sector, notably with regard to subsidies. An important, even overriding, aspect of the business climate is the protection of IPR. All MENA countries that are members of the WTO had to modify their domestic legislation on IPR to reach TRIPS levels, but some MENA countries have committed to further strengthening their IPR regimes through bilateral trade agreements. Of the external trade partners active in the MENA region, the USA is the most prominent in promoting a very high level of IPR protection. By raising their standards to those of the USA, US FTA partners in the MENA region hope to position themselves as attractive investment destinations on a global basis. Implementation of the IPR provisions of the US-Morocco FTA was not easy for Morocco. The informal sector, including piracy and contraband, is important in some regions, and FTA penalties curtail these activities. Moreover, concerns linger about the impact of the provisions on health and agriculture.33 Similarly, when the Bahrain-US FTA was signed, concerns were raised about the impact of IPR rules on technology and information transfers into the local economy.34 Regulatory standards Going back to Table 4.6, MENA countries improved their average score of regulatory quality from 37 in 1996 to 42 in 2010. This modest gain hides large changes, both positive and negative, for individual countries. Iraq, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, and the West Bank and Gaza all implemented reforms that raised their scores by over 10 points, while Algeria and the UAE lost comparable amounts. Work on the harmonization of standards has been undertaken, for example, within the GCC through the Gulf Standards Organization (GSO). GCC standards are largely based on international standards. In November 2005 the GSO implemented a regional conformity assessment scheme (RCAS) project, with the aim of creating a single accreditation body, gradually transforming voluntary technical standards into mandatory technical regulation using a methodology based on the EU approach.35 Implementation is in progress. The number of regulations implemented by the GSO remains limited,36 leaving room for serious divergence between members. However, Oman set an example by adopting most of the standards set by the GCC. According to the latest World Trade Policy Review of the WTO,37 of Oman’s 3,178 standards in place, 3,120 are GCC standards (only 72 of those are mandatory regulations). An important part of EU AAs with the Mediterranean consist of aligning norms and standards to EU levels. EU AAs cover regulation co-operation in numerous sectors including telecommunications, energy, transportation and food safety. Many Mediterranean countries have made significant progress in adopting portions of the EU acquis communautaire.38 For example, as of 2008, Egypt had succeeded in aligning 80 per cent of its standards with EU standards. The national bodies in charge of standards in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia are affiliate members of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN).39 As such, they can participate in the General Assembly and in technical bodies, and they receive all technical and general documentation from CEN about new European standards. In 2003 the EU implemented

80 Claire Brunel and Gary Hufbauer the Palermo Plan for the Free Movement of Industrial Products, which aims to help ENP countries adopt and implement EU legislation on technical regulation, standardization and conformity assessment. Morocco benefits from its special relation with the EU, known as Advanced Status, which is often nicknamed as ‘everything but institutions’. This relation aims to integrate Morocco more fully into the EU market, through political engagement, participation in EU agencies and programmes, and assistance for the alignment of economic, financial, environmental, energy, agricultural and social standards. The first schedule of reforms requires Morocco to align its legislative structure more closely with that of the EU. The Advanced Status includes measures to integrate Morocco into the EU network for priority sectors, and as a consequence Morocco is adopting more EU regulations, norms and standards. For example, Morocco is being integrated into the Common Aviation Area, as well as in the EU internal energy market, including renewable energies. Morocco and the EU are collaborating on security, competitiveness and regulatory issues associated with the Moroccan energy sector. In the agricultural sector, the EU is helping Morocco accelerate the adoption of harmonized standards. In 2002, for example, the EU recognized the agency in charge of sanitary and phytosanitary issues within the Moroccan Ministry of Agriculture as an accredited body for the inspection of agricultural and food products exported to the EU market. However, alignment with EU norms is not the end-all solution. First, as more domains of regulation become matters of EU competency rather than national competency, the EU increasingly harmonizes additional standards within member states. In addition, in many domains standards set by the European Commission are minimum standards which can then be upped by national governments as desired (this is notably the case for environmental standards). Those two effects combined increase the strain on MENA countries to comply with an ever-growing number of EU regulations. Moreover, despite the fact that most of the MENA countries are adopting large swaths of EU regulation, and therefore implicitly harmonizing standards throughout the region, the usual lack of trust displayed within the region means that there is little recognition of standards between the countries of the region. Harmonizing regulations and standards throughout the region would have a substantial and salutary economic impact. In addition, countries such as Israel, which have trade agreements with both the EU and the USA, find it challenging to harmonize their own standards with both of their powerful partners. When possible, the Israeli government will turn to international standards, but in the absence of international regulation (for example in food labelling), the Israeli authorities face a conundrum.40 International standards, where they exist, can provide a common base, but in many cases national legislation applies more stringent norms. The only solution may be different production runs for different export destinations—a costly process. Trade diversification According to a World Bank study, most MENA countries have experienced declining export concentration trends.41 For non-GCC MENA countries, the decrease in export concentration is driven by a decrease in the concentration in traditional exports rather than an increase in new products. Nonetheless, between 1995 and 2005 the growth in exports of new products, or of existing products to new markets, accounted for 38 per cent of total

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export growth in resource-poor MENA countries, compared to just 17 per cent for lowermiddle income countries and 24 per cent for upper-middle income countries. The study suggests that diversification is due in part to preferential trade agreements signed by the MENA countries. In fact, Jordan’s diversification of exports has increased significantly since the implementation of its FTA in 2004.42 GCC countries, on the other hand, saw the concentration of their traditional exports increase as well as exports of new product lines. The biggest impact that trade agreements have on export diversification is by attracting investment. FDI contributes to export diversification when the merchandise produced by the foreign firm enters an integrated supply chain, especially if the merchandise is different from that produced by local companies. The trend in export diversification in the MENA region can be explained in part by lower barriers to FDI and thus increased FDI flows into the region.43 Monetary and fiscal policies Morocco has pegged its exchange rate to the euro because of the large EU share in Moroccan trade. While the peg may help the competitiveness of Moroccan suppliers in the EU market by providing a stable currency relationship, it can hurt Moroccan competitiveness in other markets when the euro is a strong currency. This is particularly worrisome for Morocco at a time when EU growth prospects are modest, while prospects in high-growth emerging markets are much better. Jordan has essentially pegged its currency to the US dollar. This policy is beneficial in terms of trade with the USA and Saudi Arabia, Jordan’s largest trading partner, but it could hurt the competitiveness of Jordanian firms in the EU, Jordan’s second largest export destination, depending on the dollar-euro exchange rate. In a few instances, preferential trade agreements can affect fiscal policies. For example, in 2006 Morocco and the EU signed a convention to finance a programme in support of Moroccan fiscal reform. Morocco has significantly opened its markets to the global economy through a series of recent agreements: the AA with the EU (implemented in 2000), the Agadir Agreement (implemented in 2007), and FTAs with Turkey (implemented in 2005) and the USA (implemented in 2006). Tariff revenues consequently fell and Morocco compensated for the loss by increasing its corporate taxes instead of the value-added tax (VAT).44 However, in 2004 Morocco initiated wide-ranging reforms to make the VAT the principal source of fiscal revenues, with support from the convention with the EU, which dedicated €80 million ($110 million) over three years for these reforms. The VAT reform called for eliminating numerous exemptions, gradually reducing the corporate tax, and modernizing tax administration. Implementation has been slow because of political obstacles, but in 2008 the Moroccan government reiterated its intention to decrease the corporate tax rate on banks and insurance firms from 39.6 per cent to 37 per cent, and for others from 35 per cent to 30 per cent, and to eliminate some exemptions.45 Labour reforms Some of the US FTAs with MENA countries include labour provisions: Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco, Oman. The Jordanian FTA, in particular, shows the positive impact that FTAs can have on local labour laws. The FTA has supported a greater role for women in the Jordanian economy. In addition, the USA and Jordan have implemented a QIZ programme

82 Claire Brunel and Gary Hufbauer by which designated geographical zones in Jordan enjoy duty-free access to the USA.46 The success of the QIZs has helped to address gender inequality and low productivity among women. Recently, five QIZ ‘satellites’ opened operations in areas of high female unemployment. One of the main benefits of the Jordan-USA FTA has been Jordan’s response to labour concerns raised by the USA, which invoked the Jordan-USA FTA labour clause when a 2006 report on labour and human rights alarmed US apparel companies that source their garments in Jordan. The Jordanian government’s swift and effective response helped to improve worker conditions and to enhance the country’s reputation globally.47

Conclusion The impact of trade agreements on the detailed fabric of governance can be wide-ranging, covering customs reform, rules of origin, regulatory systems, investment climate, monetary and fiscal policies, and labour reforms. Many of the reforms necessary to improve economic governance can be, and have been, initiated by countries without the help of a free trade agreement. However, preferential trade agreements have at times accelerated better governance and they have often locked in reforms that were already adopted. The main shortcoming of MENA trade agreements is the slow and spotty pace of implementation. Trade agreements may be challenging and even fun to negotiate, and they may provide good political theatre for national leaders, but unless they are faithfully implemented they will make little difference to the quality of governance or the living standards of ordinary citizens. Moreover, to be effective, MENA trade agreements with the EU or the USA need to go beyond changes in the legal rules. They should also establish a framework for providing technical and financial assistance to the MENA partner. The EU has recognized this reality to a far greater extent than the USA. The relationship between trade agreements and governance is two-way. Trade agreements encourage better governance, but better governance can also go a long way in attracting trade and investment to the region, and attracting new partners in Asia and Latin America to enter into trade agreements with MENA countries.

Notes 1 Trade openness levels in the region decreased in 2009–2011, atypical years due to the global economic slowdown. 2 Rina Bhattacharya and Hirut Wolde, Constraints on Trade in the MENA Region, International Monetary Fund Working Paper WP 10/31, February 2010. 3 Exports decreased to $827 billion in 2009 due to the global crisis and the fall in oil prices. 4 Imports decreased in 2008 to $645 billion, exhibiting a higher resistance to the impact of the global financial and economic crisis. 5 The 21 members of the World Bank MENA group are Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen. 6 The Arab League, started in 1945, counts the following members: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. All but Algeria, Comoros, Djibouti, Mauritania, and Somalia participate in GAFTA. 7 Robert Z. Lawrence, A US-Middle East Trade Agreement: A Circle of Opportunity? (Peterson Institute for International Economics, Policy Analysis 81, 2006).

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8 The common tariff applies to live animals, fresh and chilled meat, fish, fresh vegetables and fruit, cereals, medicaments and medical supplies, books, newspapers and magazines, ships and commercial aircraft. Tobacco products, on the other hand, are subject to a 100 per cent duty rate. 9 “Gulf Common Currency Efforts Critiqued”, Knowledge@Wharton Today, January 11, 2012, available at, accessed May 30, 2012. 10 Robert Z. Lawrence, A US-Middle East Trade Agreement: A Circle of Opportunity? (Peterson Institute for International Economics, Policy Analysis 81, 2006). 11 Steffen Wippel, The Agadir Agreement and Open Regionalism, EuroMeSCo Paper No. 45, September 2005. 12 The full list of countries is: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sahrawi Democratic Arab Republic (Western Sahara), São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 13 Members are Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 14 Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Togo and Tunisia. 15 The SPFS operates in all countries but Libya, Tunisia and Somalia. 16 Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, and the West Bank and Gaza. 17 ‘Conformity assessment’ refers both to self-testing and independent testing to ensure that prescribed product and process standards are met. 18 Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Mauritania, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey. 19 There is a strong positive correlation between income and the rankings, which would result in an upward bias on those rankings for resource-rich countries. However, even adjusted for income, the shortfalls in governance rankings are almost the same for resource-rich and resource-poor countries (Lawrence 2006). 20 H.L. Kee, A. Nicita and M. Ollareaga, Estimating trade restrictiveness indices (The World Bank Working Paper nr. S3840, 2006). 21 Gulf Cooperation Council, ‘The Customs Union of the GCC Member States’, 2003, www. States.pdf. 22 ‘GCC Edges Closer to Customs Union’, Agence France Presse, 7 November 2010, www.thepenin (accessed 10 November 2010). 23 The ENP drafts the strategy of the EU with regards to economic, social and policy collaboration with neighbouring countries in Eastern Europe and the wider Mediterranean region. 24 EU-Lebanon Action Plan, (accessed 14 November 2010). 25 Hanaa Kheir-El-Din and Ahmed Ghoneim, The Economic and Regulatory Policy Implications of Overlapping Preferential Trade Agreements in the Arab Countries: The Case of Egypt (International Development Research Center. Research Report Series No. 0425, 2005). 26 The rule of ‘full cumulation’ allows parties to an agreement to carry out the working or processing on non-originating inputs in the geographic area formed by the member countries. Thus the non-originating inputs as well as all operations carried out in the participating countries are given credit for meeting the rules of origin. Other forms of cumulation require that the goods originate in one party before being exported to another party to obtain credit for working or processing, but this is not the case with full cumulation. Full cumulation simply demands that all the working or processing on non-originating material be carried out within the geographic area in order for the final product to qualify for meeting the rules of origin. 27 ‘Diagonal cumulation’ involves three or more countries with free trade agreements that have identical origin rules and that provide for cumulation between them, as is the case with the

84 Claire Brunel and Gary Hufbauer


29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38

39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47

signatories of the Agadir Agreement. Unlike full cumulation, only originating products or materials can benefit from diagonal cumulation. More than two countries can participate in the manufacturing process, but the origin of the product is the country where the last working or processing operation took place, provided that it was more than a minimal operation. The goal of QIZs was originally to promote trade between Israel and Arab countries. Therefore, the rules of origin of the QIZs are such that Israeli content counts towards the local content requirement. For example, in the Jordan QIZs, the local content requirement states that to qualify for duty-free access to the US market, a good must have 11.7 per cent of Jordanian QIZ content, and 7 per cent to 8 per cent of Israeli content (7 per cent for high-tech products, 8 per cent for other products). The remaining 15.3 per cent (16.3 per cent for high-tech) necessary to reach the 35 per cent value-added requirement may originate in Jordan, the USA, the West Bank, Gaza, or Israel. The USA has entered into QIZ programmes with three MENA countries: Egypt, Israel and Jordan. The following sectors do not allow 100 per cent foreign ownership: mobile telecommunications, insurance (foreigners cannot own majority stakes), and agriculture (foreigners can invest in firms but not own land). Commission of the European Communities, European Neighbourhood Policy Country Report for Lebanon, SEC (2005) 289/3. OECD, OECD Investment Policy Reviews: Egypt, 2007. WTO, Trade Policy Review—Jordan, 2008. Omar Aloui, ‘Intellectual Property Rights’, in Capitalizing on the US-Morocco FTA: A Road Map for Success (Peterson Institute for International Economics, Policy Analysis 88, 2009). David Price, ‘The US-Bahrain Trade Agreement and Intellectual Property Protection’, The Journal of World Intellectual Property Vol. 7, Issue 6 (2005): 829. Regulated products include cars, tyres, toys, food items, construction materials and electrical appliances. WTO, Trade Policy Review—Oman, 2008. Luc de Wulf and Maryla Maliszewska, Economic Integration in the Euro-Mediterranean Region (Centre for European Policy Studies, 2009), The acquis communautaire is the body of Community legislation by which all EU member states are bound. Countries joining the EU must have implemented the existing acquis communautaire by the time of accession, while AA countries negotiate to implement only portions of it. CEN stands for Comité Européen de Normalisation. Luc de Wulf and Maryla Maliszewska, Economic Integration in the Euro-Mediterranean Region (Centre for European Policy Studies, 2009), Jose R. Lopez-Calix, Peter Walkenhorst and Ndiame Diop (eds), Trade Competitiveness of the Middle East and North Africa: Policies for Export Diversification (World Bank 55199, 2010). Riad al Khouri, ‘Lessons from the US-Jordan FTA’, in Capitalizing on the US-Morocco FTA: A Road Map for Success (Peterson Institute for International Economics, Policy Analysis 88, 2009). Jose R. Lopez-Calix, Peter Walkenhorst and Ndiame Diop (eds), Trade Competitiveness of the Middle East and North Africa: Policies for Export Diversification (World Bank 55199, 2010). Jean-François Brun, Gérard Chambas and Martial Laurent, Economie politique de la réforme de transition fiscale: le cas du Maroc, Working Papers 200717 (CERDI, 2007). ‘La réforme fiscale s’inscrit dans le sillage des choix stratégiques du gouvernement pour assurer l’équité fiscale’, Maghreb Arabe Presse, 23 April 2008. The Jordan QIZs are essentially being used by the apparel industry. For more information on the impact of QIZs on the Jordanian economy, and the links between the QIZs and the US FTA, see Al Khouri (2009). The US National Labor Committee published a report that threatened the success of Jordan’s QIZs by providing a detailed account of violations of labour rights and of poor working conditions. To address these problems, Jordan’s Labour Ministry, the textile trade union and the exporter associations signed a memorandum of understanding under which garment employers agreed to raise the minimum wages of Jordanians working in QIZ factories to the minimum wage applied in other industries in Jordan.

Chapter 5

Illegitimate governance The roots of Islamist radicalization in the MENA Mohammed M. Hafez

Introduction The year 1979 was an important inflection point for Islamist fundamentalism in the Muslim world. This was the year that witnessed the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini, the revolutionary leader of the newly formed Islamic Republic of Iran that inspired Islamist movements across the Middle East and North Africa. It was the year of the prolonged and bloody siege of the Grand Mosque of Mecca by a millenarian movement headed by the Saudi Juhayman al-Utaibi. This revolt is believed to have motivated the Saudi regime to accentuate its religious credentials by further empowering Wahhabism in the kingdom and spreading its influence abroad.1 The year 1979 was the one in which the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, eventually leading to a transnational movement of volunteers to aid the Afghan struggle against the communist invaders. This movement helped radicalize a young man named Osama bin Laden, giving him his first of many experiences in violent political activism. The year 1979 also gave us a famous theatrical play entitled kasak ya watan, which roughly translates to ‘Cheers to the Homeland!’ It is a satirical political critique of the Arab condition in the post-independence period. Led by the well-regarded actor Duraid Lahham, better known for his comical stage name Ghawar, the play beautifully captures the ailments of modern Arab societies and reflects the dashed hopes of a generation of modern secular nationalists that dreamt of an empowered, free and unified Arab nation, but by 1979 were left with defeated, dictatorial and divided Arab polities. The final scene in the play encapsulates the failures of Arab regimes and offers a sardonic yet heartfelt testament to Arab disenchantment with secular nationalism, which lies at the roots of contemporary Islamist fundamentalism. An inebriated Ghawar receives a phone call from his deceased father, who died as a martyr fighting for the Arab nation. The father is residing in heaven now, but he is eager to hear good news from the homeland. He asks his son about the status of Arab unity. A surprised but cheerful Ghawar assures his father that Arab unity is alive and well, adding with feigned optimism, ‘today I had breakfast in Baghdad, lunch in Khartoum, and I’m now talking to you from Abu Dhabi’. This pleases his father so, encouraging him to follow up with this question: ‘what about freedom … what did you do with the political prisons?’ Ghawar answers: ‘We have converted them to schools and hospitals.’ ‘Tell me about social justice my son’, the voice from heaven implores. ‘What can I tell you father?’ replies Ghawar, ‘foreigners from all over the world come to marvel at our system of justice, law, and order. We’ve become a tourist destination.’ ‘How about Palestine’, the father asks hesitantly, ‘did you return it to its rightful owners?’ Crestfallen, Ghawar

86 Mohammed M. Hafez parries the question by asking sarcastically, ‘how can such a question be raised after 30 years of struggle?’ The deceased father, proud and overjoyed, has nothing more to ask. ‘Well, it appears that you don’t need anything else down there’, he concludes. A drunken Ghawar replies with a sober truth, ‘No father, we are not in need of anything, except perhaps a bit of dignity, that’s all’. This play eloquently captures the aspirations and disappointments of Arab masses in the latter part of the twentieth century, giving rise to an ideological vacuum that eventually was filled by religious fundamentalism. Islamist movements in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are a product of illegitimate governance, characterized by triple failures common to many post-colonial regimes in the region: political authoritarianism, economic corruption and military weakness. These triple failures deprive MENA elites of political legitimacy, thus opening the door to regressive fundamentalism and violent extremism. Islamism, in turn, provides a reference point to a mythical golden age when Arabs were ascendant, proud, powerful, innovative, dignified, unified and, above all else, ruled with justice. The simplified narrative of a mythical golden age contrasts with the palpable and complex reality of a diminished civilization struggling to forge its way forward after decades of imperial fragmentation, colonialism and uneven modernization under secular authoritarianism.

Origins of Islamist radicalism Islamism refers to a social and ideological movement of individuals, groups, organizations and parties that see in Islam a guiding political doctrine that will usher in an Islamic renaissance in the modern world. The most militant among them reject any accommodation with the existing social order, refuse to participate in its institutions, and insist on the necessity of violent revolution or terrorism to achieve an Islamic state. Islamist militancy is not synonymous with Islamist activism. There are devout Muslims who call for establishing an Islamic state, but they do not engage in violence, nor do they advocate the violent overthrow of the existing social order. These include Muslim Brotherhood movements in Jordan, Egypt and Kuwait; the Ennahdha movement in Tunisia; the Party of Justice and Development in Morocco; the Nahdatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah movements in Indonesia; and Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan and Bangladesh. They are active Islamists who fall outside radical Islamism because they seek to work gradually and peacefully to reform their polities. Militant Islamism, therefore, entails an ideological commitment to establish an Islamic state in place of a secular one, and a strategic commitment to engage in violent mobilization. Radicalism has its roots in peaceful Islamist activism that emerged in the colonial and post-colonial eras spanning the 1920s to the 1960s. Following independence from former imperial powers, many governments in the Muslim world promoted rapid economic, cultural and political transformations in order to modernize their societies. These reforms entailed the expansion of secondary and university education; development of public-sector employment; implementation of land reforms and Western-style legal systems; imposition of state control over religious institutions; modification of family, marriage and divorce laws; and promotion of state-led industrialization.2 Secular elites attracted to Western models of development usually carried out these reforms with the intent of consolidating their rule, expanding their legitimacy and promoting economic progress. They equated successful development with the secularization and

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Westernization of society and saw rural-based economies and religious traditions as impediments to modernization. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in Turkey, the shahs of Iran, and Gamal Abd al-Nasir (Nasser) in Egypt are examples of modernizing reformers who embraced Western secular models of development and relegated religion to the private sphere. The rhetoric of progress produced high expectations in the general population. Many regimes sought legitimacy by promising to raise the living standards of ordinary people and combat the poverty, inequality and exploitation that prevailed during the pre-independence period. People came to believe that hard work and education could result in a better life for themselves and their children. This talk of progress spurred a rapid increase in urbanization, as many peasants flocked to cities hoping to benefit from modern education and employment. As time passed, however, it became apparent that the attempt at state-led development in Muslim societies disproportionately benefited a well-positioned few, while leaving many with unfulfilled expectations and broken promises. The ruling elite failed to deliver good governance and economic progress. State-led industrialization produced inefficient industries that could only be sustained through national debt. At the same time, the expansion of education significantly increased literacy rates and produced many engineers, doctors and scientists, and a new middle class emerged. However, its prospects for meaningful employment diminished over time. Professionals could not find employment, or toiled in low-paying state-sector jobs. Land reforms did not improve the lives of peasants and forced many of them to migrate to already overcrowded cities where they ended up in shanty towns. Legal reforms did not ensure the rule of law or put an end to corruption, but provided autocratic governments with the authority to deprive civil society of an independent voice in politics.3 To make matters worse, the only saving grace for post-colonial regimes could have been their military performance against Israel, regarded as the arch enemy of the Arab world. Here, too, secular modernizing elites let their rhetoric get ahead of their capabilities. Their strident proclamations against the tiny Jewish state were outmatched by their incompetence in prosecuting their wars against Israel. The Six Day War of June 1967, in which Israel defeated three Arab powers in a matter of a few days, revealed to the MENA masses the extent of corruption and ineptitude of their military regimes, which seemed better equipped to repress their own people than to fight foreign enemies. The military impotence of MENA regimes was confirmed repeatedly in their performance in regional wars: Iraq’s failure against Iran in the 1980s; Libya’s ignominious defeat in Chad and against the USA during the 1980s; Syria’s embarrassing performance in the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon; and Iraq’s disgraceful defeat by the USA in 1991 and 2003. Conversely, sub-state insurgent movements, often led by Islamists and radical nationalists, had a better track record of fighting back against foreign powers: the mujahidin in Afghanistan, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Afghani insurgents fighting against the USA and NATO since 2001. The failure of secular leaders to meet the rising expectations of ordinary people, their false bravado towards Israel and other foreign powers, and their emulation of Western lifestyles produced feelings of frustration and disenchantment in the general population. The grievances generated by post-colonial modernization did not automatically give rise to Islamist militancy, however. Generally speaking, Islamists benefited from the fact that the modernizing elites were also wedded to secular, socialist ideologies that sought to

88 Mohammed M. Hafez relegate Islamic values, scholars and institutions to the dustbins of history. The gross corruption of the ruling elites, their opulent lifestyles, and insatiate appetite for ill gotten wealth allowed the Islamist rhetoric of justice, virtue, righteousness, benevolence and modesty to resonate with mass publics. In this atmosphere, Islamist movements saw an opportunity to step forward as untainted critics of secularism and excessive Westernization. Islamists were seen as ‘Godfearing’ people not prone to venality. Reinforcing this trend was a genuine cultural shift towards greater religiosity in everyday life. The Muslim world experienced an Islamic revival reflected in the spread of public displays of piety, growing mosque attendance, and the propagation of Islamic networks, social movements and political parties. Women donned headscarves and men grew beards. University students gravitated towards Islamic social clubs and unions, and Islamic activists were able to expand their representation in local student elections.4 This heightened Islamic consciousness prompted broader demands for a ‘return to Islam’ and led to the politicization of religion. Islamist groups began to organize around political issues and, when possible, formed parties to loosen the grip of secular nationalists and leftists on government. Their ultimate aim was to establish governments bound by Islamic law (Shari’a). Islamists did not merely offer an abstract critique of existing social arrangements; they also advanced social and charitable projects that tangibly improved the general welfare to render the alternative to secular governments more compelling.5 In Egypt, Islamic groups organized food distribution to families in impoverished neighbourhoods during the holidays. In southern Lebanon, Hezbollah’s charitable projects reached poor Shi’a Muslims who had been neglected by successive governments for decades.

Intellectual roots of Islamism The two most prominent ideologues of the Islamic resurgence were Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood movement, and Abul Ala Mawdudi, the founder of the South Asian Jamaat-e Islami movement. Hassan al-Banna was a schoolteacher who was disappointed with the secular turn Egypt was taking during the first two decades of the twentieth century and dismayed over the United Kingdom’s colonial domination of his country. In 1928 he started an activist organization, the Society of Muslim Brothers— or Muslim Brotherhood—which eventually spread to every part of the Muslim world. The Muslim Brotherhood was a revivalist movement, not a violent group. It concentrated on moral and social issues, and its goal was to convince ordinary people to adopt lives of religious observance and piety. Banna’s preferred means to this end was a cadre of preachers and educators that would spread the word. Education, not violent jihad, was the key to revival.6 Abul Ala Mawdudi was a journalist influenced by the struggle in India against British colonial rule. His rhetoric took on an anti-Western tone. Mawdudi formed a formidable and influential organization in 1941 known as the Jamiat-e Islami. Through this vanguard group, he aimed to Islamize society by winning over the professional middle classes and students.7 The mass Hindu-Muslim sectarian violence that occurred during the India-Pakistan split in 1947 further shaped his views, prompting him to call for the formation of an Islamic state in Pakistan. Banna and Mawdudi both saw Islam as a political religion that did not recognize any separation between mosque and state, and saw the return to Islam as a solution to the persistent marginalization of Muslims in the modern world. Both interpreted the

Roots of Islamist radicalization in the MENA


Western threat not merely as military hegemony or economic domination, but also as a cultural invasion that compromised Islam with secular values. Yet they did not see a contradiction between Islamic revivalism and modernization. Both wanted to impart an Islamic orientation to the modern educated class and enlist it to advance the Muslim world. Their movements drew in workers, teachers, engineers, doctors, journalists and students, as well as traditional Muslim scholars. Their means of mobilization set a durable precedent. The social base of contemporary Islamic movements remains students and professionals in their twenties and thirties who tend to be educated in the technical fields such as engineering, medicine and other professions, and to exhibit high motivation and aspiration.8 Militant Islamists also attract members of the lower-middle class and working class, many of whom are economic migrants alienated by rapid shifts from rural to urban settings. Banna and Mawdudi also laid important groundwork for radical Islam through their critiques of traditional Islamic scholarship. In their view, religious elites were tied to rigid hierarchies and antiquated ways, and did not challenge the existing order and prevailing secular ideological currents in society and government with sufficient energy. The conservative scholars did not seek to mobilize people for the revivalist project, instead passively waiting in mosques or Islamic seminaries for the people to come to them.

Political authoritarianism and violent Islamism The key factor that turned many Islamists into violent militants is political exclusion and indiscriminate repression. Islamists are often denied access to the political process because of state-imposed, single-party systems usually controlled by military elites. In those societies where there was some democratic opening for the Islamists, such as in Algeria in 1989 and Egypt in the 1980s, those systems became repressive as soon as Islamists proved their ability to compete in the political process. The strength of the Islamist tendency gave rise to state repression by secular regimes that feared losing power to political ‘upstarts’. Those Islamists who were excluded from the political process sometimes organized violent insurgencies or engaged in terrorism. Violence by Islamist militants since the 1980s, therefore, is not a product of an inherent tendency in Islam or Islamist movements towards militancy. The resurgence of Islamist movements as serious competitors in the political process has put many secular regimes in the Muslim world on the defensive. Some states pursued a strategy of unmitigated repression (Tunisia since 1990, Algeria since 1992 and Syria in 1982). Others opted for formal inclusion (Jordan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan). Still others have chosen a mixed strategy of toleration and repression (Turkey since the 1970s, Egypt during the 1980s and Morocco since the 1990s). Although the reactions of governments to Islamist politics have varied between accommodation and exclusion, or co-optation and repression, nearly all sought to manoeuvre in order to avoid ceding real power to Islamist opposition movements in the system. Governments that were increasingly viewed by large segments of the public as corrupt, illegitimate and ineffectual in running state affairs engaged in legal and institutional manipulation to provide Islamist opposition forces with procedural access to state ministries, but simultaneously sought to deny them substantive influence in the political process. Circumscribed inclusion of the Islamist opposition resulted in two dynamics that ultimately contributed to politico-religious extremism in some of these societies. The first dynamic was the expansion of Islamist networks and legitimacy in society. The policy of partial

90 Mohammed M. Hafez inclusion allowed Islamists to grow in strength and popularize their message, which meant that they had societal and organizational resources with which to fight state repression and political exclusion. The second dynamic was the delegitimization of moderate Islamist strategies and worldviews. Moderates who wanted to work within the system were constantly frustrated by their inability to exert power. Their radical critics pointed out their futility in implementing reforms through conventional political processes. As a result, radical strategies and worldviews became more appealing to a large segment of the Islamist movement. In short, the turn from Islamist activism to Islamist militancy is in large measure due to dynamics of political exclusion and repression.

Ideology of radical Islamism The transformative extremist figure in contemporary Islamic revivalism was Sayyid Qutb, the leading thinker of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in the 1950s and 1960s.9 Qutb was executed by the Egyptian government in 1966. He was mainly concerned with the turn towards secularism, nationalism and socialism in the Muslim world. His first-hand experiences with Nassr’s regime propelled him towards extremism. Egyptian security forces brutally repressed Qutb and his Muslim Brotherhood colleagues, stifling their message with strong-arm tactics and torturing them in jail. These lessons led Qutb to reject the common view among Muslims that a mere declaration of faith in God was sufficient to make a person a believer. In 1964, while in jail, Qutb published a controversial book entitled Milestones in which he labelled ruling secular governments un-Islamic despite their nominal Muslim status. His argument implicitly introduced the notion of takfir (Muslims declaring other Muslims to be unbelievers), which has been a major stepping-stone to violence. In 1966, the Egyptian regime executed Qutb, but his radical themes inspire jihadists to this day. Qutb and militant Islamists after him promoted six major themes to radicalize Muslims and justify violence: jahiliyah (ignorance); tawhid (divine unity or monotheism); hakimiyat Allah (God’s sovereignty); takfir (the right of faithful Muslims to declare other Muslims to be infidels); wala wal bara (loyalty and disassociation); and jihad and istishhad (striving and martyrdom in the path of God).10 Jahiliyah and tawhid Jahiliyyah (ignorance) and tawhid (divine unity or monotheism) are complementary, and both are central to the radical Islamist critique of contemporary Muslim societies. Ignorance, in this context, refers to the historical era that preceded the rise of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula (modern-day Saudi Arabia) in 610 CE. During that period, Arab tribes had a rich culture and enjoyed the fruits of robust trade and commerce. Their ignorance did not stem from any lack of scientific, artistic, or practical knowledge, or of civilization or wealth. Rather, it was a product of the Arab tribes’ polytheism—their recognition of multiple idols instead of the single god originally worshipped by Abraham and his Jewish and Christian descendents. The Prophet Muhammad, the messenger of Islam, introduced tawhid to the Arabs and cured their ignorance of the true faith. Islam’s first pillar of faith is the declaration, ‘There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet’. Radical Islamists argue that failure to uphold tawhid constitutes a return to the pre-Islamic condition of jahiliyyah. Contemporary radicals argue that tawhid is not just a confession of

Roots of Islamist radicalization in the MENA


faith for gaining entry into the Muslim community but also a deep and sincere devotion and belief that governs everyday behaviour, amounting to a way of life. They contend that any practice that diverts people from monotheistic worship, including pursuit of worldly desires such as wealth, power and status, is a form of polytheism (shirk). On the basis of this interpretation, contemporary radicals believe that jahiliyyah is back: that many Muslims’ current embrace of Western, secular values and ideologies such as nationalism, socialism, communism, liberalism, humanism and other ‘isms’ contradicts the word of a single god and makes them ‘polytheists’ (mushrikin). Only by applying the Shari’a as the Prophet Muhammad and his companions prescribed, and establishing a unified Islamic state (known historically as a caliphate), can Muslims affirm God’s unity and transcend their ignorance. Today’s Islamists say that rulers who pursue their own survival and power at the expense of Islamic law and Muslim fealty are elevating their own desires above the will of God. Thus, they are no longer true Muslims and warrant violent expulsion from power. This application of tawhid is a departure from the classical tradition, which ruled it impermissible to rebel against Muslim rulers for fear of producing chaos (fitna) among the faithful.

Hakimiyat Allah The third theme of militant Islamism, hakimiyat Allah (God’s sovereignty), is closely linked to the first two. According to radical Islamists, God is the supreme law-giver and He alone can define right and wrong, good and evil, the permissible and the forbidden. All other sovereignties—monarchies, republics, majoritarian democracies—are subordinate to God’s sovereignty, and all systems that displace God’s sovereignty or supplement it with another are impermissibly polytheistic. Muslims must reject and overthrow such systems. Radical Islamists’ basis for such a stringent edict is their belief that humans cannot arrive at the truth or distinguish between right and wrong through intellectual reasoning alone. The human mind cannot comprehend God’s plan beyond what He has revealed to them. At best, it can follow the word of God as revealed in the Quran and demonstrated by the sayings and deeds of His Prophet Muhammad and the pious ancestors (al-salaf al-salih). Discovering and applying the intended meaning of the Quranic verses, therefore, is the ultimate form of devotion to God. Conversely, altering, ignoring, or nullifying God’s revelation violates God’s sovereignty and subverts His will. God’s sovereignty entails accepting the comprehensiveness and universalism of Islam and the timeless validity of the Quran. Radical Islamists believe the Quran to be a complete guide, applicable in all places on Earth to all circumstances, covering economics, warfare, marriage, taxes and so on (mu’amalat) as well as religious worship and rituals (‘ibadat). Thus, other worldviews or ideologies such as Marxism, liberalism, or humanism are extraneous, and any notion that ‘times have changed’ and ‘new rules are necessary’ contravenes God’s perpetual sovereignty on Earth.

Takfir The fourth theme concerns the permissibility and necessity of takfir (declaring other Muslims to be outside of the creed, analogous to excommunication in Catholicism). Muslims can judge other Muslims to have committed major transgressions that put them outside of the Islamic faith. Radicals disagree among themselves as to when takfir must occur.11

92 Mohammed M. Hafez An extreme position is that if a Muslim commits a cardinal sin (kufr kabir) and persists in doing so despite being warned and given a chance to repent, that person is considered an infidel or apostate. A less extreme stance holds that committing such a sin does not make a person an infidel as long as he or she does not attempt publicly to justify it. The most extreme position judges people on their actions, the less extreme position on their words alone. The issuance of takfir is frequently a stepping-stone to violence. Many radicals today argue that existing Muslim regimes rule according to secular laws, violating God’s sovereignty, and therefore are no longer true Muslims. For the radicals, it is permissible to reject them and rebel against them until they repent and apply Islamic law or relinquish power one way or another.

Wala wal bara The fifth theme of militant Islamism is wala wal bara (loyalty to Muslims and disassociation from unbelievers). When Muslims encounter kufr (unbelief), they must make clear their loyalty to Islam and their hatred of unbelievers, and they must be outwardly hostile to them. These requirements mean supporting those who uphold Muslim causes and depriving unbelievers of aid and comfort. Muslims may have to disavow their own families, friends, neighbours, communities, tribes, or countries if they persist in impiety. Radical Muslims cite the example of Abraham, who challenged his father over his refusal to accept God. Radicals consider those who do not adhere fully to the principle of wala wal bara to have become unbelievers, and quote the Quranic verse 5-51 to make their case: ‘O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.’ The concept of wala wal bara is functionally important because it allows extremists to argue that individuals who co-operate with Western forces against Islamist militants are apostates who should be executed under Islamic law, and governments so co-operating are apostate regimes that should be overthrown. Radicals selectively ignore or summarily reject other verses in the Quran that preach tolerance and friendship with non-Muslims. For example, verse 60-68 states that: ‘Allah does not forbid you respecting those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion, and have not driven you forth from your homes, that you show them kindness and deal with them justly; surely Allah loves the doers of justice.’ Another verse that radicals sidestep is 49-13: ‘O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise [each other]). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you.’

Jihad and istishhad The sixth theme of radical Islamism consists in jihad (striving) and istishhad (martyrdom) in the path of God. Militant Islamists believe that jihad encompasses an Islamic obligation to wage war against impious regimes that do not rule according to God’s laws.

Roots of Islamist radicalization in the MENA


In Islam, jihad takes at least three forms. Under the mildest interpretation, the concept involves striving to spread Islam through missionary proselytizing, engaging in persuasion and disputation with sceptics, and enduring hardships imposed by recalcitrant unbelievers. It also entails speaking truth to power, openly rejecting the legitimacy of tyrannical rulers. This benign form of jihad finds support in the Quranic verse 15: 94–5: ‘Profess openly what you have been commanded, and turn away from the idolaters, for We are sufficient for you against the scoffers.’ This encourages preaching without violence, even to an audience hostile to proselytizers. Another interpretation casts jihad as defensive resistance, per verse 2: 190: ‘Fight in the path of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits, for God does not love transgressors.’ This urges Muslims to defend themselves against aggressors, but does not call on them to initiate hostilities. This view of jihad is widespread in the Muslim world today and is tantamount to a just war theory. The third and most strident interpretation of jihad is that of aggressive war against all unbelievers, including Christians and Jews, until they submit to Islamic authority. Radical Islamists argue that verses like 9: 29, recorded after the aforementioned verses, abrogate the more peaceful or defensive interpretations of jihad. Verse 9: 29 proclaims: ‘Fight those who do not believe in God or the Last Day, and who do not forbid what has been forbidden by God and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of truth from among the People of the Book, until they pay the poll tax out of hand, having been brought low (humbled).’ Radicals contend that in the modern era, jihad, at least in some form, has become a compulsory obligation on every Muslim (fard ‘ayn) because the Muslim nation (umma) is weak and its putative leaders do not protect it from foreign depredations. Failing to meet that obligation is a grave sin. Radicals insist that even after Muslims regain a position of political power, jihad must continue until Islam spreads throughout the world. The process that radicals prescribe for advancing Islam considers martyrdom the highest form of jihad in the path of God. They nurture the image of a heroic Muslim willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to redeem his nation and avenge the suffering inflicted on fellow Muslims. Many extremists argue that suicide bombings are a form of martyrdom that God rewards with particular generosity. God erases the sins of the ‘martyrs’ the moment their blood is shed, may let their loved ones into heaven, and permits them to reside in paradise for eternity with the saints, prophets and other martyrs of Islam. In Islam, however, suicide is strictly prohibited. The Quran says in verses 4: 29-30: ‘Nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: for verily Allah hath been to you Most Merciful! If any do that in rancour and injustice, soon shall We cast them into the Fire: And easy it is for Allah.’ The Prophet Muhammad affirms the prohibition against suicide by declaring: ‘And whoever commits suicide with a piece of iron will be punished with the same piece of iron in the Hell Fire.’ The Quran also forbids the killing of civilians, in verse 2: 190: ‘Fight in the path of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits, for God does not love transgressors.’ In addition, the Prophet Muhammad issued an unequivocal command to avoid killing civilians: ‘Do not cheat or commit treachery, nor should you mutilate or kill children, women, or old men.’ In spite of this, radical Islamists claim that suicide attacks against civilians are justified on religious grounds, and argue that they are a form of martyrdom.12 They interpret

94 Mohammed M. Hafez these verses as divine permission to sacrifice the self in order to kill others: ‘Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain …’ (9: 111). They also cite verse 2: 154: ‘And call not those who are slain in the way of Allah “dead”. Nay, they are living, only ye perceive not.’ The foregoing competing interpretations reflect the struggle between moderation and radicalism in the Muslim world. Radicals stress Quranic and Prophetic passages that support their militancy while minimizing injunctions against suicide and terrorism, while moderates reverse the emphasis.

Multiple manifestations of Islamist radicalism Since the resurgence of Islamist activism in the 1970s, at least three forms of militant Islamism have emerged.13 Revolutionary Islamism seeks to transform the existing political order in any given state or national government through mass mobilization or violent activism. Revolutionary Islamists target their own governments and societies in order to overthrow the secular system and establish an Islamic order in its place. Revolutionary Islamism appeared in the Iranian revolution of 1979, when the followers of Ayatollah Khomeini ultimately dominated a coalition of mass opposition to the Shah of Iran; they ultimately established an Islamic theocracy. Revolutionary Islamism also appeared in Egypt and Algeria during the 1990s. In both countries armed Islamist groups rebelled against the state and sought to undermine its economic infrastructure. They targeted the states’ security forces, police, government officials, intellectuals, artists, tourists and ordinary civilians in the hope of collapsing the ruling order and mobilizing for social revolution. A second form of Islamism can be called Islamic nationalism. It seeks to harness the power of Islam to fight foreign occupiers, make irredentist claims, or demand regional autonomy. Islamist groups like Hamas in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon appeal to Islam in order to fight Israeli occupation of their lands. Both groups have become entangled with regional states that seek to exert their influence through supporting proxy movements. Iran and Syria have used their access to Hezbollah and Hamas to promote radicalism in opposition to US and Israeli interests in the Levant region. These groups, however, have been criticized by transnational jihadists for failing to join them in a broader, violent struggle against the USA and its allies around the world. While these three tendencies have some common goals, their differences do not allow for true unity. Indeed, Islamic nationalists have shunned transnational jihadists, generally speaking. Unlike the other radicals, Islamic nationalists rarely employ the militant themes of tawhid, jahiliyyah, hakimiyat Allah and takfir, but they do emphasize wala wal bara (loyalty and disassociation) to discourage co-operation with hostile foreign forces. They also cast jihad as a personal obligation (fard ‘ayn) to oppose them and istishhad (martyrdom) as a key means of doing so. Transnational jihadism seeks to mobilize Muslims throughout the world to defend fellow Muslims in conflict with non-Muslims. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, for example, sent its cadres to fight against Israel in the 1930s and 1940s because it viewed the emerging state as a usurper of Arab lands. Muslim volunteers have since helped Afghan rebels resist the Soviet occupation of their country from 1979 to 1989; fight against the Serbs in Bosnia in 1992–5; and resist US and other coalition forces in Iraq since 2003.

Roots of Islamist radicalization in the MENA


Unlike revolutionary Islamists and Islamic nationalists, who focus their violence on ‘near enemies’ (Muslim regimes they consider apostate), transnational jihadist networks like al-Qa’ida encourage their followers to attack ‘far enemies’, which include the USA and its allies. Their stated objectives are to extinguish the Western military, economic and cultural presence in the Muslim world, and undermine Western support to secular regimes that repress radical Islamists. Their ultimate political goal is to erase borders drawn by imperial powers after World War I and form a pan-Islamic union or caliphate. They draw their members from repressed Muslim groups, exiled militants, Muslim volunteers in foreign conflicts, and Muslim diaspora minorities living in the West, especially Europe.

Transnational jihadism against the West Global jihadists and other radical Islamists promote the idea that the combined forces of Jewish Zionists and Christian crusaders are conspiring to divide and weaken the Muslim world and then plunder its resources. Existing secular rulers in the Muslim world are instruments of the broader conspiracy against Islam, colluding with their Western ‘masters’ to maintain their positions of power and enrich themselves at the expense of ordinary Muslims. Al-Qa’ida is the quintessential global jihadist movement. It is a product of four major developments in the 1980s and 1990s. The first was the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, due mainly to the resistance of the Afghan insurgents, aided by Arab volunteers (mujahidin)—including Osama bin Laden, a charismatic heir to a Saudi construction fortune—from various parts of the Middle East and North Africa.14 For radical Islamists, this victory, alongside the Khomeini-led 1979 revolution in Iran, confirmed that rebellion by committed individuals could topple powerful adversaries against long odds. The victory in Afghanistan gave jihadists the symbolic capital necessary for recruiting and motivating future cadres for jihad around the world.15 The second factor contributing to the rise of al-Qa’ida was the substantial presence of US forces in Saudi Arabia—the land of the holiest sites of Islam, Mecca and Medina—initially established in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Angered by the long-term deployment of a non-Muslim military, many traditionally minded Saudis—in particular, bin Laden—began demanding the withdrawal of US forces from the kingdom. Bin Laden’s inability to persuade the Saudi royal family to alter its policy on US forces through peaceful advice moved him to wage war on the USA and the Saudi government.16 The failure of insurgencies around the Muslim world was the third factor in al-Qa’ida’s progression to strategic prominence. The 1980s and 1990s witnessed Muslim rebellions in Algeria, Bosnia, Chechnya, Egypt, Kashmir, the southern Philippines and Tajikistan, among other countries. Most of these rebellions failed to achieve their objectives and many of the experienced leaders and foot soldiers fled into exile because they could no longer sustain insurgency in their home countries. Many of them went to Afghanistan seeking a safe haven and fell under the influence of bin Laden, who had taken up residence there in 1996 and set up training camps for his impending global jihad.17 The inability to affect change at home, increased security co-operation between Western states and undemocratic Muslim regimes, and the seeming hypocrisy of promoting democracy in Eastern Europe while maintaining a deafening silence towards the repression of Islamists encouraged some groups to argue that attacking Western states (the ‘head of the snake’) is the best way to weaken their own regimes. The externalization of violence by

96 Mohammed M. Hafez Islamist militants parallels ‘Euro-terrorism’ during the 1980s. Many European left-wing terrorists associated with the German Red Army Faction (RAF), Italian Red Brigades, French Action Direct and Belgian Combatant Communist Cells made alliances in the name of fighting international imperialism. Underlying these coalitions was an inherent weakness in their activism at home and the need to develop legitimacy within the broader leftist movement. They began to attack the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), military industries, and US bases in Europe in large part to weaken ties between ‘imperialist powers’ that were crushing the radical left as well as to win over supporters from the emerging nuclear freeze and disarmament movements. During the 1970s the RAF made alliances with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and attacked Israeli targets in the hope of gaining support from leftists who were sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.18 Attacking the USA was an attractive choice for these transnational jihadists. First, the USA and other Western states such as France were seen as instrumental in maintaining the dictatorial regimes in the Middle East and North Africa that were denying Muslims their right to choose Islamic parties. Therefore, striking at them might weaken their relationship to some of these dictatorial regimes. At a minimum, attacking governments that support extant regimes in the Muslim world addresses the mass frustration of Muslims who feel their rulers are obsequious to Western powers. Second, the USA’s unconditional support for Israel is widely unpopular in the Muslim world. Therefore, striking at a supporter of a hated enemy was likely to earn terrorists the sympathies of Muslim publics. Third, attacking Western governments in many respects offers militants an easier target than attacking vigilant regimes that do not hesitate to violate human rights in their effort to stay in power. Having embarked on a violent path and being forced into exile, many militant Islamists began seeking a new target of opportunity. The fourth factor was the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. After years of tribal fighting and lawlessness in Afghanistan, the Taliban, backed by Pakistani security services, swept to power in 1994 and brought a repressive form of Islamist order to the country. The Taliban’s and bin Laden’s religious beliefs were consonant, and they established a quid pro quo. Bin Laden extended financial support to the Taliban, which, in turn, protected bin Laden and allowed him to establish an operational base—including terrorist training camps—on Afghan territory. Al-Qa’ida asserts several political grievances in addition to the six militant themes presented earlier. It argues that the Western military presence in Muslim lands, especially the Arabian Peninsula, is a form of occupation intended to consolidate Western control over the region’s oil resources, intimidate states that oppose Western hegemony in the area, and launch strikes against Muslim countries that question US geopolitical dominance. This is objectionable because the West provides close economic, military and political support to Israel, the occupier of Islam’s third holiest site, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. Al-Qa’ida also contends that the West backs dictatorial secular regimes that repress Islamist movements in countries like Egypt and Algeria, propping up local collaborators in order to maintain state systems that pit Muslims against one another and make them easy to manipulate and control. Al-Qa’ida’s hypothesis is that these dictatorial regimes would fall to Islamist resistance if deprived of Western support. Finally, al-Qa’ida argues that whenever Muslims attempt to build genuine Islamic states, as they have in the Sudan, Afghanistan and Somalia, the West imposes sanctions and uses military force against them. The corollary is that these Islamic states would survive and even thrive if not for Western interference.

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Defusing militant Islamism The intensifying radicalization of young Muslims around the world has made the question of how best to deal with potentially violent Islamist movements central to international security and stability. Since the 1970s the original Islamist tendency has fragmented into multiple ideological strands and activist movements and networks. Therefore, it is not possible to develop a single explanation for all contemporary manifestations of Islamist radicalism. However, the root cause of militant Islamism and transnational Islamist terrorism is the absence of legitimate governance based in democratic structures that give mass publics a voice and a chance to contest for power through conventional political channels. It is also rooted in a corrupt ruling elite that monopolizes economic and administrative power while using its military capabilities for internal repression, while falsely claiming to empower its citizens against external conspiracies. Democratic institutions are the surest way to combat rampant elite corruption and avoid military regimes that engage in the false bravado and excessive militarism that has produced disastrous defeats for MENA states. Democracy will not end terrorism or radical Islamism by groups that view democracy as heresy, but it will marginalize extremism and encourage internal Islamist critique of fanaticism. Currently, critics of radical Islamism, whether they are the nonviolent Muslim Brotherhood movements or official state scholars, often lack credibility among the rank and file members of the activist Islamist movements. The inability of the Muslim Brotherhood movements to make political inroads within authoritarian structures makes them appear naïve and, worst, as instruments for legitimating oppressive regimes. The co-optation of official Islamic scholars and institutions by secular regimes deprives these scholars of legitimacy and credibility; they are compromised by their financial and political dependence on extant authoritarian rulers. Defusing militant Islamism, therefore, requires that governments and international institutions acknowledge that the Islamic revivalist sentiment in Muslim societies is a genuine one that cannot be repressed without a heavy cost in terms of human rights, democratic norms and individual lives. Recognizing the widespread support for Islamism in the Muslim world means that political space must be created for those Islamist parties that are willing to adopt democratic rules and adhere to international norms and conventions for the protection of individual liberties, human rights and alternation of power. It also means that Islamists must be given a chance to govern through fair and democratic mechanisms; they must be given a chance to fail or succeed on their own. One should recall that Christian Democratic parties in Europe were once viewed as aliberal and intolerant organizations because of the Catholic movement from which they emerged. Catholics, like many Islamists today, rejected the notion that any spheres of life lay beyond the reach of religious regulation. Yet, over time, political inclusion produced moderation in that movement. Political Islamism, like political Catholicism before it, can be moderated by genuine democratic participation.

Notes 1 Yaroslav Trofimov, The Siege of Mecca: The 1979 Uprising at Islam’s Holiest Shrine (Anchor Books, 2008). 2 Hrair Dekmejian, Islam in Revolution: Fundamentalism in the Arab World (Syracuse University Press, 1995). 3 Nazih Ayubi, Political Islam: Religion and Politics in the Arab World (London: Routledge, 1991).

98 Mohammed M. Hafez 4 Mohammed M. Hafez, Why Muslims Rebel: Repression and Resistance in the Islamic World (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2003). 5 Quintan Wiktorowicz (ed.), Islamic Activism: A Social Movement Theory Approach (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2004); Janine A. Clark, Islam, Charity, and Activism: Middle-Class Networks and Social Welfare in Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2004). 6 Richard P. Mitchell, The Society of Muslim Brothers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969). 7 S.V.R. Nasr, Mawdudi and the Making of Islamic Revivalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996). 8 Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog, ‘Why are there so many Engineers among Islamic Radicals?’ Archives of European Sociology (2009): 201–30. 9 Gilles Kepel, Muslim Extremism in Egypt: The Prophet and Pharaoh (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1984); Emmanuel Sivan, Radical Islam: Medieval Theology and Modern Politics (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1985). 10 Mohammed M. Hafez, Suicide Bombers in Iraq: The Strategy and Ideology of Martyrdom (Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace, 2007). 11 Mohammed M. Hafez, ‘Takfir and Violence Against Muslims’, in Assaf Moghadam and Brian Fishman (eds), Fault Lines in Global Jihad: Organizational, Strategic, and Ideological Fissures (Routledge, 2011), 25–46. 12 Mohammed M. Hafez, ’The Alchemy of Martyrdom: Jihadi Salafism and debates over suicide bombings in the Muslim world’, Asian Journal of Social Science 38, 3 (2010): 362–76. 13 Mohammed Ayoob, The Many Faces of Political Islam: Religion and Politics in the Muslim World (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2008); Bashir Musa Nafi’a, The Islamists (in Arabic) (Al-Jazeera Center for Studies, 2010). 14 Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (New York: Penguin Books, 2005); Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al Qa’ida and the Road to 9/11 (New York: Knopf, 2006); Peter Bergen, The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qa’ida’s Leader (New York: The Free Press, 2006). 15 Mohammed M. Hafez, ‘Jihad after Iraq: Lessons from the Arab-Afghans’, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 32, 2 (2009): 73–94. 16 Fou’ad Ibrahim, Jihadi Salafism in Saudi Arabia (in Arabic) (Dar al-Saqi, 2009). 17 Camille Tawil, Al-Qa’ida and its Affiliates: The Story of the Arab Jihadists (in Arabic) (Dar al-Saqi, 2007). 18 Ely Karmon, Coalitions between Terrorist Organizations: Revolutionaries, Nationalists and Islamists (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2005).

Chapter 6

Arab intellectuals and authority A continuity of an implied system Hassan Nadhem

‘The ruler doesn’t want from the thinker free thinking. He wants his loyal thinking.’ Tawfiq al-Hakim, ‘Awdat al-Wa’y (The Return of Consciousness)

The modern intellectuals’ crisis has roots that lie in the past, when the pro-authority Arab intellectuals’ predecessors instilled in them the fact that power is always a prerequisite for the nation and should be divinely and earthly sustained. This has been engraved in the mindset for generations, and I would suggest that the continuity of this notion in the socio-political tradition needs to be reconsidered as a major factor in the formulation of the Arab intelligentsia. In short, I believe that the present for Arab intellectuals is a continuation of their past. This chapter will provide a synthesis of different positions of Arab intellectuals, with emphasis given to the suitability and continuity of Arab tradition in the present condition of the modern Arab intellectuals. Since the beginning of 2011, the revolutionary upheaval of the Arab peoples reflects a serious crisis in both the political and cultural realms of the Arab world. The projects of Arab intellectuals in rationalism and enlightenment have obviously failed in dealing with the sudden and dramatic transformation on the ground in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Oman and Syria. This spontaneous transformation of the Arab societies, which observers in the USA and Europe have analogized as ‘the Arab Spring’,1 declares the death of established myopic ideologies, politically and culturally, respectively. Therefore, the current situation raises significant questions about the future role of the Arab intelligentsia: What are the mechanisms through which this element has been working over the past several decades? What kind of relationships do they have with political authorities? Is their attitude anachronistic? Or are they simply faithful to inherent Arab tradition regarding the ‘culture-politics’ correlation? The factors that form the relationship between the intellectual and authority need to be further examined, because there are multiple and complex interactions that contain ramifications rooted in history, culture and modern relations of what is happening in the social body and political community. This study focuses on evaluating the presence of Arab-Islamic intellectual traditions, as they are manifest in the realm of modern Arab intellectuals. This approach helps in understanding and accommodating the confusing relationship between the Arab intellectual and authority in their moments of co-operation and antagonism. Though the modern correlation of intellectual-authority is typically conceptualized as a relationship divided along oppressed-oppressor or even opponentproponent intellectual nexus, in fact the history and culture context is subtler and more complicated. This study focuses on the implied system that formulates and limits the

100 Hassan Nadhem effectiveness of the Arab intellectuals and their (political and social) activities. It examines one aspect of the problem of Arab intellectuals with regard to their involvement with authority. It also scrutinizes an implied system that stems from the Arab tradition and governs the state-intellectual relations. The role of the modern Arab intellectuals flourishes as a conflict intensifies over a particular issue; because the intellectuals repeal their role as idea producers, they no longer think or rethink their own ideas, but receive the politically dominant discourse. Therefore, the intellectuals are incorporated into the projects sponsored by the administrative elite and become state employees who receive patronage for their services. They have a specific task to perform in accordance with the rigid instructions of the state. According to the policy of integration of the intellectual into the state, he becomes an ‘ideas keeper’, to use ‘Ali Harb’s wording,2 and not an ideas producer. This is because the prevailing authority has already generated the ideas. All the intellectual has to do is to promote, protect and sanctify these pre-existing ideas. There is an implied system that orients the acts of the Arab intellectuals in their interaction with power and society. This hypothesis explores the reasons behind the cultural crisis of Arab intellectuals and their relationship with modern states. It is an attempt to examine a crucial tradition in the power-intellectual correlation, the continuity of a traditional implied system that the establishment of an Islamic state initiated. Additionally, it is partially responsible for formulating the role and practice of the Arab intellectuals. This traditional sub-system traces back to the founding of the imperial Islamic caliphate and the establishment of the boards of administrations (dawawin). Not only does it shape the intellectual’s role, but also it has a remarkable impact on the concrete basis of the future position of the Arabs’ political, social and religious structure. Therefore, in order to determine the current concept of the role of intellectuals, it is necessary to revisit their past role in the course of Islamic tradition. Such reference, I believe, ought to be taken into account to extract the sub-system that has been flowing underneath political-cultural activities. A further examination entails that the uninterrupted presence of the culture-state relationship sub-system set up a firm foundation that could not be eliminated or even shaken by the establishment of modern states. Political oppression managed to prevent any opposition and any unified voice to act as a different thought or way of thinking. The often horrendous and violent state-oppression created a type of single-mindedness in all aspects of the system. A prime example of this is evidenced by cultural life in Iraq during the 1980s until 2003, when the faltering regime collapsed through war. Once the oppressive machine had fallen apart, the oppressors, whether they were former security officers or simply intellectuals, moved to gather its disassembled parts in a last attempt to subjugate Iraqis. However, when Coalition Forces firmly established the new political path and new Iraqi political parties began to rise, the only sanctuary for the Iraqi intelligentsia was to portray themselves as victims to gain the benefits of reconciliation in post-Saddam Iraq. Saddam Hussain enacted laws with merely a swift stroke of his pen. The objective correlative of such a disastrous way of thinking, so to speak, was the enthusiastic corroboration of the Iraqi intellectuals through a similar swift motion of a pen, not to enact new laws, but to produce a hypocritical pseudo-justification of their master’s scribbled laws. It is not an exaggeration to say that there was no awareness of the absence of a sense of responsibility among the Iraqi intellectual elite in both the academic and non-academic institutions. Very few of them had asserted that the oppressive authority of the Baath Party could

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utilize even the intellectuals’ shy repulsion of any co-operation with the regime to pulverize them. Therefore, they went into deep silence until death. This situation may be illustrated by two individual examples: ‘Ali al-Wardi (1913–95), the charismatic Iraqi sociologist and historian, and Mahmud al-Brekan (1927–2002), the well-known Basran poet.3 On the other hand, one may approach the intellectuals’ co-option collectively by examining the attitude of the Iraqi communists’ intellectuals in their struggle with the Baath Party in the 1970s. The long violent struggle between the communists and Baathists, especially the 1963 Baathist atrocities against the communists, ended in an alliance through the signing of the Nationalist Progressive Front (al-Jabhah al-Wataniyyah al-Taqaddumiyyah) on 17 July 1973. The policies of the Nationalist Front enabled the Baathists to remove the Iraqi Communist Party-Central Committee and completely destroy it as a threat to their regime. This alliance was rejected by the other communist faction, which was the Iraqi Communist Party-Central Leadership.4 Only three years later, in 1976, the Baathists initiated a wide-ranging, violent campaign against the remaining communists, which eventually dissolved the Iraqi Communist Party in subsequent years.5 The multilateral silence of the Iraqi intelligentsia created a bizarre consent towards the authoritative oppression; it was meant to be a kind of self-defence, but it was egoprotection. Iraqi intellectuals also developed a collective sense that authorial oppression of this kind was not unprecedented in previous periods. By this, they attempted to create a stronger theoretical pretext to justify their consent through the argument that their silence and co-operation were expressions of the natural human instinct for survival. In short, the co-option and coercion of Iraqi intellectuals have been the predominant characteristics in the relationship between culture and power. Nevertheless, the Iraqi literary critic and thinker Muhsin al-Musawi tends to believe that there has been and is a dialectic relationship between culture and power in Iraq.6 Although he recognizes the challenge of writing on the relationship between culture and power, al-Musawi involves history as one of the challenges that shapes the discussion along with religion, ethnicity, social classes and ideology.7 In the midst of all these challenges, the dialectic relationship between culture and power seems to be marginal and limited. In Saudi Arabia, the intellectuals have the same multilateral silence and ‘bizarre’ consent towards the oppressive authority, but it is not justified within a self-defence pretext. It actually can be explained through an implied conformity among the majority of Saudi intellectuals with the state policies and strategies. Not far from Saudi Arabia, Iraqi intellectuals’ responses, contributions, or participation in Iraq’s catastrophic wars have led to a traumatized country that could be led easily by the outmoded ideologues of those who stood on ideological pulpits wrapped in their illusions to revitalize the ugly spirit of killing. The violence of the Saddam era and the Iraqi intellectuals’ response begs the question, did they develop an eccentric indifference towards reality during the 1980s and 1990s, flagrant moral failures, or were their actions a natural response from fragile human beings? The typical question of Arabic thought dealt with the intellectual-authority correlation in terms of current ideology, politics and national interests. However, I would prefer to formulate this question in terms of an implied influence of the past tradition on contemporary intellectuals. Ultimately the crises of Arab intellectuals are at least partially rooted in the precedents of Arabic-Islamic culture. It is extremely important to understand that this link between Arab intellectuals present and past does not mean their embracement of Arab tradition and their attempts to reproduce it in the contemporary discourse, or what is known as the discourse of originality (al-asalah) in opposition to the discourse of

102 Hassan Nadhem contemporaneity (al-mu’asarah). It rather means that a certain relevant convergence has enticed modern Arab intellectuals to internalize the past mechanisms of the production of the discourse itself, even when they maintain a sustainable relationship with the concept of contemporaneity, modernization and the values of modern enlightenment. This is reflected most clearly in the nature of their relationship with authority; they more likely tend to strengthen their links with the ruling class, than develop an authentic vision that can be achieved symbolically and realistically. Worldly interests have absorbedly covered their thoughtful visions. Their predecessor, the old Arab intellectual, normally commenced his cultural life through subservience and service to the governor (al-wali), as preliminary training and preparation for his desired major step to the caliph’s court. At the caliph’s court, all performed the same function, representing the authority’s vision, whether the intellectual was a scholar, jurist, poet, writer, or singer. Similarly, the modern Arabic intellectual is keen to link his activities to the prevailing authority, voluntarily or involuntarily, and he is well-prepared to sacrifice his independence. In this essential junction, he follows the shadows of his predecessors, those who were included in the circle of the caliph’s entourage or retinue (hashiyah8), and his intimate friends (nadama), were incorporated into the space of power and appointed to the service of the ruler. Nonetheless, the few exceptions that represent the position of the past intellectuals and their independent attitudes, which opposed the power of ‘mainstream’ views, can be compared with the few exceptions of the modern Arab intellectual. The conflict between the modern and traditional intellectual as two diverse representatives of the Arab renaissance in the twentieth century deepens the Arab cultural crisis. It is another factor that unbalanced the development of the notion of the intellectual. One may recall Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937) and his note about a distinct development of the notion of the intellectual, which existed in the USA. The US intellectuals emerged within ‘the absence of traditional intellectuals’ on ‘an industrial base’.9 Neither of these two decisive elements in the formation of the intellectual’s notion exists in the context of the formation of the modern Arab intellectual. Instead, the modern Arab intellectual has witnessed a struggle between traditionalists and modernists. Fatimah al-Muhsin’s Tamath-thulat al-Nahdhah fi Thaqafat al-’Iraq al-Hadith (The Representatives of Renaissance in the Culture of Modern Iraq) emphasizes the fact that the culture of the so-called ‘Iraqi renaissance’ was established on a polarization between the elements of traditional tendency and elements of modernization. The ideas of modernization and progressiveness had influenced a wide range of writers and intellectuals, including the clergy. The interference between the traditionalist and modernist elements emerged within the educated class as a whole, and within the active individual, who commands the promotion and propagation of the new ideas and values.10 Let us examine another aspect of this question and contemplate the attitude of the esteemed Egyptian intellectual and writer Tawfiq al-Hakim. Al-Hakim harshly criticized and degraded King Faruq (1920–65). Although he was part of the new power structure following the military coup in 1952, he eventually held the same negative feelings toward the revolutionary leader Gen. Gamal Abd al-Nasir (Nasser). Al-Hakim openly criticized King Faruq’s politics and barefacedly degraded him by describing his ‘filthy morals and his sagging body like a pig’.11 However, al-Hakim’s book, ‘Awdat al-Wa’y (The Return of Consciousness), introduced his late impressions and insights, 20 years after the 1952 revolution. It presents the insights of a man who has fully contemplated

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the tragic consequences of that military coup. At first, al-Hakim was ‘fascinated’ by the military, but later he realized that he did not pay attention to the loss of ‘constitutional life’,12 which King Faruq had violated first, but which was entirely crushed under the military coup. Al-Hakim described Gen. Nasser 20 years later: ‘He was solely and innately giving speeches for long hours making us heroes under his leadership, while superpowers around us appear dwarfs. We used to applaud with admiration and pride. And when he vehemently said to a powerful state that [he] has atomic bombs: “If they are not satisfied with our actions, let them drink from the sea”, we were filled with pride.’13 The vital attitude of the intellectual here was late by 20 years. During these years, everything was collapsing before the intellectuals’ eyes, but they were deceived by the varnish of a ‘revolution’. However, al-Hakim’s book had set the stage impressively for significant revelations about rethinking the intellectuals’ convictions. Another example of an Iraqi poet, quite exemplary in this context, is Muhammad Mahdi al-Jawahiri (1900–97). Al-Jawahiri is the most renowned poet in Iraq’s modern era; he was blessed, or cursed, to have lived a prolonged life and witness a century of Iraqi’s modern history. He started his work with King Faisal’s (1883–1933) royal court and was occupied by Iraq and Arab issues for an entire career. In his Thikrayati (My Memoirs), al-Jawahiri declared his remorse for rejecting the position of Representative in the Iraqi Parliament during the monarchy. He obviously had reservations about the traditional Arab attitude in general and Iraqi society’s attitude in particular, towards intellectuals serving in the government. For society, al-Jawahiri emphasizes, cannot accept the fact that one can be simultaneously with the rulers and the people.14 For the past six decades, successive political regimes in Arab countries have imposed centralized cultural and educational systems based on promoting mainstream ideologies. Apart from some isolated incidents, the Arab intelligentsia have not had contentious confrontations that have made any change to the furious governmental attempts to reshape culture according to specific ideologies. Theoretically speaking, each of these Arab regimes, particularly the republican regimes, proclaimed itself an exclusive legitimate authority. Each further claimed that they could protect the interests of the Arab nation, achieve ‘glorious goals’, and thereby restore the glorified past of the Arabs. However, in practice, none has ever been able to create a mutual understanding of central issues that could lead to a possible ‘road map’ for navigating their subsequent crises. In the midst of the Arab regimes’ debates, the intellectuals claimed for themselves the exclusive and legitimate authority to protect the interests of the Arab nation. Naturally, none has ever been able to do so. The intellectual-power relation has created an endless stream of disagreement and contention ranging from stern condemnation to killing, to the detriment of both, along with society as a whole. One example can be found in the idealism of ‘Ali Harb’s criticism of the intellectual, a criticism that gains a large portion of its legitimacy due to the ill-conceived intellectual-power theorization. He assigns the same role that is played by power to the intellectual. While this theory aggravated the understanding of the intellectual’s role and made it more ambiguous, it may portray ‘Ali Harb as a power-support thinker. It can also be understood as a reaction to the state policies and programmes reshaping culture in conformity with mainstream ideologues. Thus, some intellectuals developed an approach that assumed cultural power in an attempt to define their own exclusive share of authority. ‘Ali Harb wages this war, not against the state authority, as one might think, but against the intellectuals and their projects and proclamations. First of all, he connects the

104 Hassan Nadhem rise of the profession of the intellectual in the modern Arab world with the predominance of the ‘struggle mentality’ (nidhal) that has been embraced by those who work in cultural fields.15 Then, he declares the major failure of Arab culture to develop its own self-criticism and the ‘end’ of the intellectual. A new task of intellectuals, ‘Ali Harb believes, is to reshape their role and relationship to the core values, the values of replacement of freedom and justice, and their relationship to the political and social environment.16 The expansion of the concept of the intellectual has always been a task in itself. Gramsci expands the notion of intellectual as he redefines the term and calls for an ‘organic intellectual’, who is engaged in reality to change it. He raises the question, ‘What are the utmost limits of the meaning of the term “intellectual”?’17 Gramsci acknowledges that no single criterion can set limits for the intellectuals’ activities. In fact, he incorporates intellectuals’ activities into the activities of social groups. Therefore, he emphasizes the fact that the intellectuals’ activities are located within a system of relationships, which reflects the intrinsic nature of intellectuals’ activities. Gramsci states: The intellectuals have a function in the ‘hegemony’ that is exercised throughout society by the dominant group and in the ‘domination’ over society that is embodied by the state, and this function is precisely ‘organizational’ or connective. The intellectuals have no function of organizing the social hegemony of a group and that group’s domination of the state.18 This kind of intellectual should be very interested in public relations, public activities and public domination. On the contrary, Julien Benda (1867–1956) designates a specific meaning to the term ‘the clerks’ as a disinterested, unbiased intellectual who works without personal interest; a utopian intellectual who is, writes Benda, ‘being set apart, someone able to speak the truth to power, a crusty, eloquent, fantastically courageous, and angry individual for whom no worldly power is too big and imposing to be criticized and pointedly taken to task’.19 Benda’s term ‘the clerks’ meant: all those whose activity essentially is not the pursuit of the practical aims, all those who seek their joy in the practice of an art or a science or metaphysical speculation, in short in the possession of non-material advantage, and hence in a certain manner say: ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’20 However, Benda notices that the European clerks, at the end of the nineteenth century, immersed themselves in politics and ‘began to play the game of political passions’.21 His attitude involves the dimension of morality as this essential change of intellectual function turned them into stimulators of ‘the realism of the people’ rather than checking on it. Overall, Benda’s mode of intellectual emanates from his deep condemnation of wars and injustice, to which the intellectuals contributed—especially World War I and the well-known Dreyfus Affair. However, if the intellectual is neither an ‘organic’ nor a ‘master of truth’ (i.e. a consciousness or conscience, a Marxist who is aligned with universal missions), then Michel Foucault calls for another mode of intellectual: a ‘specific intellectual’ in the face of a ‘universal intellectual’.22 The specific intellectual is situated within certain sectors that represent his work or environment, such as the university, the laboratory, hospital, etc. So this mode of intellectual encounters different problems and

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questions that are not universal, but specific. Hence, the intellectual as a writer is questioned or even voided in this context, because specific intellectuals are now doctors, psychiatrists, magistrates, social workers, sociologists, and so on. Foucault’s concept can be partially combined with Gramsci’s argument, because the ‘specific intellectual’ is capable of utilizing his specialty in the public domain. Edward Said tried to create a conceptualized intellectual that is located among the intellectuals of Gramsci, Benda and Foucault (i.e. not organic, neither utopian nor specific, but independent). He characterized the intellectual as an ‘exile and marginal, as amateur, and as the author of a language that tries to speak the truth to power’.23 Nonetheless, Said’s intellectual can be identified as Russell Jacoby’s ‘public intellectual’, who contributes to open discussion.24 Said combines the intellectual as a member of academe and the intellectual as amateur, as in Russell Jacoby’s public intellectual, especially when the latter characterizes the public intellectual as ‘an incorrigibly independent soul answering to no one’.25 While Fawzi Karim found in Benda’s book a discovery26 and a foundation to support his sceptical attitude towards Arab intellectuals and their passions and positions, ‘Ali Harb switched the debate about the state-intellectual relationship. The latter tried to go beyond the dichotomy of intellectual and authority, because it is no longer viable, and it obliterates his objective in questioning the intellectual himself. Indeed, his questioning is somehow a self-criticism that is constituted by an intellectual and addressed to intellectuals. It is more connected to the intellectuals’ predicament than to their engagement with authority. Nevertheless, Fawzi Karim also found in Benda’s analysis of the political passions of intellectuals a solid ground to express his rejection of the use of passions that stem from ideologies or political parties. He considered the use of political passions and party affiliation as a ‘European sin’ that also has ‘genuine and deep roots in Arab soil’.27 Since then Karim has been meticulously preoccupied by the universal over the partial and by the spiritual over the practical, opining that the Arab intellectual resembles the European intellectual characterized by Benda (i.e. they betray their role as they glorify the partial over the universal and the practical over the spiritual).28 ‘Ali Harb is strongly convinced about the intellectuals’ use of ‘symbolic violence’ to impose their projects. One may argue that it is not persuasive to include the intellectuals’ activities, as such, within the physical coercive realm of political activities. However, he initiated a debate of this magnitude based on myopic, one-sided observation. Indeed, there has been a failure to observe the manifest distinction between physical and symbolic coercion. By the wording of ‘symbolic violence’, Harb means the violent, written ideas that reflect the violence of the intellectual’s entire project. Accordingly, ‘Ali Harb might be seen as a tacit defender of political authority. Under the ideal of defending human rights, Harb argues that intellectuals establish their own authority over the people. For him, the authority’s unequivocal coercion is imposed over the populace, including the intellectuals, whereas the intellectuals’ resentment is expressed by an equivocal coercion (i.e. by condemning injustice and demanding liberty). The intellectuals and authority perceive a competition over manipulating the populace, as a property that could be annexed to their powers. The populace becomes a battlefield where the two rivals wage their wars in the name of the people’s interest, each claiming to have no ambitions but to take care of the people. However, the conflict will definitely be less favourable when their interests do not coincide, the tragic history of the state-intellectual correlations lead us to firm predictions that they would both use violence.

106 Hassan Nadhem It is not uncommon to say that authority uses violence against the intellectual who rejects its policies or has misgivings about its legitimacy. However, it is uncommon to say that the intellectual also uses violence against the authority. The violence of the intellectual is symbolic that tries to create a complete break with the ideological constraints. This intellectual practised violence is incorporated in the struggle for free thinking that is advocated by the intellectual himself. However, ‘Ali Harb rethinks this symbolic violence and concludes that it is, in fact, a kind of intellectual tyranny in comparison to political tyranny, or two sides of the same coin. They are in actuality the tyranny of the intellectual and the tyranny of the politician.29 Parallel to the active intellectual, there is the reclusive intellectual who turns away, as much as he can, from both unjust power and the society of others, living in solitude. This kind of intellectual co-exists with tyranny by voluntarily disabling the effectiveness of his role. The reclusive and solitary intellectual attempts to completely withdraw, because repressive power attempts to shape culture according to its ideologies. The repressive power wants ultimately to shape public opinion within a specific industry, and prevent any other shaping that contradicts it. The first possible source to influence public opinion and formulate culture is the intellectual. Thus, the effectiveness of the intellectual is either paralysed or deactivated, if he chooses to encounter power violently. However, power mostly neglects those intellectuals who voluntarily choose to remain silent and solitary; thus, they are safe from harm. Although it seems superficially different, the modern cultural system appears to be the same as the traditional one. Arab intellectuals represent, more or less, a continuation of that traditional system that accompanied the formation of Arab and Muslim civilization, when intellectuals, men of letters, artists, thinkers, or ashab al-qalam (Arabic meaning, literally, the pen holders, of littérateurs), propagated the ruling ideas and earned privileges in return. This aspect of the problem of the modern intellectual-authority relationship is contingent on an inability of modern intellectuals to rethink the presuppositions of their predecessors about Islamic culture, history and tradition. They are not immune to the same old reasoning illness that had occurred in the past. Similarly, modern intellectuals either build projects under the supervision of the state ideology or construe their preconceived projects. In his Al-Muthaqqafun al-’Arab wa al-Turath: Al-Tahlil al-Nafsi li ‘Usab Jama’i (Arab Intellectuals and Tradition: Psychoanalysis of a Collective Neurosis), Georges Tarabichi (1939–) diagnosed this mysterious chronic malady when he described the defection of Arab intellectual regression to their tradition as collective neurosis, resulting from mass frustration.30 However, this ‘diagnosis’, due to its psychoanalytical orientation, does not interpret the continuity of traditional conventions in the modern cultural environment of Arab intellectuals. I believe that the best interpretation may not be psychological, but epistemological. The continuity of traditional thinking in the modern era and the implied presence of traditional reasoning not only hinder Arab intellectuals from ‘diagnosing’ the problems, but also from finding a remedy. Since the emergence of the Islamic state was accompanied by the era of tadwin, the duties of the intellectual class had been mapped out by the state as a service of consultation. These duties could have been drastically changed, if the modern Arab states did not abort the birth of the secular state in the age of colonialism. Similarly, the birth of secular culture was aborted and eventually connected to authority over society, to religion over secularism, and finally to traditionalism over rationalism. In such circumstances

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neither Ernst Gellner’s conclusion that the ‘intellectual vocation’ does not exist, nor Edward Said’s characterization of the intellectual ‘as exile and marginal, as amateur, and as the author of a language that tries to speak the truth to power’,31 can describe the Arab intellectual’s inextricable position. This is because they do have functions for which they have been paid, and they are not amateur—they are rather promoters of power. Each intellectual unconsciously absorbs the Arab ancient tradition of being subjugated to certain power and abandoning free thinking. They serve power’s cause explicitly and implicitly, responding to an inherent tendency in their tradition. Arab intellectuals have been prone and unconsciously faithful to the traditional vocation of ancient Arab court writers. In other words, they continue to provide advisory services to the governor and promote his ideas or even justify his mistakes and crimes. It seems that the birth of the modern state did not affect the function or activities of the intellectual. Utilizing communication technologies and the media remained in the hands of the state. We have models of such modern states, such as Egypt commanded by Nasser during 1952–70 and his successors, Iraq under the Baath party during 1968–2003, and Syria since 1963. These countries, which have been reshaped by military coups, have contained the intellectuals who have forcibly or voluntarily co-opted within grand projects to formulate a systematic culture according to specific methodology and ideology. Of course, there is a great deal of similarity between these Arab republic states and some Arab kingdoms and emirates, Saudi Arabia in particular. In principle, the more political, or even military, conflicts intensified over particular issues (national and trans-national), the more the role of Arab intellectuals grows and flourishes. This notion can be validated by the fact that this kind of intelligentsia does not necessarily assume the role of leading the community, but has been led by the state ideology becoming a member in the ideological state apparatus. Once the state ideology absorbs the intelligentsia in the space of authority, the co-option reaches its culmination. The full co-option of intelligentsia in the game of authority results in an indispensible consequence: the loss of liberty of reason. The intellectuals will not be free and their research is subjected to the major ideological market: the state ideology. Those products definitely comply with the state specifications and eventually will be commoditized. For authority, the ideological conformity is a condition where the state can be strengthened by the writers, but for the writers, the same ideological conformity is a condition where independent thinking is extremely violated, the aura of the tamed writer is sadly vanished, and free voices are voluntarily muffled. The intellectuals have lost their own way of thinking and have merged with the mentality of mainstream thinking. By incorporating them into ideological projects, or commoditized products sponsored by the ideological power, the intellectuals have been disconcertedly transformed into state employees with specific tasks to perform in accordance with the instructions of the state and in conformity with its ideology. In our modern times, and due to the domination of Western civilization, Arab culture has witnessed an historical moment when a few Arab intellectuals could practise free thinking and relatively break with the authority’s mainstream ideology. In particular, these few could oppose rigorous religious thought and politicized religion. Why, though, did these attempts by Arab intellectuals fail to form a new cultural environment in the Arab world? One aspect of this dilemma lies, I believe, in the persistence of the traditional intellectual-authority correlation (i.e. old Arab intellectuals had been prone to

108 Hassan Nadhem adopt positions of authority, rather than opposing them, and this phenomenon can still be seen in the case of modern Arab intellectuals). According to the integration policy of the state regarding the role of the intellectual, they systematically become ‘protectors of ideas’, to use ‘Ali Harb’s expression,32 and not producers of ideas. The ideas pre-exist and the only viable mission for the intellectuals is to protect and revere them, or even justify political blunders and atrocities. However, what is the price the intellectuals pay for the sacrifice of their liberty of thinking and commoditization of their research ‘labour’? The state-institutionalized intellectuals have been the rigid cultural arms of authority to direct and redirect the mainstream of culture in only one state-controlled direction. The state authority wants to gain legitimacy through the intellectuals, and intellectuals want to gain acceptability for their ideas through the state intellectual pseudo-legitimacy. The modern Arab intellectual is associated with authority through its educational institutions and media apparatus; this is the same position as their predecessor, the Arab intellectual who emerged in the purview of the Arab-Islamic state where the mosques and other educational institutions were controlled by the state. As it was rare for the state-dominated culture to establish independent schools and seminaries, the modern, state-dominated culture did not succeed in establishing independent research centres and cultural institutions. Therefore, modern research centres and cultural institutions are now an ‘objective correlative’ for the mosques during the Islamic Arab state (especially the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties), in that the societal structures were entirely under the supervision of the state. A modern study that has dealt with this question is Nadia Ramsis Farah’s ‘Intellectual, State, and Civil Society’. She studied the impact of civil society in reshaping the relationship between intellectuals and authority in the modern Arab world. Normally, Arab civil society was sometimes negative, or even hostile in its manner of forming this relationship.33 The description of civil society’s role in the establishment of an intellectual relationship with authority is still gaining credibility in the Arab intellectual environment. In other words, civil society could be possibly adapted by the state to create consistency with its objectives; here civil society may indirectly intimidate intellectuals on behalf of the state, as is happening now in Iraq. For instance, the politicization of religion in Iraq has tremendously motivated Iraqi society to restrain freedom of expression, thereby abandoning the constitution they had created and approved. Consequently, intellectuals who fear society cannot but submit to authority. This cunning and feasible stratagem, of which we find examples in countries such as Iraq and Saudi Arabia, in particular, where the community is well prepared violently to apply the mainstream views (often politicized religious views), provides a contrary image of the role of intellectuals as drawn by Gramsci. Specifically, this is a prime negation of his concept of the Arab intelligentsia of the ‘organic intellectual’ as a role that leads to an organization of social domination and state control through civil society and political community.34 The intellectual provides advisory services to the politician, not only by promoting the latter’s ideas, but by justifying his actions and crimes as well. The birth of the modern state has not influenced this major function of the intellectual, as his activities and access to modern technology and the media remain under the supervision of the state. The model of some modern Arab states such as Egypt, Iraq and Syria, which are controlled by military regimes, co-opted and tamed the intellectuals who had to join the state forcibly or voluntarily. It is therefore not a fully persuasive argument that ‘Ali Harb uses to link

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the flourishing of the profession of the intellectual in the Arab world with the domination of ‘struggle’ (nidha) over the cultural arena and those who are related to the issues of thought and knowledge.35 ‘Ali Harb tried to explain the failure of Arab culture and called for criticism addressed at the intellectual and his elitism; indeed, he called for an ‘end’ to the intellectual and suggested the creation of a new task that reshapes his role and his relationship with the fundamental values; values of the replacement of freedom and justice, and his relationship with the political and social milieu.36 I believe that the main argument here is about the historical roots of the prolonged relationship between intellectuals and authorities since the Umayyad (40–132 AH/662–750 CE) and Abbasid states (132–656 AH/662–1258 CE). The question is as follows: ‘To what extent can the intellectual change his status from being a proponent of the state into an opponent of the state, thereby eliminating the patronage model?’ This question was raised in the context of Western culture during the twelfth century (the Middle Ages), when intellectuals were directed by the ideology of the Church. The response to this question is apparently associated with the internal movement of the West and external influence. What achieved this conversion is ultimately the primary knitting of the Christian West with the bright side of Muslim Arab thought, especially when Averroes’s books were translated into Latin and so-called ‘Latin Averroism’ influenced scholars in Medieval Europe. Latin Averroism, according to Alain de Libera, separated religion from philosophy. It converted twelfth- and thirteenth-century European philosophers from being ‘organic intellectuals’ who cultivated their activities in the authority space, providing universities with scholars, into philosophers who developed their own discourse and opposed the authority of the Church, and eventually developed a counter-hegemony.37 In his work on the origins of the emergence of intellectuals, Muhammad ‘Abid al-Jabiri (1936–2010) maintains that the European intellectuals in the Middle Ages could not have achieved their radical change without Averroism,38 but al-Jabiri’s conclusion was based on the origins of Islamic and European culture. However, my research focuses on those origins of Muslim-Arab culture that contributed to the establishment of a negative concept within which intellectuals work with the authority as promoters and supporters. I believe that what mentally motivates modern Arab intellectuals in their attitudes and projects is their past; the past that permeates the Arab modern world. Therefore, instead of being vehemently prone to sustain the self-assertiveness of Arabs by defending their contribution to the emergence of a new generation of European intellectuals, as al-Jabiri did, I tend to address this imbalance by disclosing this unseen thread that links our modern intellectual with his predecessors. Ultimately, both play the traditional destructive role in dealing with authority as supporters and justifiers. Al-Jabiri realized that a referential absence needs to be filled when rethinking the origins of Arab intellectuals in the Arab tradition, because he believes that the modern intellectual practises thinking based on a previous intellectual. This attempt moved him to pose the question, ‘who is the intellectual?’ because he wants first to specify who the intellectual is among writers, philosophers, scientists, scholars, poets, critics, historians, commentators, jurists and mystics. In order to determine the concept of the traditional Arab intellectual, al-Jabiri adapted the European concept of the intellectual to the Arab-Islamic civilization.39 It seems that the current problematic position of the Arab intellectual is that modern Arab culture has not been able to create an institutional and legal basis for intellectual activity, so that intellectuals can practise their work in an atmosphere of freedom of

110 Hassan Nadhem expression, which is a necessary condition for free thinking. The totalitarian regimes, one-party states, tyranny, and the absence of cultural and legal institutions, culturally have made the implied system that has been embedded within Arab culture an appropriate paradigm to the deteriorating situation of Arab politics, and unconsciously adopted by Arab intellectuals.

Notes 1 An analogy with ‘Prague Spring’ in Czechoslovakia in 1968 may be viable and legitimate. However, while the ‘Prague Spring’ attempted a reformation and redefinition of state ideology (i.e. socialism out of Stalinism) by both intellectuals and elites rather than a rejection of it, the Arab publics are rejecting, violently in some cases, existing authority and are not unified in their ideology; some have none, some advocate liberal democracy, some are Islamists, etc. 2 ‘Ali Harb, Awham al-Nukhmah aw Naqd al-Muthaqqaf (Illusions of the Elite or the Criticism of the Intellectual) (Beirut: Arabic Cultural Center, 1998), 11. 3 ‘Ali al-Wardi (1913–95) was the most popular Iraqi sociologist and historian, and the founder of Iraqi sociology. He had written many books on the history of the Iraqi people, including his sixvolume masterpiece, Lamahat Ijtima’iyyah min Tarikh al-’Iraq al-Hadith (Sociological Glimpses from Iraqi Modern History). Mahmud al-Brekan (1927–2002), was born in al-Basrah, southern Iraq, and tragically killed in his Basran home in 2002 by a thief. He was a highly regarded and acclaimed poet for his contribution to modern Arab poetry as one of the pioneers of the free verse movement that had thrived in the 1950s. 4 See Tareq Ismael, The Rise and Fall of the Communist Party of Iraq (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 173. 5 See Ismael, 2008, 181–2. 6 Muhsin al-Musawi, Reading Iraq: Culture and Power in Conflict (New York: I.B. Tauris, 2006), 143. 7 See al-Musawi, 2006, 37. 8 It is interesting to note that one of the meanings of hashiyah is ‘a margin’. 9 See Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks, ed. and trans. by Joseph A. Buttigieg (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), vol. II, 206. 10 Fatimah al-Muhsin, Tamath-thulat al-Nahdhah fi Thaqafat al-’Iraq al-Hadith (The Representatives of Renaissance in the Culture of Modern Iraq) (Beirut: al-Kamel Publishing, 2010), 56. 11 Tawfiq al-Hakim, ‘Awdat al-Wa’y (The Return of Consciousness) (Cairo: Al-Shuruq Publishing, 2006), 13. 12 al-Hakim, 21. 13 al-Hakim, 37. 14 Muhammad Mahdi al-Jawahiri, Thikrayati (My Memoirs) (Damascus: Al-Rafidayn Publishing, 1988), vol. I, 192–4. 15 ‘Ali Harb, 1998, 10. 16 ‘Ali Harb, 1998, 14. 17 Gramsci, 1996, vol. II, 200. 18 Gramsci, 1996, vol. II, 200–1. 19 Edward Said, Representations of the Intellectuals (The 1993 Reith Lectures) (New York: Vintage Books, 1996), 8. 20 Julien Benda, The Betrayal of the Intellectuals (La Trahison des Clercs), trans. Richard Aldington (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1955), 30. 21 Benda, 1955, 31. 22 See Michel Foucault, Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972–1977, ed. Colin Gordon, trans. Colin Gordon, Leo Marshall, John Mepham, Kate Soper (New York: Pantheon Books, 1980), 126. 23 Said, 1996, xvi. 24 See Russell Jacoby, The Last Intellectuals: American Culture in the Age of Academe (New York: Basic Books, 1987), 221. 25 Jacoby, 1987, 235.

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26 See Fawzi Karim, Tahafut al-Sittiniyyin: Ahwa’ al-Muthaqqaf wa Makhatir al-Fi’l al-Siyasi (Breakdown of Generation of the Sixties: Passions of the Intellectuals and the Risks of Political Action) (Damascus: al-Mada Publishing, 2006), 60. 27 See Karim, 2006, 66. 28 See Karim, 2006, 59. 29 See ‘Ali Harb, 1998, 56–60. 30 Georges Tarabichi, Al-Muthaqqafun al-’Arab wa al-Turath: Al-Tahlil al-Nafsi li ‘Usab Jama’i (Arab Intellectuals and Tradition: Psychoanalysis of a Collective Neurosis) (UK: Rayyes Books, 1991), 19ff. 31 Said, 1996, xvi. 32 ‘Ali Harb, 1998, 11. 33 See Nadia Ramsis Farah, ‘Intellectual, State, and Civil Society’, in Gramsci and Civil Society Questions (Damascus: Kan’an Publishing, 1990), 318–32. 34 See Gramsci, 1996, vol. II, 201. 35 ‘Ali Harb, 1998, 10. 36 ‘Ali Harb, 1998, 14. 37 See Muhammad ‘Abid al-Jabiri, Al-Muthaqqfun al-’Arab wa al-Turat: Mihnat Ibn Hanbal wa Nakbat Ibn Rushd (Intellectuals in Arabic civilization: Ibn Hanbal’s Ordeal and Ibn Rushd’s Catastrophe) (Beirut: Center for Arab Unity Studies, 2000), 2nd edn, 21–30. 38 See al-Jabiri, 2000, 33. 39 See al-Jabiri, 2000, 7–10.

Chapter 7

The prospects for democratization in the Middle East Heather S. Gregg

The 2010–11 popular uprisings in the Middle East took nearly everyone by surprise. Sparked on 17 December 2010 by the self-immolation of Muhammad Bouazizi following the confiscation of his produce stand, a massive Tunisian uprising succeeded in deposing President Ben Ali, who had ruled the country for 24 years. What became known as the Jasmine Revolution, Tunisia’s revolt ignited similar protests throughout the region. In Egypt, peaceful mass protests forced the resignation of the country’s 30-year dictator, Hosni Mubarak, and prompted the demand for free and fair elections to choose a new leader and government. Similar protests erupted in Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Libya and, briefly, Saudi Arabia and Oman, calling for the end of existing regimes, new leadership, better economic opportunities and greater freedoms. However, revolution and democracy is not the same thing. Moreover, elections alone do not make a country democratic; rather, a flourishing civil society and democratic political culture are necessary for citizens to understand their rights and responsibilities and hold leadership accountable. Transitioning from dictators to democracy, therefore, requires more than just revolution and elections; it is a process that requires time, iterations of elections, and education of the population. This chapter considers the prospects for democratization in the Middle East and North Africa. The chapter begins by offering a working definition of democracy. It then focuses on three sets of indicators for democratic transition: the creation of elected bodies, such as legislatures and councils; the development of civil society and political culture; and the presence of Islamic organizations and their effects on democratic trends. Overall, the countries showing some of the most positive moves towards democracy are Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), countries for which the gradual adoption of democratic trends, civil society and political culture, coupled with economic prosperity, may allow for democratic consolidation over time. Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Syria, by contrast, lack many of the essential norms and institutions that will allow for a smooth transition to democracy.

Defining democracy In order to better understand the prospects of democratization in the Middle East, it is essential to create a working definition of the term, including both its institutional and normative aspects. Several definitions of democracy exist, with little consensus on the details. One commonly cited definition comes from Larry Diamond, Juan J. Linz and Seymour Martin Lipset, who describe democracy as ‘… a political system, separate

Prospects for democratization


and apart from the economic and social systems to which it is joined’, meeting three conditions: competitive, free and fair elections between multiple parties; highly inclusive of the population and the right of all adults to vote; and a meaningful level of civil and political liberties including freedom of the press, speech and assembly. In addition to these criteria, they add a fourth condition, ‘the notion that rulers will be held accountable for their actions in the public realm by citizens … ’1 Another author divides democracy into four realms: political democracy, which includes elements such as popular sovereignty, suffrage and rule of law; economic democracy, which concerns property rights, competition and free markets; social democracy, which offers services for the elderly, the infirm, children, women and minorities; and cultural democracy, which enshrines universal education, freedom of speech, press rights and freedom of identity.2 These definitions demonstrate that democracy is more than just these procedural and structural arrangements; healthy democracies also have norms and values that undergird the system and give it validity. This distinction between democracy’s structural arrangements and its values has been described as ‘political democratization’ on the one hand—the right of citizens to select their leaders and participate in their country’s political destiny—and ‘political liberalization’ on the other, which is the right of citizens ‘to engage in free political discourse and to freely organize in pursuit of common interests’.3 Similarly, Fareed Zakaria distinguishes between what he calls ‘liberal democracy’—democracy with the norms and values that undergird it; and ‘illiberal democracy’—democratic processes, such as voting, but without the liberal values that give them legitimacy.4 Identifying and measuring the structure and procedures of democracy is relatively clear: the division of authority (such as separate executive, legislative and judicial branches), checks and balances on that authority, rotation of leadership, universal suffrage, free and fair elections, the presence of oppositional voices in the government, and political parties. Identifying and measuring necessary democratic values is less clear. Democratic values should include, first and foremost, the right of all citizens to choose the leaders of their government. Liberal economic values also tend to accompany norms surrounding democracies, including open markets, private enterprise and economic competition. In addition, freedom of press, assembly and speech are common values surrounding democracy. Another democratic norm is for oppositional individuals and groups to work through the political system for change instead of attempting to violently overthrow the government. Finally, the US model of democracy has an acute separation of church and state, which is one of its core principles; however, it is unclear if this is a necessary condition for democracies to flourish. Some of these values are essential for a healthy democracy, while others may not be. For example, the right of citizens to elect their government is an inseparable value of democracy; it is its very raison d’être. However, does this value automatically preclude the presence of a king or tribal leader within the political system? What if it is the will of the people to have such a leader play a role in the government? Likewise, does a political system have to be secular in order to be recognized as a democracy? What if it is the will of the people in a country to have religious political parties within their system? While this would surely clash with the US model of liberal democracy, it may be a value that is not essential to a healthy functioning democratic government and society. Also important to the discussion on democratic structures and democratic values is the process through which non-democracies make the transition to democratic governments.

114 Heather S. Gregg The edited volume Democratization in the Middle East describes democratization as a process of transitioning from less accountable governments and less organized populations to ones in which citizens can articulate and assert their needs in the political realm and hold governments accountable for their actions.5 Some scholars divide this process into two phases: democratic transition and democratic consolidation.6 Transition to democracy includes the adoption of democratic-like practices such as holding elections for provincial and federal governments; the creation of constitutions that enshrine democratic principles such as freedom of assembly, speech and the media; the separation of powers in the government; and a military that is run by and obedient to civilian leadership.7 Democratic consolidation involves the internalization and routinization of democratic practices and procedures in a given country so that it becomes ‘the only game in town’, the one legitimate framework for seeking and exercising political power’.8 Furthermore, democratic consolidation is complete: only when the freely elected government has full authority to generate new policies, and thus when the executive, legislative, and judicial powers generated by the new democracy are not constrained or compelled by law to share power with other actors, such as the military.9 Democratic consolidation, therefore, concerns the internalization of norms and practices associated with democracy, so much so that a slide back to an undemocratic government or the intrusion of the military into the government’s domain would be unthinkable. Given this distinction between democratic transition and consolidation, the 2011 revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, while succeeding in ousting their dictators, did not embody the underpinnings of democratization. The protests were peaceful and involved large segments of the population, which have the murmurs of democratic ideals, but the practices and norms of democracy have yet to be realized in either country. This is a process that will require time, iterations of elections, and education. It is also worth noting that, according to Mansfield and Snyder, countries undergoing the transition to a democratic system are two-thirds more likely to go to war—either domestically or internationally—than countries not experiencing any change in their political system, including authoritarian regimes.10 Therefore, if the USA is committed to spreading democracy throughout the Middle East, this foreign policy aim could likely result in violent instability in the short term. Finally, the spread of democracy around the globe has demonstrated that the concept can be interpreted and applied by different cultures to fit a nation’s social and political aspirations. One study on democratization in the Middle East asserts: ‘ … it is important not to presume that all democracy must necessarily follow a Western liberal democratic model. Whenever and wherever it operates, democracy is fundamentally shaped by the historical and cultural context out of which it emerges.’11

Elected bodies and popular participation in politics The Middle East and North Africa currently have several types of government, including monarchies, republics and one Islamic republic (Iran). These different political systems have undergone some degree of democratic transition in the past 30 years; this section outlines two trends in particular: the creation of elected bodies, and the degree of

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popular participation in politics, including suffrage, elections, the inclusion of oppositional voices in the government, and the presence of political parties. Monarchies and ruling families Currently, several countries in the Middle East and North Africa have a king or an emir as their head of state and government, including Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Oman and Kuwait. All of these leaders inherit their positions. However, within these states, there is considerable diversity in the degree of popular participation in politics. Overall, some of the most promising trends towards democratic transition are occurring within monarchies. Only Saudi Arabia can be described as an absolute monarchy with little to no division of authority in the government and virtually no opportunity for popular participation in politics. The king appoints his cabinet, the Council of Ministers, which includes many from the royal family and the members of the Majlis al-Shura, or Consultative Council, who hold their seats for four-year terms. The Judicial branch is the Supreme Council of Justice, which upholds Shari’a law. In 2005 elections were held for municipal governments, but only men were allowed to vote; elections have not yet occurred at the federal level.12 Aside from Saudi Arabia, most monarchies allow some popular participation in politics— particularly through the election of some sort of legislature or advisory committee to the government—but there is minimal competition and political parties are not allowed. For example, in 2006 the UAE held its first parliamentary elections to select half of the 80 seats in the Federal National Council. Rulers from each of the emirates selected voters to participate in elections, including women. In addition, one woman was selected by the emirs in the non-competitive seats.13 In 1996 Sultan Qaboos of Oman issued a decree that, among other things, created a bicameral legislature consisting of an upper chamber (Majlis al-Dawla), which has 48 seats appointed by the sultan, and a lower chamber (Majlis al-Shura), which had limited elections in 2000, 2003 and 2007. In addition to creating the lower chamber, the 1996 decree also began the process of ensuring individual liberties of citizens in Oman, including steps to create a civil court system in the country with non-Islamic judges.14 Following Tunisia’s 2011 Jasmine Revolution, protests erupted in Oman, but concessions from the government quelled the unrest.15 Qatar, Bahrain and Morocco also have made steps towards democracy through the creation of elected councils. Prior to 1999, Qatar had a minimal division of authority within its political system and no opportunities for popular participation. The executive branch, run by Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, is aided by a 35-seat advisory council (Majlis al-Shura), which is currently appointed by the executive branch, and by a 29-member Central Municipal Council, which aims to improve municipal services to the population. In 1999 popular elections were held for the Council, and again in 2003 and 2007. Also in 2003, Qataris approved a new constitution by a vote of 96.6 per cent.16 Bahrain has also taken steps towards popular participation in political life. Following the ascendancy of Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, in 1999, the king created a bicameral legislature, including a 40-member elected House of Deputies, and an independent judiciary. In October 2003 Bahrain held its first elections since 1973, including women in the process. The country has since held elections in 2006 and 2010. Although political parties are

116 Heather S. Gregg illegal in Bahrain, the elections did place oppositional voices in the government including Islamists and Shi’a.17 However, persisting tensions between the ruling Sunni minority and the country’s Shi’a majority continue to cause unrest in the region. Following Tunisia’s 2011 Jasmine Revolution, Shi’a-led mass protests in the kingdom demanded greater political representation. Bahrain called on Saudi troops and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries to help put down the uprising.18 Morocco has also experienced greater political participation in recent decades. After King Muhammad VI’s ascendancy to the throne in 1999, he called for general elections to the parliament’s 325-seat lower house in 2002 and 2007. Somewhat unique to monarchies, Morocco allows parties to run in elections and has reserved 30 seats for female MPs. King Muhammad has also taken steps to reform Morocco’s Shari’a-based family laws, allowing women greater rights in marriage, inheritance and divorce.19 Finally, Kuwait and Jordan have the longest histories of democratic reform among monarchies. Kuwait has a tradition of elections that stretch back to the 1920s. Kuwait currently holds elections for its 50-seat unicameral Majlis al-Umma, or national assembly, and typically has strong voter turn-out. In 2003 oppositional voices to the government won seats and, in 2006, women were allowed to participate in elections and run for office. In 2009 four women were elected to the council, and Sunni, Shi’a and liberal opposition parties won seats.20 The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan began to make democratic reforms following a series of violent protests against the government in 1989.21 That same year elections resulted in a strong victory for Islamic political parties and the Muslim Brotherhood, which together won 34 of the 80 contested seats.22 In 1991 the king signed the National Charter, which called for greater political reforms, followed by the legalization of political parties in 1992. In 1993 elections, the Islamic groups had largely failed to deliver on their promises and—combined with tighter government restrictions on electoral practices—won only 16 seats.23 The Islamists boycotted elections in 1997, following the implementation of further policies that they viewed as unfair.24 Elections were held again in June of 2003; however, that same year, King Abdullah II dissolved parliament and appointed a new prime minister and cabinet. Elections resumed in 2007, with the Islamic Action Front securing only six seats and claiming elections were fraudulent.25 The king suspended parliament again in 2009. Following the revolution in Tunisia, Jordanians took to the streets demanding greater economic reforms and improvements to unemployment; in response, the government promised greater subsidies to the nation’s poorest regions.26 Overall, one of the most significant democratizing trends over the past 30 years has been the creation of elected legislatures. This trend includes newly created Shura councils in nearly every Gulf state. One study points out that legislatures offer unique inroads to democracy, including limiting power in the executive branch, creating a body that can potentially disagree with or criticize the head of state, exposing populations to the mechanics of elections, teaching compromise and coalitional building among different voices within parliament, limiting executive spending through legislatively approved budgets, and providing a link between the executive branch and the population.27 However, these countries also face some unique challenges to democratization, including blending democratic practices with inherited heads of state and government, definitions of citizenship and rights of non-citizens and minorities, and the role of women in public life.

Prospects for democratization


Republics Most of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa are some form of republic, although the rights and liberties that these states grant to their citizens vary considerably. As with monarchies in the Middle East, republics run the gamut of less to more democratic practices. Prior to the Arab Apring, the countries with the least division of authority in their governments and the fewest opportunities for popular participation in politics are Tunisia, Syria and Libya. Not surprisingly, these are also the states that have experienced popular uprisings in the 2010–11 wave of unrest across the region. Tunisia’s 2010 popular uprising took nearly everyone by surprise. Prior to the revolution, the country had had one leader since 1987, Ben Ali, and virtually no signs of organized opposition.28 However, the speed with which protests over lack of economic and political opportunity ignited the country, demonstrated the depth of popular frustration. Aided by information technology, mass protests compelled Ben Ali to step down, inspiring subsequent protests throughout the region. A country that seemed least likely to experience political change became the bellwether for the region. Tunisia’s 2011 elections gave the moderate Islamist Ennahda party the greatest number of seats in Tunisia’s national assembly, raising debates over the role of Islamist parties in the process of democratic transition. Syria, another unlikely candidate for revolution, has continued to experience popular revolts following Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution. Hafiz al-Assad overthrew the civilian government in a bloodless coup in 1970. Although he made several political reforms that appeared to promote democratization in the country—including the creation of an elected 250-member People’s Council, a 21-member Regional Command, elections every four years and a new constitution—these reforms neither permitted oppositional voices into the government nor allowed the population an honest say in its government. In 2000, following the death of Hafiz, his son Bashar inherited the presidency in an unopposed national referendum.29 In the wake of the Jasmine Revolution, Syrians began protesting the lack of political representation and liberties in the country. Despite military crackdowns, unrest has persisted in the country.30 Libya’s political trends are similar to Syria’s. In 1961 Libya’s constitutional monarchy was overthrown in a military coup, headed by Muammar al-Qaddafi, and there are virtually no opportunities for popular participation in politics.31 Following Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution, Libyans took to the streets, demanding Qaddafi’s resignation. Unlike Tunisia and Egypt, however, Qaddafi swore to fight until his ‘last drop of blood’, plunging the country into civil war. In March 2011 the international community chose to intervene in the Libyan conflict with a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-led no-fly zone and rumours of covert operations aimed at arming and training Libyan rebels.32 Alongside republics with limited to no political openness, several Middle Eastern republics have adopted democratic practices over the past few decades, only to restrict these practices more recently. Egypt, perhaps the country believed to be the likely candidate for revolution, took some steps towards democratization under the presidency of Anwar Sadat, including a new constitution in 1971, the introduction of a multi-party system for elections to Egypt’s 454 elected People’s Assembly (Majlis al-Sha’b) and 264-seat Advisory Council (Majlis al-Shura), the reintroduction of due process, and an official ban on torture.33 However, following Sadat’s assassination in 1981 by oppositional Islamists, the government swung back towards less democratic practices under the authority of Hosni Mubarak. In the 1990s and 2000s the government wavered between allowing oppositional voices to run for elections—most notably members of the Muslim

118 Heather S. Gregg Brotherhood, which represent the strongest opposition to the Mubarak regime—and limiting their participation. Following Tunisia’s uprising, Egyptians took to the streets, staging a massive, continuous protest in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Aided by social media tools like Twitter and Facebook, the country was able to mobilize the population’s youth and sustain pressure against the government.34 Unlike Tunisia, Egypt has a longer history of sustained opposition to the government, which may make the transition to democracy more likely. However, despite the relatively quick move to elections in 2011 and 2012, serious rifts within society over the role of political Islam and salafism in the country’s future may threaten democratic consolidation. Yemen took modest steps to create a democratic system following the country’s unification in 1990, including a new constitution in 1991 (which was amended in 1994 and again in 2001), direct elections for the president, and the creation of a bicameral legislature with a presidential-appointed Shura council, and a popularly elected House of Representatives. In the 2003 elections more than 12 political parties participated, with the General People’s Congress, President Salih’s party, winning 238 of the 301 seats, and the Islamic Reform Group, Islah, winning 47 seats.35 However, President Saleh, who was the country’s president since 1978, was forced to resign in November 2011 following continued mass protests. Elections in February 2012 confirmed interim president Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi as the next president. Despite these developments, Yemeni society remains divided along tribal, ideological and regional lines, posing serious challenges to democratic transition. The country also struggles with poverty and the growing presence of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in the country, threatening to destabilize Yemen and the region. Algeria has yet to experience uprisings in response to its neighbour’s revolution, but the country has similar trappings of undemocratic practices that could prompt future unrest. In 1999, towards the end of Algeria’s bloody civil war, military-backed elections were held to elect President Bouteflika to power. His mandate was reconfirmed in elections in 2004 and 2009. In 2008 the constitution was amended to remove presidential term limits. Despite the end of the civil war, Algeria continues to suffer from insurgent unrest from the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, which has merged with al-Qa’ida to form the al-Qa’ida Organization in the Islamic Maghreb.36 Palestine has taken modest steps towards democratic transition, but not without critical setbacks. Palestinians began holding elections as part of the Oslo accords, which established elections laws, established the creation of an 88-member elected National Council, called for universal suffrage at age 18, and created a popularly elected president. In 2005 Palestine had one of the most free and fair elections in the Middle East; however, these elections brought the Islamist party Hamas to power, which was declared unacceptable by Israel and the USA. After US and Israeli rejection of the 2005 Palestinian election results, armed struggle broke out between Fatah and Hamas, resulting in Hamas controlling Gaza and a separate, Fatah-led government in Ramallah. Palestine continues to face unrest between these factions and chronic economic hardships and restriction of liberties from Israeli occupation. The Middle Eastern republics with perhaps the greatest trends towards democratic consolidation are Lebanon, Turkey and Israel; however, these countries have also experienced challenges to their democracies. Lebanon’s 16-year civil war ended in 1991 following the 1989 signing of the Charter of Lebanese National Reconciliation (Ta’if Accords), which codified political arrangements for Lebanon’s diverse religious population and amended its constitution. The agreement also raised the number of seats in Lebanon’s unicameral legislature, the National Assembly (Majlis Alnuwab) to 128, and changed the

Prospects for democratization


previous ratio of 6–5 Christians to Muslims to an even split.37 Political parties have been drawn largely along religious lines, with more than 15 parties represented in the National Assembly, including Hezbollah, which has run in elections since 1992. Following the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, in which Syria was implicated, Lebanese took to the streets in what became known as the Cedar Revolution. Protestors compelled political reforms and the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon’s borders. In 2006 disputes between Hezbollah and Israel sparked a war that lasted over a month, severely damaging the country’s infrastructure. Hezbollah took up arms against its own government in 2008, prompting concerns that it could topple the government by force.38 In 2011 Hezbollah succeeded in garnering enough votes in parliament to choose the country’s prime minister, placing Najib Miqati in power and raising regional concerns over Hezbollah’s political intentions.39 Turkey, the oldest democracy in the region, has also undergone waves of reform and setbacks throughout its history. Founded as a democratic, secular republic in 1923, Atatürk introduced radical reforms to the law, government and the role of religion in public life. Also, perhaps unique to other countries in the Middle East, Turkey claims allegiances to both Europe and the Muslim world. It has been a member of NATO since 1952, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) since 1961, the European Economic Community since 1963, and began to work towards European Union (EU) membership in 2005. Turkey is also a member of the Organization of Islamic Communities. The country has maintained its democratic status despite the setbacks of military coups in 1960, 1971, 1980 and 1997, and an ongoing Kurdish insurgency in the southeast. Beginning in the 2002 general elections, one of Turkey’s newly formed Islamic parties, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), began securing seats in the parliament and fronted the country’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In 2007 the party took nearly half the votes in general elections, possibly signalling a turn away from the staunch secularism of the country’s Republican People’s Party (CHP).40 A successful 2010 referendum introduced changes to Turkey’s constitution that brought the country’s laws more in line with EU standards, but also raised concerns by secular activists that the AKP was attempting to gain control of the judiciary for Islamist motives.41 By many counts, Israel is the most democratic government in the Middle East; however, it is not without its problems. Israel’s political system, created in 1948, calls for a popularly elected head of state (prime minister) and elections every four years for its unicameral legislature, the 120-seat Knesset. Around 15 political parties are represented in the Knesset, including parties organized around secular, Jewish, Arab, socialist and immigrant interests. Political arrangements are consistently upheld without a constitution. However, Israel has experienced political turmoil over the emergence of a conservative Sephardic political party, Shas, and debates over creating peace with the Palestinians. In 1995 Israeli Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish extremist who disagreed with his concessions in the Oslo Accords. In 1999 a second Palestinian intifada erupted after right-wing Likud member Ariel Sharon made a controversial visit to the Haram al Sharif in Jerusalem. The government has also had to declare a state of emergency and form a national unity government twice, once during the first intifada from 1989 until 1990, and again with the eruption of the second intifada in 2001. Corruption scandals have also caused the downfall of Israel’s president in 2007 and its prime minister in 2009.42 Iraq’s fate as a democratic republic continues to unfold. Prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraq was arguably the least democratic republic in the Middle East.43 The post-Saddam

120 Heather S. Gregg government aims to have all the trappings of a democracy, including division of authority, rotation of leadership, multi-party elections and rule of law. However, Iraqis face several challenges in the realization of a truly democratic system. Most notably, the new government will have to accommodate Iraq’s ethnic diversity, including Arabs, who are the majority at around 75 per cent to 80 per cent; Kurds, who make up around 15 per cent to 20 per cent of the population and other minority groups such as Turkomans and Assyrians. Moreover, Iraq has to balance sectarian demands including a Shi’a Muslim majority—roughly 60 per cent of the population—that represents a variety of political and religious perspectives, and a Sunni Muslim minority that has equally divided ideologies. Since 2003, Iraq has held three rounds of elections for parliament: January 2005, in which Sunnis boycotted elections; December 2005, and March 2010. The March 2010 elections resulted in a contest between two Shi’a for the premiership: Nuri al-Maliki and Ayad Allawi. After eight months of political wrangling, the elected parties were able to form a government with al-Maliki continuing as prime minister.44 Finally, Iran deserves separate attention as the region’s only Islamic republic. The Islamic Republic’s relationship with popular participation in government has been mixed in its 30-plus-year history. Iran has held legislative elections in 1993, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008. In most of these elections, oppositional voices have been allowed to run (but not as parties) and hold seats in parliament.45 Elections in 2004 and 2008, however, were boycotted by most moderates following the government’s ban on more than 2,400 candidates from running.46 Iran has also held elections for the presidency in 1989 and 1997, in which the moderate Mohammad Khatami was elected and then re-elected in 2001.47 Presidential elections in 2005 brought the little known Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power. Ahmadinejad was re-elected in 2009 amidst domestic and international claims of fraud and mass demonstrations that resulted in an unknown number of arrests and the deaths of several protestors.48 In addition to Iran’s questionable elections, the country continues to receive international condemnation for its nuclear programme and for ties to insurgent movements in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. Overall, Middle East republics show mixed trends in democratization. Revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt have succeeded in ousting unpopular leaders, but have yet to bring democratic transition to these countries. Countries with greater popular participation, such as Turkey, Lebanon and Israel, continue to have their own political ups and downs. Several countries’ political futures remain in the balance, particularly Syria, Yemen and Libya. Most of these countries have a way to go before the move towards democratic transition can be called democratic consolidation.

Civil society and political culture While elections and the division of powers are necessary components of a healthy functioning democracy, they are not sufficient for a country to be truly democratic. In addition to these structural elements, democracies also require a flourishing civil society and political culture in order for values and principles of democracy to take hold within the population, and for the population to know their rights and hold leaders accountable. One study on civil society in the Middle East argues that: ‘Without a context of political freedom, citizens are unable to effectively participate, organize or freely choose among political alternatives’.49 The presence of civil society and political culture may be a particularly important indicator for the potential of democratic transition and consolidation in countries that have undergone revolutionary change, such as Egypt and Tunisia; without these institutions, the prospects for democratization may be hindered.

Prospects for democratization


In order to investigate the prospects of democratization in the Middle East, therefore, it is essential to consider the region’s trends in civil society and political culture. Civil society is defined as the creation of voluntary, ‘organized collective participation in the public space between individuals and the state’.50 It includes such groups as ‘associations, clubs, guilds, syndicates, federations, unions, [and] parties’.51 Civil society has a normative component, which is also called political or democratic culture, and is defined by ‘values and behavioral codes of tolerating—if not accepting—others and a tacit or explicit commitment to the peaceful management of differences among individuals and collectivities sharing the same “public space”—that is, the polity’.52 Civic organizations The Middle East has a long history of civic groups that have organized along a variety of interests and have, at times, challenged the state and limited its authority.53 For example, the merchant class in Iran, the bazaari, has historically been a well-organized group that succeeded in challenging and reversing governmental policies, including the Tobacco Revolt of 1891–2 and the Constitutional Revolution of 1906.54 Civic organizations, most notably trade unions, were also instrumental in toppling the Shah in the 1979 Iranian Revolution.55 Several types of civic organization are important for their role in democratizing the Middle East. First, professional organizations appear to be on the rise since the 1990s. A 2004 RAND report argues that these civic organizations are important to democratization because they ‘often take on a quasi-political role, enabling their members to debate ideas and articulate their interests in countries where few opportunities for such activities exist’, including, particularly, states in which political parties are illegal.56 This form of civic organization includes domestic groups within a given country, such as doctors, lawyers and engineers associations. It also includes international organizations such as the Rotary Club and the Lions, which boast chapters in one-third of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa.57 While professional associations in the Middle East are important for organizing citizens and generating political capital, these groups have certain constraints. First, many of these associations are formed and regulated under the control of the state instead of being freely formed by citizens independent of the government. The 2004 RAND report further asserts: ‘The state controls which organizations may exist, by requiring them to obtain and renew official licenses, and often provides financial subsidies to groups that support regime policies.’58 As such, these organizations are not fully independent of the state and, therefore, not at liberty to pressure the state for political change. Second, professional associations typically form across the educated elite within society. While the mobilization of this stratum is important for building civil society and fostering democratic political culture, it does not incorporate other segments of society such as farmers and industrial labourers. Associations that typically mobilize these strata of society, such as labour unions, are underdeveloped or illegal in many Middle Eastern countries.59 Second, social welfare organizations, particularly Islamic organizations, have become an important means of mobilization for the people and appear to be on the rise.60 In certain countries, such as the Gulf monarchies, these organizations are managed by the state. However, in other countries, Islamic organizations have sprung up independent of the state and often in critique of the state’s lack of services to the population and their failure to uphold the Islamic principle of caring for the community. Some social welfare

122 Heather S. Gregg organizations aim to transform individuals and societies, and ‘call’ them back to the faith in order to create a social revolution that would eventually change the government.61 The presence of Islamic civic organizations is particularly strong in Egypt, Lebanon and Palestine. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has aimed to foment an Islamic revival from the bottom up by providing education and health care for the masses.62 The Egyptian government has tried to dismantle the Brotherhood by imprisoning its members and outlawing the movement, but it remains the best organized oppositional voice to the government in Egypt.63 The Brotherhood claims to have branches in 70 countries, including Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, and possibly in the Gulf states, which may be spreading a similar voice of opposition in these countries.64 The Red Crescent (part of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies), is also active in most of these countries, but, unlike the Brotherhood and other Islamic organizations, is politically neutral.65 Islamic civic organizations, although controversial, can be an important component of democracy building in the Middle East. First, unlike professional organizations, they tend to mobilize the poorer classes in these countries. In the absence of political parties and labour unions, these organizations, in fact, are often the only means of mobilization for these strata of society. Second, also unlike professional associations, these organizations are more often the product of grass-roots mobilization and are independent of the state; they therefore offer a means through which citizens can organize to challenge the state and potentially hold the government accountable for its policies. However, Islamic organizations also present challenges to democratization. Some Islamic organizations call for a top-down revolution by overthrowing current Muslim governments and installing pious leaders in their place. As such, these movements work outside democratic principles and advocate violence against the state in order to achieve their goals. Hamas, Hezbollah and some strains of the Muslim Brotherhood have all espoused revolutionary ideologies at some point in their histories; however, more recently they appear to be working more within their governments rather than fighting them.66 Third, student organizations have provided a powerful means of political activism in many Middle Eastern countries and appear to be on the rise since the 1990s. Student associations have not only pressured the government for increases in stipends and other student needs, but have also been a source of mobilization for democratic change. For example, in the summer of 1999, students in Iran staged a protest over restrictions on a left-wing newspaper that quickly developed into mass demonstrations for greater political reform. The demonstrations ended with bloodshed and hundreds of arrests.67 Student associations, like other civic organizations, are useful in their ability to mobilize a segment of the population and articulate preferences to the state. However, student organizations have also been a means through which militant interpretations of Islam have taken root and spread. In Egypt, for example, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad was founded on a university campus and gained the bulk of its recruits through these groups.68 Therefore, like Islamic organizations, the presence of student activism is not always a positive step towards democracy. Women’s organizations are another civil society group that could promote democratic change in the region. Prior to the revolution, Iran had thriving women’s networks, many of which supported the overthrow of the Shah only to find that their rights had been marginalized by a restrictive interpretation of Islamic law. Following the revolution, women’s groups have been some of the most outspoken critics of the Islamic republic and agitators for reform.69 Isobel Coleman argues that political reform and social rights go hand in hand in

Prospects for democratization


Iran, and that women throughout the Middle East are quietly effecting change in education, health care and social rights, changes that will affect political dynamics as well.70 Information technologies, particularly the Internet and cell phones, and social networking tools, such as blogs, wikis, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, have also allowed for the creation of virtual associations, which have proven to be an important form of civil society in some Middle Eastern countries. Blogging, in particular, has been a means of voicing objections to various governments and sparking debates over democratization in the Middle East. In 2005 bloggers in Bahrain were censured and some arrested by the government following controversial discussions over reforms and uncensored discussions on world politics.71 In 2009 protesters against the Iranian Presidential results used social networking sites and YouTube to co-ordinate activities and spread information globally.72 The 2010 and 2011 revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt were both aided by information technology, particularly cell phones, Twitter and Facebook, which allowed for rapid co-ordination of protests and the spread of essential information. One commentator went so far as to dub the uprising ‘Egypt’s Facebook Revolution’.73 Political culture Another critical component of a healthy functioning democracy is a country’s political culture. Political culture usually involves formal and informal education on required and permissible forms of popular participation. Critically, political culture is acquired; it is not inherent and therefore requires time to teach and instil in the population.74 Democratic systems are not the only forms of government that have a corresponding political culture. Authoritarian systems breed their own political culture, as did communist governments and fascist regimes. Thus, countries in the Middle East that have been under authoritarian regimes or absolute monarchies will most likely have acquired a political culture that corresponds to this regime type. In order for these countries to create durable democracies, their populations need to be educated in democratic political culture, including norms surrounding elections, accountability of leadership and civic duty, to name a few. Of particular importance to the durability of a democracy is the norm of working through the political system for change instead of circumventing that system to overthrow it. There is evidence to suggest that many countries in the Middle East are developing a political culture that embodies some democratic principles. In the last decade, several groups and individuals have launched non-violent criticism at their governments in the hope of creating greater political accountability. In Israel, the human rights organization B’Tselem, founded in 1989, has lodged criticisms against Israeli policies towards Palestinians and the occupied territories (West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights), particularly following the outbreak of the Al Aqsa Intifada in 2000.75 In Egypt, several intellectuals, including political scientist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, have spoken out against the government’s move away from democratic reform.76 In 2003 the Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on women’s and children’s rights in Iran.77 In Saudi Arabia several individuals petitioned the king for greater political reforms, which ultimately led to the creation of a set of Basic Laws in 1992.78 In 1996 the Qatari-based satellite TV station Al Jazeera began broadcasting news throughout the Middle East that was often critical of various governments. In 2004 the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development launched the Doha Debates, which cover controversial topics ranging from the role of women in society to the

124 Heather S. Gregg conflict between Fatah and Hamas in Palestine.79 Prior to the 2011 revolutions, citizens in several countries, including Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, organized non-violent marches and demonstrations against their governments over both domestic and foreign policies with which they disagreed.80 Following the 2011 revolutions, popular protests have increased throughout the region, but it is unclear if these protestors possess the necessary political culture to work within a new political system, as opposed to overthrowing it, once change has been introduced. Most governments’ responses to these popular forms of criticism have not reinforced this democratic norm. Saad Eddin Ibrahim and several of his colleagues were arrested in 2002 for alleged crimes against the state.81 In 2004 several Saudi intellectuals were arrested after petitioning the government for a constitution and the right to form a human rights group.82 Also in 2004, Kurdish protests in Syria prompted a brutal crackdown that involved potentially hundreds of Kurdish deaths.83 Following Iran’s 2009 presidential elections, the government violently suppressed mass protests contesting the results, and in the wake of Egypt’s and Tunisia’s revolutions, governments in Syria, Bahrain, Libya and Yemen have cracked down on protestors with violence and imprisonment. Only in Israel has the criticism of B’Tselem not resulted in imprisonment or violence. Civil society and democratic political culture thus present mixed results over the past decade in the Middle East. Of the two, civic organizations appear to be making greater inroads.

Future prospects for democratization in the Middle East Some of the most positive democratic trends in the Middle East are the creation of elected legislative bodies, the emergence of civic organizations independent of the government, and signs of democratic political culture, specifically non-violent criticism of the state. What is the likelihood of these trends continuing into the next decade and what will that mean for political development in the Middle East? How will increased protests and the possibility of revolution affect democratization in the region? How will Tunisia’s and Egypt’s political future affect democratic trends? Given the importance of civic institutions, political culture and gradual change, the countries that show the most positive trends towards democratic transition are some of the Gulf states. The move towards greater popular participation in these governments is largely the result of domestic pressures for change, not policies from external countries, such as the USA. In 1990 only Kuwait and Iran had recently held legitimate elections for their legislative councils. By 2006, all the Gulf countries had held some form of national elections, except Saudi Arabia. These changes appear to be predicated primarily on elite-level decisions, influenced by their populations. Furthermore, several countries have adopted constitutions, basic law provisions, or civil court systems in the past 30 years, including Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain.84 Similar to changes in the selection of legislatures, the adoption of constitutions appears to have been driven by domestic factors, not international actors. For example, the Saudi regime’s creation of a Basic Law in 1992 occurred following petitions to the royal family for reforms; this decision was not visibly influenced by external actors.85 There are signs to suggest that these democratizing trends will continue, particularly within the region’s monarchies. Change is happening in these states, albeit slowly. In civil society, some of the most positive trends towards democratization are occurring within virtual communities and certain religious-based organizations, which are making

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inroads in checking political powers and demanding greater governmental accountability. Blogs and other social media networks have helped to inform and, in some cases, mobilize young citizens to demand political change. Religious organizations have empowered poor and disenfranchised groups. Iraq’s unfolding democracy will continue to be important for the prospects of political change in the Middle East. A functioning democracy in Iraq could offer a model from which other countries in the region could learn. If healthy, democracy in Iraq will demonstrate aspects such as power sharing, rotation of leadership, compromise of political aspirations, and coalition building; all of these elements would be valuable examples of democratic behaviour for the region. Democracy in Iraq, however, will not look like democracy in the USA because it will most likely continue to have religious parties, particularly Shi’a groups, which make up some of the best-organized political organizations in the country. More broadly, Islam will most likely continue to play a role in the constitution and the country’s legal code. However, elections could also produce instability in Iraq, particularly if certain ethnic or religious groups feel left out of the political process. Several scholars and policy-makers have commented on this possibility, noting particularly the importance of bringing the Sunni Arab minority—which makes up around 15 per cent to 20 per cent of the population— into the new political system.86 Disenfranchising certain groups could even plunge the country into civil war, which could destabilize the region. Furthermore, a democratic government in Iraq could represent the people but also be anti-American and critical of US policies in the region. In other words, elections in Iraq could bring parties to power that are not US allies, like the 2005 elections in Palestine that brought Hamas to power. Similarly, Egypt’s political future will be an important bellwether for the region. Egypt’s revolution captivated the world but, despite its success in ousting Mubarak, the real work of democratic transition and consolidation has yet to be realized. Considerable challenges lie ahead for this nascent democracy, including high unemployment, poverty, a crippled political culture and latent civil society. The country will also have to come to terms with different ideological aspirations for the country, particularly between Islamists and secularists. Furthermore, Egypt will need to create a more robust division of authority within its executive, legislative and judicial branches, as well as subsuming the military to civilian control. These are daunting tasks that will require time and patience from the population. Most likely, the transformation of Egypt’s political landscape will take years, if not decades. Similar predictions can be made for Tunisia, which has languished under decades of dictatorial rule and will need to build its civil society, political culture and government to reflect democratic aspirations. The future prospects for democratization in Iran are also in the balance. Although the Islamic Republic has never been considered democratic in US eyes, it has engaged in practices that suggested it was an emerging democracy. Its 1997 presidential elections, in particular, were a surprising demonstration of adherence to democratic principles when the moderate candidate, Mohammad Khatami, won the elections and was allowed to assume office. However, these gains have been reversed by presidential elections in 2009 that were deemed fraudulent and sparked domestic protests and international condemnation. There is reason to believe that certain segments of society, particularly university students and other young Iranians, are growing more and more impatient with the political status quo and may be fomenting revolution.87 Saudi Arabia also remains an important exception to democratizing trends in the Arabian Peninsula. There are several arguments for Saudi Arabia’s lack of political

126 Heather S. Gregg development. One commonly held belief is that the Saudi regime is fragile and fears for its own survival. In the past few decades there have been signs to suggest that the regime is internally weak, both from domestic groups challenging the government and from believed infighting within the royal family.88 It is also rumoured that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia wants to hold elections for the country’s newly created Shura council, but that there is a division in the royal family on this matter.89 Arguably, such pressures could lead to the collapse of the government, making Saudi Arabia unstable. Several other states remain politically unstable and their future is uncertain. Protests in Yemen compelled its dictator to resign and persisting unrest in Syria threatens to do the same. As with Tunisia, these countries have neither the civic institutions nor the political culture to make a smooth transition to democracy should their leaders fall, and both countries face issues of poverty and inequality. Similar predictions are possible for Libya. Despite its oil wealth, the country has almost no civil society and its political culture is likely reflective of decades of dictatorship. Palestine currently has two governments: the Hamas-led regime in Gaza, and the Fatah-led administration in Ramallah, which is internationally recognized. It is unclear how these separate polities will find unity and function as a cohesive state. Jordan also has had its share of political turmoil. In the past few years it has engaged in less-than-democratic practices, including greater restrictions on parties running in elections and the dissolution of the parliament throughout the past decade. Lebanon also continues to face political instability, especially through the controversial rise of Hezbollah and its increasing political power in the country. Finally, it is important to consider the prospects for continued Islamization throughout the region and what that might mean for democratization. Virtually all of the countries in the region have Islamic organizations that affect political dynamics, including groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Hamas, ISCI in Iraq, and the Islah party in Yemen, to name a few. Many of these groups have withstood decades of persecution from the state and have continued to survive and pressure their governments for political change. Moreover, despite persecution, most of these groups have provided services for the disenfranchised and, in so doing, mobilized citizens with the potential for political action. Perhaps counter-intuitively, the continued growth of Islamic organizations may not be bad news for political development in the region. Some Islamic groups provide the most effective forms of mobilization for non-elites in the Middle East and have pressured governments for greater accountability towards their citizens. Therefore, these organizations are providing critical components of democracy building—grass-roots, non-governmental mobilization—and checking governmental power. Moreover, several countries demonstrate that Islamic organizations and individuals can run in elections, like other political parties, and work for change through the political system. Jordan, Bahrain, Tunisia, Turkey, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and Egypt have all allowed either Islamic political parties or individuals to run in elections and hold seats in their parliaments. While in parliament, these politicians have had to form coalitions with other groups, compromise and work co-operatively for change. Similar to other politicians, Islamic groups and individuals have had to deliver on their promises to their constituents. When they have failed to do so, as in Jordan in the 1990s, they have been voted out of office, just like other politicians would be.90 Thus Islamic politicians, like their secular counterparts, can work within the confines of democracy for political change. Islamic organizations and political parties, therefore, may be one of the most important voices of opposition to authoritarian regimes that the Middle East has. Sociologist Diane

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Singerman argues that Islamic organizations, in particular, are a prime means of mobilizing people in the Middle East to challenge authoritarian rule because, ‘citizens, under such conditions, are forced to organize through informal networks and build collective identities through these networks’.91 Religion has a readymade system of leaders, buildings and other resources necessary for mobilization. Moreover, the mosque has been one of the few organizations allowed to function under authoritarian regimes, to varying degrees. It is also a system of belief and a form of identity for most of the Middle East’s population. However, there are some Islamic organizations that advocate violence against the state as a means of political change, which is antithetical to democratic norms and practices. Social scientists Mohammad M. Hafez and Quintan Wiktorowicz argue that most Islamic groups espousing violence as a means of political change become violent through state oppression: ‘In most cases, Islamic movements are not “born” violent. Instead, proponents of violence develop coteries of militants from within established, predominantly nonviolent Islamic movements.’92 Their argument suggests that it is possible to separate the militant wing of an Islamic organization from its broader movement. While the militant wing is anti-democratic in its method of challenging the state, the broader movement may still be of critical importance for political change and democratization.93 Given the presence of Islamic organizations in virtually all of the states studied, what is the likelihood that they would take over governments if allowed to run in free and fair elections? The assumption is that, given this opportunity, Islamic extremists would be voted into office, sweeping aside liberties, gender rights and secular values. This very anxiety was expressed by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in a March 2004 interview in which he stated: Instant freedom and democracy can cause an earthquake in a country: For instance, what would happen if a majority of extremists were to win in parliament? You can put your money on it: We would be seeing Islamists in government in Egypt and Iraq. But of course we will not allow any formula that might push us toward the catastrophe of anarchy, to be imposed on us from abroad: We know our countries better than anyone else.94 Evidence suggests that Mubarak’s fears are not empirically grounded, not even in his own country. The 2005 parliamentary elections allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to run as independents and they secured 88 of 454 seats, which was not a landslide. Even in Iraq—where much fear has been placed on the Shi’a majority using elections to usher in an Iranian-style theocracy—the political landscape appears to be more complex. The Shi’a population appears to be divided over a variety of issues, including the extent to which Islam should play a role in the government.95 Therefore, this community is not acting as one unified voting bloc, most likely preventing an Iranian-style theocracy from being voted in when elections are held in 2005. Countries that have allowed Islamic parties to run have not used elections as a means of implementing a radical Muslim agenda. This is true in Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. Conversely, denying Islamic organizations the right to participate in a country’s political destiny could have disastrous consequences, including increased social unrest, terrorism and insurgency, particularly if it is the will of the people to have these organizations present in the government. The decade-long Algerian civil war erupted after elections were cancelled that would have brought the Islamic FIS party to power. Thus violence

128 Heather S. Gregg came as a result of the elections being cancelled. Other countries in the Middle East could go the way of Algeria by denying these groups a say in their country’s political landscape. The 2010 and 2011 popular uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa are encouraging news for the region because they have brought change to a politically stagnated part of the world. However, despite the sacrifice and passion that has gone into the region’s revolts, the truly hard work of transforming decades-old political systems and populations has a considerable distance to go before democracy can take root and consolidate. Time, patience and perseverance will be necessary for the long road ahead.

Notes 1 Larry Diamond, Juan J. Linz and Seymour Martin Lipset (eds), Politics in Developing Countries: Comparing Experience with Democracy (London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1995), 6–7. 2 Albrecht Schnabel, ‘A Rough Journey: Nascent Democratization in the Middle East’, in Amin Saikal and Albrecht Schnabel (eds), Democratization in the Middle East: Experiences, Struggles, Challenges (New York: United Nations University Press, 2003), 6–7. 3 Rex Brynen, Bahgat Korany and Paul Noble (eds), Political Liberalization and Democratization in the Arab World, Volume I: Theoretical Perspectives (Boulder, CO and London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1995), 3. 4 Fareed Zakaria, The Future of Freedom: Liberal and Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad (New York: Norton, 2003), 13–28. 5 This definition is taken from David Potter, David Goldblatt, Margaret Kiloh and Paul Lewis (eds), Democratization (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 6. Cited on pp. 5–6 of Democratization in the Middle East, ed. by Amin Saikal and Albrecht Schnabel (New York: United Nations University Press, 2003). 6 Samuel P. Huntington, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late 20th Century (Norman and London: University of Oklahoma Press, 1991), especially 13–26. 7 Larry Diamond, ‘Introduction: In Search of Consolidation’, in Larry Diamond, Marc F. Plattner, Yun-han Chu and Hung-mao Tien, Consolidating Third Wave Democracies: Themes and Perspectives (Baltimore, MD and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997), xiii–xvii. 8 Diamond, 1997, xvii. 9 Diamond, 1997, xix. 10 Edward D. Mansfield and Jack Snyder, ‘Democratization and the Danger of War’, International Security Vol. 20, No. 1 (Summer 1995): 5–38. 11 Brynen et al., 1995, 4. 12 ‘Saudi Arabia’, CIA: The World Factbook, geos/sa.html (accessed 28 September 2010); Jean-Francois Seznec, ‘Stirrings in Saudi Arabia’, in Larry Diamond, Marc F. Plattner and Daniel Brumberg (eds), Islam and Democracy in the Middle East (Baltimore, MD and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), 76–83; ‘Saudi Women Barred from Voting’, BBC News Online, 11 October 2004, 3734420.stm (accessed 20 September 2010). 13 ‘Sole Woman Elected in UAE Maiden Polls’, Middle East Online, 21 December 2006, www. (accessed 20 September 2010). 14 ‘Oman’, CIA: The World Factbook, mu.html (accessed 28 September 2010). 15 Angus McDowall, ‘Oman Shuffles Cabin Again, Amid Unrest’, Wall Street Journal 7 March 2011, online. (accessed 9 April 2011). 16 ‘Qatar’, CIA: The World Factbook, html (accessed 28 September 2010); and ‘IFES Election Guide: Qatar’, Qatar.aspx (accessed 28 September 2010). 17 ‘IFES Election Guide: Bahrain’, (accessed 28 September 2010); ‘Bahrain’, CIA: The World Factbook, the-world-factbook/geos/ba.html (accessed 28 September 2010). 18 Ethan Bronner and Michael Slackman, ‘Saudi Troops Enter Bahrain to Help Put Down Unrest’, The New York Times, 14 March 2011,

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20 21

22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29

30 31 32 33 34

35 36 37


15bahrain.html?_r=1 (accessed 9 April 2011). See also ‘Popular Protests in North Africa and the Middle East (III): The Bahrain Revolt’, International Crisis Group Middle East and North Africa Report No. 105, 6 April 2011, 105-popular-protests-in-north-africa-and-the-middle-east-iii-the-bahrain-revolt.aspx (accessed 13 April 2011). ‘IFES Election Guide: Morocco’, (accessed 21 September 2010); ‘Morocco Adopts Landmark Family Law Supporting Women’s Equality’, Women’s Learning Partnership for Rights, Development and Peace, 24 February 2004, advocacy/alerts/morocco0204 (accessed 21 September 2010). ‘Adam Carr’s Election Archive: Kuwait’, (accessed 20 September 2010). Abla Amawi, ‘Democracy Dilemmas in Jordan’, Middle East Report (January–February 1992), 26–29; Beverly Milton-Edwards, ‘Façade Democracy in Jordan’, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Vol. 20, Issue 2 (1993): 191–203; Anoushira Van Ehteshami, ‘Is the Middle East Democratizing?’ British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Vol. 26, No. 2 (1999): 199–217; Russell E. Lucas, ‘Deliberalization in Jordan’, in Larry Diamond, Marc F. Plattner and Daniel Brumberg (eds), Islam and Democracy in the Middle East (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), 99–106. Milton-Edwards, 1993, 195. Milton-Edwards, 1993, 202. Lucas, 2003, 103–4. ‘IFES Election Guide: Jordan’, (accessed 20 September 2010). Ethan Bronner, ‘Jordan Faces a Rising Tide of Unrest, But Few Expect a Revolt’, The New York Times, 4 February 2011, (accessed 9 April 2011). Abdo Baaklini, Guilain Denoeux and Robert Springborg, Legislative Politics in the Arab World: The Resurgence of Democratic Institutions (Boulder, CO and London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1999), 3–7, 25–6, 56–9. Mona Eltahawy, ‘Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution’, Washington Post, 15 January 2011, www. (accessed 9 April 2011). ‘Background Notes: Syria’, US Department of State, (accessed 30 September 2010); Kamel S. Abu Jaber, ‘The Democratic Process in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan’, in Amin Saikal and Albrecht Schnabel (eds), Democratization in the Middle East (New York: United Nations University Press, 2003), 127–41. ‘Syrian Unrest: Deraa Protestors March at Funeral’, BBC News, 24 March 2011, news/world-middle-east-12846856 (accessed 9 April 2011). ‘Background Notes: Libya’, US Department of State, (accessed 21 September 2010). Jake Tapper et al., ‘President Obama Authorizes Covert Help for Libyan Rebels’, ABC News, 30 March 2011, 13259028 (accessed 9 April 2011). Baaklini et al., 1999, 36–37; and Sana Abed-Kotob, ‘The Accommodationists Speak: Goals and Strategies of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt’, International Journal of Middle East Studies Vol. 27 (1995): 321–39. ‘The Face of Egypt’s Social Networking Revolution’, CBS News, 12 February 2011, www. (accessed 9 April 2011). See also ‘Popular Protest in North Africa and the Middle East (I): Egypt Victorious?’ International Crisis Group Middle East/North Africa Report No. 101, 24 February 2011, en/regions/middle-east-north-africa/north-africa/egypt/101-popular-protest-in-north-africa-and-themiddle-east-I-egypt-victorious.aspx (accessed 13 April 2011). ‘Yemen’, CIA: The World Factbook, ym.html (accessed 4 October 2010). ‘Algeria’, The CIA World Factbook, html (accessed 22 September 2010). Kamel S. Abu Jaber, ‘The Democratic Process in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan’, in Amin Saikal and Albrecht Schnabel (eds), Democratization in the Middle East (New York: United Nations University

130 Heather S. Gregg

38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50

51 52 53

54 55 56 57 58 59

Press, 2003), 127–41; ‘Lebanon’, CIA: The World Factbook, the-world-factbook/geos/le.html (accessed 4 October 2010). ‘Lebanon: Hizbollah’s Weapons Turn Inward’, International Crisis Group Middle East Briefing No. 23, 15 May 2008, (accessed 1 June 2008). Anthony Shadid, ‘Hezbollah Chooses Lebanon’s Next Leader’, The New York Times, 24 January 2011, (accessed 9 April 2011). ‘IFES Election Guide: Turkey’, (accessed 24 November 2010). Jonathan Head, ‘Why Turkey’s Constitutional Reform Matters’, BBC News, 10 September 2010, (accessed 25 November 2010). ‘Israel’, CIA: The World Factbook, html (accessed 4 October 2010); Martin Patience, ‘Israel Faces Corruption Epidemic’, BBC News Online, (accessed 22 September 2010). Amin Saikal, ‘Democracy and Peace in Iran and Iraq’, in Amin Saikal and Albrecht Schnabel (eds), Democratization in the Middle East (New York: United Nations University Press, 2003), 166–82. ‘Iraq Elections’, New York Times, 21 December 2010, countriesandterritories/iraq/elections/index.html (accessed 9 April 2011). Haleh Esfandiari, ‘Is Iran Democratizing? Observations on Elections Day’ (2000 parliamentary elections), in Larry Diamond, Marc F. Plattner and Daniel Brumberg (eds), Islam and Democracy in the Middle East (Baltimore, MD and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), 24–129. Ali Akhbar Dareini, ‘Conservatives Take Control in Iran, Reformers Call Vote a “Historic Fiasco”’, The Associated Press, 23 February 2004. Shaul Bakhash, ‘Iran’s Remarkable Election’, in Larry Diamond, Marc F. Plattner and Daniel Brumberg (eds), Islam and Democracy in the Middle East (Baltimore, MD and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), 109–23. ‘Post-Election Iran Violations Among Worst in 20 Years’, Amnesty International, 10 December 2010, (accessed 22 September 2010). Brynen et al., 1995, 4. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, ‘Liberalization and Democratization in the Arab World: An Overview’, in Rex Brynen, Bahgat Korany and Paul Noble (eds), Political Liberalization and Democratization in the Arab World, Volume I: Theoretical Perspectives (Boulder, CO and London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1995), 29. Augustus Richard Norton, ‘Introduction’, in Augustus Richard Norton (ed.), Civil Society in the Middle East, Volume I (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1995), 7. Ibrahim, 1995, 29, citing Richard Norton’s comments at a forum on democracy in the Middle East. See Mustapha Kamel al-Sayyid, ‘The Concept of Civil Society and the Arab World’, in Rex Brynen, Bahgat Korany and Paul Noble (eds), Political Liberalization and Democratization in the Arab World, Volume I: Theoretical Perspectives (Boulder, CO and London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1995), 131–47, for an academic debate on the definition of civil society and if the Middle East has a tradition of it or not. For more on these events, see Ervand Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolutions (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1982), 73–79; Vanessa Martin, Islam and Modernism: The Iranian Revolution of 1906 (London: I.B. Tauris, 1989), 49–51. For more on the role of labour and trade unions in the Islamic revolution, see Abrahamian, 1982, 513–15. Nora Bensahel, ‘Political Reform in the Middle East’, in Nora Bensahel and Daniel L. Byman (eds), The Future Security Environment in the Middle East: Conflict, Stability and Political Change (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2004), 31. The Rotary Club has a chapter in Egypt, Palestine, Israel, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Morocco and Lebanon. See: Rotary International, (accessed 4 October 2010). Bensahel, 2004, 31–32. See, for example ‘2009 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights: Middle East’, International Trade Union Confederation, (accessed 27 September 2010).

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60 Islam, like other religions, has as one of its pillars the care of the poor through zakat. See John L. Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 90–91. 61 Abed-Kotob, 1995, especially 323–7. 62 Abed-Kotob, 1995, 321–39. 63 Jason Brownlee, ‘The Decline of Pluralism in Mubarek’s Egypt’, in Larry Diamond, Marc F. Plattner and Daniel Brumberg (eds), Islam and Democracy in the Middle East (Baltimore, MD and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), 48–57. 64 For more on the Brotherhood, see Ikhwanweb: The Muslim Brotherhood, (accessed 4 October 2010). 65 Jonathan Benthall, ‘The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Islamic Societies, with Special Reference to Jordan’, The British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 24(2) (1997): 157–77. 66 For the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, see Abed-Kotob, 1995, 328–31; for the Lebanese Hezbollah, see Judith Palmer Harik, ‘Between Islam and the System: Sources and Implications of Popular Support for Lebanon’s Hizballah’, The Journal of Conflict Resolution 40(1) (March 1996): 41–67. 67 ‘Iran’s Second Revolution?’ The Economist 19 July 1999; Christopher Dickey, ‘Street Fight in Tehran’, Newsweek 26 July 1999. 68 Meir Hatina, Islam and Salvation in Palestine: The Islamic Jihad Movement (Tel Aviv: The Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, 2002), especially chapter 1, ‘The Islamic Jihad—Historic Milestones’, which outlines the development of various Islamic movements in Egypt and their spread through university clubs. 69 Roksana Bahramitash, ‘Iranian Women during the Reform Era (1994–2004): A focus on Employment’, Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies Vol. 3, No. 2 (Spring 2007): 86–109, especially 92; Fereshteh Ahmadi, ‘Islamic Feminism in Iran: Feminism in a New Islamic Context’, Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion Vol. 22, No. 2 (2006): 33–53. 70 Isobel Coleman, Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women are Transforming the Middle East (New York: Random House, 2010). 71 Andrew Higgins, ‘After High Hopes, Democracy Project in Bahrain Falters’, Wall Street Journal, 11 May 2005; and Mark Glaser, ‘Online Forums, Bloggers Become Vital Media Outlets in Bahrain’, OJR: The Online Journalism Review, 17 May 2005, (accessed 23 September 2010). 72 ‘Internet Brings Events in Iran to Life’, BBC News Online, 15 June 2009, 8099579.stm (accessed 23 September 2010). 73 ‘Egypt’s Facebook Revolution: Wael Ghonim Thanks the Social Network’, Huffington Post, 11 February 2011, 822078.html (accessed 10 April 2011). 74 For more on political culture, see Larry Diamond (ed.), Political Culture and Democracy in Developing Countries (Boulder and London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1993); Michael C. Hudson, ‘The Political Culture Approach to Arab Democratization: The Case for Bringing it Back in, Carefully’, in Rex Brynen, Bahgat Korany and Paul Noble (eds), Political Liberalization and Democratization in the Arab World, Volume I: Theoretical Perspectives (Boulder, CO and London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1995), 61–76; and Lisa Anderson, ‘Democracy in the Arab World: A Critique of the Political Culture Approach’, in Rex Brynen, Bahgat Korany and Paul Noble (eds), Political Liberalization and Democratization in the Arab World, Volume I: Theoretical Perspectives (Boulder, CO and London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1995), 77–92. 75 For more on B’Tselem, see (accessed 4 October 2010). 76 Daniel Brumberg, ‘The Trap of Liberalizing Autocracies’, in Larry Diamond, Marc F. Plattner and Daniel Brumberg (eds), Islam and Democracy in the Middle East (Baltimore, MD and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), 35–36; and Glenn Frankel, ‘Egypt Muzzles Calls for Democracy’, Washington Post, 6 January 2004. 77 Ebadi is the founder of the Association for the Protection of Children’s Rights in Iran, see www. (accessed 4 October 2010). 78 Seznec, 2003, 80–82. 79 See The Doha Debates, (accessed 23 September 2010). 80 For example, thousands protested in Egypt at the start of the Second Persian Gulf War, see Megan K. Stack, ‘Iraq: One Year Later’, Los Angeles Times, 26 March 2004. In Syria, thousands of Kurds marched in Damascus and elsewhere protesting decades of discriminatory policies, see Neil MacFarquhar, ‘Gains

132 Heather S. Gregg

81 82 83 84 85 86

87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95

by Kin in Iraq Inflame Kurds’ Anger at Syria’, The New York Times, 24 March 2004. In Jordan, thousands organized by professional associations protested a trade fair with Israel in 1997, shutting it down, see Lucas, 2003, 103. Glenn Frankel, ‘Egypt Muzzles Calls for Democracy’, Washington Post, 6 January 2004; and Daniel Brumberg, 2003, 35–36. Megan K. Stack, ‘Iraq: One Year Later’, Los Angeles Times, 26 March 2004. Neil MacFarquhar, ‘Gains by Kin in Iraq Inflame Kurds’ Anger at Syria’, The New York Times, 24 March 2004. Of all the countries studied, only Israel is without a written constitution or a set of basic laws. Seznec, 2003, 80–1. For example, Ken Pollock argues that: ‘The Coalitional Provisional Authority (CPA) must reach out to the Sunni tribal community, to eliminate its sense of grievance against the United States and so quell its support for the insurgency’, in Ken Pollock, ‘After Saddam: Assessing the Reconstruction of Iraq’, The Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution No. 1 (January 2004), iv. Likewise, Anthony Cordesman argues that the Sunni Triangle will be ‘lasting losers in terms of wealth and power indefinitely into the future’, and that this sense of loss will fuel political and military instability in the country. See Anthony Cordesman, ‘One Year On: Nation Building in Iraq’, Working Paper: Center for Strategic and International Studies 6 April 2004. See, for example: Ali Akbar Dareini, ‘Iran Reformers Protest Clerics’ Crackdown’, Associated Press, 20 October 2003; Ali Akbar Dareini, ‘Iranian Court Reimposes Death Sentence That Sparked Massive Demonstrations on Campuses’, Associated Press, 3 May 2004. For more on domestic groups within Saudi Arabia that are challenging the government, see Mamoun Fandy, Saudi Arabia and the Politics of Discontent (New York: Palgrave, 1999). Seznec, 2003, 82. Milton-Edwards, 1993, 202. Diane Singerman, ‘The Networked World of Islamic Social Movements’, in Quintain Wiktorowicz (ed.), Islamic Activism: A Social Movement Theory Approach (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2004), 144. Mohammad M. Hafez and Quintan Wiktorowicz, ‘Violence as Contention in the Egyptian Islamic Movement’, in Quintain Wiktorowicz (ed.), Islamic Activism: A Social Movement Theory Approach (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2004), 63. Heather S. Gregg, ‘US Relations with Islamic Groups in the Middle East’, in Robert E. Looney (ed.), Handbook of US-Middle East Relations (New York: Routledge, 2009), 109–17. Nicola Lombardozzi and Alix Van Buren, ‘Democracy in the Arab World but we will Implement the Reforms’, La Republica, 5 March 2004: 9. ‘Iraq’s Shiites Under Occupation’, International Crisis Group, Middle East Briefing, Baghdad/Brussels, 9 September 2003.

Chapter 8

The improvement of women’s rights in the Arab world The importance of governing authorities Vickie Langohr and Amaney Jamal

Although there is significant diversity in the level and types of rights that women enjoy in different Arab countries, women’s status across the region as a whole is quite low. This can be seen in several easily quantifiable cross-national indicators, such as the percentage of women in parliament and in the workforce, where the Arab world scores lowest in the world. It can also be seen in less easily measured factors that affect women’s lives equally if not more deeply, such as personal status laws (PSLs), which in almost all countries give women significantly fewer rights than men in marriage, divorce and other family matters. However, while Arab women face many problems, significant improvements are also occurring; Freedom House’s 2010 Women in the Middle East Report noted important advances in women’s rights since 2005 in all but three countries, and several governments have passed key PSL changes over the last decade. This chapter examines three areas of women’s participation in society: education, work outside the home, and women’s rights in PSLs and in penal codes, which affect the punishments for violence against women. We focus on aspects of government performance in these areas, while also assessing how much other factors such as public opinion, women’s non-governmental organization (NGO) activity and international pressure may also affect these outcomes. Government influence is most direct in the area of PSLs and penal codes, as becomes clear in attempts to change them in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Yemen. In each of these cases executives (kings or presidents) introduced PSL or penal code reform bills to parliament and spent political capital trying to pass them. Where they passed, executives’ commitment was essential to this outcome. In Jordan, where parliament rejected them, executive commitment manifested itself differently, as King Abdullah pursued the goals behind the legislation through extraparliamentary means for 10 years. Government influence is also clear in the rapidly rising rates of Arab women’s education. Female literacy levels are lower in the Arab world than in other equally economically developed regions, but they are growing faster in the region than elsewhere. Rapid increases in girls’ schooling are facilitated by the fact that Arab governments dedicate higher percentages of their gross domestic product (GDP) to education than do governments elsewhere, but rising education rates are also due to social norms that support it. One of the region’s biggest weaknesses in female education, though—the rates at which enrolled girls complete school—also demonstrates popular expectations in some countries that young women’s primary responsibility is for the home. One of the most striking deficiencies in Arab women’s status is their low rates of workforce participation, which are particularly anomalous in light of increasing rates of female education. The Arab region has one of the world’s highest unemployment rates;

134 Vickie Langohr and Amaney Jamal this context of overall job scarcity may decrease women’s chances for jobs. Others have suggested that economies reliant on oil, as many Arab country economies are, have lower women’s workforce participation.1 Our examination of this issue will focus on the employment opportunities that the government most directly controls: public-sector work. Public sectors employ large percentages of men and women in most Arab countries, but they provide an overwhelming percentage of women’s jobs. As more countries adopt structural adjustment programmes, there is a very clear connection between government decisions to shrink the size of the public sector and an outcome—firing existing or not hiring new public-sector workers—that disproportionately hurts employed women.

Education The opening pages of a 2010 World Bank report on women’s opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)2 noted three facts that illuminate the current status of women’s education in the Arab world. While the percentage of Arab girls who are literate is lower than the average for countries in the low-to-medium income (LMI) bracket in which most Arab countries are located, when compared to all regions of the world, ‘MENA ranks first by a good margin in the growth rate of women’s literacy’.3 Moreover, ‘the region is at par with the LMI average in measures of gender gaps in education’, with both a ‘high rate of growth in the ratio of female to male primary enrollment’4 as well as more women than men in university.5 Freedom House notes that Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have the ‘highest female-to-male university enrollment worldwide’.6 In terms of literacy as an indicator of women’s rights, two issues are important—levels of literacy, and the gap between the percentage of men and women who are literate. Low levels of women’s literacy are not in and of themselves signs of discrimination, as men might have equally low levels, but a gap between men’s and women’s levels of literacy suggests consistent differences in access to education. Thus we examine both absolute levels of literacy and school enrolment for women on the assumption that higher levels are important tools of women’s empowerment, and the literacy gap, as a sign of discrimination in access. In many Arab countries the literacy gap today is still notable, but when we look at younger men and women, who are the most likely to have benefited from recent increases in educational opportunities, female literacy rates are rapidly increasing and the literacy gap is decreasing substantially. In some Arab countries, rich as well as of medium income, illiteracy has been all but eliminated for both boys and girls. In Bahrain there is universal literacy in the 15–24 age group,7 while in Jordan, which has about one-fifth of Bahrain’s per capita income, in eight of twelve of the country’s governorates, less than 1 per cent of women 15–24 years old are illiterate.8 In the Arab world as a whole, 81 per cent of men 15 and older and 64 per cent of women 15 and older are literate, for a literacy gap of 17 per cent. In the 15–24 age group, however, 91 per cent of men and 84 per cent of women are literate, a literacy gap of only 7 per cent.9 This trend towards both increasing female literacy and decreasing literacy gaps can be seen in Arab countries at widely varying levels of literacy performance. In historically strong-performing Tunisia, 71 per cent of women 15 and above (henceforth referred to as ‘adult women’) were literate in 2008, with a literacy gap between them and men in their age group (86.4 per cent of whom were literate) of 15.4 per cent. Women 15–24, by contrast, have a literacy rate of 95.8 per cent, with a literacy gap between them and men in

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the similar cohort of only 2.3 per cent.10 In Morocco in 2009 only 43.9 per cent of adult women were literate, a gap of 25 per cent, while 72.1 per cent of women 15–24 could read, with a gap of 14.6 per cent.11 In Yemen in 2009 44.7 per cent of adult women were literate, with a 35.2 per cent literacy gap, while 72.2 per cent of women 15–24 are literate, with a literacy gap of 23.4 per cent.12 With more than half of adult women in Morocco and Yemen today still illiterate, these statistics demonstrate the challenge of education in the region, but also progress among younger women. If we move beyond literacy to levels of school enrolment, the World Bank notes that ‘in most (Arab) countries female enrollment rates now equal or exceed male enrollment rates’, but that the female-to-male enrolment rate ratio is less than 100 per cent in several countries including Egypt, Morocco and Syria.13 A thumbnail sketch of the situation in Egypt provides some insight into what type of girls are most likely to not receive education, and the common consequences. The Egypt Labor Market Panel Survey of 2006 found that 26 per cent of girls aged 13–19 in rural Upper Egypt either had no schooling or had left school after only one-to-two years.14 A Population Council study argued that ‘arranged and early marriages are far more likely for these girls, followed rapidly by successive pregnancies, thus perpetuating the cycle of illiteracy and poverty’.15 Even where girls finish several years of education, drop-out rates can remain high: a 2009–10 World Bank household survey found that 91 per cent of 11-year-old Moroccan girls, but only 65 per cent of 14-year-old girls, were in school.16 How have the rapid increases in girls’ education occurred? Consistent government financial commitment has been essential to this outcome, a phenomenon seen both on the level of the region as a whole and in the expenditure levels of specific countries. In 2000 the average percentage of GDP spent by MENA governments on education was 5.3 per cent, while the South Asian average was 2.5 per cent and that in sub-Saharan Africa was 3.4 per cent.17 Even some of the poorest Arab countries dedicate significant sums to education. In 2007–8 Yemen was tied for the fourth largest spender (as a percentage of GDP) on education of all 154 countries in the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Report.18 When we compare Yemen, with a GDP per capita of US$930 in 2005, to all countries with GDPs under $1,500 in the Human Development Report for 2007–8, we find that between 2002 and 2005 Yemen spent 9.6 per cent of its GDP on education, compared to an average for that income group of only 3.9 per cent. Another factor that has facilitated the spread of girls’ education is widespread popular support for it. As the World Bank noted in 2004, ‘education has been a widely accepted and uncontroversial area of gender inequality for governments to address’.19 Survey answers about gendered access to university education bear this out. The Fourth Wave of the World Values Survey (2005), a set of questions asked in 65 countries across the world, bears this out in a comparative regional context. Fewer respondents in the five Middle Eastern countries20 surveyed agree or strongly agree with the statement ‘is university more important for a boy than for a girl?’ than do respondents in Central Asia, and there are only slightly more South and Southeast Asians who disagree with the statement than do Middle Easterners. It is interesting to note that Middle East respondents disagreed with this question at higher rates than did citizens of two Asian democracies. More Indians agreed that university was more important for a boy than did citizens of any of the five Arab nations—for example, 48 per cent of Indians agreed compared to only 38 per cent of Jordanians—and more respondents in the Philippines agreed than did the average Middle Eastern respondent in the five countries surveyed.

136 Vickie Langohr and Amaney Jamal In her ethnography of a girls’ secondary school in a Jordanian village, Fida Adely suggests what changes, and doesn’t change, in girls’ lives as a result of school enrolment. She notes that the village’s reputation for educating their daughters prior to other villages was a point of pride for residents,21 and that discussions with girls in the school suggested that being seen in public for the purpose of going to school was ‘appropriate’ and in fact ‘necessary’.22 However, ‘for the vast majority of adolescent girls’ with whom Adely spoke, ‘school was typically the only place they were allowed to go’.23 The girls did not socialize outside of school, and a teacher told Adely that ‘good’ girls went home straight after school. Teachers and administrators were clearly afraid that inappropriate behaviour between boys outside the school and their female students might ensue; similar findings emerge from ethnographies of schools in Cairo.24

Employment Despite rapid rates of increase in girls’ education, as the World Bank notes, ‘the region’s female labor force participation rate of 26 per cent is well below the LMI rate of 51 per cent (and this regional average is even lower if the Gulf Cooperation Council countries— Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are taken out)’. It also notes that ‘this rate is the lowest among developing regions: East Asia (68.2 per cent), Sub-Saharan Africa (61.5 per cent), LA and Caribbean (52.4 per cent) and South Asia (35.8 per cent)’.25 What is keeping women out of the paid workforce? The lowest levels of female workforce participation are in areas with significant armed conflict, including the West Bank and Gaza and Iraq.26 Unemployment rates, particularly youth unemployment rates, are high throughout most of the Arab world, but given the fact that for ‘the region as a whole, unemployment is about 20 per cent higher for women’,27 it is not clear that employment is a zero-sum game. On the other hand, some analysts suggest that one reason for the much higher rates of female employment in the Gulf than elsewhere is the ‘lower unemployment rates overall, meaning women do not have to compete with men for jobs’.28 The Fourth Wave of the World Values survey also shows that more respondents in the five Middle Eastern countries surveyed agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that ‘when jobs are scarce men should have more right to a job than a women’, than did respondents in Central Asia, South and Southeast Asia, and Africa.29 In most Arab countries, most employed women work directly for the government through public-sector employment. In Jordan in 2007, 46.6 per cent of female employment was in the public sector, while only slightly over 25 per cent of all men worked there.30 In 2006 in Egypt, 36 per cent of women worked in the public sector, compared to only 6 per cent in formal private employment and 45 per cent in non-wage work, while only 22 per cent of men worked in the public sector.31 Preferences for public-sector employment remain stronger among women than among men: the 2003 Unemployment Survey in Syria shows that while 60 per cent of unemployed 15–29 year olds ‘sought jobs exclusively in the public sector’, 71 per cent of unemployed young women were only looking for jobs there,32 while 26 per cent of job applications to the Jordanian Civil Service Bureau in 2009 came from men and 74 per cent from women.33 Some of the reasons for women’s strong preference for public-sector work are driven by straightforward financial cost-benefit calculations, while others demonstrate gendered expectations about women’s proper role in society. Across the Arab world, women and men are paid much more equally in the public than in the private sector. While in many

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countries public sector wages are lower than those in the private sector, public sector benefits are generally much stronger. Due in large part to different levels of payment into pension schemes, Nader Kabbani found that in Syria ‘lifetime earnings (including pensions) for young public sector workers exceed those for private sector workers among all groups except men with a primary education or below. The differences were greatest for young women across all educational levels’.34 Another marked difference in benefits between the public and private sectors demonstrates the importance of gendered expectations in influencing women’s decisions on where to work. Public-sector work days are usually shorter—often from approximately 9 am to 3 pm—than in the private sector, making public-sector work more compatible with what are presumed to be women’s child-raising duties. Maternity leave benefits are also much stronger for public-sector than private-sector workers. One study in 2006 in Egypt showed that the percentage of public wage workers who receive no paid maternity leave was 6.9 per cent, compared to 18.5 per cent of formal private-sector workers, while 41 per cent of public-sector workers had more than 12 weeks’ maternity leave, compared to 25.4 per cent of formal private-sector workers.35 It is perhaps no surprise, then, that a World Bank study found that a 20-year old Egyptian woman working in a public-sector job in 1998 would have a 22 per cent chance of leaving the workforce by 2006 if she had got married during that period, but a 54 per cent chance of leaving a position in the private sector.37 The case of Iraq shows how governments can alter maternity leave policies with the specific goal of influencing women’s roles as workers and mothers. Al Jawaheri notes that Iraqi public-sector women first received paid maternity leave in 1970. In the early 1980s, when the government needed to keep women working as men went to fight in the Iran–Iraq War, maternity leave rights were reduced, but as the war dragged into the later 1980s and women were ‘encouraged to leave their formal jobs as workers and civil servants in order to give birth to … a minimum of five children’,38 laws were changed to make women’s retirement from the public sector for family reasons more lucrative, but also to increase lengths of maternity leave for those who continued working, especially for those who gave birth to twins.39 Evidence from several countries shows that male attitudes about women, in their capacity as wives and as workers, also keep women predominantly in the public sector. Some 41 per cent of owners of private-sector enterprises with fewer than 99 employees in Jordan who were surveyed said that having female employees caused ‘many’ problems; 23 per cent cited ‘family refusal of female work’ as a problem, as well as other ‘problems’ related to women’s social role, including the 20 per cent who cited ‘inability of females to work late hours’, and the 9 per cent who cited women’s ‘vacations and personal days’,40 largely taken for family purposes. Al Jawaheri’s interviews with Iraq women in pre-2003 Iraq show many women who were either forbidden by their families to work outside the public sector, ‘allowed’ into the private sector only if the family personally knew the private-sector owner, or faced social disapproval for working in the private sector, largely due to the assumption that chances for inappropriate sexual behaviour were greater in the private sector.41 What is the impact on women of the fact that they are disproportionately employed in the public sector? For one thing, in most of the Arab world public-sector wages are significantly lower than those in the private sector and often cannot support a family, a fact responsible for the ubiquitous phenomenon of men who work in the public sector during the day and drive taxis or do other informal labour after that to make ends meet,

138 Vickie Langohr and Amaney Jamal something which female public-sector employees, due to a combination of child-rearing duties and social norms, do not do. This diminished earning potential means that women generally cannot contribute equally to household expenses, perhaps diminishing their decision-making power in the family; it particularly bodes ill for women who head their households, a phenomenon that will increase as divorce rates rise across the Arab world. The fact that women primarily seek jobs in a sector which, due to structural adjustment, is shrinking in most Arab countries, only further suggests increasing economic marginalization for women in the future. In Egypt, Assaad and al Hamidi note that workforce participation among ‘educated women has been declining over time since 1988 … [which] can be directly attributed to the contraction of the public sector in hiring in recent years’.42 In conclusion, it is interesting to note that in the first wave of Arab Barometer surveys in seven Arab countries,43 majorities of men hold positive attitudes about women’s work, but women are more strongly supportive of these rights than men. While 88 per cent of women held the view that married women should be able to work, only 72 per cent of men shared that viewpoint; 78 per cent of women believed they should have equal job opportunities to men, but only 62 per cent of men shared that assessment; finally, 90 per cent of women believed they should get equal wages for equal work, while 77 per cent of men supported this.

PSLs and penal codes In all Arab countries except Tunisia, policies governing marriage, divorce and child custody for Muslims44 are determined by personal status laws (PSLs) which are set in accordance with (that country’s interpretation of) Shari’a law and generally give men more rights than women. A man can often divorce his wife by pronouncing talaq (divorce) three times, while in many countries women can initiate divorce only in response to a limited number of conditions such as impotence or abandonment, which are difficult to prove in court. Khula divorce, which allows a woman to initiate divorce without proving maltreatment if she renounces financial support, was, according to Judith Tucker, ‘a very ordinary occurrence’ in the pre-colonial Muslim world,45 but it was only made available in 2000 in Egypt, in 2001 in Jordan, and in 2005 in the UAE. Polygamy is another example of discrimination built into PSLs. Some penal codes also harm women, as in Jordan, where until very recently laws allowed men who killed female relatives accused of ‘inappropriate’ behaviour with other men, in so-called ‘honour crimes’, to serve as little as a few months in prison. In the last decade, new laws have offered women more legal rights. In addition to the legislation of khula referred to above, Algeria in 2005 saw significant PSL improvements. The final section of this chapter offers a very preliminary examination of factors that facilitate and hinder attempts to change PSLs and penal codes by exploring the disparate outcomes of such attempts in Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and Morocco. The Moroccan moudawana of 2004, which among other things increased girls’ age of marriage and restricted polygamy, and the Egyptian Child Law of 2008, which included provisions criminalizing female genital mutilation, and awarding custodial mothers more rights to make decisions for their children after divorce, were passed rapidly by parliament and became law.45 While neither country is a democracy, and neither Morocco’s King Muhammad VI nor Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak were historically much hindered by the existence of parliament when they wanted to do something without its approval, introducing these PSL changes into parliament and debating and passing them there gave the

The improvement of women’s rights


new legislation full legal weight and legitimacy. The case of Jordan, by contrast, shows a kind of cat-and-mouse game between King Abdullah and parliament for over a decade, as the parliament repeatedly rejected specific amendments to increase punishment for honour crime killings and the King responded with extraparliamentary measures such as putting the amendments into temporary effect while parliament was dissolved. In Yemen, the president’s attempt to increase girls’ marriage age was passed by a majority in parliament, but held up repeatedly due to the vocal opposition of a small minority of primarily Islamist MPs, and has not become law. These cases illuminate some factors that seem to matter, and others that are less important, in attempting to change PSLs and penal codes to improve women’s rights. Advances in certain areas of women’s rights are not strongly correlated with advances in others, as we have already seen with the sharp disconnect between rising rates of women’s education and continuing low rates of women’s employment. Rising rates of girls’ and women’s education have not significantly changed female support for honour crime killings, suggesting that simplistic modernization theories positing that education automatically creates a greater desire for rights need to be qualified.46 The specific subtype of authoritarian regime—monarchy vs. presidential system—has little effect on the outcome of these battles. The Moroccan king and the Egyptian president passed the most beneficial reforms, while the Jordanian king was unable to pass his bill in parliament and the Yemeni president abandoned his bill in the face of minority parliamentary opposition. Similarly, the level of democracy of the regime has little effect: in 2010 Freedom House rated Tunisia, one of the most authoritarian regimes in the Arab world before 2011, as the country where Arab women enjoyed the most rights, followed by Morocco, which was one of the freest Arab countries.47 Another factor that does not appear decisive is activism by women’s groups, except in the unusual (in the Arab world) case in which they are closely connected to leftist political parties that also prioritize women’s rights. The work of feminist activists can be crucial in calling attention to an issue, as in journalist Rana Husseini’s ground-breaking articles on honour crimes, which helped bring the phenomenon to royal attention in Jordan, and women’s movements have actively worked to support most of the PSL changes discussed here. However, there is little evidence that activism by women’s rights groups in and of itself spurs otherwise disinterested regimes to seek reform. In Morocco, where women’s PSL activism had the highest profile, many women’s groups emerged from and were part of a larger culture of strong leftist parties,48 one of which, the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP), which formed the government in 1998, worked assiduously for women’s rights reforms. One factor that is present in almost, but not all, cases of PSL and penal code reform is strong opposition to these reforms from Islamist parties, but this is often less decisive than it at first appears. In Egypt, Jordan and Yemen, where Islamist parties battled PSL and penal code reform, none of these parties had more than 20 per cent of the seats in parliament. Where Islamist opposition helped to scuttle reforms was when it was added to opposition from forces with more seats—groups affiliated with tribal movements in Jordan—or where a president was willing to sacrifice reforms to appease Islamists who only had a small minority of seats, as in Yemen. The cases of Yemen and Egypt highlight what may be the most consistently important factor in achieving PSL change: sustained commitment to it by executives. In Egypt the article of the Child Law which awarded custodial mothers rights to make educational decisions for their children was initially almost

140 Vickie Langohr and Amaney Jamal defeated by the votes of the minority of Brotherhood MPs when large numbers of MPs from the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) failed to appear for the vote. This outcome was avoided when top NDP leaders rapidly rounded up enough members to make it pass. In Yemen, a majority parliamentary vote in favour of the marriage age bill was irrelevant when President Saleh seems to have made the calculation that passing the bill over the entrenched objections of most of the Islah MPs would have weakened his regime, despite the fact that they only had 15 per cent of the seats in parliament. The reality that executive commitment was of decisive importance offers an impression of leaders normatively committed to the expansion of women’s rights. Without offering a judgement on leaders’ motives—and while noting that any purported executive commitment to women’s rights is notably absent when women calling for political change are regularly abused by these same countries’ state security forces—it is clear that several other factors are at least as important in creating executive commitment. International influence is clearly an important factor, measured either as international press attention to abuses of girls’ and women’s rights, which is often closely correlated in time with the introduction of PSL legislation, or the need to bring domestic legislation into line with international agreements like the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Marina Ottaway suggests that one reason why Arab governments may pursue women’s rights initiatives, particularly in a context in which Western governments are pressuring them to make pro-democracy reforms, is that Western concerns about Arab women’s rights ‘can be translated in practice into many concrete, small projects that are not seen as threatening by most Arab regimes and are even welcomed by them as a means to demonstrate their willingness to democratize … An improvement in the rights of women does not threaten the power of the incumbent authoritarian government in the same way as free elections or a free press would’.49 As such, Ottaway notes that ‘family status laws are improving slowly in a number of countries; and this process is likely to continue because this is an area where incumbent governments can demonstrate to the world their reforming zeal without undermining their power’.50 The converse of this argument may help explain why executives in Jordan and Yemen abandoned women’s rights initiatives: when a government feels that its hold on power is precarious or that its ability to pursue initiatives that it values more highly is threatened by pursuing women’s rights reform, those reforms are relatively easily sacrificed or at least substantially delayed. Finally, before examining PSL changes in particular, it is important to address the question of how much they matter to women’s lives. In patriarchal societies where illiterate women may not even know about legal changes or have to rely on conservative male judges to enforce them, legal change does not automatically lead to widespread social reform.51 For example, Fatima Siddiqi notes that despite the moudawana increasing girls’ marriage age, ‘as a practical matter, judges are very reluctant to uphold’ the minimum age.52 However, even where legal changes are not fully applied, they can often make a real difference. One year after khula divorce was allowed in Egypt, a study by the Centre for Egyptian Women’s Rights Legal Aid in six Egyptian governorates found that while large numbers of cases languished in the courts far beyond the time limits set by law, in the first year women filed 5,431 cases of khula, suggesting strong demand for this right. The overwhelming majority of these cases were due to verbal and physical abuse by the husband,53 which would have been much harder to ‘prove’ in court, as these women would have had to do in order to get divorced without khula. While fully acknowledging the need to improve the circumstances that would empower women to better apply new

The improvement of women’s rights


rights, the authors take the position that passing these laws is nonetheless an important first step worthy of study.

Egypt 2008 In June 2008 Egypt’s lower house passed the Child Law, which among other things criminalized female genital mutilation and awarded the right to make decisions about education of children in divorced families to the custodial parent, who in most cases is the mother. The case of this law demonstrates two important features in attempts to change PSLs: vocal opposition by an Islamist party54 to attempts to alter PSLs which would change the balance of power within the family by increasing mothers’ rights, and the role of dominant ruling parties in PSL change in presidential systems. Shari’a-based PSLs often afford the father a dominant role in the family. One key aspect of this dominance was challenged by Article 54 of the Child Law, which stated in part that in the event of divorce or separation: the authority over education for the child lies with the person raising the child, and if there is a dispute about what would achieve the best interest of the child, any of those with authority in the matter can approach the president of the family court to seek his ruling, without impinging on the rights of the child-raiser.55 This article led to a major debate about the proper role of women and men in raising children. The actual language of Article 54 is gender-neutral, referring only to the ‘custodian’ (the person raising the child), and the government claimed at several points that the custodian could be either the father or the mother.56 However, the fact that, according to a 2005 law, mothers receive custody of daughters and sons until the age of 15 means that in most cases of an educational dispute the custodial parent would be the mother. Discussion of the article in parliament immediately prior to the vote was almost completely dominated by a debate between government officials and Brotherhood MPs. Not all Brotherhood MPs who spoke opposed the law, but most who rejected it argued that Shari’a required that fathers make decisions about a child’s upbringing. At the beginning of the discussion 16 Brothers introduced an amendment that exactly reversed the article’s intent, saying that the father should have educational authority and that the mother, if she disagreed, could raise the issue in Family Court, but that the Family Court president in making his decision could not injure the rights of the father to this educational authority. An additional Brotherhood MP, Dr Ahmad Mustafa Abu Baraka, argued that Shari’a indisputably awards that the right to make decisions for children (wilaya) to the paternal relatives while the bringing-up/raising of children (hadana) was accorded to the maternal relatives.57 Child-raising, he explained, ‘is a vessel, and child-raising is responsible for planting the values that the father sows’.58 Not all ruling party MPs disagreed: NDP MP Taher Haziin Mohammed Badawi argued that ‘there is no doubt that the education of the child is connected to his future and his welfare and … the Shari’a put these matters under the control of the father’.59 Shortly after this disquisition, Dr Amal Othman, the president of the Committee for Constitutional and Legislative Affairs, complained about the anti-mother tone of the discussion, saying ‘it could be that the father is the custodian and he is the one who doesn’t want to educate the child or doesn’t want to put the child in a particular school … It is not right for us to always assume that the mother is

142 Vickie Langohr and Amaney Jamal incapable of raising the children or not responsible for their education … otherwise … women’s right to custody would have been removed, and we should not always assume that the mother is the source of conflict (between the parents on educational issues), it could be the father who is causing the problem’.60 The way that the vote on Article 54 occurred helps to illustrate the dynamics of decision-making, and the importance of presidential commitment, in Arab presidential regimes. The parliaments of Arab presidential systems such as Egypt and Yemen are dominated by ruling parties headed by the president. Violence and electoral fraud are frequently used to ensure that these parties enjoy not only a majority but often as much as two-thirds of the seats in parliament.61 For example, in the parliament that passed the Child Law, NDP MPs had 73 per cent of the seats, while by far the largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, had only 20 per cent.62 In Egypt the rules of the parliament have been constructed so that bills are almost never introduced for discussion unless the ruling party is behind them. Thus, the very fact that a bill reaches the parliament floor means that the president supports it, and the overwhelming number of seats for ruling party MPs means that presidents can usually get bills passed that they wish to see become law, even with strong minority party opposition. Thus, as we will see in the case of attempts to raise the marriage age in Yemen, it is often assumed that when a bill is introduced into parliament but not passed, that this means that the president is not committed to its success. It is not always possible to document the mechanics of presidents exerting influence over parliamentary votes in practice. Lists of how individual MPs voted, or the total votes for and against an article or bill, are not made public by the Egyptian government, so we cannot prove, for example, that all or most NDP members voted for a bill, or assume that all 88 Muslim Brotherhood MPs voted against it just because many Brotherhood MPs criticized it on the floor. The case of the article giving custodial mothers the right to make educational decisions for their children, however, offers a rare window into how presidential commitment to PSL change works and how important it can be, because here we can demonstrate the extent to which the absence of NDP members from the vote threatened its defeat in the face of largely Muslim Brotherhood opposition, as well as the lengths to which NDP officials went to ‘save’ the article. The Article 54 vote concluded in a manner unusual enough to warrant at least three separate articles on it in the semi-official Al-Ahram newspaper the next day. One Al-Ahram article noted ‘a very noticeable absence of deputies of the majority [NDP MPs] and an unusually high concentration of independent MPs [who would be almost exclusively Brotherhood MPs, as Egyptian law forbidding parties based on religion meant that Brotherhood MPs run as independents], which almost tipped the scale to give the majority to the independents’.63 Another Al-Ahram article the same day said that the independent MPs did have the majority because so few NDP MPs were present. That article reported that Ahmed Ezz, the NDP’s secretary for organizational affairs, immediately left to try to gather as many NDP MPs as possible so that they would have the majority.64 The article finally passed. Why did the Egyptian government pursue Article 54 despite strong opposition from the Brotherhood? Various articles in the Child Law demonstrate the wide variety of motives that can motivate ‘state feminism’ on girls’ and women’s rights. The effective criminalization of female genital mutilation in the law was a goal that Egyptian activists had sought for decades, but it was given much greater salience by international coverage of the issue, most notably a CNN broadcast of an Egyptian girl being circumcised while Egypt was hosting the UN Conference on Population and Development in 1994. This

The improvement of women’s rights


was a major embarrassment to which Hosni Mubarak himself responded in a follow-up CNN programme; Marie Assaad, a major Egyptian anti-female genital mutilation activist, characterized the CNN broadcast as an ‘explosion’ that was like ‘shock therapy’.65 Another key Child Law amendment reversed previous practice that only fathers or paternal grandfathers could officially register the birth of a child and receive a birth certificate by extending this right to mothers as well. This made children born out of wedlock, or those born in customary (urfi) marriages in which their father refused to acknowledge paternity, eligible for important government services such as school enrolment. One motive for the passage of this article may well have been the need to bring Egyptian law into compliance with international conventions that the government had signed, in this case the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In contrast to the international pressure and obligations that facilitated increasing mothers’ rights in educational decision-making and obtaining birth certificates, it is likely that the main motive for Article 54 was an attempt to simplify the massive congestion in Egyptian family courts on divorce-related issues. As Diane Singerman notes, the 2000 khula law was driven in part by the need to alleviate an enormous backlog of cases, with one source saying that of a population at that time of 64 million people, 1.5 million divorce cases were filed annually,66 and a 1996 study noting that ‘every divorce case leads to at least five other cases in other courts’, including custody and alimony issues.67 In the parliament debates on the Child Law, an adviser to the Minister of Justice argued that in the case of differences on education between the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent, ‘in some cases the legal guardian (the father), in order to spite the custodial parent, does not take into consideration the best interests of the child (and) would take the child out of the school in which he and his siblings were enrolled’.68 Many such cases would presumably end up in court, as occurred in the high-profile case of actress Athar al Hakim in 2007. Although al Hakim had custody of her three sons and paid the fees for their international school, her ex-husband transferred two of their sons into a government school against her wishes. Given the widespread assumption of Egyptians that an international school would provide a much better education than a government school, it seemed likely that the father had moved the sons solely to spite his ex-wife. Al Hakim was only able to transfer her sons back to the international school after a court ruled in her favour in 2007.

Jordan The case of the repeated attempts to strengthen punishments for ‘honour’ crimes in Jordan between 1999 and 2009 demonstrates several things. One is the importance of Western attention to abuses of women’s rights in spurring leaders to action, which reveals another commonality among these cases—Islamist movements opposing changes in part because they feel they are Western-dictated. It also demonstrates that Islamists are not the only ones who often oppose these laws, or even the most powerful group to do so. The case also shows a kind of ‘dance’ in which the parliament continually rejects the core goal of strong punishments for those convicted of honour crimes, while the king repeatedly seeks extraparliamentary mechanisms to achieve this outcome, whether by introducing several different laws as temporary laws when he has dissolved parliament, or by creating a new court to hear honour crime trials. Public opinion surveys on honour crimes also provide one example of the phenomenon of advances in one area of women’s rights, not necessarily

144 Vickie Langohr and Amaney Jamal helping to create the necessary conditions for improving other areas, as Jordan’s relatively very high rates of female literacy seem, so far, to have done little to alter female support for honour crimes. As was previously defined, honour crimes refer to murders of women by their male relatives in an attempt to restore the family’s ‘honour’ after the woman is accused of inappropriate contact with a man. It is generally estimated that between 20 and 25 such crimes occur per year, although one journalist suggested that 10 such murders occurred in only the first three months of 2011.69 In the recent past it was not uncommon for men found guilty of such killings to serve as little as several months in prison. Rana Husseini notes that: the court usually issues reduced sentences in such murder cases after invoking Article 98 of the Jordanian Penal Code, which offers leniency to perpetrators who commit a crime in a fit of fury because of an unlawful or dangerous act that is committed by the victim against the defendant. Court records show that judges often consider a woman tarnishing her family’s honour as a dangerous and unlawful act.70 In February 1999 King Abdullah initiated a process whereby the ‘Ministry of Justice recommended a hasty draft amendment that abolished Article 340 [of the penal code]’.71 Article 340a ‘exempts from punishment’ an attacker who discovers his wife or female relatives committing adultery, while 340b reduces the sentence of a man who assaults his wife or female relative after finding her in an ‘unlawful bed’.72 Janine Clark notes that some activists argued that it would have been better to focus on Articles 97 and 98 of the penal code, and that Article 98 was the most important one in leading to short prison sentences, as Rana Husseini suggests above. However, the king focused on Article 340 because it contradicted the constitution’s mandate of equal treatment by applying only to adulterous wives, not husbands, and because it violated Shari’a, ‘which clearly states that a man should not take punishment of adulterers into his own hands’.73 After the cabinet approved the amendment, it was defeated in the lower house. After going back to and being approved again in the Senate, whose members are appointed by the king, it was again rejected in the lower house. When Abdullah suspended parliament for two years between 2001 and 2003, the amendment was one of the 211 temporary laws that he introduced and which would require adoption by the next elected parliament; the lower house elected in 2003 once again voted against it. Who opposed the amendment, and why? The 1999 parliament that initially defeated the honour crimes amendment had few Islamist MPs, as the Islamic Action Front (IAF) had boycotted the 1997 elections. In the 2003 elections, which produced the parliament that rejected the amendments that year, IAF MPs still had only 15 per cent of the seats. In both cases, then, Islamist opposition alone was not sufficient to defeat the amendment, and in both cases members of parliament who came from various tribes played a key role in blocking the law. Mounira Charrad74 has argued that societies in which tribes retain significant political influence tend to find it harder to improve women’s rights. While she uses Morocco as an example of how tribal power helped hold women back at the time of independence, the continued presence of tribes in Morocco did not prevent the landmark moudawana PSL changes of 2004. Her larger argument, however, is substantiated by examples from other countries such as Kuwait and Jordan, where tribally affiliated MPs and Islamists often both vote against women’s rights improvements, but for different

The improvement of women’s rights


reasons. In the struggle to achieve female suffrage in Kuwait, while the tribes were committed to rejecting suffrage, Lula al-Mulla, a leading female activist, says women’s activists made more headway with the Islamists. Mulla noted that ‘we confronted them and asked them to tell us why Kuwaiti Islam was different than Egyptian Islam, or Palestinian Islam, or other Islams where women could vote’.75 She said they had no good responses, and then ultimately, they began supporting the tribes’ anti-suffrage position by claiming it was a cultural and traditional issue. In discussing the Jordanian parliament’s votes against PSL amendments, including allowing women much easier access to divorce and raising the marriage age, Clark and Young argue that ‘tribal MPs, generally, were more concerned with the traditional rights of males and the IAF focused more on the religious validity of the amendments’.76 That also may have been the case in the honour crime amendment, as when one tribal leader supported his opposition with the argument that ‘a woman is like an olive tree. When its branch catches woodworm, it has to be chopped off so that the society stays clean and pure’.77 The IAF, by contrast, made clear that Islam prohibited honour crimes and that the party did not support them, but, Clark argues, they opposed the amendment of Article 340 because it addressed adultery and ‘1) there are clear punishments for adultery in Islam and 2) these should be meted out by the proper court authorities after the evidence of at least four witnesses according to Islam’.78 Why did the government pursue the issue, and why did it drop it between 2004 and 2009, when the king established administrative courts to hear honour crime cases? The timing of the initiation of the legislation in 1999 suggests that the desire to address foreign concerns helped to move an issue that already had some royal support to the front of the agenda. Journalist Rana Husseini’s articles on honour crimes raised awareness, and Clark argues that she is ‘indirectly credited for bringing the issue to the attention of King Hussein, who condemned violence against women in his November 1997 address to parliament’.79 Husseini’s international awards for her work, including the Reebok Award for Human Rights in 1998, suggested increasing international attention to the issue, which was then covered by CNN in a January 1999 programme with the participation of Husseini and Queen Noor. The programme received widespread international attention. The next month King Abdullah initiated the creation of the draft amendment to Article 340, and Clark argues that royal commitment to the issue further increased in November 1999 when, during a royal visit to France, Le Monde published a major article on honour crimes and Queen Rania was asked about the issue in a French TV interview.80 Islamists and other opponents of changes in women’s rights legislation are well aware that one driver of these laws is a desire to appear ‘progressive’ in the West. Winning Western support for these initiatives is seen as an adoption of Western values on gender relations and sexuality, which Islamists generally see as immoral, and this is one reason they oppose these measures. While IAF secretary-general Sheikh Hamza Mansour said about honour crimes that ‘we are not for taking the law into your own hands’ (i.e. that male relatives should not take it upon themselves to punish supposed extramarital sex), he also noted that ‘this whole issue is being exaggerated, and the reason behind it is not innocent … It’s as if the government is giving up our personality to turn us into a Westernised society’.81 Ironically, a different set of international pressures may have led the King to abandon the honour crime issue for several years after its defeat in 2003. The violent repression of the Palestinian second intifada, which began in 2000, made Jordan’s always unpopular 1994 peace treaty with Israel much more controversial, while the Jordanian government’s support for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was also widely detested. As Clark notes, ‘Kings

146 Vickie Langohr and Amaney Jamal Hussein and Abdullah have pursued an unspoken policy of leaving social and cultural issues to the parliamentarians in return for the MPs’ cooperation on foreign and economic policy. The Palestinian intifada and the Iraq war have tested the limits of this grand bargain’.82 In other words, at a time when a primary concern of King Abdullah was decreasing domestic opposition to his foreign policy, continuing to pursue a women’s rights issue that further alienated MPs may have seemed unwise. The pattern of the King pursuing strengthened honour crime punishments through extraparliamentary measures, and of the parliament trying to circumvent them, continued in 2009 and 2010. In 2009 the King designated a special tribunal to hear honour crime cases, which has led to much harsher penalties, including a 15-year sentence for a 60-year-old man who killed his daughter.83 In November 2009 the king dissolved parliament and in its absence the government unilaterally changed the penal code, finally focusing, as activists had suggested it do in 1999, on Article 98, which allowed courts to shorten prison sentences if the crimes were committed ‘in a state of fury’ (similar to a ‘crime of passion’ in Western law). The amended penal code prevented use of this mitigating factor if the murder victim was a woman or under the age of 15, while another 2010 penal code amendment stipulated a sentence of no less than 12 years for murders of women or those under 15.84 However, with a new parliament seated after the November 2010 elections, the amendment removing the ‘state of fury’ mitigation, initially passed as a temporary law, has gone to the parliament for ratification. The lower house later accepted the amendment on the condition that it apply only to minors, not to women, in effect stripping it of its goal.85 The honour crime issue also suggests the lack of an automatic connection between advances in some areas of women’s rights and others. Jordan has by far the highest women’s literacy rates of the four countries examined here—87 per cent compared to only 40 per cent, for example, in Yemen86 and 58 per cent in Egypt. Despite this, Nermeen Murad, director of the King Hussein Foundation’s Information and Research Centre, noted that a two-year European Union-Jordanian government project on honour crimes that ended in 2011 had found that ‘women are less understanding and sympathetic toward victims of [“honor” crimes] than men … [they] are more inclined to believe that the concept of honour is tied to women’s behaviours and the individuals responsible for these murders are the females themselves’.87 The finding that rising rates of female education do not necessarily translate into increasing female support for women’s rights echoes similar findings in other countries such as India, where some of the highest rates of women seeking to abort female foetuses due to son preference are found in states with high levels of female literacy.88

Yemen When North and South Yemen were unified in 1990, the marriage age of girls was set at 15, but the minimum age was eliminated in 1999.89 A 2009 study by the Yemeni Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour found that one-quarter of all girls were married before 15,90 and several high-profile cases discussed below demonstrate that many girls are married earlier than that. In February 2009 a bill was sent to the Yemeni parliament to raise the marriage age to 18; after MPs lowered the age to 17, the law passed with a majority of votes. The main opposition to the bill came from the Islamist Islah party, which had 15 per cent of the seats, although Islah MPs did not uniformly oppose it. Almost immediately after the bill passed, there was significant outcry from its opponents in parliament and the bill was sent to the Shari’a Codification Committee for its opinion,

The improvement of women’s rights


leading women’s rights organizations to mobilize against reconsideration of the bill. Ahmed al Quraishi, the president of the Siyaj Organization to Protect Children, noted the paradox in the fact that the bill was being held up despite being passed by the majority, and questioned the ruling General People’s Congress’s (GPC) commitment to the bill, noting that the MPs calling for renewed discussion ‘belonged to trends which were known not to have a majority of the parliamentary seats, and if the ruling party was serious about human rights in Yemen then it could use the large majority of seats belonging to its members’ to make sure that the bill was put into effect.91 Given the fact that the GPC held 79 per cent of the parliamentary seats, this was a safe assumption. In March 2010 the question of girls’ marriage age once again took the public stage. In early March the GPC-affiliated Mu’atamar newspaper ran a series of articles seemingly intended to bolster the Islamic credentials of the marriage age law, including a lengthy article on 3 March by Islah MP Showqi al Qadi, responding to the religious arguments of opponents,92 and a 5 March article highlighting the support of arguably the most widely revered cleric in the Sunni Arab world, Yussuf al Qaradawi, for the bill.93 On 21 March a group of ulema including Abd al Majid al Zindani, a high-ranking figure in the Islah party who had headed its Consultative Council several times, issued a fatwa labelling supporters of a minimum marriage age apostates. On 22 March there was a demonstration by what press reports said were thousands of women opposing a minimum marriage age, followed the next day by a smaller demonstration of women organized by women’s rights groups to support the law.94 Once again the fact that a bill with majority parliamentary support was being held up by the vocal opposition of a minority was raised, as GPC member Sameer Radha told the Christian Science Monitor that ‘we have a parliamentary majority and the support of the president. We therefore have the ability to pass the law’. Radha argued that the GPC was holding up the bill in the hope of obtaining Islah’s support, saying that ‘if we wanted to go to war, for example, we could pass it straight through parliament, but this issue is much more sensitive as it is related to shari’a’, and noting that if the GPC implemented the bill without Islah support the latter would label it as ‘full of infidels’.95 The same phenomenon of majority support for the bill nonetheless being blocked by vocal Islah opposition occurred when the bill was brought back to the parliament in October 2010, this time leading to the threat of a physical confrontation between Islah and GPC members. Discussion was also heated between high-profile Islah supporters of the bill Showqi al Qadi and Islah opponents. Al Qadi asked that the bill be discussed without its opponents suggesting that those who disagreed with them were apostates, and requested that each side discuss the bill without assuming that it was the only group that defended Shari’a rulings on the question. Islah MP Abdullah al Odeini strongly reproached al Qadi, labelling his words ‘ignorant talk’. When the leader of the GPC’s parliamentary bloc, Sultan al Barakani, noted that the majority of MPs supported the bill and told al Odeini that ‘by God, no matter how many ulema you have [opposing the bill] we have the majority and we will pass what we want and you will regret it’, Odeini grabbed his cane and Barakani removed his shoe. While other MPs intervened to break up the fight, one of the most high-profile Islah opponents of the bill, Mohammed al Hazmi, aimed a punch at Barakani, which was blocked by another MP, leading the speaker of the house to suspend the session. When the MPs returned to the hall, they began discussing a mining law, despite Barakani’s demand for a vote on the child marriage amendment.96 To the best of our knowledge, the bill has not been brought to the parliament again.

148 Vickie Langohr and Amaney Jamal The timing of Yemen’s introduction of the child marriage bill strongly suggests that, as with honour crimes in Jordan, international attention prompted government action on the issue. While the Yemeni Network to Resist Violence Against Women and other women’s groups had begun a campaign in 2005 to demonstrate the dangers of early marriage, the bill appeared in the parliament only in February 2009, after the case of a 10-year-old girl, Nujood, who divorced her husband, received widespread international attention in 2008. Nujood’s story was widely publicized in the USA and her autobiography, I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced, topped the list of best-selling books in France for five weeks.97 On 5 March 2009, in honour of International Women’s Day and only weeks after the Yemeni marriage bill stalled, Reem al Numeiry, a 13 year old who was at that time seeking a divorce from her 30-year old husband and cousin, was named one of eight ‘International Women of Courage’ by the US State Department and praised by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; she was also put on the list of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2010.

Morocco Morocco is unique among the countries examined here in three important ways. The first is that the scope of the PSL reforms passed in the 2004 moudawana is arguably broader and more impressive than that of the other cases discussed here. The second is that leftist parties are both strong in Morocco and have actually been allowed to form the government. In coalition with several other parties, the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP) was allowed to form the government, a member was named prime minister with the introduction of alternance in 1998, and the USFP had the largest number of seats in the parliament that passed the moudawana in 2004. Clark and Young argue that it was these and other leftist parties that ‘provided the political support necessary for the success of civil society agendas around (family code) reform’.98 The final unique element of the Moroccan case is that Morocco’s main Islamist party, the Party of Justice and Development (PJD), overcame its initial opposition to the moudawana to vote unanimously in favour of it, shedding some light on conditions which may facilitate other Islamist parties embracing PSL change. Finally, the Moroccan case once again demonstrates that advances in one area of women’s rights often stand in sharp contrast to that in others. While in Jordan high levels of women’s education did not prevent women from opposing strong punishments for honour crimes or facilitate the emergence of strong women’s movements, Morocco’s very low female literacy rate—only about half that of Jordan—did not prevent both the emergence of strong (largely elite) women’s movements and the passage of the moudawana. Prior to the moudawana, women’s access to public life was guided by the notion of guardianship. Women needed the approval of their male legal guardians before they could legally work, travel or attend university. The existing moudawana laws allowed polygamy, and women had few rights to initiate divorce, while oral divorce (talaq) remained common.99 Women’s groups emerged in the 1970s and 1980s to call for PSL reform, culminating in the 1990s ‘million signatures’ campaign led by the Union for Feminist Action, the members of which were largely professional, middle-class women.100 Some advances were made in 1992 when King Hasan II signed an earlier version of the 2003 reforms that made some improvements in women’s rights. In 1999–2000 women again mobilized to demand additional reforms, and King Muhammad VI, who supported the reforms, had to withdraw them from deliberation due to opposition by Islamist groups.

The improvement of women’s rights


As political liberalization allowed proponents of women’s reforms space to advance their agenda, it also allowed increasing Islamic activism against the reforms.101 The religious establishment openly campaigned against the proposed moudawana changes. The Moroccan League of Ulema, an official state body, declared that the plan would undermine Islamic jurisprudence, loosen morals in the kingdom, destroy the sanctity of marriage and make it more difficult for men to marry, a position supported by the Minister of Islamic Affairs. Islamist groups in Morocco, the PJD and the Justice and Charity movement all attacked the reform package as a ‘US-American imperialist conspiracy designed to destroy Islamic culture’.102 Nonetheless, the moudawana was passed in 2004. Among other things, it abolished wives’ duty to obey their husbands, no longer required women to have the permission of a male legal guardian to marry, raised the minimum marriage age to 18, and substantially restricted the conditions under which men contract second and later marriages. Divorce was made easier for women, while men could no longer divorce through talaq. Why was the PJD, unlike its counterparts in Egypt, Jordan and Yemen, the only Islamist party to eventually support substantial PSL reform? Analysts have typically offered two explanations for this turn of events: the suicide attacks that killed 45 people in Casablanca in May 2003, only months before the moudawana reforms were initiated, and the fact that the King went out of his way to justify and defend the reforms in an Islamic, not Western human rights, framework. Although the PJD was not involved in the Casablanca attacks, many scholars argue that they made the PJD feel that they urgently needed to clearly differentiate themselves from much more extreme Islamist movements of the type behind the attacks. Ennaji notes: ‘analysts say … that [in voting for the moudawana reforms] PJD leaders were acknowledging the king’s religious authority while also moderating their language in response to May’s terrorist attacks in Casablanca’.103 Clark and Young make this argument more concrete by noting that in the September 2003 elections, the PJD won far fewer seats than had been predicted before the Casablanca bombings, presumably increasing their perceived need to alter course to achieve popular support.104 The PJD maintains that its shift in support of the Moudawana was primarily a function of the King accommodating PJD demands about respecting the jurisprudence of Islam on matters of reform. Put differently, the PJD sought to secure that Islamic principles prevailed and that Western influences were minimal. In March 2001 the king announced his appointment of a royal consultative commission to reform personal status laws. The PJD at the time was adamant about minimizing the influence of ‘Westernizers and leftists’ on the reform of the personal status codes. The PJD was consistent about this position and in 2003 PJD leader Abdelilah Benkirane wrote in al-Tajdid, saying ‘the Moroccan people will not be subject to a few Westernizers’.105 Two months before the Casablanca bombings, the PJD held a conference to further discuss the moudawana, at which it maintained the position that any change to the personal status code should be based on ijtihad and not Western influence.106 The PJD maintained its stance even after the May 2003 bombings; the front page of the 16 June edition of al-Tajdid, in reference to the moudawana, proclaimed the existence of a conspiracy against the Moroccan family, citing external interference.107 PJD leaders like Bassima Haqqaoui and Habib Shoebani attribute the movement’s support for the moudawana reforms to changes made by the king himself, and not the post-Casablanca political climate. Shoebani outlines three noteworthy alterations crucial

150 Vickie Langohr and Amaney Jamal for the change. First, the king included religious scholars on the Royal Consultative Commission to reform the moudawana. Second, the king no longer spoke of an all-encompassing plan for the ‘integration of women in development’, and rather downscaled the project to a reform project in the family code. Finally, the king emphasized that he could not permit what God had forbidden or forbid what God permitted.108 While downplaying the ‘fingerprint’ of secular or Western inspirations on the moudawana may have been key to securing Islamist support, it is important to note that, as Clark and Young point out, socialist parties in Morocco played a key role in advancing the family law reforms that became the moudawana, in a sharp contrast to the other three cases here. As they note, it was the USFP-dominated government, brought to power through alternance in 1998, that in 1999 proposed a plan of action for the integration of women in development, which, had it been adopted, would have made more far-reaching PSL changes than the moudawana eventually did. Clark and Young also note that women’s rights groups that emerged from leftist political parties and other left-leaning women have long led the women’s rights movement in Morocco and ‘dominat[ed] the lobbying efforts for [family code] reform’.109

Conclusion This chapter documents improvements in the status of women across several Arab states. The primary focus of this chapter is on personal status laws. Here we maintain that governing authorities have been crucial and vital in instituting reforms that allow for more equality for women across the region. Indeed, regimes have been able to bypass traditionally conservative pressures to adopt policies more favourable towards women. We also see regimes playing an instrumental role in the area of education. The literacy gap across Arab states is narrowing, while the younger generation of women is far better educated than its predecessors. Finally, although there have been marked improvements in areas of labour market participation and economic activity for women, the political economy of the region will determine the future of women’s economic involvement. While there remain traditional norms and restrictions that hinder women’s economic participation, the economic realities themselves will dictate the trajectory of women’s economic activity. Today, the economic development infrastructure of the Arab world remains weak. Unlike women in some Western societies who experienced massive export-led growth and industrialization necessitating additional female labour in the market, this has not been the case in the Arab region. Thus, the economic activity of women will largely depend on economic development, which is also closely linked to political development and political stability. Wars and turmoil have not been conducive to economic growth and development. Nevertheless, women have made considerable advancements in the last several years. Where we’ve witnessed key improvements, we’ve seen that in addition to active civil society mobilization by women, regimes have played crucial roles in securing the rights of women—especially as they pertain to reforms in personal status laws.

Notes 1 Michael Ross, ‘Oil, Islam and Women’, American Political Science Review February 2008. 2 The World Bank’s definition of MENA includes at least two countries not considered in this chapter on the Arab world: Iran and Djibouti.

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3 Bridging the Gap: Improving Capabilities and Expanding Opportunities for Women in the Middle East and North Africa Region (The World Bank, October 2010), 3. 4 Bridging the Gap, 3. 5 Bridging the Gap, 3. 6 Sanja Kelly, ‘Hard-Won Progress and a Long Road Ahead: Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa’, in Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Progress Amid Resistance (Freedom House, 2010), 8. 7 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 121&IF_Language=eng&BR_Country=480&BR_Region=40525 (accessed 5 August 2011). 8 UNDP, Jordan Human Development Report 2011 (UNDP, 2011), 51. The female literacy rate in the other four governorates did not exceed 2 per cent in the 15–24 age group. 9 Regional Literacy Profile – Arab States, UNESCO Institute of Statistics, unesco/TableViewer/document.aspx?ReportId=367&IF_Language=eng&BR_Region=40525 (accessed 22 July 2011). 10 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 121&IF_Language=eng&BR_Country=7880&BR_Region=40525 (accessed 21 July 2011). 11 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 121&IF_Language=eng&BR_Country=2200&BR_Region=40525 (accessed 21 July 2011). 12 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Yemen, ReportId=121&IF_Language=eng&BR_Country=8850&BR_Region=40525 (accessed 21 July 2011). 13 Bridging the Gap, 4. 14 Martha Brady, Ragui Assaad, Barbara Ibrahim, Abeer Salem, Rania Salem and Nadia Zibani, Providing New Opportunities to Adolescent Girls in Socially Conservative Settings: The Ishraq Program in Rural Upper Egypt (Population Council, 2007), 1. 15 Brady et al., 2007, 1. 16 Bridging the Gap, 4. 17 Gender and Development in the Middle East and North Africa: Women in the Public Sphere (World Bank, 2004), 27. 18 Figures are Lesotho 13.4 per cent, Botswana 10.7 per cent, Cuba 9.8 per cent, and Vanuatu and Yemen at 9.6 per cent. 19 Gender and Development in the Middle East and North Africa, 28. 20 Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Jordan and Morocco. 21 Fida Adely, ‘The Mixed Effects of Schooling for High School Girls in Jordan: The Case of Tel Yahya’, Comparative Education Review, 48(4) November 2004: 359. 22 Adely, 2004, 365. 23 Adely, 2004, 358. 24 Adely, 2004, 371–72. Adely points in footnote 53 to the work of Linda Herrera, who found at a girls’ school in Cairo that staff were deeply concerned with tardiness due to fears of inappropriate behaviour as they went back and forth between school and home. Linda Herrera, ‘Scenes of Schooling: Inside a Girls’ School in Cairo’, Cairo Papers in Social Science Vol. 15, American University Press, 1992. 25 Bridging the Gap, 6. 26 Bridging the Gap, 6. 27 Gender and Development in the Middle East, 76. 28 Kelly, 2010, 6. Rising rates of female employment in some Gulf countries are also strongly influenced by government policies, as in the UAE, where laws forbidding hiring non-Emiratis for such roles as secretaries or human relations officers has brought Emirati women into these positions. 29 World Values Survey, 4th Wave, 30 UNDP, 2011, 107. 31 Ragui Assaad and Fatma al Hamidi, ‘Women in the Egyptian Labor Market’, in Ragui Assaad (ed.), The Egyptian Labor Market Revisited (American University in Cairo Press, 2009), 227. 32 Nader Kabbani, ‘Why Young Syrians Prefer Public Sector Jobs’, Middle East Youth Initiative Policy Outlook, Wolfensohn Center for Development at Brookings/Dubai School of Government, March 2009, 2. 33 UNDP, 2011, 109. 34 Kabbani, 2009, 6.

152 Vickie Langohr and Amaney Jamal 35 Assaad and al Hamidi, 2009, 244. 36 ‘Narrowing the Gap: Improving Labor Market Opportunities for Women in Egypt’ (World Bank, 2010), quoted in Bridging the Gap, 14. 37 Yasmin Husein al Jawaheri, Women in Iraq: The Gender Impact of International Sanctions (Lynne Rienner, 2008), 21. 38 al Jawaheri, 2008, 23. 39 UNDP, 2011, 112–13. 40 See, for example, chapter 3 of al Jawaheri, 2008. 41 Assaad and al Hamidi, 2009, 253. 42 Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan, Yemen, Kuwait and Palestine. Arab Barometer: 43 The personal status law rights of other religious communities are derived from that community’s religious laws. 44 Judith Tucker, Women, Family, and Gender in Islamic Law (Cambridge University Press, 2008), 109. 45 While attempts to reform the moudawana preceded its 2004 passage by over a decade, once the reforms were introduced into parliament in October 2003 they became law within four months. Janine Clark and Amy Young, ‘Islamism and Family Law Reform in Morocco and Jordan’, Mediterranean Politics, November 2008: 336. 46 Of course, it is also possible that such a change will eventually occur but that rising rates of education are too new to have yet substantially changed women’s attitudes. Here it would help to know whether younger women, who, as previously demonstrated, are much more likely to be educated, have more liberal attitudes toward women’s rights than older women, who are less likely to be literate. 47 Kelly, 2010, 4. 48 Clark and Young, 2008, 342. 49 Marina Ottaway, ‘Women’s Rights and Democracy in the Arab World’, Carnegie Papers No. 42, February 2004: 3. 50 Ottaway, 2004, 9. 51 It can be noted that this is the case throughout the world: despite the fact that laws protecting the rights of battered women to prosecute their abusers have significantly improved in the USA over the last several decades, domestic abuse remains rife there. 52 Fatima Sidiqi, ‘Morocco’, Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa 2010 (Freedom House, 2010). 53 Azza Suleiman, ‘The Effects of the Application of the Khula Law’, on the programme ‘For Women Only’, Al Jazeera, broadcast 20 January 2003. Suleiman, then a staff lawyer at the Centre and now its president, noted that while the law stipulates that a woman without children should obtain a khula divorce within six months, and a childless woman within three, after the expiration of the required efforts at marital reconciliation, of the 5,431 cases of khula filed in the first year in the six governorates, only 222 had been finalized. For these and other reasons, she argued that while the government claimed that khula had significantly decreased the suffering of Egyptian families (by ending dysfunctional relationships through the more rapid application of khula), she estimated that this had been achieved by 40 per cent (i.e. things had improved but not nearly as much as the government claimed). 54 It is important to note that some MPs outside the Brotherhood also rejected various aspects of the Child Law. Perhaps the most high-profile intervention by an MP opposing the criminalization of female genital mutilation was staged by vice-president of the Hizb al Destouri, Mohammed al Umda, in front of the parliament building on 1 June 2008. Al Umda, his mother and his three daughters carried signs that read ‘No to Imported Legislation’, and ‘Ring the Alarm Bell … Allowing that Which is Haram (Forbidden) and Forbidding the Halal (that which is allowed) Has Begun’. See Adel al Darghli, ‘Al-Umda Takes With Him His Mother and His Daughters and They Organized a Protest in Front of Maglis al Shaab Against Criminalizing Clitirodectomy’ (in Arabic), al-Misri al-Yowm, 2 June 2008. 55 Transcripts of the 110th Session of the Parliament, 3 June 2008. 56 See the comments of Dr Hassan al Badrawi, Assistant to the Minister of Justice for Affairs of Maglis al Shaab and Maglis al Shura, transcripts of Session 110, 3 June 2008, 9–10. 57 Session 110, 3 June 2008, 9. 58 Session 110, 3 June 2008, 15.

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59 Session 110, 3 June 2008, 14. 60 Session 110, 3 June 2008, 14. 61 The two-thirds threshold is often important because it can be the percentage of votes necessary to alter the constitution, as is the case in Egypt. 62 See Issandr al Amrani, ‘Controlled Reform in Egypt: Neither Reformist Nor Controlled’, Middle East Report Online, 15 December 2005. 63 ‘A Clumsy Birth Due to the Differences and Arguments About the Text of the Articles: Maglis al Shaab Resumes Discussion of the Articles of the Child Law Amidst the Absence of Most of the Deputies of the Majority’ (in Arabic), Al-Ahram, 4 June 2008. 64 ‘A Crisis in Voting … Because of the Absence of MPs’ (in Arabic), Al-Ahram, 4 June 2008. It is unclear whether the absence of NDP MPs from the voting on Article 54 was due to their opposition to or disinterest in the article, or just another manifestation of the common phenomenon of MPs absenting themselves from parliament more generally. 65 Ghada Barsoum, Nadia Rifaat, Omaima al-Gibaly, Nihal Elwan and Natalie Forcier, ‘Toward FGM-Free Villages in Egypt: A Mid-Term Evaluation and Documentation of the FGM-Free Village Model Project’ (Population Council, 2010), 13. 66 Andrew Hammond, ‘Personal Status Law Not A Personal Choice’, Middle East Times, 21 January 2000; and Hosn Shah, ‘“Si El Sayed” … Objects to the New Law!’ (in Arabic), Akhbar al Yowm, 9 January 2000, quoted in Diane Singerman, ‘Rewriting Divorce in Egypt: Reclaiming Islam, Legal Activism, and Coalition Politics’, in Robert Hefner (ed.), Remaking Muslim Politics: Pluralism, Contestation, Democratization (Princeton University Press, 2005), 165. 67 Mona Zulficar and Hoda el Sadda, ‘About the Project to Develop Models of Marriage Contracts’ (in Arabic), Hagar: On Women’s Issues 3–4: 251–59, cited in Singerman, 165. 68 Hatim Bagato, Adviser to the Minister of Justice, Transcript of Session 110, 3 June 2008, 6. 69 Samer Kheir, ‘A “Positive Attitude” Against Honor Crimes’ (in Arabic), Jaridat al Ghad, 31 March 2011. 70 Rana Husseini, ‘Criminal Court Appoints Special Tribunal for Honour Crimes’, Jordan Times, 29 July 2009. 71 Janine Clark, ‘Honor Crimes and the International Spotlight on Jordan’, Middle East Report, No. 229, Winter 2003: 39. 72 Clark, 2003, 39. 73 Clark, 2003, 40. 74 Mounira Charrad, States and Women’s Rights: The Making of Postcolonial Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco (University of California Press, 2001). 75 Personal interview with Amaney Jamal, Winter 2006. 76 Clark and Young, 2008, 348. 77 Clark, 2003. 78 Janine Clark, ‘The Conditions of Islamist Moderation: Unpacking Cross-Ideological Cooperation in Jordan’, International Journal of Middle East Studies November 2006: 552. 79 Clark, 2006, 38–9. 80 Clark, 2006, 41. 81 Richard Spencer, ‘Queen Rania of Jordan Takes on Hardliners Over Honor Killings’, The Telegraph, 6 June 2009. 82 Clark, 2003, 40. 83 ‘15 Years in Prison for a Man Who Killed his Daughter on the Pretext of “Honor”’ (in Arabic), Jaridat al-Ghad, 6 March 2011. 84 ‘Jordan’, World Report 2011, Human Rights Watch, jordan (accessed 29 July 2011). 85 Rana Husseini, ‘Initiative Seeks to Change Mindset on So-Called Honour Crimes’, Jordan Times, 11 February 2011. The phrase ‘state of fury’ used here comes from this article. 86 UNDP, Human Development Report 2010. 87 Rana Husseini, ‘Initiative Seeks to Change Mindset on So-Called Honour Crimes’, Jordan Times, 11 February 2011. 88 Tina Rosenberg, ‘The Daughter Deficit’, The New York Times, 19 August 2009. 89 ‘Yemen Divided Over Under-Age Marriage’, Middle East Online, 31 March 2010. 90 ‘2010 Human Rights Report: Yemen’, 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, US Department of State.

154 Vickie Langohr and Amaney Jamal 91 Arafat Mudabish, ‘Divorced … At Ten’ (in Arabic), al Sharq al Awsat, 6 March 2009. 92 Showqi al Qadi, ‘The Shari’a Evidence and the Scientific Facts and the Logical Justifications for Banning the Marriage of Young Girls’ (in Arabic), al Mu’atamar, 3 March 2010. 93 ‘Leading Ulema of the Umma Call for Banning the Marriage of Young Girls’ (in Arabic), al Mu’atamar, 5 March 2010. 94 See, for example, ‘Qanun Sinn al Zawaj Haal Sa Yaati’, al Destour, 3 November 2010. 95 Oliver Holmes, ‘In Yemen, Women Protest Delay on Child Marriage Ban’, Christian Science Monitor, 23 March 2011. 96 ‘Qanun Sinn al Zawaj Haal Sa Yaati min Mutatalibat Waqaaiya Om SaYatamachad On Ruaa Takayyuf al Nusuus al Diiniya?’ al Destour, 3 November 2010. 97 Nicholas Kristof, ‘Divorced Before Puberty’, New York Times, 3 March 2010. 98 Clark and Young, 2008, 342. 99 James Sater, ‘Changing Politics from Below? Women Parliamentarians in Morocco’, Democratization, August 2007. 100 Moha Ennaji, ‘The New Muslim Personal Status Law in Morocco: Context, Proponents, Adversaries, and Arguments’, paper presented at the Politics of Dissent in North Africa conference, 20–22 February, 2009. 101 Bruce Maddy-Weitzman, ‘Women, Islam, and the Moroccan State: The Struggle over the Personal Status Law’, The Middle East Journal Summer 2005. 102 Martina Sabra, ‘Morocco’s King Takes a Courageous Step’, 2004, Article.php/_c-476/_nr-77/i.html. 103 Ennaji, 2009. 104 Clark and Young, 2008, 340. These authors also stress the importance of the king’s ‘Islamic’ phrasing of the moudawana reforms in securing the PJD’s support. 105 Omari, Mohamed, ‘Interview with Benkirane, Abdelilah’, at-Tajdid, 30 January 2003. 106 Raisouni, Ahmed, ‘ ‫’ﻧﺮﻳﺪ ﻣﻦ ﺍﻟﻠﺠﻨﺔ ﺍﻥ ﺗﻘﺪﻡ ﻟﻨﺎ ﺍﺟﺘﻬﺎﺩﺍ ﺍﺳﻼﻣﻴﺎ ﺣﻘﻴﻘﻴﺎ ﻻ ﻳﺨﻀﻊ ﻻﻱ ﺗﻬﺪﻳﺪ ﻣﻦ ﺍﻱ ﻛﺎﻥ‬, at-Tajdid, 18 March 2003. 107 al-Khalfi, Mustapha, ‘ ‫’ ﻣﺆﺍﻣﺮﺓ ﺟﺪﻳﺪﺓ ﻋﻠﻰ ﺍﻷﺳﺮﺓ ﺍﻟﻤﻐﺮﺑﻴﺔ‬, at-Tajdid, 16 June 2003. 108 ‫’ﺍﺻﺤﺎﺏ ﺍﻟﺨﻄﺔ ﻭﻣﺸﺮﻭﻉ ﺍﻟﻤﺪ ّﻭﻧﺔ‬, at-Tajdid, 15 October 2003. 109 Clark and Young, 2008, 342.

Chapter 9

The Islamic veil in civil societies Faegheh Shirazi

The purpose of this chapter is twofold: to give a background on the contemporary global events concerning both Muslim and non-Muslim nations that impose policies banning the niqab, or hijab; and to focus closely on the various governing policies examining variations in rulings, and the effects of these policies on the populace in recent years.

Introduction During the Assyrian (20th to 15th centuries BC), Greco-Roman (31 BC to 180 AD) and Byzantine (306 CE to 1453 CE) empires and including the pre-Islamic era, both veiling and seclusion were marks of prestigious status of elite women. Only wealthy families could afford to seclude their women. The veil was a sign of respectability but also of a lifestyle that did not require the performance of manual labor. Slaves and women who labored in the fields were not expected [or allowed] to wear the veil, which would have [not only] impeded their every movement [but also, visually associated them with the elite class to which they did not belong].1 The Islamic veil is known as hijab (Arabic), a generic term referring to a modest coverage of the entire body and hair (not necessarily the face). The word veil conjures many images in our minds—from religious, pious, subservient, to exotic, and even feminist. The Arabic term hijab literally means curtain,2 in addition to divider, coverage, or a shield. Neither the veil nor the practice of veiling is an invention of Islam. The veil has a much longer history than all the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Yet it has been adopted by these religions (to various degrees) as a symbol of piety, humbleness before the divine, or as a symbol of obedience to man, including husband or elders. Muslim woman’s modesty has been highly associated with this piece of cloth, which is worn in various styles and colours. This symbolic modesty (the veil) unfortunately has been misunderstood and highly abused by extremists, both Muslim and nonMuslim men and, of course, by women as well. This abuse is due to ignorance and/or lack of understanding about not only the religion of Islam, but also the degree of cultural relevancy brought into the religious argument to justify imposition of the veil and its style upon women, which, in fact, has nothing to do with Islam at all. In my previous publications on the issue of the hijab in modern culture, I discussed how the meaning of veiling is a challenging task. The semantic versatility of the veil is dependent upon ‘the specific cultural, historical, and religious contexts in which the veil is used’.3

156 Faegheh Shirazi Never in the history of mankind have there been as many publications and debates centred on one single issue: the veiling of Muslim women. Over the past centuries the debates and discussions on this item of clothing have taken many shapes and travelled many roads and miles. The veil has created ample opportunities to be discussed in various disciplines from variant perspectives and points of view. A simple search on the topic shows publications not only in the field of humanities, but also in business, marketing, medicine, journalism and fine arts.4 In addition to the issue of general veiling or hijab, the most recent political debates are more focused on a particular issue of coverage, the face veil known by various terms depending on its particular style, and the amount of coverage. The niqab, also known as burqa, and a reference to face coverage (sometimes covering the entire face and sometimes covering the face with the exception of a small slit exposing the eyes), is considered to have never been a part of Islam’s requirements for women,5 according to a number of scholars including Gamal al-Banna, Faegheh Shirazi and Yousuf al-Qaradhawi. The veil is not only a sign of religious piety, but also a highly contested issue in global politics, and has been associated also with political systems within Muslim societies.

Governance and the issue of Muslim women’s veil Perhaps one of the most provocative issues debated in Muslim nations is women’s clothing and appearance. Some Islamic governments have let women decide whether or not to wear any form of religiously required clothing, while others have altered their governance on this issue, either forcing women to remove their veil or requiring them to wear a veil while in public space. Among the classic examples in our contemporary history are both the Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey. Both of these neighbouring countries have colourful histories of veiling, unveiling and re-veiling. Both nations went through a severe policy of forced unveiling, which left a remarkable impression on their history. The Uzbekistan case of unveiling and re-veiling is also of much interest, and shares a lot of similarities with both Iran and Turkey. In this section, I will focus on these three nations and attempt to demonstrate the roles played by governance in the veiling/ unveiling policies of Muslim women in their respective nations.

Unveiling and re-veiling Iran The Islamic Republic of Iran has an interesting history of governance and women’s body politic, in which the women’s dress code (particularly the veil) plays a big role. This veiling history deals with the various processes of veiling, unveiling and re-veiling, occurring in a cycle. One of the fascinating aspects of the Iranian unveiling and re-veiling is that two different systems that ruled Iran (Pahlavi dynasty 1925–79) and the Islamic Republic (1979–present) claimed that the government emancipated women by unveiling (during the Pahlavi dynasty) and by re-veiling them (Islamic Republic of Iran). The Pahlavi dynasty claimed that the emancipation of Iranian women was only possible by unveiling, which would open the path of progress and public participation for them. This unveiling era in Iranian history is referred to by a number of feminist scholars as the ‘Westernization’ of Iran, rather than an era of emancipation. It is an historical fact that Reza Khan (16 March 1878–26 July 1944) implemented numerous socio-economic reforms, and reorganized the army, government and finances in addition to other reforms that made

The Islamic veil in civil societies


drastic changes in Iranian women’s lives. Public education and forced unveiling are among the most prominent changes regarding women. However, Reza Khan’s attempts to modernize Iran have been criticized for being ‘too fast’ and also ‘superficial’. Camron Michael Amin speaks to this particular point: The policies and propaganda of the Women’s Awakening of 1936–41 had a unique role in the history of the woman question in Iran. In attempting to strike a balance between emancipating and controlling women, the Pahlavi regime brought the long-standing tension between modern male guardianship and modern Iranian womanhood to a breaking point.6 Of course, the unveiling and the era of women’s awakening did not pass without a struggle and the resistance and protest of clerics and the conservative sector of the Iranian nation. As was expected, only two days after the deposition of Reza Khan on the 18 September 1941, the cleric Abdullah Masih Tehrani wrote to the prime minister complaining how the state police were rough and unkind to women who were still veiled in public. The violence against women was not always done by the state and under the direct supervision of the Pahlavi governance, but was motivated and carried out by private citizens such as Mas’ud Qane’, who had made public remarks against unveiling—thus the citizens (men only) were threatening unveiled women as the government was threatening women for the crime of veiling in public. It is obvious that women paid a large toll for what the government of Reza Khan wanted to accomplish to ‘emancipate’ the nation by using the ‘body politic’, while the anti-women’s emancipation citizens saw forced unveiling policies as a personal insult, and the direct hand of government on their namous (honour), which must be guarded by the male members of the family. The result was a chaotic moment in the history of unveiling in which women were the victims on both sides. By the time Muhammad Reza Pahlavi (26 October 1919–27 July 1980) came to power, the policy of the forced unveiling of women was almost settled. Being forced to unveil by then, a number of women were comfortable in the public in their Western styles of clothing, while the more conservative families continued to keep their women veiled, since the government agents were no longer using force to remove the veil in public. The Iranian Revolution took place on 11 February of 1979, causing Reza Shah to leave Iran. The new government of Iran established itself under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini, and the new government of Iran became the first modern theocracy in the world. The Iranian government shifted from a monarchy to what is now known as the Islamic Republic of Iran, with its governance based on the principles defined by the Twelver Imami Shi’a Islam, or the Ithna’ashariyyah, and interpreted by the Shi’a authorities. There have been numerous Persian publications in Iran since the establishment of the Islamic Republic, ‘exposing’ a series of unpublished, ‘secret’ documents that describe how forced policies on the issue of unveiling/emancipation of Reza Shah were carried out. In addition to the official correspondence on the unveiling between various governmental agencies and municipalities around the country, many books have been published during the past three decades on the issue of religious, sociological and cultural aspects of the harm of unveiling and benefits of veiling in Iranian society. Needless to say, all such publications are not possible in Iran unless the pen of censorship of authorities in charge approve them.7 Once again, the veiling/unveiling issue is controlled by the modern theocracy of Iran.

158 Faegheh Shirazi With the change to an Islamic government came the ruling policies involving the issue of veiling and women. During the first year of the new government, veiling was not debated as an ordinance. In fact, Khomeini publically announced that he would not force any woman to go under a chador (a long enveloping veil covering from head to toe), and left the option open to the good Muslim women of Iran to make that decision on their own. Unfortunately, those egalitarian words were not sustained, and soon women were again the subject of violence and attacks in the public arena for not veiling themselves. The unveiled (sar e baaz, bi hijab) created much debate and promoted violence against women. It is interesting to note that history repeated itself within a span of 50 years between two different Iranian governmental systems, forcing women to unveil and then again re-veil, and using the idea of freedom of women as their reasoning for the forced actions. The actual owner of the woman’s body is the government of the time in Iran, which can exert power to force women to abide by the law. As it now stands, the issue of veiling is still a hotly debated issue in Iran as we witnessed during the most recent uprising events related to the Green Movement. Majid Tavakoli, a male student, was arrested during the uprising in December 2009. The following reveals that although the government claims to honour its women and protect them by the virtues of the hijab, this same government uses the hijab to publically shame opposition members such as Tavakoli: The semi-official Fars news agency reported that Tavakoli was arrested while trying to escape dressed as a woman after giving a speech at Tehran’s Amir Kabir University. It posted his photo beside an image of the former Iranian president, Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, who reportedly fled the country in female disguise after falling from official favour in 1981. But far from discrediting Tavakoli, the move appears to have backfired by boosting his standing in the opposition movement. A campaign on Facebook has seen more than 80 men expressing solidarity by posting pictures of themselves wearing hijabs and chadors. Similar displays of support have surfaced on Twitter. But the most daring mockery of the regime has appeared on a spoof website,, which depicts faked images of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wearing female dress [the Iranian style of conservative hijab].8 In another incident, a member of the clergy in Iran blamed Iranian women in particular, and women in general, for the natural disasters due to their wearing improper Islamic clothing. ‘Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi said, “women who do not dress modestly” cause seismic activity, his comments only seemed to embolden the forces of debauchery’.9

Unveiling Turkey, and the fight for rights to veil In the case of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal (‘Atatürk’—1881–10 November 1938) was a Turkish army officer, a writer and founder of the modern Republic of Turkey. He became the first Turkish president after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. During World War I Atatürk was a military officer whose campaigns led to Turkish independence. While in power, he embarked upon a programme of reform in different aspects of Turkish people’s lives—political, economic and cultural. His main agenda was to convert the Ottoman Empire into a modern and secular nation-state where the political system does not involve the religion. Kemalism is a reference to the reforms established by Atatürk, which is inclusive of clothing reforms for both men and women in modern Turkey. With the reform introduced by law, women no longer could wear veils in

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public and men had to abandon wearing the fez (a brimless hat popular during Ottoman times), and instead started to wear European-style hats. In 1982 the Turkish government banned the use of headscarves as a religious symbol in all public and private universities, and all government offices. In recent years the ‘rise of the transnational veiling-fashion industry in Turkey has taken place within the context of neoliberal economic restructuring, the subjection of the veil to new regulations, and the resurgence of Islamic identities worldwide’.10 Veiling has created many challenges for the Turkish government, since on the one hand any garment associated with a religious denomination cannot be worn publicly, because secularism is promoted by the government and veiling is associated with Islam. On the other hand, the government is infringing on the right to freedom of religion. In the past few decades, the number of Turkish young women who have re-veiled of their own free will has caused the government to take this issue seriously. Saktanber and Corbaciolu correctly identified a ‘scepticism’ in Turkey, since there have been ‘accelerated developments in the conflict between Islamists and secularists’.11 The international community for human rights has questioned this restriction posed by the Turkish government on the headscarf, which has become politicized: Both the European Court of Human Rights (‘ECHR’) and the Turkish Constitutional Court have rejected claims that the ban denies women their right to religious freedom and education. Instead, both courts have held that the ban is a necessary and reasonable response to the threat allegedly posed by fundamentalist Islam to Turkey’s secular democracy.12 The most recent move by the Turkish government to prevent the headscarf in public was the annulment of amendments (2008) to the Turkish Constitution lifting the headscarf ban. The government argued that such amendments violate the core principles of secularism in the Turkish Constitution.

Unveiling Uzbekistan and the crime of veiling While controlling Uzbekistan, the Soviet government attempted to reduce Islam to the status of a cult by changing the alphabet to Cyrillic. Soviets soon realized that despite all the restrictions placed on Uzbeks, Islam would not disappear from the lives of the Uzbek people. Thus, ‘the Soviet government instituted a state-controlled board of Muslims of Central Asia—the Muftiat … who played the role of an intermediary between the State and the Central Asian Muslims’.13 This supervision of Muftiat soon faced challenges from the prominent religious leaders who were the guardians of the ‘unofficial’ Islam. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, a resurgence of Islam reappeared in Uzbekistan, which made the governmental officials worry about the takeover of Islamic fundamentalists. The 1998 Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations was established, which allowed religious schools to train clergy; however, no groups were ever allowed to do so unless permitted by the state-controlled Spiritual Directorate for Muslims (the Muftiat), which controls ‘the Islamic hierarchy, the content of imams’ sermons and the volume and substance of published Islamic materials’.14 Marianne Kamp’s15 research on Uzbekistan is a valuable addition to the literature and history of governance and veiling in that region of the world. Kamp looks at the era

160 Faegheh Shirazi when the Uzbek people were dominated by Russian policies. During this period, Uzbek women were forced to be publically visible and unveiled. This policy was implemented in the 1920s and continued into the 1930s. The act of unveiling created significant discomfort about the ‘unveiled, modern women’s morality’. The measure of Uzbek women’s morality was dependent upon her body coverage, a typical sentiment of nomadic and more conservative patriarchal societies. Kamp devotes a major part of her research on the particular issue of unveiling, which happened during the era of the hujum (an Arabic term meaning assault or attack) campaign. Hujum happened in 1927, when the Soviet government redefined the status of veiled and secluded Uzbek women as ‘equal citizens’, and encouraged women to come into the public space. For the first time Uzbek women were paid for the work they performed outside their home. Under the same Soviet policy, Uzbek women were encouraged to attend school and become active participants in Communist Party governance. The chaos that such reforms in Soviet policy created is documented by Kamp. She writes that one of the most important aspects of such reform policies that caused disorder among the Uzbek people (men in particular) was the strong promotion of women’s ‘unveiling’, which led to abandonment of the paranji (a long veil that covered a woman’s body) and a face veil called chachvon (made of horsehair), a symbolic gesture which culturally meant dishonouring men. The Soviet Communist Party launched massive unveiling meetings in order to ‘liberate’ Uzbek women, which in turn brought a patriarchal backlash supported and led by religious clergy. Many Uzbek women during the 1920–7 era did not unveil due to personal safety issues and lack of power on their part to face or clash with patriarchal resistance. Those few brave women who unveiled during this turmoil faced the violence of Uzbek men against them, and led miserable lives. After 1929, once the Soviet government faced the ugly reality of violence against Uzbek women regarding its unveiling policies, the Party defined the murder of unveiled women as an act of terrorism against the Soviet state, subject to severe punishment.16 Now, in the post-Soviet independent Uzbekistan, there is a new, self-imposed veiled generation declaring their identity as belonging to a larger global community of Muslims. There have also been cases in which young, veiled girls were expelled from public schools and universities because they refused to unveil.17 Unfortunately, history repeats itself, as the new religious identity practised by these younger Uzbek women is considered to be a threat to Uzbek governance and authority, and veiling is once again being attacked by social and governmental pressures. The recent governmental effort to stop veiling in Uzbekistan has resulted in odd public reports. Some Uzbek officials and physicians speak of health and security issues related to wearing a hijab, stating that not only weapons can be hidden under it (a security reason), but that the hijab can also cause oxygen and calcium deficiencies.18 Women who wear miniskirts, on the other hand, were advised to dress with ‘“moderation” to prevent susceptibility to all kinds of infections and other unspecified health problems’.19

Governance and the issue of Muslim women’s niqab It was reported in October 2009 that the high grand Mufti of Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi, issued a religious decree (fatwa) banning the niqab for both female students and teachers in classrooms and dormitories. Explaining his reasons, he said that the niqab has nothing to do with Islam and that wearing it is not

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required, nor is it an obligation for Muslim women.20 Soon after this decree, some other Islamic nations followed suit, such as Egypt and Syria. A simple internet search reveals the amount of interest and number of publications that have been devoted to this one single topic in our time. In Western societies, the Muslim woman’s veil has created not only endless discussions on its religious value, but has also given rise to new governmental policies in some European nations to ban wearing the niqab in public.21 Among the first European nations to criminalize wearing the burqa (this term is not a face cover, but is commonly used in the media to describe a face veil) and niqab in public was France.22 Belgium was soon to follow France’s example. Such moves from liberal and secular governments that tend to believe and follow the basic nature of human rights policies seem to be contradictory, since the right to practise one’s religion (no matter what others think about its values) and the right to wear what one wants are the beliefs of personal freedom inherent in the constitutions of most of the European nations. However, banning the niqab based on its religious value or the issue of security seems to be a new interpretation that has started to reshape the core of human rights and the concept of secularism. Despite the sympathetic attitudes of the civil rights advocates who are standing with the Islamists in defence of a woman’s right to cover her face, public opinion is varied. In 2010 the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project (based in Washington, DC) surveyed attitudes regarding a ban on the niqab, and ‘a clear majority of Germans, French, Spanish and British all support a ban. Most Americans however would reject such a ban’.23 The result of this survey is very interesting to study. It is an indication of social, cultural, political and economic issues that are not openly discussed. The issue of the niqab seems to be more of a recent phenomenon in the history of veiling in the West. In an in-depth interview of young Muslim women in the USA about the issue of the niqab, it was reported that one clearly sees a different story when these women’s ideas and responses are compared to those in Europe. While half the participants in this study wore a headscarf or hijab, not one of them said they were interested in wearing the niqab. Instead, they believed the niqab was unnecessary in the American context. However, an overwhelming majority upheld the right of a woman to wear a niqab if she wanted to do so.24 The above study suggested that if anyone wants to understand why Muslim women in the West veil themselves (including wearing a niqab), then one must understand the historical as well as socio-political factors such as a country’s colonial domination, and most of all the nature of its immigration rules, which directly affect the demographic composition of Muslim immigrant groups. The study also particularly emphasized that although wearing a niqab did not seem to be an important factor in the US context, both European and US Muslim women defended a woman’s right to wear a niqab. This point was almost exclusively justified and argued by Muslim women participants in interviews using the ‘Western discourse of individual rights and personal freedom’ to defend their position.25

Burqa/niqab ban rulings In the recent history of Muslims in the West, much has been published and discussed from various perspectives on one single question: does a woman have the right to

162 Faegheh Shirazi conceal her face behind any form of shield while she is in a public space? The arguments presented for justifying the implementation of the ban on wearing the niqab are of various natures, since each respective government may have a specific idea as to why a woman should not hide her face while in public. The following section of this study takes a close look at this issue and attempts to provide some of the contemporary debates on this question, which have motivated a number of nations to proceed to make it unlawful for a woman to wear the niqab in public. Some of these nations have pushed the boundaries further by fining and assigning jail sentences to discourage anyone from challenging the law.

The Netherlands ban on the burqa Imagine running a political and election campaign that is uniquely based on banning, first, the burqa (niqab), and second, the construction of mosques. Mr Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician who is the champion of anti-Islam and -Muslim policies, in his recent campaign, used both the burqa and the mosque to his benefit. According to a recent interview, Mr Wilders stated that as early as 2011, the Dutch parliament might institute a ban on wearing a burqa in public, although as of April 2012 the Dutch parliament was still in the decision-making process for such a ban. Geert Wilders is a member of the populist Freedom Party, which is the third largest in parliament. The party expects the government to take a much tougher policy towards the immigrants from non-Western nations, and particularly from the Muslim majority nations. It is no secret how openly Wilders expresses his hatred and negative personal attitudes about Islam and Muslims. He believes that the rest of the world feels the same way, but is just afraid to express the same opinion. He claims that Islam is not only ‘a violent ideology’, but also that those immigrants coming from Muslim countries are dangerous to the welfare of the Netherlands. He further states that: We [in the Netherlands] believe our country is based on Christianity, on Judaism, on humanism, and we believe the more Islam we get, the more it will not only threaten our culture and our own identity but also our values and our freedom.26 Geert Wilders believes that as early as 2011 and no later than 2012, the burqa ban will be in full force. This push for governance of the burqa in reality will only affect ‘two dozen women’ (note that 900,000 of the 16.5 million Dutch population are Muslims). However, what Geert Wilders suggests does not end with a burqa ban only, since he also wants the government to impose ‘a tax on all Muslim veils and a ban on the building of new mosques’.27

Switzerland following footsteps of Netherlands ban on the burqa On 23 May 2010 the results of a Swiss television poll showed that 57.6 per cent voted for banning the niqab. The issue of the niqab is shown to be an important issue considering that a majority of citizens are in favour of this ban. This poll is not representative, since only 502 people aged 14–59 from various regions of Switzerland participated, but the poll does give some indication of the Swiss public’s views on the niqab. In other recent news, the Federal Committee, which is appointed by the Swiss government, is in agreement to implement ‘a partial ban on the traditional Islamic burqa and the niqab’.28

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Apparently, this government-appointed committee takes an interest in women’s issues. The committee called for traditional full-face veils to be banned in government offices and in public schools. The committee claimed that the ban would prevent gender discrimination. After reading the report and the suggestions of the committee, I was not able to fully understand what the committee meant by ‘gender discrimination’, and wished that they had offered a better explanation as to who is discriminated against and how they believe that by stopping a woman legally from wearing an item of clothing that this discrimination will end. Apparently, the committee decided on their own that all women who wear a veil or a niqab do so out of fear of something or someone, and that they all do so against their will. In other words, these ‘poor and helpless’ women are going to be saved by the Swiss government re-dressing them without even considering Muslim women’s opinions. It is puzzling to me that the governmentappointed committee can perceive discrimination against Muslim women because they are using the veil/niqab, but are blind to see their own discrimination against the same women by implementing legal steps to force them to change their way of dressing without consideration of the women’s personal opinions or taking some sort of statistical poll to approach this decision from a scientific point of view. More news regarding the ban appeared in headlines (July 2010), in which Stefan Kölliker, an elected member of the Swiss People’s Party, issued a directive asking the administrative divisions to ban the headscarf. Kölliker is the man behind efforts and votes against the building of mosque minarets. In an interview he stated: ‘The headscarf … is an obstacle to integration’.29 Meanwhile, residents of Fribourg and Zurich refused the proposed ban on headscarves in schools proposed by Kölliker. The news coming from Switzerland is varied on this issue and is rather confusing in nature. It is obvious that the central government has not made a firm decision on this issue, but pressure from various regions soon will result in a final ruling banning the veil, niqab or both, soon, as Geert Wilders predicted in his personal interviews.

Sweden joins burqa/niqab battleground As most Western European nations are caught up with the issue of niqab, hijab, or burqa (depending on their respective contexts), we have Sweden now to add to this bandwagon. In the case of Sweden, based on a lawsuit brought against Västerort Vuxengymnasium (located in Spånga), an adult higher education college in which a Stockholm Muslim woman was told that she is no longer allowed to wear her niqab (covering her face, but with an opening for the eyes) in classes. The warning was issued to the student by the college administration authorities on 15 January 2009. The student decided to report a case of discrimination to the equality ombudsman. Apparently, the school administrative staff reported to her that their firm action was based on the recent decision made by the Swedish National Agency for Education (Statens skolverk, commonly known as Skolverket).30 The woman complained, ‘But this is just a ruling, it is not a law and the ruling concerns those who wear a burqa, covering the whole face. I have a niqab which shows the area around the eyes’.31 The student felt that it was ‘offensive’ to be expelled for her ‘personal style’, and the ruling seems to be rather confusing and unjustified. Britt-Marie Johanson, the rector of the college, told her personally that the student had a very clear choice: either to accept the school’s ruling or stop attending classes. The student argued that Swedish constitutional law, which guarantees religious freedom, must take precedence over the policy or the ruling of the education system.

164 Faegheh Shirazi I followed up this story to see the outcome and decision of the Swedish governance on this issue of discrimination against freedom of religion and the niqab case. It took almost one year to arrive at a decision: according to the Swedish discrimination act, banning anyone from attending school or university based on wearing veils covering the face was a violation of law. The Swedish equality ombudsman made this final ruling on 1 December 2010.32 In the end a compromise was reached, as reported on 3 December 2010: The woman was permitted to continue the courses while DO [discrimination ombudsman] handled the case. The situation was solved in such a way that she [the student] had to take of[f] her niqab when she had to identify herself for the school’s staff. She could also sit in the classroom in such a way that no male students could see her face, and she could then take of[f] her niqab.33 Of course, the discrimination ombudsman decision faced criticism from Lotta Edholm, a member of the Liberal People’s Party who is also a municipal commissionaire for schools in Stockholm. She gave an interview on Swedish television and stated: [I] do not think that burqa or niqab should be allowed in classrooms since communication and teaching is not only conducted with words, but also with facial appearance. She calls DO’s [discrimination ombudsman] decision a ‘non-decision’ since it is neither legally binding nor possible to appeal since DO chose not to take the case to court.34

Germany, banning religious symbols including the burqa and niqab The 16 states of Germany are contemplating the legality of wearing the burqa or niqab in the public arena. According to the news, half of Germany (eight states) has already passed laws restricting religious clothing (including the burqa/niqab, headscarf) and religious symbols in schools. The most blatant, discriminatory aspect of the law is that exceptions are made for Christians regarding religious clothing and symbols. Five out of these eight states have made exclusive exceptions for Christians. A German representative in the European Parliament, Silvana Koch-Mehrin, who is one of the German Free Democrats (the party that believes in personal freedoms), suggested and called for a Europe-wide ban on face-covering and based the justification on the rights of women: ‘the burqa is a massive attack on the rights of women. It is a mobile prison’. She also added that ‘there are limits to this freedom and the EU [European Union] should decide on behalf of Muslim women the limits of what clothing they can wear’. However, this simplistic, one-sided view of the ‘rights of women’35 projects an ideology that is dictatorial to those women who are wearing the burqa. Her statement confirms that in her opinion these women have no right or say on their personal choice. In other words, Silvana Koch-Mehrin knows best what is good for the veiled woman. She also added that: And I admit it: When I meet people on the streets fully veiled, I’m disturbed. I cannot judge what their intentions towards me are. I’m not afraid, but I am unsure. Freedom cannot go so far as to take away the public faces of humans. At least not in Europe.36

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Italy—to ban or not to ban: that is the question The Italian government is currently divided on the face-veiling question. According to the Northern League, wearing a niqab in public is illegal and punishable by a fine of US$2,660; however, the bill has never been debated.37 Since 1975, according to the ‘protection of the public order’, wearing a motorcycle helmet in public facilities has been outlawed, but the Northern League uses this law to ban face-covering as well.38 Mara Carfagna, minister for Italian equal opportunity, is planning to create a ban exclusively relating to the burqa and to make it a part of the ‘protection of the public order’ bill. In addition to the new move on banning wearing of the burqa, there are plans to add ‘penalties of up to two years in jail’.39 Mara Carfagna has called for a ban on both the burqa and niqab.40 In her interview she stated: ‘I am absolutely in favour of a law which bans the burqa and the niqab, which I consider symbols of the submission of women and an obstacle to social integration’.41 As is evident from this simplistic statement, minister Carfagna assumes that wearing a hijab or a niqab is always forced on women and that those who choose to emigrate must be running away from their religious beliefs and cruel husbands who force them to wear the hijab. Carfagna also stated: We need to make sure that women who come to Italy know that here, women have equal rights and equal dignity with men. There is no room for traditions, mentalities and religions where women are treated as inferiors.42 In my personal opinion, Mara Carfagna is one of the best examples of those who are blind to their own culture and religious practices that embody similar behaviour. After all, she is a native Italian, speaking from a Catholic nation. Women in Italy still have many issues with abortion, divorce and the role of women in the Church, to name a few.

Belgium bans the burqa in public In Belgium the lower house approved legislation to ban wearing the burqa in public. On 20 April 2010 the bill was approved: wearing any form of covering that partly or fully covers the face became illegal. Imposition of the ban will be enforced on grounds and buildings ‘meant for public use or to provide services. Exceptions could be made for certain festivals’.43 The law also made an exception for motorcycle riders who wear helmets. There will be a fine of between €15 and €20 for those who break the law, and possibly up to a week in jail.44 Individuals caught wearing the burqa will be fined. The law could also be employed to prevent protesters from covering their faces while demonstrating. In 2009 some 29 women in Brussels were fined for disobedience, caught wearing the burqa (or burqa-type dress, as the report indicates). Apparently, the local rules had the power to enforce the ban, but caused problems, as the enforcement seemed to be spotty. However, with the new law clearly defined, the burqa is now outlawed on a national level.45

Spain banning the niqab The Spanish Senate approved a motion to ban Muslim women from wearing in public the burqa or other garments that cover the whole body. The decision was explained as

166 Faegheh Shirazi having a direct link with security and it was deemed necessary to ban anything that hides identification in any of the city’s public areas. Spain blames religious fundamentalists for pushing women to wear the niqab. The city of Lleida in north-eastern Catalonia, Spain, has introduced a ban on wearing the face-covering Islamic burqa and the niqab in public places.46 The vote by the Spanish Senate is unusual since most of the Muslim migrants to Spain are from North Africa and very few wear a burqa. So the question of saving women and the issue of equality cannot be the ultimate motivation in this ban (due to the small number of women who actually wear the niqab)—political considerations may explain this ban better. ‘Anna Terrón, the secretary of state for immigration, said the Senate vote had “more to do with the election campaign in which the CiU is involved than with a real discussion” on the burqa’.47

Face veils: bans fail to take hold in the USA For most of us who are living in the USA, it is strange to see why and how our government’s time and energy should be invested in banning a group of people from wearing certain kinds of clothing, rather than upholding the principles of human rights, equality and the right to practise the principles of one’s individual religious beliefs—no matter how different they may be from mainstream practices. For example, for most Americans the idea of preventing a student from having access to higher education when the student is not causing harm to anyone or being disruptive would be hard to understand, especially when the reason given is that she is wearing a face veil. Many of us learn to deal with the unusual appearances of others and tend to (or at least try to) remind ourselves not to judge others by the way they look. The subject of the face veil is controversial and frequently in the news. Since the idea of wearing a niqab/burqa to obscure one’s identity became an issue in many schools, the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences added a religious clause for exemption to protect the institution from discrimination accusations.48 The very first court case relating to the niqab in the USA began in 2002 when a Muslim (convert) woman sued the state of Florida for refusing to renew her driver’s licence photo while wearing her niqab. She lost her case on appeal.49 Shirazi’s editorial on this particular case perhaps can shed more light on the ambiguity of its religious argument: If one accepts the point that a driver’s license serves as an important identity card, then wearing a face veil obviously defeats the purpose of such a card because it conceals one’s identity. The law, to an extent, can reasonably accommodate personal religious beliefs. But a good citizen must likewise accommodate certain laws created that clearly benefit all while not violating fundamental religious obligations … It should be noted that even in Saudi Arabia, women’s faces are unveiled on their passports, for the same reasons given by the lawyers for the state of Florida.50 Furthermore, I would argue that to have a driver’s licence is a privilege granted to individuals, not an obligation required by law. Thus, a citizen should abide with the rules in order to maintain and benefit from this privilege. The US Education Testing Services (ETS) administrates several national exams, which require photographic identification. For example, in order to take the SAT (the college entrance test) or the GRE (graduate school exam), a photo must be taken at the actual

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test site. The ETS has the right to ask anyone who is taking the exam whose face is concealed to lift the mask or the veil to be identified for the prevention of fraud. ‘We have not had any issues related to this policy’, which has been in place for more than a decade, says Mark McNutt, an ETS spokesman.51 Jamillah Karim, a professor at Spelman College, states that in the USA we do not have to worry about imposing a ban on the burqa/niqab, since the majority of Muslim women living in the USA do not feel that there is a need to wear the garment; wearing the niqab is viewed as being associated with more conservative people. According to Professor Kathleen Moore (Religious Studies at University of California at Santa Barbara): While they [Muslim students] are struggling internally to be tolerant of each other’s viewpoints about religion, they are also struggling outward to negotiate rights with the broader American society … From their voices, you hear that the face veil is something that shouldn’t be practiced because it can be associated with extremism.52 To a lesser, ‘visible’ degree, the political climate in the USA is also pulled into Muslim affairs, most particularly through the criticism of Islam by using Muslim women to project antiIslam/-Arab sentiments, and using the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 and subsequent Islamist terrorist activities for political gains on the entire Muslim population.53 It is well known that Islam is alive and very much a part of US politics. From the beginning of his presidency, Barack Obama has been linked to the religion of Islam. ‘With Islam regarded by many Americans as a political ideology as well as a religion and recent poll findings suggesting that one in five Americans believe Obama is Muslim, it is easy to see why there is political capital in playing the anti-Islam card’.54 In the words of David A. Bailey and Gilane Tawadros: In the aftermath of 11 September, the veil has become synonymous with cultural and religious differences that have been presented to us repeatedly as unbridgeable, alien and terrifying. The fact that the veil and veiling have been a part of both Western and Eastern cultures for millennia, from the aristocratic women of ancient Greece to contemporary brides worldwide, has not diminished from their overwhelming association with Islam and an abstract, exoticized notion of the East.55 American society tends to be more at ease about the veil and the niqab in comparison to the European nations (as indicated in this article). Statistically, the number of complaints regarding Muslim women wearing the veil or the niqab are much lower compared to Europe. In the following section, I will discuss two cases in the USA as examples directly related to the woman’s headscarf. The case of Abercrombie On 25 February 2010 the Associated Press published a piece of news about a chain clothing store, Abercrombie & Fitch Co., which had fired a Muslim woman over an issue with her headscarf.56 The Muslim woman, Hani Khan, stated that she was told first that wearing her headscarf would be no problem, ‘but a visiting district manager said scarves were not allowed during work hours. Khan said she was fired when she refused to take it off’.57 Khan filed a lawsuit against the company with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

168 Faegheh Shirazi The case of Disneyland On 18 August 2010 the Associated Press published an article regarding Imane Boudlal, a Muslim woman who had worked as a hostess at the Storyteller restaurant at the hotel for 2½ years, but did not wear her hijab to work except on Sunday, in observation of Ramadan. The Disneyland restaurant hostess brought a lawsuit against her employer.58 ‘Disney told Boudlal that if she wanted to work as a hostess she had to remove her hijab because it did not comply with the “Disney Look”’.59 Imane Boudlal stated that she felt humiliated by the Disney Corporation because they offered her a job in the back and away from the public, or she could work in the front as the hostess either wearing a hat over her headscarf or without it.

Australia—veil of fears In May 2010 the anti-burqa debate became more visible when Cory Bernardi (Liberal Senator) made a statement against the veil and declared the veil ‘un-Australian’. Bernardi also made a call to outlaw the burqa. The issue of the face veil plays a role in Australian politics. Prime Minister Julia Gillard stated that ‘the face veil was “confronting” and argued there were occasions when they should be removed, such as in banks and in court’. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the burqa was a ‘particularly confronting form of attire and I would very much wish that fewer Australians would choose it’.60 Unfortunately, a robbery has added more tension to the burqa scenario. A man who was wearing a burqa carried out a robbery, which occurred in Quebec, Canada, and became the centre of debate among the liberal politicians calling for a ban in Australia. In an article, the Senator from South Australia, Cory Bernardi, reminded his audience that the ban of the burqa was necessary for several reasons. The ban was required for the equality of women in Australian culture, repression being contrary to Australian values. Bernardi commented on the idea that it should be left to individuals to make a personal choice, which was established by their forefathers. Bernardi disagreed with this ideology because of the nature of the burqa: ‘The burka isolates some Australians from others. Its symbolic barrier is far greater than the measure of cloth it is created from. For safety and for society, the burka needs to be banned in Australia.’61 On 24 November 2010 a Town Hall meeting in Erskineville was held to discuss the issue of the burqa ban, and particularly to discuss Sergio Redegalli’s mural on the wall of his studio in Newtown. The mural showed the image of a woman wearing a blue burqa with a red mark crossing it with the words ‘Say no to burqas’. Also posted on YouTube is a video clipping about this meeting, in which Sergio Redegalli walks in with a black burqa and states that he wants to demonstrate how easy it is to hide one’s identity by wearing a burqa, thus the ban is necessary due to safety issues.62 Many Australians who are opposed to the burqa feel strongly that the ban is unjustified because the Australian constitution supports freedom of religion and tolerance.

Canada debates the niqab The niqab debate is escalating in Canada as well. In an interview, Rob Nicholson (the justice minister) stated: ‘We have no plans to introduce justice legislation in this matter.’63 He further commented that Canada was a democratic society and individuals

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were free to practise their faith and beliefs, including making their own decisions regarding adhering to their own religious traditions and religious apparel. Canadians believe that there should be a compromise between the pros and cons of the burqa, and ‘the government should do more to raise awareness about gender equality in Canada, but ultimately it must remain an individual choice on how one behaves in their personal life’.64

Conclusions The concept of veiling has multiple meanings that can be understood when it is examined from a variety of contexts and in its specific time and location, practised by people who understand it from their own social, cultural and political perspectives. Although in this chapter we looked at the issue of governance of the hijab, headscarf and burqa all together in the politics of different nations, the burqa as the one single issue has motivated a number of nations to implement various regulations to prevent its use in public spaces. The war on the burqa or niqab tends to direct us towards many political issues beyond just a woman’s face veil. The rulings on the issue of veiling and the niqab perhaps have much larger breadth than the burqa itself. One cannot but wonder about the existence and possibility of other hidden issues behind the banning of a piece of cloth worn by woman. As we have noted in this chapter, there have been numerous arguments by policy-makers used to support the ban as a reasonable justification not only for banning, but also now for fining individuals who defy the ban. It is unfortunate that globally many of the political issues, be they domestic or international, involve the woman’s body and her way of life. In response to what many European nations are attempting to accomplish, like the French government that successfully banned wearing a burqa in public, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, Judith Sunderland stated that, ‘reasons evoked for banning the full body veil are incoherent’.65 The history of such direct government involvement reveals that when in need of a scapegoat, women are the first choice. The ‘empowerment and emancipation’ of women have always been used as a tool for greater political gain, no matter how large or small. As often is the case, in achieving all such ‘good deeds’ for women’s benefit, the woman herself is too often excluded as the beneficiary. Many chests are beaten, tears are shed, books are written and a number of policies are made on her behalf without consulting the recipient of the ‘emancipation’. So, in this way, no matter where on Earth this Muslim woman lives, she is treated like a minor with no voice. Others decide for her even when the Muslim woman personally expresses that she does not need any change in her life, inclusive of the way in which she dresses. Perhaps the European ‘wise fathers’ know best for the Muslim woman. History has proven to us that many of such ‘ideal emancipatory’ policies result in backfires that trap the targeted group (the Muslim woman) further. The following is an example of just such a policy and its unintended consequence: One of the first burqa offenses in Europe was reported in the northern Italian city of Novara. It was committed by Amel Marmouri, 26, an immigrant from Tunisia. Marmouri had no previous police record—at least not until that spring day two months ago, when she entered the post office dressed in a full-length coat, with her face hidden behind a black scarf, leaving only a narrow slit for her eyes. As she left the post office, she was stopped by members of the Carabinieri, Italy’s national police force. But she refused to reveal her face, and was issued a warning: A

170 Faegheh Shirazi €500 ($645) fine for wearing a full-body veil in public. Marmouri’s husband responded by saying that his wife would no longer leave the house in the future.66 The debate concerning the burqa is about much larger issues, such as where the Middle East nations with large Muslim populations are heading, socially and culturally. It’s a debate not likely to end any time soon.

Notes 1 Faegheh Shirazi, The Veil Unveiled: Hijab in Modern Culture (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2001), 4. 2 Fatima Mernissi, The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women’s Rights in Islam (New York: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company,1991), 85. 3 Shirazi, 2001, 175. 4 For example see the following: David A. Bailey and Gilane Tawadros (eds), Veil: Veiling, Representation, and Contemporary Art (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003); Keiso Fassih, ‘Veiling Politics Take Over The Body’, in Keiso Fassih, The Body in Twilight: Representation of the Human Body, Sexuality and Struggle in Contemporary Arab Art (Saarbrucken, Germany: VDM Verlag Dr Muller, 2008); E. Ian Pearce, Glyn Walsh and Gordon N. Dutton, ‘Does the niqab (veil) wearer satisfy the minimal visual field for driving?’, Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, The Journal of the College of Optometrists Volume 28, Issue 4, July 2008: 310–12; Mary Ellen Wolf, ‘After-Images of Muslim Women: Vision, Voice, and Resistance in the Work of Assia Djebar’, in Cybelle H. Mcfadden, Cybelle McFadden Wilkens and Sandrine F. Teixidor (eds), Francophone Women: Between Visibility and Invisibility (New York: Peter Lang, 2009); Marnia Lazreg, Questioning the Veil, Open Letters to Muslim Women (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009); and Joan Wallach Scott, The Politics of the Veil (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007). 5 Gamal al-Banna, al-hejab (the headscarf) (Cairo: Dar al-Fikr al-Islami, 2002); Yousuf al-Qaradhawi, ‘Al Niqab lil-Mar’a Bayn al-Qawl Bibd’iyatihi wa-al-Qawl Biwjubihi’, in Yusuf Ahmad Rabi’ (ed.), al-Mar’ah al-Muslimah bayna al-hijab wa-al-niqab (Cairo: al-Manar lil-Tiba’ ah wa al-Kambiyitar, 2005), 46–47. I have reached the conclusion in my own book, Shirazi, 2001, as well as reading other scholars’ work, that it is clear that the use of the term ‘hijab’ for women’s head covering is misleading. As many scholars have explained, and I summarized in my own publications, this is one of the misleading factors on the issue of Muslim women’s face veiling vs. head covering. See, for example the following works: Nimat Hafez Barazangi, Woman’s Identity and the Qur’an: A New Reading (n.p.), chapter 3, mainly 56–65. ‘Hijab’ (in Al Ahzab, 33: 53) concerns only the wives of the Prophet (PBUH), and it means to speak to them from behind a curtain, screen or divide. It has nothing to do with the head-cover (Khimar in Al Nur, 24: 31) that was practised before Islam. 6 Camron Michael Amin, The Making of the Modern Iranian Woman, Gender, State Policy, and Popular Cultures, 1865–1946 (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2002), 1. 7 See the following examples as some of the documents published in Iran for kashfe hijab (unveiling) and other examples published in Iran in the recent decades on the issue of hijab: Motahari Moteza, Mas’aleh Hijab (Tehran: Sadra, 1966); Ostad Malek Fatemeh, Hijab va kashf e Hijab dar Iran (Tehran: Ataei, 1979); n.a., Khoshonat va Farhang: Asnad e Mahramaneh e Kashf e Hijab (Tehran: Department of Research Publication and Education, 1990); n.a., Vagheh e Kashf e Hijab: Asnad e Montasher Nashodeh az Vagheh e Kashfe Hijab dar asr e Reza Khan (Tehran: Sazman e Madarek e Farhangi Enghelab e Eslami, 1979); Mehdi Sallah, Kashf e Hijab: Zamineh ha, Payamad ha va Vakenesh ha (Tehran: Political Studies and Research Institute, 2005). 8 Robert Tait, ‘Iran regime depicts male student in chador as shaming tactic treatment of Ahmadinejad critic backfires as his sympathisers post similar images of themselves on Facebook’, The Guardian, 11December 2009, (accessed 24 December 2010). The same site contains a picture of Majid Tavakoli in the Iranian style of hijab. 9 n.a., ‘Women With Suntans Face Arrest in Iran’, 28 April 2010, women-with-suntans-face-arrest-in-iran (accessed 24 December 2010).

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10 Banu Gokariksel and Anna J. Secor, ‘New transnational geographies of Islamism, capitalism and subjectivity: the veiling-fashion industry in Turkey’, Royal Geographical Society (with The Institute of British Geographers) Vol. 41 (1), 2009: 6. 11 Aye Saktanber and Gul Corbaciolu, ‘Veiling and Headscarf-Skepticism in Turkey’, Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State and Society Vol. 15(4), 2008: 514. 12 Valorie K. Vojdik, ‘Politics of the headscarf in Turkey: Construction of Collective Identities’, Harvard Journal of Law & Gender Vol. 33, 2010: 661. 13 Odil Ruzaliev, ‘Islam in Uzbekistan: Implications of 9/11 and Policy Recommendations for the United States’, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 25(1), April 2005: 17. 14 Ruzaliev, 2005, 22. 15 Marianne Kamp, The New Woman in Uzbekistan: Islam, Modernity, and Unveiling Under Communism (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2006), 180–89. 16 Kamp, 2006, 201. 17 Ruzaliev, 2005, 22. 18 Farangis Najibullah, ‘Hijab, Miniskirt: Bad for Your Health’, 25 February 2009, Hijab_Miniskirt_Bad_For_Your_Health/1499098.html (accessed 24 December 2010). 19 Najibullah, 2009. 20 Peter Kenyon, ‘Veil Ban at Islamic School in Egypt Fuels Debate’, 20 October 2009, www.npr. org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113888541 (accessed 13 November 2010). 21 Faegheh Shirazi and Smeeta Mishra, ‘Young Muslim women on the face veil (burqa), A tool of resistance in Europe but rejected in the United States’, International Journal of Cultural Studies 13(1), 2010: 44. 22 This law regarding the ban on wearing a burqa in public was not a sudden decision, as the background of it started on 15 March 2004, when the government of France passed a law introducing a ban on wearing any ‘conspicuous signs’ of any religious affiliation (including clothing) in public schools. 23 Juliane von Mittelstaed and Stefan Simons, ‘Religious Provocation or a Woman’s Right? Europe’s Fear of the Burqa’, Spiegel Online International 19 July 2010, 0,1518,707251,00.html (accessed 19 December 2010). 24 Shirazi and Mishra, 2010, 43. 25 Shirazi and Mishra, 2010, 57–58. 26 Sara Webb, ‘Dutch may introduce burqa ban as early as 2011’, 16 December 2010, www.nationalpost. com/news/Dutch+introduce+burqa+early+2011/3989233/story.html (accessed 25 December 2010). 27 Mary Papenfuss, ‘Dutch Close to Burka Ban in Right-Wing Party Deal’, 1 October 2010, www.newser. com/story/101900/dutch-close-to-burka-ban-in-party-deal.html (accessed 25 December 2010). 28 ‘Switzerland: Federal committee recommends burqa ban in schools, offices’, 17 December 2010, (accessed 25 December 2010). 29 Michèle Laird, ‘Fribourg and Zurich refuse to ban headscarves in schools’, 1 October 2010. 30 The Swedish National Agency for Education is a government agency in Sweden that oversees the Swedish public school system for children and adults. 31 Peter Simpson Vinthagen, ‘Muslim woman sues college over veil ban’, 12 February 2009, www. (accessed 26 December 2010). 32 ‘Ban on niqab in Swedish schools is discrimination: ombudsman’, 1 December 2010, www.earthtimes. org/articles/news/356037,schools-is-discrimination-ombudsman.html (accessed 26 December 2010). 33 Tommie Ullman, ‘DO: Ban on Niqab in classrooms is discrimination’, 3 December 2010, www. (accessed 26 December 2010). 34 Ullman, 2010. 35 1 May 2010,,5528714,00.html (accessed 27 December 2010). 36 Leigh Phillips, ‘Top German Liberal in EU parliament wants Europe-wide burqa ban’, 5 March 2010, (accessed 27 December 2010). 37 Ljubomir Milasin, ‘Woman fined $665 for wearing a niqab in northern Italy’, 5 May 2010, www. (accessed 26 December 2010). 38 Klaus Dahmann, ‘The prospect of a burqa ban spreads across Europe’, 21 May 2010, www.dw-world. de/dw/article/0,5594778,00.html (accessed 15 January 2011). 39 Milasin, 2010.

172 Faegheh Shirazi 40 Nick Squires, ‘Italy’s equal opportunities minister Mara Carfagna calls for burqa ban, 13 October 2009, (accessed 13 November 2010). According to this report, Mara Carfagna is known also for being a former Miss Italy and a nude model for some men’s magazines prior to her post in the government. 41 Squires, 2009. 42 Squires, 2009. 43 ‘Belgian lawmakers pass burka ban’, 30 April 2010, (accessed 27 December 2010). 44 ‘France, Belgium to ban burqa from public spaces’, 22 April 2010, html; also see: ‘Belgian lawmakers pass burka ban’, 23 April 2010, 45 Associated Press, ‘Belgium ban burqa-type dress; Law cites public security, securing emancipation of women’, 29 April 2010, (accessed 17 December 2010).; Zahra Khimji, ‘Belgium edges toward niqab ban’, 30 April 2010, (accessed 27 December 2010). 46 Raphael Minder, ‘Spain’s Senate Votes to Ban Burqa’, 23 June 2010, 24/world/europe/24iht-spain.html (accessed 13 November 2010); n.a., ‘Spain: City in northeast becomes country’s first to ban burqa’, 9 December 2010, Religion/Spain-City-in-northeast-becomes-countrys-first-to-ban-burqa_311378515833.html (accessed 26 December 2010). 47 ‘Spain: City in northeast becomes country’s first to ban burqa’. 48 Gilbert Cruz, ‘Face Veils: Bans in Europe Fail to Take Hold in US’, 17 January 2010, www.time. com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1953948,00.html (accessed 27 December 2010). 49 Faegheh Shirazi, ‘Florida Case Veils Truth About Muslim Ways’, 30 June 2003, www.newsday. com/florida-case-veils-truth-about-muslim-ways-1.483936 (accessed 27 December 2010). 50 Shirazi, 2010. 51 Cruz, 2010. 52 Cruz, 2010. 53 Estimated at 1.3 to 1.5 billion, which is approximately 22 per cent to 23 per cent of the entire world population. 54 Stefan Simanowitz, ‘Beneath the beards and burqas’, 7 November 2010, Tribune magazine, www. (accessed 8 November 2010). 55 David A. Bailey and Gilane Tawadros, Veil: Veiling, Representation and Contemporary Art (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2003), 18. 56 Associated Press, ‘Muslim woman says Abercrombie fired her over headscarf’, 25 February 2010, (accessed 29 December 2010). 57 Associated Press, ‘Muslim woman says Abercrombie fired her over headscarf’. 58 Associated Press, ‘Muslim Employee Says Disney Banned Her Hijab’, 18 August 2010, id/38759222/Muslim_Employee_Says_Disney_Banned_Her_Hijab (accessed 27 December 2010). 59 Associated Press, ‘Muslim Employee Says Disney Banned Her Hijab’. 60 ‘Veil of fears Andrew Fenton’, 25 December 2010, (accessed 20 December 2010). 61 Cory Bernardi, ‘Burka bandits justify a burka ban’, 6 May 2010, 33978.html (accessed 24 December 2010). 62 Peter Boyle, ‘Australia: A community says no to racist burqa bans’, 26 November 2010, au/node/2012 (accessed 28 December 2010); ‘24 11 2010 Sergio Redegalli Burqa Ban Town Hall Meeting’, 24 November 2010,–2010-sergio-redegalliburqa-ban-town-hall-meeting. 63 Kathleen Harris, ‘Canada to reject burka ban’, 27 January 2010, canada/2010/01/26/12623371-qmi.htm (accessed 25 December 2010). 64 Harris, 2010. 65 ‘Banning the Burqa in Europe’, The Layalina Review 6(9), 23 April–6 May 2010, Publications/Review/PR_VI.9/article4.html (accessed 19 March 2012). 66 von Mittelstaed and Simons, 2010.

Chapter 10

Revolutions in the Middle East Demands for political, social and economic changes and the states’ repressive response Aqeel Abood

Introduction It was quite a vicious scene to watch when a young Tunisian man called Muhammad Bouazizi set himself on fire in the crowded, rural city of Sidi Bo-Zaid. The brutality of the scene sparked a wide range of demonstrations in different cities in Tunisia, accusing the regime of failed and stagnant policies that had resulted in major underachievement politically, socially and economically. The central government in Tunisia without hesitation responded unyieldingly to disperse the peaceful demonstrations in the capital and elsewhere in the country. Such typical Arab tyrannical state action resulted in the killing of many protesters, but the state’s aggression towards the protesters did not slow or reduce the number of people going out on the streets to ask for dramatic political, social and economic changes in the country. More determined demonstrations by young people, espousing gallantry, eventually forced the dictator Ben Ali, who had governed Tunisia with an iron fist for almost 30 years, disgracefully to flee to Saudi Arabia. The revolution in Tunisia soon impacted on the situation in other North African countries, such as Egypt and Libya, and some other countries in the Middle East, especially Bahrain, Syria and Yemen. In Egypt, as in Tunisia, the state tried, but failed, aggressively to quell the enormous demonstrations, and the regime collapsed with the resignation of the dictator Muhammad Hosni Mubarak. The less brutal scenes in Tunisia and Egypt generally contributed to the neutral position taken by the army in these two states in the conflict between the public and the government. However, the situation in countries such as Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen is less likely to be resolved soon. The armies in those countries is not simply neutral and has been utilized by the respected regimes to suppress demonstrations, as seen in Libya’s elite forces, the Syrian army, Yemen’s army, and the intervention of the ‘Gulf Shield Forces’ in Bahrain. Thus, the outlook remains gloomy in those countries. The question that needs to be answered is why has the democratic surge in the region taken so long to develop, while people all over the world have accomplished so much since the late 1980s? What was behind the political, social and economic stagnation in the Middle East region? These are critical questions and this chapter will try to produce some answers. Realistically, our approach to the subject may not explain these events as others see them; however, we would argue that the enormous surge of democratic movements in the Middle East region have been influenced by factors, including: political opportunity; new social networks; and the collapse of some religious creeds that rejected any type of resistance to the status quo.

174 Aqeel Abood

Political opportunity Simple observation of what has been taking place in the Middle East would indicate that political, social and economic changes in the region are at the centre of these popular revolutions. Decades of unrealistic and unachievable reform promises have proven to be the cause of these governments being brought down in a massive democratic surge in one of the wealthiest regions in the world. Despite the remarkable changes that have taken place elsewhere, the Middle East—which constitutes more than 30 per cent of world oil production—struggled politically, socially and economically. With the emergence of new forms of social media and the Internet, the region constituting the highest youth rate in the world has changed and the central governments have been forced to allow these developments within their society. These changes in government approach, once espoused with the new mentality of youth, have created a solidly grounded political opportunity for those who seemed to have lost any hope of or interest in being part of political decision-making. The political opportunity process, or theory, was developed by Charles Tilly in the 1970s.1 ‘It simply argues that success or failure of collective action is mainly depending on the political opportunity provided at the right moment.’2 According to Sidney Tarrow, ‘the political opportunity process is an attempt to provide a rational explanation to collective action and the approach itself, has widely been utilized by many theorists as an ideal and well-organized systematic tool in explaining collective action’.3 The political opportunity process in general constitutes three approaches: political opportunity; resource mobilization; and relative deprivation.4 However, for others this model consists of: political opportunity; frames; and repertoires of contention.5 It has been suggested by some prominent theoretical researchers, ‘that throughout our modern and contemporary history people have rebelled against tyrannical regimes for many reasons, and rebellions in all cases were either welcomed or hated by others, sometimes were successful in achieving their goals, while other times were catastrophic in their ramifications, but surely, these movements have marked our modern history with reflective effects’.6 Political opportunity has become particularly available to societal and political actors when the old political structure of a regime is no longer capable of challenging what is politically and socially taking place, thus making change inevitable.7 Once the destabilization and insufficiency of the operating political system in any society becomes apparent, the same political system becomes defenceless and this could result in three major outcomes: ‘increasing political pluralism, decline in the state repression, and increased political enfranchisement’.8 According to David Meyer, however, ‘policies conducted by the states especially in calculating the costs and benefits of collective action, either allow collective action to take place or discourage people to join in’.9 In other words, rigid policies, such as in the communist states of Eastern Europe and most nationalist states in the Middle East, for decades have withered the possibility of any promising political change in the regions. However, would political opportunity, resource mobilization, sufficient leadership and framing, when combined together, create a social movement or collective action? Answers to such a puzzling question may often be problematic. For instance, taking advantage of a certain political opportunity to create a revolutionary situation that could challenge the status quo may simply not be achievable. According to Tarrow, in order for collective action to be successful, there have to be some elements that march in parallel with the revolutionary situation, including

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‘common purpose, solidarity, and sustainability of the collective action to occur and achieve its goal’.10 The simple examination of the mass collective actions that have taken place in some Arab countries, whether in North Africa or in the Middle East, recently, definitely results in ambiguity. One of the major concerns, when someone is writing about movements or collective action, is what really causes these collective actions to occur? No definite answer can be given, but certainly the little space that was provided by some states for other political actors to operate within has clearly come back to trouble these states and regimes. Clearly, political opportunities provided by some regimes are what made the difference. It is also clear that general demands, unified, harmonious acts by social actors, and persistent pressure imposed by societal actors have been forcing these states to reverse the course of all political, social and economic policies that encouraged corruption amongst both a wide range of society and the elite. However, political opportunity that could possibly change the entire institutional structure of any regime, ‘increases, whether by external or internal factors that weaken the state, or by changing social conditions will increase the resources and confidence of popular groups seeking change, or some combination of both’.11 Goldstone and Tilly are making a very appealing argument here, because in essence, the political stimulation that has taken place in Iraq, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain and Libya could be rationally attributed to external intervention, as in the case of Iraq and Libya, which resulted in destroying the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussain and is still battling the dictatorship of Muammar al-Qaddafi, and in both cases despite the difference in the geo-political situation, intervention has opened up so many political avenues to different actors to be actively involved in decision-making. Alternatively, the political inspiration could be domestically motivated, as was the case in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Syria and Yemen. In the latter cases, the political structure of the states has broken down mostly through the collapse of their repressive apparatus, and most importantly was chiefly caused by the unexpected fragmentation of the close circle of the elite in those regimes. Therefore, when political opportunities expand due to any of these aforementioned factors, responses by participants grow extraordinarily, and vice versa.12 Political participation caused by a general compromise of the status quo of any regime is likely to be more effective, and in contrast, repressive policies used to quell public demands for political change are usually detested, and have a negative impact on the regime, which may lead to a considerable expansion of collective action.13 Moderation or democratic tolerance is not unachievable in certain areas of the world, but these reformation movements in essence need more than intellectuals and leadership to be established and then sustained; they are greatly in need of social and political opportunities, and these two factors combined with other sentimental factors presumably will lead to such reformations in all aspects of life. However, is it possible that we will notice a conflict of interest between the regime and those who are combating it, especially in areas where both sides are determined to generate power and gain support from their constituents to strengthen their position? For us, this is debatable rather than problematic. According to Goldstone and Tilly, any expansion of political opportunity may shadow the mechanism of the struggle between the regime and those who are the challengers, especially in areas like ‘action, repression, and concession’.14 Empirically, such a notion would not stand a chance of explaining some other essential political instability that had led to dramatic changes around the world. Oppressive policies would and could not

176 Aqeel Abood determine the internal and external organization of a collective action, or in any possible way decide the rate of collective action, according to Johan Olivier.15

New social networks ‘Tweets were sent, Dictators were toppled’.16 Following Tunisia’s Twitter revolution and the social media-fuelled protests in Egypt, which toppled both presidents, the social media revolution is spreading to other areas of North Africa and the Middle East.17 The positive effects of technology in the late 1990s have reached billions of people globally. Social media, in particular, have played a significant role in connecting people to each other all over the world, and assembling groups of people and expressing grievances has become a simple task. The Internet, cellular (mobile) phones, and websites such as Facebook and Twitter have made it possible for people to connect globally and to participate in major events in a short period of time. Indeed, the cases presented in this chapter are a clear indication of the importance of the new forms of social media and their potential impact on politics. The social media, Internet and advanced technology have been essential in determining the outcomes of the revolutions in both North Africa and the Middle East. The youth movements in Tunisia and Egypt have completely and unequivocally understood the lessons of new technology and utilized them to provide the lethal weapon that caused state oppression to back down and finally collapse. According to David Siegel, ‘the structure of networks helps determine both the availability of expertise and the levels of conflict and political sophistication to which one is exposed, all of which have an impact on the willingness to participate in these major events’.18 Social networks, besides their highly sophisticated structure, also developed sophisticated functions. According to Florence Passy and Marco Giugni, social networks have mainly three functions, and these ‘functions are (a) structurally connecting prospective participants to an opportunity to participate, (b) socializing them to a protest issue, and (c) shaping their decision to become involved in social and political events’.19 The Middle East was not an exception in this. As a region, the Middle East constitutes one of the most youthful generations in the world. Thus, their usage of social networks is also impressive, and a high percentage of young people has become accustomed to those social networks quickly enough to threaten the aggressive internal structure of these states. The Internet, Facebook and Twitter linked Arab youths to their peers around the world and, as a result, new political and social ideas emerged and were easily disseminated through social networks. Democracy, political freedom and human rights are not new concepts to the Middle East; in fact, they have long been the central theme of any political and social change demanded by people in the region. The emergence of social networks has fortified the impact of the youth organizations in many countries in the Middle East, and once these social networks espoused the political opportunities, states have faced significantly unpleasant consequences. As a result, states are no longer in control of their societies, nor are they capable of setting their agenda. State corruption was exposed and drastic measures to eliminate corruption were demanded by the public. Governments failing to meet these demands saw people begin to assemble publicly in small groups, arranged via social networks, to address major political, social and economic grievances. These small public gatherings soon expanded to become daily activities, and as a result, complete changes in state

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behaviour were necessary. Social networks essentially exposed the brutality of most Middle Eastern governments. The daily humiliation of people on the street by the police and the government’s secret services was unacceptable and beyond imagination. Horrific images of people’s treatment in police stations were disseminated widely through social networks, on the Internet, by phone, and through other media means, ultimately pushing the public to the limit to reject such inhuman treatment by the police and secret service. When we speak of ‘new social media’, we are not just considering the importance of concepts such as Twitter, Facebook and cellular phones, but are also focusing on the essential part that the Internet is playing in increasing the readership of newspapers, as more people log on to their favourite newspaper online.20 According to the young Egyptian CEO of Google in Egypt, ‘the new technology of communication has played an important role in the Egyptian revolution, especially, the internet, and its importance comes from the importance of Facebook, which ultimately utilized by the political actors in Egypt in order to get connected with each other, then to discuss their thoughts about the revolution, then to call for protest’.21 Indeed, the majority of Arab youth saw this conclusion, without which new wave of technology in the communication spectrum, revolutions would never occur.22 We have to be really cautious, because relying solely on individuals with some capability of using the new technology and who know how to disseminate information through the web, simply would not provide us with a clear image of the real world and the sophisticated structure of that world. The real and painful images of revolutions are something that can be captured and disseminated by Twitter, cellular phone or Facebook, but surely it takes more than all of these components to really comprehend what is causing revolution to occur. How can we explain it?

The collapse of some religious concepts Islam has played a captivating role in the life of people on the Arabian peninsula since the first day the Prophet was sent. Those who felt marginalized and insignificant in society because of their social or economic status applauded this new religion, and optimistically looked at the new messages that called for the abolition of all social and economic stratifications between people. The new message also called for respect for others’ choices in practising their beliefs and considered justice to be the priority of the new religion, thus choosing a leader of a Muslim community must be in accordance with those principles. During the first days of the new message, justice was served and all Muslims were treated equally, and colour, social and economic status were completely insignificant among Muslims.23 However, the new religion apparently failed to eliminate tribalism from Muslims’ lives. Indeed, once the Prophet was declared dead, tribalism revealed agonizingly the reality of the fragile situation in the Muslim community. Muslims had to face a critical situation, which resulted from the vacuum left by the death of the Prophet Muhammad, and the essential question with which Muslims were faced of who should be the successor of the Prophet. According to Burhan Galion, the fundamental issue for Muslims, which endured for centuries, was who had the right to be caliph or leader of the Islamic umma (Islamic community), and how this leader should be appointed. What were his duties and responsibilities? To what extent should he practise his duties and responsibilities over the people? Finally, can Muslims impeach this leader and force him to resign if he misused or abused his power?24 These remain essential and controversial questions within the social

178 Aqeel Abood and political structure of the Arab Muslim mentality, but it seems that Muslims have reverted to their former habit of using a person’s social and economic status in order to choose the leader of the Islamic community.25 Thus, justice and morality are never considered during the evaluation of a leader. According to the famous Arab historian Ibn-Khaldon, the real Islamic state would never have materialized without the prophecy, and in the absence of the prophecy, the concept of ‘tribalism’ becomes a key factor in the social relationship between the base and the super-structure of society. The super-structure refers here to the rich people who at some point become the real political factor in society. Tribalism was historically never supported by ideology on the Arabian peninsula, which makes it quite legitimate to the community, but in contrast, tribalism was primarily based on economic and social configuration, which in return provided tribal leaders with some leverage in imposing their will on the rest of the community. With the emergence of Islam as a new religion that carried with it major political, social and economic challenges to the old system, tribalism to some degree was relinquished, and that was clear during the years when the Prophet Muhammad was the leader of the umma, and during the reign of the two caliphs Abu-Baker and Omar. Things appeared to be going in a different direction during the reign of the third caliph, Outman. Tribalism and many other un-Islamic practices, like the discrimination of distributing Muslim community wealth between people, were clear in this man’s behaviour.26 He simply favoured people from his tribe—even those who lacked the moral qualifications and had long been condemned by the Prophet himself. These practices ignited the sense of disparity within the Muslim community all over the Islamic world and eventually people mobilized against the caliph and asked him either to resign or to change his behaviour. In what was seen by many Muslim intellectuals as a real deviation from Islamic principles, the caliph refused both to resign and to change his practices, because he thought that leadership was something given to him by God.27 So it was impossible for a leader like him to refuse God’s trust in him as a rightly guided caliph. The caliph was eventually assassinated by some Muslims in what was considered by some Muslim intellectuals as the first act of dissent in Islamic history, according to Vali Nasr. Tribalism, which was promoted first during the era of the third caliph, found a solid ground in which to flourish during the reign of the illegitimate leader of the Islamic community, Mu’awyia. Historically, the Umayyad dynasty began with the declaration of Mu’awyia as the undisputed caliph after two brutal wars, with the legitimate fourth caliph, Imam Ali, later assassinated and a promising era of justice in Islamic history thus languished forever. Three things really concern me when I search through historical documentation of events in Islamic history: first, for the first time, tribalism became an active component of the political structure of the Muslim community, despite the fact that Islam came to change the whole social perception of the Arab community; second, economic incentives were influential in mobilizing people toward this person or that person, toward this tribe or that tribe, and ultimately public opinion in deciding who was right to lead the Muslim community was never considered or materialized on the ground; and third, and most importantly, tribalism, which produces leadership in the Muslim community, for the first time was supported religiously. Consequently, leadership of the Muslim community can be achieved even without the implementation and practices of the real Islamic principles. Furthermore, the imam or the caliph is not impeached or challenged by the Muslim community even if he commits an un-Islamic act, such as the killing of innocents, partially leading the community, and most importantly, wasting the

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wealth of the Muslim umma, but ironically, such practices were legitimized by fatwa (religious creeds).28 One of the most critical and influential religious creeds, which was utilized to legitimize the oppressive and aggressive practices by Muslim rulers against their constituencies, was characterized by some Quranic verses, like: ‘Oh people, obey God, the Prophet, and those who are your superiors’ (Quran, 3: 59). Even though this verse sends a strong message to Muslims to be submissive to their leaders, what most Muslim historians have ignored for political reasons is that the Quran on many occasions has addressed this issue comprehensively, and has prohibited Muslims from kneeling down or being submissive to rulers who do not rule the community with respect and with the complete implementation of Islamic laws. However, the political, social and economic institutions of an Islamic state were never materialized, and for many reasons, but I can conclude that the most important reasons attributed to the deteriorating political system in the Muslim community are the absence of public participation in decision-making, and the absence of the rule of law. Once the leader puts himself above the law, he simply becomes immune and unaccountable for any wrong-doing and even for brutal practices that may lead to the killing of innocent people and to the wasting of Muslim wealth. Islamic history is full of those practices. Our examination of the absence of political institutions and the absence of any legal authority has convinced us that a government protected by legal institutions and political institutions would never be a reality in the Arab world, because these institutions never developed in the Islamic state from the time the Prophet passed away almost 1,400 years ago. Things would never change during the time of the two most powerful dynasties, the Umayyad and the Abbasid. The sense of injustice and brutality were common across a wide range of the Muslim community, and what has made it so bitter in the point of view of the majority of Muslims is that these practices are generally supported by religious leaders who somehow work on interpreting some of the Holy Quran’s verses in order to benefit the caliph and those around him. What really has concerned these leaders and religious figures the most is how to bring stability and observe order in the Muslim community, whether justice is served or not, whether the dignity of human beings is protected or not, whether laws are implemented in accordance with the Quran and the Sunna (prophetic tradition) or not. Therefore, the state or the government is a necessity, which ultimately leads to a social contract between all people, thus colour, race, social and economic class have no impact on the election of the caliph.29 However, this is not what we have noticed throughout the history of Islamic governance theory development. Economic, social and tribal support has always stood as the ultimate weapon on which the person heavily relies to get elected. Centuries after the destruction of the Umayyad, the Abbasid, and finally the Ottoman Empire, nothing has been accomplished, at least politically. The vast majority of Arab people are still suffering, powerless and ignored even in terms of basic universal human rights. These rights are commonly utilized and practised by billions of people around the globe, but they are still privileges to the vast majority of Arab people. Political freedom, freedom of the press, the peaceful transfer of power through free, democratic elections, and the popular participation in decision-making are still not met by all governments in the Middle East. We believe that without the re-evaluation of many thoughts and ideas that were purposely infused in Islamic teaching to influence people’s choices and to wrongly convince people of their political and social practices, Arabs will never achieve their aim of establishing democratic societies that are based on the possibility of mass participation

180 Aqeel Abood in political affairs and on the other premise of establishing a moderate constitution that responds to all the essential and critical questions and needs for the millions of educated, but unemployed, isolated and marginalized young people, who for simple reasons may be an easy target for Islamist radicalism, if the states do not meet their basic demands. Having said that, significant re-evaluation of many untouchable un-Islamic practices and doctrines are desperately needed in order to have stable, prosperous, democratic societies in the Middle East. What really has amazed me the most is that during the uprising in Egypt and in other Middle Eastern countries, some of the religious leaders in Saudi Arabia, who are generally appointed by the political circle close to the King and the royal family, have asked the young people to stop threatening the Islamic governments in Egypt and Libya, and restore the unity of the Muslim community. On the other side of the argument, the highest religious institution, ‘Al-Azhr-Al-Sharif’, which is placed in Egypt and is considered the highest respected religious institution for the majority of Sunni Muslims in the world, declared that the youth demands for freedom and democracy were legitimate and needed to be taken seriously, and those who lost their life during the demonstrations were considered martyrs, according to the Imam Ahmad al-Taeb, the spiritual leader of Al-Azhr institution.30 The new position of the Azhr Islamic institution is a revolutionary position compared with the position of other Islamic institutions that are still supplying brutal regimes with support and providing them with political legitimacy. The current events that are taking place in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and elsewhere in the Middle East are really presenting a serious challenge to the most arguable Islamic creeds that in essence keep alive some of the most condemned regimes on Earth. Once the people of Libya realized how brutal was the regime of Qaddafi, they decided to use whatever means necessary to bring him down, even if that meant asking for help from the West. The images of the leader who was sent by God who has the right to terrorize his own people is no longer permitted, even by those religious institutions that not too long ago were serving the government despite its brutality and inhuman practices against those who opposed them or who asked for changes in the country. Current events in the Middle East have proven to the whole international community that there are still some regimes that are using unthinkable acts to stay in power, and in the process immense atrocities and human rights violations are committed. Aggression, brutality and armed forces are used to put down peaceful protests in Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, and before that in Iraq in 1991, when ordinary people tried unsuccessfully to bring down the brutal regime of Saddam Hussain. Outlawed regimes like those in Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen willingly utilized all sorts of aggression against their own people; it must be understood that these inhuman and uncivilized practices are no longer permitted, and these regimes must be severely punished by the international community. It is no longer the responsibility of the United Nations Security Council to act; it is rather the responsibility of the entire international community to support those who want freedom, liberty and real participation in decision-making anywhere in the world.

The unexpected consequences The intense and promising situation in the Middle East, which may introduce concepts such as democracy, freedom and the peaceful transfer of power, must not be taken for granted and we ought to be extraordinarily vigilant of the political process in the new

Revolutions in the Middle East


Middle East. The results of recent elections in Egypt and Tunisia have confirmed that Islamic movements are on the rise and they may take control of the parliaments in these two countries.31 According to Samaan, such a shift in the political equation can be seen on the Egyptian streets, where the happy, smiling faces of men and women wearing modern styles of clothing are no longer presented, replaced instead by clothes in the conservative Wahhabi style. Such events definitely substantiate our fear of unexpected political turmoil which may bring with it all sorts of destruction, which may shape the new political, social and economic order in the Middle East. Our fear of radical Islamic movements is not a misapprehension, but is in general related to the well-known rigid and exclusionary practices of these movements towards those who oppose their ideas or ideologies in all life aspects. Even those modern Islamic movements that have been taking a pragmatic approach to sophisticated Islamic social and political matters such as the Nahda (renaissance) Movement in Tunisia, the Brotherhood in Egypt, and all other modern Islamists in North Africa and the Middle East, have failed ideologically and practically to combine Islamic principles with the daily needs of suffering Muslims all over the Islamic world. Modern Islamic movements have belied their real ideological theories in political, social and economic realms. Democratic concepts like freedom, peaceful transfer of power, and human rights would not become realistically ideal concepts for these modern Islamic movements if they were persistently utilizing exclusionary practices against those who oppose their fundamental views. According to Akbar Ganji, a long-time supporter of Ayatollah Khomeini, the spiritual father of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, and then the most dissident voice of opposition in that country, ‘we must bear in mind that their attempt to take societies to a utopian future, free from any suffering, radical social and political projects tend to inflict great suffering on living individuals’.32 In essence, these practices will evince the Muslim masses and others, exclusive of the West, of the real countenance of these movements and illustrate how these movements become so bigoted in their views of others. If early results in the elections in Tunisia and Egypt have presented us with grim indications of the present political process in these two states, the situation in Syria, Libya and other Arab states, especially in the Persian Gulf, is still very disruptive, and it is going to be extremely difficult to predict any immediate sign of dramatic democratic change in the foreseeable future in those states. However, the question here is why democracy is so hard to promote in the Middle East. The answer comes from the perception, carried by the nationalists and Islamists, that democracy—which takes seriously into consideration one fundamental function: to provide people with a high quality of demands and protecting people’s rights—in fact will destroy the essence and the outdated structure of the Arab and Islamic states, and that promoting democracy will fundamentally conflict with the form and nature of Salaf government that was established long ago. On top of that, democracy is something that has no roots in Muslim culture and has been brought by Western powers to impose their will on Muslim people, and to destroy the Muslim way of life, specifically conservative Islamic culture.33 Indeed, the attempt to combine the principles of democracy, such as free assembly, human rights and the peaceful transfer of power, with principles of Islam, which can be wrongly interpreted by those Islamic radical movements, seems to hit a hard wall in many places in the Middle East. It is really difficult to find a solid ground one which these two different points of view can be based—the Islamists, or those who call

182 Aqeel Abood themselves the protectors of Islam, who in essence are distracted by the idea of the possible establishment of an Islamic state that carries with it the principles of democracy, and those who consider such an attempt as a delusion. Let us put aside the rise of political Islam—which is represented by the Renaissance Party in Tunisia and the emerging new power of Islamists in Egypt in two movements, the Brotherhood and the Salafi Party al-Nour, which will be a real factor in the social and political life in Egypt—and instead start focusing on the disappearance of the massive secular movement that was led by the youth in both countries. It is really troublesome to see the youth movements in countries like Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, which played an extraordinary role in defeating the undisputed and brutal regimes of those countries, now in the shadow or being completely ignored, as is the case in Libya. We believe that as long as the secular forces in the Middle East continue being entirely engaged in competing with each other to gain a provisional success in mobilizing people around their causes without giving any attention to the massive rise of the hard-line Islamists, the result will be dismaying. In the end, are Francis Fukuyama’s words about building a government not correct, ‘that state building is the creation of new government institutions and the strengthening of the existing ones, because state building is the most important issue for the world community, simply, because weak or failed states are the source of many of the world’s most serious problems, from poverty to terrorism’.34 A simple glance at the conclusion of the parliamentary elections in Egypt and Tunisia will tell us that radical Islamic movements are far more organized than the secular movements, in these countries in particular and in the rest of the Arab world in general. Thus, these radical movements, once they get the opportunity to strike and gain momentum, will never look back, because they have the tools to compete and win battles, especially against secular forces. Hence, for the secular forces to be able to compete and win massive public support, they will have to go back to the fundamental philosophy that touches the essential needs of the public and transform this fundamental philosophy into reality.

Lessons learned The Middle Eastern revolutions have no doubt taught us many valuable lessons. The movements of the youth in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and elsewhere have proven, first, that fear of the state neither plays a key factor in driving people to do things, nor is influential from the state’s point view as a key factor in shaping people’s social, political and economic fates. Second, we all know that dictatorship cannot be established without a strong internal structure, which definitely will provide the state with the support that it needs from the people, because the state has made people so dependent on it in all aspects. However, once the state experiences any sort of turmoil or any break-down in the internal structure, the support will disappear all at once, and the example of the dictator Saddam Hussain’s regime collapsing in the short period in 2003 is evident. Third, the new order of the new world no longer permits dictatorship and its inhuman practices, and that is what explains the unlimited international support for the revolutionaries in Tunisia, Egypt and everywhere in the Arab world. Fourth is the thrust of the Middle Easterners to freedom, for with a high rate of youth in this region, people are no longer accepting a political order that has been theirs for

Revolutions in the Middle East


more than 50 years and has accomplished nothing. New social, economic and political ideas have emerged in the region, and thanks to globalization, these new ideas were accepted and adopted quickly enough to present the ultimate threat to the states in the Middle East. Fifth, we must not be too optimistic in regards to the political and social outcomes in the region. It is true that secular and youth movements have emerged and were capable of taking a strong stand against the previous status quo, and then were the reason behind the surprising collapse of the dictatorships. However, surprisingly these secular and youth movements have been in the shadow since the dust has cleared, and the hard-line Islamists have taken over.

Conclusion Political opportunity, new social networks and the media have galvanized the young Arab educated-but-unemployed people to stand firm in the face of brutal regimes like those in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain. Mobilization was massive in all of these cases and, as a result, people in Tunisia and in Egypt soon brought down their respective regimes; however, in others, especially in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain, the situation took on a more dramatic shift, where the regimes fought back to prevent these revolutions. The political struggle will continue in this wealthy region unless governments immediately start making deep reforms that take into consideration the massive number of young, educated people who are left with no job and no hope. What really matters to me, though, at this historical moment, is that political reforms are profoundly needed more than ever, because with these kinds of reforms young people will have more opportunities to be a creative part of society and, most imperatively, to be part of decision-making.

Notes 1 Gilles Kepel, The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West (The Balknap: Harvard University Press, 2004), 18. 2 Charles Tilly, Social Movements, 1768–2004 (London: Paradigm Publishers, 2004), 3; S. David Meyer, ‘Opportunities and Identities: Bridge-Building in the Study of Social Movements’, in S. David Meyers, Nancy Whittier and Belinda Robnett (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 13. 3 Sidney Tarrow, ‘Silence and Voice in the Study of Contentious Politics: Introduction’, in Roland Aminzade et al., Silence and Voice in the Study of Contentious Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2001), 5. 4 Ryan Cragun et al., Introduction to Sociology (Blacksleet River Publishers, 2010), 233–34. 5 Doug McAdam et al., Dynamics of Contention (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001); Tarrow, 2001; and Tilly, 2004. 6 Sidney Tarrow, Movement in Power (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 1. 7 Cragun et al., 2010, 233–34; Tarrow, 1994, 1. 8 Tarrow, 1994, 1. 9 Meyer, 2002, 14. 10 Tarrow, 1994, 4–5. 11 Jack Goldstone and Charles Tilly, ‘Threat (and opportunity): Popular Action and State Response in the Dynamics of Contentious Action’, in Ronald R. Aminzade et al. (ed.), Silence and Voice in the Study of Contentious Politics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 180. 12 Goldstone and Tilly, 2001, 180. 13 Holly McCammon et al., ‘Movement Framing and Discursive Opportunity Structures: The Political Successes of the US Women’s Jury Movements’, American Sociological Review 5, 2007: 725–49, 726.

184 Aqeel Abood 14 Goldstone and Tilly, 2001, 181. 15 Goldstone and Tilly, 2001. 16 Evgeny Morozov, ‘How Much Did Social Media Contribute to the Revolution in the Middle East’, Web Exclusive, APR May 2011. 17 Ted Nguyen, ‘Social Media Revolution Ignites Middle East and North Africa’, 16 February 2011; Florence Passy and Marco Giugni, ‘Social Networks and Individual Perceptions: Explaining Differential Participation in Social Movements’, Sociological Forum 16(1), 2001: 123–53. 18 Siegel, David A. ‘Social Networks and Collective Action’, American Journal of Political Science 53(1) 2009: 122–38. 19 Florence Passy and Marco Giugni, ‘Social Networks and Individual Perceptions: Explaining Differential Participation in Social Movements’, Sociological Forum 16(1), 2001: 123–53. 20 J. Faisal Abbas, ‘New Media an Opportunity, Not a Threat in the Middle East’, Huff Post Media, 8 July 2011. 21 Waeel Ghuniam, The University Wiki, February 2011. 22 Mohammad Al-Shaik, ‘The Youthful Revolutions have unveiled the Great Generation of Facebook’, Islam On Line, Qatar, 28 February 2011. 23 Mohammad Abu Zahra, The History of Islamic Sects (Cairo: The Arabic Thought Publishers, n.d.), 327; Abdul-Rahman Ibn-Khaldon, The Introduction (Lebanon: Al-Arqum House for Publishing, 2005), 219; Taha Hussein, The Grant Riot: Uttman (Egypt: Dar-al-Ma’raaf for Publishing, 1966), 37. 24 Burhan Galion and Saleem Al-Awa’a, The Political System in Islam (Damascus, Syria: The Thought House Publishers, 2004), 45. 25 Mohammad Ibn-Qutiaba, Al-Imama wl Al-Seyyssa (Lebanon: The House of International Books, 2001), 13. 26 Nasr Vali, Shia Revival: How Conflict Within Islam Will Shape the Future (New York: W.W. Norton, 2007), 37; Saleem Al-Awaa, AL-Jamma al-Islamyyia al-Musalaha from 1974–2004 (Cairo: Al-Shoruq Publishers, 2006), 64. 27 Ibn-Qutiaba, 2001, 35. 28 Ibn-Khaldon, 2005, 193. 29 Ibn-Khaldon, 2005, 219; Abu-Zuhra, n.d., 327; Hussein, 1966, 37. 30 Islam News, 16 February 2011. 31 Wadah Khanfar, ‘Those Who Support Democracy Must Welcome the Rise of Political Islam’, The Guardian,; Taylor Luck, ‘Islamists Expect Strategic Gains from Egypt Peers’ Likely Win’, Jordan Times, 2 December 2011; Magdy Samaan, ‘Poised for a Parliamentary Majority, Islamists Shed Restraint’, Egypt Source, 6 December 2011. 32 Akbar Ganji, The Road to Democracy in Iran (London, England: The MTI Press, 2008), 11. 33 Hassan Az-Aldin Bahr-Ulum, Islamic Discourse and the Contemporary Issues (Beirut: Lebanon, al-Aref Publishers, 2010), 88–89. 34 Francis Fukuyama, State Building: Governance and World Order in the 21st Century (Cornell University Press, 2004), ix.

Part II

Country studies

Chapter 11

Transition in progress Governance in Iraq 2003–11 Abbas Kadhim

Following the successful overthrow of the Baath regime on 9 April 2003, Iraq began its transition towards a process of democratization that gradually achieved important gains in transferring some powers to the previously disenfranchised population. This transition has progressed from direct US rule, to partial Iraqi participation, and finally full Iraqi administration of the country. This chapter will discuss the governance process in each phase and describe the challenges and examine the accomplishments toward better governance in a country that witnessed one of the worst authoritarian regimes in the modern world. After the collapse of the Iraqi authoritarian regime, the USA took a relatively long time to decide the course of action it was going to take in post-Saddam Iraq. Finally, an occupation authority was put in place under the name of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), the administration of which was given to a retiring US diplomat, L. Paul Bremer, III.1 Ambassador Bremer was mindful of the task assigned to him. On his first CPA briefing in Baghdad in May 2003, he told his staff, ‘You know the challenge better than I do … America and its allies haven’t taken on a job this big since the occupations of Germany and Japan in 1945’.2 However, he also expressed surprise at how ill-prepared and misinformed he was. Reflecting on his first impressions in Iraq, he recalls, ‘During the frantic round of meetings I’d had in Washington, I’d been briefed by representatives from the Departments of Defense, State and Treasury, by the CIA, and by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But nobody had given me a sense of how utterly broken this country was’.3 Bremer spent the following two months learning about the country and its people, often falling under the mercy of the Iraqi exiles, many of whom had not set foot in Iraq for 20 years or more. Finally, on 13 July 2003, he appointed a 25-member advisory body, known as the ‘Iraq Governing Council’ (IGC). In the first attempt at establishing representative politics in Iraq, the IGC included notables from all major ethnic and sectarian groups in Iraq, with a clear preference for opposition groups that had spent the previous decades in exile. The chairmanship of the IGC was assigned to a different member every month until the Council was dissolved in June 2004, and the body held meetings to discuss policy on various Iraqi affairs, but the real power rested with Ambassador Bremer, who had the power to accept or veto the policies presented to him by the IGC and also had the power to issue directives regarding any aspect of Iraqi affairs. He exercised these powers and vetoed some important IGC decisions, such as the annulment of the Iraqi secular personal status law, and issued many directives including his controversial decisions of ‘de-Baathification’ and the dismantling of the Iraqi armed forces.

188 Abbas Kadhim In a sign of sharing some administrative responsibilities with Iraqis and in order to prepare for turning over the governing power from the USA to Iraq, the IGC appointed 25 ministers whose ethnic backgrounds reflected a similar ethnic and sectarian diversity. They began to exercise their limited powers in September 2003. Although these bodies were statistically representative of Iraq’s ethnic and sectarian composition, their selection was resented by two groups: the Sunni Arabs, who saw in this representativeness a reversal of their historical dominance in Iraq despite their numerical inferiority; and the non-exiled political groups, which were marginalized by the CPA and Iraqi exiled politicians. Representativeness was attacked in the media as a ‘quota system’ and the over-reliance on exiles was billed as an occupation by proxy. Iraqis who joined the political process were accused of being agents of the occupation who came to Iraq ‘on American tanks’, even if they were against the invasion and the occupation, like the Dawa Party and the Iraqi Communist Party. To make matters worse, Bremer’s orders and directives fuelled more resentment, especially those related to de-Baathification, which purged tens of thousands of advanced members of Saddam Hussain’s ruling party from government positions, and the dismantling of the Iraqi defence, interior and information ministries, along with many other security and intelligence organizations from the previous regime. These measures left more than a million Iraqi families without income in the midst of the terrible economic conditions of an occupied country, creating the perfect environment for terrorism and organized crime in the absence of national security forces or a sufficient number of occupation forces. This dual governance, the ultimate result of which rested completely on the whim of the US administrator, brought to Iraqis the unforgotten memories of the British mandate (1921–32) and a history of Iraqi revolutionary struggle for independence and decolonization. In the meanwhile, the USA and its allies were drawing on their experiences in Germany and Japan. The Bush Administration failed to articulate a clear path for creating a sovereign Iraq or a plan of action for a transition to governance by democratic institutions in a country that had suffered half a century of authoritarian rule. The USA finally set a time frame that would terminate the occupation after all the necessary legal and political process was accomplished under direct US tutelage (the writing and ratification of a constitution, a national election and a functional government). This plan was opposed by several groups in Iraq that could not place their future in the hands of the Americans. The Sunni Arabs were fearful of a framework that institutionalized their fate as a minority in a Shi’a-led government, and the alienated leaders were afraid that the USA was going to turn over the levers of power to the exiles, as the British had done in the early twentieth century. However, the most important opposition came from the religious leadership in Najaf, where Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani was emerging as the undisputed maker of public opinion in Iraq. While contributing a great deal to safeguarding the country against a looming civil war, Sistani also did a lot to disrupt many US schemes to shape the political future of Iraq. When the USA announced the plan to appoint a group of scholars to draft an Iraqi permanent constitution, Sistani demanded an immediate general election allowing all eligible Iraqi voters to elect their representatives of choice to form a constitutional assembly. Rejecting the US plan to appoint the members of the assembly, he issued the following strongly worded statement: The [Occupation] does not have any authority to appoint the members of the committee to write the constitution. Further, there is no guarantee that such a committee would draft a constitution according to the supreme interests of the Iraqi

Transition in progress: Governance in Iraq


people and their national identity, whose main pillars are the pure religion of Islam and noble social values. Hence, the project is categorically unacceptable. There is no alternative to starting with a general election, allowing all eligible Iraqis to elect their representatives to a constituent assembly to write the constitution, which in turn will be presented to the people to vote on it. It is the duty of all believers to demand this process and achieve it in the best manner.4 The Bush Administration realized the irony of trying to build a democratic system while opposing an election, while at the same time the top ayatollah was the leading advocate of elections and true democratic representation. Sistani’s intervention forced the USA to modify its plan and introduce an interim constitution known as the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL)—signed by the IGC on 8 March 2004—and promised to turn sovereignty over to Iraqis by the end of June 2004. According to the TAL, national elections were scheduled to be held by 31 January 2005 to elect a 275-seat National Assembly to draft a permanent constitution by 15 August 2005. Then a national referendum was to be held to ratify the constitution by 15 October 2005. Once a permanent constitution were adopted, national elections would be held to elect a government by 15 December 2005. This plan was strictly adhered to by both Iraq and the USA. Power was turned over to Iraqis on 28 June 2004, two days ahead of schedule to thwart any plans for terrorist activities on the originally designated day of the ceremony, and an Iraqi interim government was selected with the help of United Nations (UN) envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, with 26 ministers headed by Ayad Allawi, who became Iraq’s first prime minister, and a tribal sheikh, Ghazi al-Yawar, was selected to hold the ceremonial office of the president. Although the Sunnis boycotted the January 2005 elections, they were invited to join the government that was headed by the new Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja’fari, and were given a share in the government equal to their popular representation. They were also invited to participate in the drafting of the constitution. In the October referendum to ratify the constitution, the Sunnis reversed their position and participated in strong numbers, not to support the process, but hoping to defeat the constitution by securing a two-thirds ‘no’ vote in three provinces. They succeeded in two provinces, Anbar and Salahuddin, but fell short in the third, Sunni-majority province, Mosul. The constitution was adopted. The Sunni Arabs also participated in the first constitutional election, held on 15 December 2005, in hopes of strongly influencing the promised process to amend the constitution and to share political power in the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. However, no constitutional amendments were made until this time. With the holding of two subsequent elections, the January 2009 provincial election and the March 2010 general election, Iraq had established a tradition of peaceful transfer of political power and parliamentary life since Iraqis reclaimed sovereignty in 2004. This is a very significant reversal of the authoritarian rule that Iraq had between 1958 and 2003, when governments were only replaced by bloody coups and violence.

Iraqi oil-dependent economy The current Iraqi economy is almost entirely dependent on oil revenues. According to the official figures presented by the Iraqi Ministry of Finance, oil exports provided

190 Abbas Kadhim 91 per cent of the country’s revenue in 2010. Various taxes and tariffs constituted the other 9 per cent. The figures show an increase of oil dependence in comparison with the 2009 revenue, of which 85 per cent was oil exports.5 However, the country’s oil industry is in a state of general devastation. The lack of security in several parts of the country is prohibitive to foreign investment and it continues to hinder the patterns of production as the industry’s infrastructure remains a target for the diverse terrorist groups in various parts of the country. Similarly, corruption in the Ministry of Oil and the government of Iraq in general contributes to significant losses in revenue and provides inefficient management of the industry. As in other governmental entities, loyalty to certain political parties and groups is considered before competence and expertise in the hiring of personnel at all levels of the oil industry. Furthermore, numerous militias and well-connected criminal organizations continue to smuggle Iraqi oil and cost Iraq the loss of billions of dollars each year.6 That is, of course, in addition to the depletion of infrastructure that was caused by decades of war and sanctions. The US government appropriated more than US$4 billion to help repair the oil fields, including $2.5 billion as a contract awarded to Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR).7 These efforts managed to bring oil production to levels just below their pre-invasion average of 2.5 million barrels per day (mbpd), of which only 1.5 mbpd were available to export. However, the insurgency that spread throughout major parts of the country caused total oil production to fall below 2.0 mbpd in 2005. This production level continued in the first half of 2006, and reached 2.5 mbpd in mid-June 2006, to fall again to 2.23 mbpd two weeks later. This temporary rise notwithstanding, exports always held constant at 1.6–1.67 mbpd.8 These figures, of course, remain suspect because Iraq continued to lack a reliable metering system at the Basra Oil Terminal to accurately report the true levels of production. The quarterly report submitted by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) in July 2006 stated that ‘the [Basra Oil Terminal] metering system project, which was reported to be 30 per cent complete last quarter, made a little progress this quarter because the subcontractor was delayed in mobilizing … The lack of progress implementing this metering system undermines the effort to combat corruption and smuggling in this economically crucial sector.’9 The metering system continues to be a point of dispute and remains persistently behind schedule. Four years later (by the end of 2010), the government of Iraq reported to the UN Security Council that 51 per cent of the meters were installed. It is yet to finish the work on the remaining 49 per cent, about 1,150 meters, which were planned to be installed by November 2010. Then there will be the goal of accomplishing the whole metering mission, which includes a total of 4,898 meters.10 Throughout the post-invasion years, insurgents targeted oil pipes, refineries, power supply and workers, hindering any reconstruction efforts to increase production levels beyond the pre-war period. Furthermore, various militias, often backed by certain major Iraqi political players, established their freelance petroleum cartel, smuggling oil in defiance of the Iraqi authorities and the coalition forces, if not taking advantage of their pragmatic apathy. Meanwhile, 20 per cent of Iraqis, who were surveyed in 10 major cities, said that they paid bribes to buy gasoline.11 The SIGIR quarterly report in July 2006 concluded that corruption in the oil sector, ‘threatens not only Iraq’s capacity to fund new capital investment, but also its ability to sustain and increase production’.12

Transition in progress: Governance in Iraq


Four years later, the SIGIR report of January 2011 indicated that oil production in Iraq still lingered at 2.4 mbpd, slightly higher than its level in mid-2010, but decreased by 1 per cent from the end of 2009. However, the Ministry of Oil, according to the report, expected to increase production to 3.26 mbpd by the end of 2011, and it had put together a plan to reach the very ‘ambitious goal of producing 12 mbpd by 2017’.13 However, the report reminds the reader that Iraq has to overcome many technical, political and logistical challenges, not to mention the need to invest some $150 billion in order to achieve this level of production. Contrary to this ambitious, and optimistic, sixyear plan of the Iraqi government, the International Energy Agency (IEA) expects that Iraq may achieve the ability to produce 6.1 mbpd in 2035, but it will not reach 3 mbpd before 2020.14 In addition to the recent rise in oil prices, the Iraqi economy received much help from the lifting of international sanctions on it since 1990. The removal of Saddam Hussain ended the rationale of US sanctions on Iraq, which were almost completely lifted by the Bush Administration. This move opened the gates for foreign investment in Iraq, by US companies and those based in other countries. The Bush Administration also took measures to protect Iraqi assets from any claims by other countries and individuals who had suffered loss or damage because of the policies of Saddam Hussain’s regime.

Political, financial and administrative corruption According to Transparency International, a global coalition against corruption, Iraq ranked as the third worst country in the world in 2006, 2007 and 2008, and fourth in 2009 and 2010, thanks to Afghanistan, another nation being rebuilt by the USA. Iraq always did better than Somalia, outperformed Myanmar in the last three years and Haiti in 2006.15 With $4 billion unaccounted for every year, and many more billions written off in fraud, mismanagement and shell projects, Iraq is definitely the most corrupt country on this planet at the present time.16 Similar assessment is given by the World Bank, which places Iraq at the bottom of the list.17 The US Department of Defense admits that ‘Corruption remains one of the largest challenges to the establishment of rule of law in Iraq’, citing Article 136B of the Iraqi Criminal Law Proceedings, which remains an obstacle to prosecuting public officials. ‘Many investigative agencies refuse to move forward with a corruption investigation until a green light is first given by the ministry involved.’ The report’s final analysis on this issue is that, ‘As long as this article remains an option for GoI [Government of Iraq] ministers to shield ministry officials from prosecution for their illegal actions, the GoI will not be able to effectively investigate corruption’.18 Corruption is a fact of life in most countries worldwide, but it is particularly associated with developing and underdeveloped countries. In a country like Iraq, which is living in severe post-conflict conditions and with significant internal discord, corruption takes a secondary level of importance after the more pressing issues, such as the lack of security, economic hardship and high unemployment, the collapse of services and the lack of effective governance. The US obsession with the political process and the ‘democratization’ of Iraq has caused a troublesome deficit in the attention paid to combating corruption. There are three forms of corruption currently plaguing Iraq: political, administrative and financial. Each form contributes in its own way, and in collaboration with the other forms, to the failure of the country in its pursuit of progress and development. The ultimate result of this failure to curb corruption can be seen in the rising apathy of Iraqis

192 Abbas Kadhim and their lack of confidence in their government and the future of the country as a whole. More dangerous still is the contribution of corruption to the country’s instability and the continued political violence. Political corruption stems from three major structural challenges in Iraqi politics. First, there is the country’s frozen constitution. In order to secure the passage of Iraq’s constitution and bring those Iraqis who opposed change in the country to the table, the US mediator at the time, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, forced the Iraqis to commit two fatal blunders. First and foremost, they promised to pass a number of substantial changes to the constitution within a short period after its ratification. This pact undermined the authority of the constitution, as it gave the impression that it is essentially a provisional constitution. To make things worse, Iraqis failed to make any changes to the constitution and they continue to pass this task from one parliamentary session to the next. The second blunder was the abandonment of the constitution, following the first election after its passage, in favour of a ‘national unity government’—a euphemism for a quota system of power-sharing that set aside the results of the parliamentary elections in favour of the appeasement of parties and groups opposing the political process; namely, the Sunni Arabs. According to this system, government ministries were farmed out to various parties without any significant oversight on the way the ministers conducted their daily business, or if they did at all! The result was a complete collapse of performance in every ministry. Corrupt ministers were protected by their respective parties in the parliament and Prime Minister al-Maliki often looked the other way. In certain cases, like the astounding revelation about the corruption of the Minister of Trade, Abd al-Falah al-Sudani, the Prime Minister was a culprit in protecting the corrupt minister, who belonged to an offshoot branch of his Dawa Party. Instead of firing the minister, al-Maliki accepted his resignation, allowing him to collect fantastic benefits and, ultimately, he was allowed to leave the country. It is very doubtful that the government of Iraq will be able to bring him back for trial. In the absence of oversight, some of the ministries turned into gold mines for the parties that controlled them, while others showered terrorists with various forms of patronage. For instance, the Minister of Culture, Asad Kamal al-Hashimi, apparently used his ministry as a torture house for opponents and a safe haven for religious extremists. On 26 June 2007 he was accused of plotting a series of assassinations prior to and while holding office. He evaded arrest by ‘hiding out in the home of a very senior Iraqi leader and politician in the Green Zone’.19 The home in the Green Zone is likely to belong to the minister’s uncle, Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi. Having vanished in one of the best guarded spots in the world, the death sentence he received, in absentia, in August 2008 became obsolete. The Iraqi electorate responded to this abject failure by imposing collective punishment on the politicians from all parties. The 7 March 2010 national elections witnessed the defeat of 82 per cent of the legislators—from the 275 members of parliament seeking re-election, only 62 MPs retained their seats, while 213 MPs were defeated. Provinces like Samawa, Babylon, Arbil and Dahok rejected all their representatives and elected new ones for the upcoming term. The results could have been worse, if not for the undemocratic elections law, which favoured weak candidates from larger parties over more popular ones from small parties. This is almost unprecedented in any democracy, especially as it came in the wake of another electoral ‘massacre’, the 2009 city council elections. There, too, the Iraqi electorate rejected most of the incumbents and elected new candidates.

Transition in progress: Governance in Iraq


The second structural challenge that facilitated political corruption was the weakness of the Iraqi judiciary. Burdened with tens of thousands of suspects lingering in Iraqi detention facilities, the clogged justice system failed to provide the majority of the detainees with a day in court. Along with the innocent, there have been some avowed terrorists and criminals in detention. Hence, under the guise of relief for the falsely accused, many politicians found an opportunity to strike deals with terrorist groups, and detention facilities acquired revolving doors for criminals and terrorists. Iraqi officials have interceded, and continue to intercede, on behalf of terrorists for ideological reasons, political purposes, and sometimes for substantial monetary rewards. According to a 14 October 2009 Multi-National Force-Iraq press release, ‘Iraqi Security Forces apprehended a lawyer in Mosul … for allegedly bribing officials to release jailed Islamic State of Iraq terrorists and destroy official records legitimizing such arrests’.20 The story illustrates the intertwining of criminal activity with political corruption and, ultimately, terrorism. Money stolen or extorted from local companies and individuals ends up being used to bribe officials in order to secure the release of terrorists and fund terrorist activities. Many of the released terrorists return to their activities and end up being killed or captured again, but only after they take away many innocent lives. A third contributor to political corruption is the autonomy of the provinces and Baghdad’s inability to hold provincial officials accountable. In addition to the Kurdish region, which has maintained its quasi-independence since 1991, other provinces were given constitutional autonomy to run their affairs with virtually no oversight from the central government. Article 118 of the Iraqi constitution states that each ‘provincial council shall not be subject to the control or supervision of any ministry or any institution not linked to a ministry. The governorate council shall have an independent finance.’21 This problem is exacerbated by the lack of local institutions that can exercise any meaningful oversight at the provincial level. Therefore, local politicians and other officials enjoy extraordinary immunities under Iraq’s unique federalist system. If ‘all politics is local’, then all toxic corruption can also be local. According to the British Independent newspaper, the horrific cholera epidemic in several areas of Iraq in 2008 was ‘blamed on a scandal involving corrupt officials who failed to sterilize the local drinking water because they were bribed to buy chlorine from Iran that was long past its expiration date’.22 The councilman involved in the chlorine contract, a member of the Hilla City Council, was released after a short arrest, thanks to his connection with the powerful pro-Iran party, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. To be sure, some corrupt officials do get prosecuted and convicted, but not always taken into custody. The SIGIR detailed in his October 2009 quarterly report to Congress about 80 cases of corruption convictions between January and August of 2009. According to the report, 5 per cent of the convictions were for bribes and 12 per cent for embezzlement. Of the embezzlement cases, in 79 per cent of the cases it was impossible to determine the real amount of money embezzled by the individuals, but in the 14 cases that were determined, the amount was around $136,000. An astounding 42 per cent of those convicted were not apprehended or, in the SIGIR’s words, were ‘absent from their sentencing hearing’.23 The lion’s share of convictions were of those officials who worked for the ministries of defence, finance and interior. The report also cites the arrest of Deputy Minister of Transportation Adnan al-Ubaidi, who ‘was allegedly videotaped accepting a bribe of about $100,000 from a company seeking to do business with the GOI’.24 Of course, this amount pales when compared with US Army Major John C. Cockerham’s ‘receipt of

194 Abbas Kadhim more than $9 million in bribes while he served as a contracting officer in Kuwait … on September 17, [2009], authorities searched a safe deposit box leased by Melissa Cockerham, John’s wife, and seized $1.5 million and more than $54,000 in foreign currency’.25 The report also has some disturbing stories on US contractors, who continue to commit fraud in Iraq. In one case, a US contractor billed the Iraqi Army $196.50 for each package of 10 washers, the value of which should not exceed $1.22. All in all, the contractor made a potential sum of $4.1 million in over-billing.26 Financial corruption is also rampant outside political circles. Bribes are expected—or they are often demanded—every time one encounters a government employee. In a country with very high unemployment and in which most jobs are provided by central and local government, a job can only be obtained after paying $500 to $1,500, depending on the type of job and the salary it offers.27 A type G Iraqi passport can intentionally take up to eight months in the normal issuing process, not to mention the humiliation of frequenting the relevant agencies and the endless list of requirements; however, for a $200 bribe to the employee at the passport office, it will be delivered to the applicant’s home in two days.28 This form of corruption and, to a certain degree, all other forms of corruption, did not begin after the 2003 US invasion. During the Iran–Iraq War (1980–8), the Iraqi military was the first institution to take corruption to unprecedented levels. Soldiers with strong financial means often managed to skip considerable time in the course of their military service by donating their salaries to their superiors, in addition to other monetary gifts and services. In such ‘win-win’ deals, many soldiers minimized their risk of getting killed, and the officers increased their income manyfold.29 Following the war, most of the draftees returned to civilian life and started working for non-military agencies and transferred the same forms of corruption to the new workplace. To make matters worse, the economic sanctions imposed on Iraq throughout the 1990s conveniently removed the last ethical and social barriers before the institutionalization of financial corruption all over the country. With most government monthly salaries ranging between $1 and $5, survival was impossible without supplementing this pay with illicit ‘contributions’ from fellow citizens. If a significant portion of corruption in the 1980s and 1990s was prompted by the official’s need, the post-Saddam corruption was mostly prompted by greed. Government employees currently receive a better income than average Iraqis make in the private sector and they enjoy reasonably high job security, yet nothing gets done without bribing a number of government employees to do their job. The amount of bribes, kick-backs and embezzlements are commensurate with the level of the given official. They start with $100 at the lower levels of government employees and rise to millions of US dollars when ministers and deputy ministers are involved. In the case of the former Iraqi trade minister, al-Sudani, who is a dual British and Iraqi national, one contract between his ministry and an export company owned by his son and two brothers involved the importing of an expired tea shipment at the cost of $50 million, but the real cost should have been $20 million (with $30 million going to the family and various health risks to their fellow Iraqis).30 The ministry is charged with importing food rations, which are the main support for Iraqis. One can only imagine how many millions of dollars the relatives and cronies of the minister have made from the import of flour, sugar, cooking oil, beans and many other items—’The ministry operates a nearly six billion-dollar annual budget that provides a monthly public food distribution program for Iraqis. It also manages the import of grain, seeds and construction materials’.31

Transition in progress: Governance in Iraq


The third, administrative corruption, manifests itself in several forms, such as favouritism in hiring and providing governmental services, abuse of power and violating the laws and regulations. Again, all of these manifestations were rampant under Saddam’s regime. However, as Iraq is forging a path toward democracy and the rule of law, this and other forms of corruption will render meaningless any progress in the procedural process of democracy. Some of the manifestations of administrative corruption in Iraq are consistent with those practised elsewhere; namely, hiring unqualified relatives, friends, acquaintances and bribe-givers, while denying qualified applicants an opportunity to work and providing prompt and complete services to the aforementioned people, but not to others. The more dangerous form is the abuse of power in relation to terrorizing the public. While pursuing her normal daily activity, Iraqi reporter Zahra al-Musawi was savagely beaten by ‘unidentified men in the centre of Baghdad on 4 October 2009, while the police and other members of the security forces look[ed] on without intervening’.32 Although al-Musawi’s father holds a prominent job in the government and the horrific incident became the lead story in Iraqi and Arab media, it took the government more than a week to investigate the incident; a sign that the people involved must have been too important to disturb. In November 2007 the security forces found two cars rigged with explosives and ready to be deployed ‘outside a charity run by [Parliament Member, Adnan] Dulaimi next door to his main offices in Baghdad’. According to US military sources, ‘one of Dulaimi’s guards had a key to the car that was rigged as a bomb’. Dulaimi, the leader of al-Tawafuq, the largest Sunni bloc in the Iraqi parliament, defiantly claimed that the whole story was false. ‘This is all not true. These are false accusations … We are the ones who are subject to terrorism.’33 Similarly, Iraqis woke up to the news of a ‘holdup of a branch of the Al-Rafidin bank in the Baghdad district of Al-Zawiya on 28 July [2009], in which eight security guards were killed. It was one of the biggest holdups since 2003, with a haul of nearly 4 million dollars. The alleged perpetrators, who were arrested three days later, includ[ed] Capt. Jaafar Lazem, one of the bodyguards of Vice-President Adil Abd Al-Mahdi.’34 The perpetrators and the money were found in the offices of al-Adala, a daily newspaper the editor-in-chief of which is the Vice President. Sheikh Jalal Eddin al-Saghir, the powerful member of parliament and a leader in Abd Al-Mahdi’s party, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ICI), used the Friday sermon to condemn the journalist who made the connection between the holdup and the ICI, a major Iraqi Shi’a party, and demanded that the journalist ‘be tried and put to death’.35 Of course, no penalty of any kind was demanded for the perpetrators who killed the poor guards at the bank and stole the $4 million. If abuse of power is a form of administrative corruption, then the Iraqi parliament is the unchallenged champion of this practice through the abuse of its legislative power to continually pass laws in favour of its members. Each MP costs the Iraqi treasury $30,000 per month, including his/her $9,000 salary and the cost of the security detail (30 bodyguards), not to mention the pension package, which amounts to $7,200 per month for 10 years after leaving the job. To put these numbers in perspective, an Iraqi teacher makes $500 a month. MPs continue to accumulate benefits to themselves and their families, for example recently voting to forgive a $60,000 loan that each MP received to purchase a car, converting this loan into a grant. Also, the parliamentarians voted to give themselves and their families diplomatic passports valid for 10 years and a piece of real estate to each member in a place of his/her choosing. The perks package was passed unanimously in a secret session.36

196 Abbas Kadhim The examples presented here are the tip of the Iraqi iceberg of corruption, which have turned the country into a giant version of Animal Farm. They pose a challenge to any prospects of democracy, economic and human development, as well as the desperately needed rule of law in a country that has not seen much respect for the law in decades. Iraqis who welcomed change in their country are rapidly falling victim to disillusion and political apathy. This sentiment is best articulated by an Iraqi intellectual, who wrote, ‘What kind of a country is this, where ministers, parliamentarians, clergymen, tribal chiefs, doctors and teachers steal from the public?’37 So, how does this bleak picture of corruption affect the stability and security of Iraq? Can Iraq make a successful transition from its tyrannical past towards an era of good governance with this magnitude of entrenched corruption? It is clear from the empirical evidence that all three forms of corruption—political, financial and administrative—have contributed greatly to the deterioration of security in post-2003 Iraq. Corrupt politicians at all governmental levels have sponsored terrorism, collaborated with insurgents or looked the other way in exchange for political gains to themselves or their respective political parties. Similarly, financial corruption and the culture of bribery, fraud and embezzlement have facilitated an endless series of security threats and violent events. Whereas fraud and embezzlement deplete the capabilities of the security forces by siphoning money and resources away from the military and police, bribery stands as the most dangerous threat as it eliminates the country’s last line of defence against criminals, insurgents and terrorists. Financial corruption may represent the straw that could break the back of the fragile Iraqi state. Political parties and governmental officials view positions in government as spoils to be divided among the victors. Hence, political affiliation, clientele and family relations and quid pro quo replace merit in hiring and appointments. The current Iraqi state is full of unmeritorious and incompetent officials whose best intentions, if they exist, are defeated by their lack of aptitude to serve effectively. When security is at stake, officials’ incompetence means an extraordinary advantage for the insurgents and terrorists.

Iraqi civil-military relations The Iraqi armed forces are addressed in six different articles in the Constitution. Article No. 9 deals exclusively with Iraq’s national defence and security, focusing on the roles and composition of the armed forces and national intelligence. Section A of the Article recalls the practices of previous governments in creating a sectarian military, which became with the passing of time the powerbroker in the country. Therefore, this section mandated a balanced recruitment of the armed forces from all areas of the Iraqi population. It further prohibited the military from becoming an instrument for the oppression of the Iraqi people, and forbade the armed forces from interfering in the country’s political affairs or having a role in the transfer of political authority. Section C of the Article further prohibits the armed forces and all personnel of the Ministry of Defence from seeking elected office or participating in any electoral activities, both in their official or in a personal capacity, whether for themselves or on behalf of others. However, as Iraqi citizens, their right to cast their vote in every election is guaranteed. Article 58 of the Iraqi Constitution gives parliament the authority to confirm the appointment of the ‘Army Chief of Staff, his assistants and those of the rank of division commanders and above and the director of the intelligence service based on a proposal

Transition in progress: Governance in Iraq


from the Cabinet’. The role of the Cabinet in nominating candidates for these positions is addressed in Article 77, Section 5. However, the Constitution is silent on whether parliamentary approval is necessary for the removal of military officers from these positions. Finally, Article 70, Section 9 of the Constitution designates the president of the country as the ceremonial commander-in-chief. However, Article 75 designates the prime minister as the actual commander-in-chief, while Article 107, Section 2, grants the federal government of Iraq the exclusive authority to ‘[formulate and execute] national security policy, including creating and managing Armed Forces to secure the protection, and to guarantee the security of Iraq’s borders and to defend Iraq’. In 2009 parliament passed the Law of Military Service and Retirement, but it was vetoed by the Presidential Council and returned to parliament for revision. Parliament accepted certain presidential suggestions and rejected others. On 26 January 2010 the law was approved and signed to replace the previous law passed in Iraq in 1975, which was repealed according to Article 97 of the new law. Also repealed was CPA Directive No. 22. There was no need to repeal other CPA directives because they were set to be effective only while the CPA remained in charge of Iraq’s affairs, while many parts of Directive No. 22 were designed to remain in effect until repealed by an internationally recognized Iraqi government. Many of these provisions have been tested in the short period since the ratification of the Constitution. In all elections, the military has exercised no role other than providing a safe environment on election day. It was not accused of partisanship by any Iraqi political group or any independent election monitoring entity. However, there is still a heated debate on the past and, potentially, future role of the armed forces in oppressing the Iraqi people. The current volatile security situation in Iraq has diverted all military activities into providing domestic security and maintaining a clear military presence in many Iraqi cities. This daily contact with average Iraqis has inevitably resulted in daily combat engagements and occasional violations of the rules of engagement. Also, being trained during the pre-democratic era, many Iraqi officers and soldiers are yet to accept the new doctrine of maximum restraint and utmost respect for human rights, despite continued training on such doctrines. Most importantly, the nature of the challenge before the Iraqi armed forces is unique. They are mainly engaged in counterterrorism efforts against some of the most vicious and murderous groups, such as al-Qa’ida and sectarian militias. It is not a secret that these groups enjoy the support of certain Iraqi political entities, inside and outside government, and the support of neighbouring countries, and therefore receive more than financial and logistical aid. Terrorists are extremely media savvy and distribute print material, videos and cassettes depicting the Iraqi armed forces committing human rights violations and oppression; most groups also maintain websites and run their own television and radio stations to maximize their impact. Sympathizers of these groups are also very active in providing logistics and informing groups of every move made by the Iraqi armed forces. One point of dispute is the creation of several military units and other forces that work outside the normal framework of the Iraqi armed forces, such as the Anti-Terrorism Force and the Baghdad Operations Force, and report directly to the prime minister. The political opponents of Prime Minister al-Maliki claim that he does not have any constitutional authority to create special forces not subject to parliamentary oversight. However, Iraqi legal experts, such as Tariq Harb, a leading constitutional expert, argue that ‘the task of forming the Armed Forces and Special Forces is an exclusive prerogative of the

198 Abbas Kadhim Commander-in-Chief, while the parliament has no authority in this regard, except the authority to disband such forces’.38 Iraq’s armed forces have a long history of meddling in politics. Indeed, the first military coup d’état in the Arab world since the creation of Arab nation states took place in Iraq in 1936.39 In addition to numerous attempts, Iraq witnessed military, or military-assisted, coups in 1941, 1958 and 1963. Furthermore, there was no defining line between military and civilian authority in Iraq between 1958 and 2003, and Iraq never had a democratic transfer of political authority. Therefore, Iraqis reacted positively to the concept of civilian control of the armed forces, which was imposed by the CPA and further enshrined in the TAL and in the permanent constitution of October 2004. According to Article 9, Section A of the Iraqi Constitution, ‘The Iraqi Armed Forces … shall be subject to the control of the civilian authority’. The civilian control is exercised by the minister of defence, the prime minister and, ceremonially, the president of Iraq—all of whom must be civilians. The armed forces are also subject to parliamentary oversight and legislative powers. Legislative control and oversight, which is exercised by the Iraqi parliament, includes debating and passing military-related legislation, approving budget and other spending requests, conducting hearings on military conduct and, according to the constitution, approving the appointment of higher commanding officers (at the level of Division Commander and above). Military-related legislation and oversight are exercised by the Defence and Security Committee, one of the most powerful committees in the Iraqi parliament. The Committee invites top military commanders, as well as the civilian commanders of the armed forces (minister of defence and others), to discuss security and other military affairs. The Defence and Security Committee is involved also in Iraq’s international relations, including hosting foreign ambassadors and foreign legislative and executive delegations. The effectiveness and efficiency of the armed forces are measured not only by their capability to successfully perform their duties and carry out the missions assigned to them by the commander-in-chief and the Ministry of Defence, which involve mainly defending the country against external threats, but also to perform missions to ensure domestic security. In this regard we need to consider not only training and doctrine, but also the equipment needed to perform such missions, the logistics and other forms of support to the combat units, and the ability of various units to co-ordinate their roles in a large-scale conflict. So far, the new Iraqi armed forces have mostly been involved in police work and counterterrorism, where the enemies are small groups armed with light weapons, fighting can occur in one or many sections of a city simultaneously, and there is urban as well as rural combat. That few city-wide engagements since the 2008 conflict with the Mahdi Army militia in Basra have occurred has proven that the Iraqi armed forces could not win a fight without the logistical support of coalition forces. However, sources in the US Pentagon and the Iraqi Ministry of Defence have affirmed that when fighting in partnership with coalition forces, the Iraqi armed forces have exhibited distinct courage and readiness to take the lead in counterterrorism operations. Also, Iraqi forces are making important strides towards achieving successful interoperability in counterterrorism. For instance, on 12 January 2011 Iraqi Aviation Command Squadron 15 conducted what was described as an ‘historic joint counterterrorism training session’ with a unit from the Iraqi counterterrorism forces. This was the first time these two entities had worked together on a single mission.40

Transition in progress: Governance in Iraq


Iraqi forces have been effective in providing protection for major events in Iraq, with many cities becoming an area of responsibility: for example, countrywide election days and the religious rituals that take place in several southern cities, where millions of Iraqis and foreigners gather to commemorate the martyrdom of historic Shi’a Imams. On the external front, the Iraqi armed forces are far from ready. After being a cause of concern for all Middle Eastern countries, the Iraqi armed forces are not in a position to hold their ground against any of their neighbours. According to the chief of staff of the Iraqi armed forces, General Babakir Zibari, ‘the US army must stay until the Iraqi army is fully ready in 2020’.41 General Zibari was not referencing the Iraqi Army alone, but the entire Iraqi armed forces, including the essential branches that could not be fully formed and equipped by the end of 2011—the scheduled date of US withdrawal from Iraq. According to sources in the US State Department, there is no unclassified plan to fill the gap between the US troop withdrawal at the end of 2011 and the closest date of full Iraqi military readiness in 2020. Similarly, sources at the Iraqi Ministry of Defence have predicted that the plan could be an Iraqi request for an extension of the US military mission in Iraq, despite the troubles that such a request will cause for both governments.

Conclusion The Iraqi transition to democracy is moving very slowly and facing many setbacks. Iraqis have no consensus on the shape of their future regime. They are divided on the questions of federalism and the scope of central government powers, the majority government versus a power-sharing arrangement, the identity of Iraq as a neutral state with policies driven by its national interests or as part of a larger regional context (Arab, Islamic, etc.), among many other issues. In electoral politics, Iraqi politicians and the electorate have not matured enough to trust their performance-based appeal and leave the comfort zone of ethnic and sectarian affinities. So far, all Iraqi election results have followed Iraqi sectarian and ethnic composition. This social comfort zone has encouraged Iraqi political players to take their constituents for granted and lose the sense of urgency to solve the country’s bad conditions or cure the epidemic of corruption. However, there are signs of hope for faster progress towards successful democratization. The US withdrawal has removed one of the major obstacles before a faster transition to democratization, because the USA has always interfered to secure political outcomes that guaranteed the safety of US troops or US long-term interests in Iraq, but not necessarily to help a healthy transition to democracy. Also, the US complete withdrawal took away any legitimacy from the calls for violent opposition to the political process. Another good sign is the improving performance of the Iraqi judiciary and its independence. So far, the judiciary has ruled in favour of almost every group that presented a strong case and disappointed every group when the claim was not based on solid grounds. Even Prime Minister al-Maliki has suffered occasional defeats in court. This is a strong guarantee of the rule of law, which in turn guarantees a decent democratic process. One final sign of hope is the new culture of subordinating the armed forces to civilian control. The Iraqi military, which had a bad history of destructive involvement in politics since the 1936 coup—the first military coup in the Arab world after the creation of modern Arab nation-states—is following a strict professional policy of adhering to civilian command. If this culture is maintained, the Iraqi forces will be an important supporter of the democratic system, when it is finally consolidated.

200 Abbas Kadhim

Notes 1 The administration of Iraq was first assigned to Lt Gen. Jay Garner (retd), who was supposed to oversee Iraqi reconstruction with the help of a staff of US government personnel and Iraqi-Americans to administer Iraq’s ministries. He was appointed head of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA). However, Garner’s team of Iraqi-Americans remained in the USA until shortly before his dismissal in May 2003. In my frequent visits to Washington, DC, I spent some time with many of them in their Crystal City office, where they sat, killing time by sending and receiving personal e-mails and waiting for lunch time or the end of work hours. Garner’s only accomplishment was organizing a meeting in Nasiriya (southern Iraq) on 15 April 2003, attended by some 100 Iraqis of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, and another one in Baghdad held 10 days later and attended by 250 Iraqis. Nothing came out of these meetings, as Garner was replaced by Bremer in May. 2 L. Paul Bremer, III, My Year in Iraq (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2006), 17. 3 Bremer, 2006, 18. 4 Hamid Al-Khaffaf (ed.), The Texts Issued by Sayyid Sistani Concerning the Iraqi Affair (Beirut: Dar al-Mowarikh al-Arabi, 2007), 222; see also, Abbas Kadhim, ‘Forging a third way: Sistani’s marja’iyya between quietism and wilayat al-faqih’, in Ali Paya and John Esposito (eds), Iraq, Democracy and the Future of the Muslim World (London: Routledge, 2011), 76. 5 Iraqi Ministry of Finance, Budget Office, ‘The 2010 Budget’, 24. 6 James Glanz and Robert F. Worth, ‘Attacks on Iraq oil industry aid vast smuggling scheme’, The New York Times, 4 June 2006. 7 Anthony H. Cordesman and Khalid R. Al-Rodhan, The Changing Dynamics of Energy in the Middle East (Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2006), 222. 8 Quarterly Report from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), July 2006, 29. 9 Quarterly Report from the Office of SIGIR, July 2006, 30. 10 Quarterly Report from the Office of SIGIR, January 2011, 86. 11 Quarterly Report from the Office of SIGIR, July 2006, 37. 12 Quarterly Report from the Office of SIGIR, July 2006, 29. 13 Quarterly Report from the Office of SIGIR, January 2011, 84–5. 14 The IEA, International Energy Outlook 2010, Appendix G; also see Quarterly Report from the Office of SIGIR, January 2011, 85. 15 Results of the annual surveys and other reports can be found at the organization’s website, www. 16 This is an improvement from earlier years. On 16 October 2007 Representative Henry Waxman quoted the former head of the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity, Judge Radhi, as saying that corrupt Iraqi officials had stolen a staggering sum—$18 billion—and had used part of the money to fund terrorists. See, Abbas Kadhim, ‘A Plan for Post-Surge Iraq’, Strategic Insights 6(6), December 2007, 17 World Bank, ‘Country Data Report for IRAQ, 1996–2008’, pdf/c107.pdf. 18 United States Department of Defense, Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq’, 5–6. 19 John W. Anderson, ‘Iraqi Minister Sought in Assassination Attempt’, The Washington Post, 27 June 2007. 20 Multi-National Force-Iraq, ‘Lawyer suspected of bribery arrested in Mosul’, Press Release A091014-01, 14 October 2009. 21 Iraq’s Constitution, (accessed 4 December 2010). 22 Patrick Cockburn, ‘Corruption blamed as cholera rips through Iraq’, The Independent, 10 October 2008. 23 SIGIR, ‘Quarterly Report to the United States Congress’, 30 October 2009, 13–14. 24 SIGIR, ‘Quarterly Report to the United States Congress’, 30 October 2009. According to the report, ‘Al-Ubaidi was arrested and is awaiting trial after receiving part of a US$500,000 bribe that he had demanded for extending a private security contract for services at the Baghdad International Airport’. 25 SIGIR, ‘Quarterly Report to the United States Congress’, 30 October 2009, 16. 26 SIGIR, ‘Quarterly Report to the United States Congress’, 30 October 2009: introductory message from the SIGIR.

Transition in progress: Governance in Iraq


27 Patrick Cockburn, ‘How bribery became a way of life in Iraq’, The Independent, 28 June 2009. 28 On expediting passport applications by bribery, see Sara B. Abdullah, ‘Iraq: Bribery and the Rule of Law’, Jurist, 23 February 2009. 29 By the time I served in the Iraqi Army, after the Iran–Iraq War, some officers were bluntly extorting money and other gifts from soldiers, often without any real benefits to the soldier other than being left alone. 30 Nada Bakri, ‘Iraq’s Ex-Minister is Detained in Graft Investigation’, The Washington Post, 31 May 2009. 31 Ammar Karim, ‘Iraqi Trade Minister Resigns amid corruption claims’, AFP, 25 May 2009. 32 Reporters Without Borders, ‘13 October 2009—After eight days of silence, prime minister promises probe into attack on woman journalist’, 14 October 2009:, IRQ,4ad82bc1c,0.html. 33 Waleed Ibrahim and Alaa Shahine, ‘Crackdown on Iraq Sunni leader, violence falls’, The Star Online, 17 December 2007: 2007-12-01T003808Z_01_NOOTR_RTRMDNC_0_-307758-1&sec=Worldupdates. 34 Reporters Without Borders, ‘Hate campaign by Shiite party against government newspaper journalist’, 11 August 2009,,34160.html. 35 Reporters Without Borders, 2009. 36 Salam Faraj, ‘Iraqi MP expenses scandal triggers religious outrage’, AFP, 6 November 2009. 37 ‘Iraqi Intellectuals accuse the Members of Parliament of abusing their power to reap benefits’, al-Arabiya, 7 November 2009, 38 AKNews, ‘An Advisor of al-Maliki Denies That the Latter Possesses Special Forces and a Legal Expert Affirms His Right to Possess Them’, (accessed 10 February 2011). 39 Abbas Kadhim, ‘Civil-Military Relations in Iraq (1921–2006): An Introductory Survey’, Strategic Insights 5(5) (May 2006). 40 Captain Eric Vanley, ‘Iraqi Joint Training Builds Foundation for Counterterrorism’, 28 January 2011, 41 Matthew Weaver, ‘Iraqi army not ready to take over until 2020, says country’s top general’, The Guardian,12 August 2010,

Chapter 12

Managing the Islamic Republic Governance in post-revolutionary Iran Babak Rahimi

The 2009 post-election unrest marked an unprecedented event in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The massive rallies that rocked the streets of the capital city, Tehran, and other major cities in the course of six months, mostly ending with demonstrations on 27 December 2009 during the Shi’a Islamic day of ‘ashura (public ceremonies performed in commemoration of the martyrdom of the Prophet’s grandson, Hussain, in 680 CE), precipitated a serious crisis of legitimacy for the ruling factions, which entailed broad implications for the trajectory of the Islamic Republic’s development. Moreover, the street protests underscored the risks that elections can pose to rulers who seek to consolidate their authority by playing a significant role in determining the outcome of the electoral results. Such risks confirm certain limitations and introduce new elements of dissent in Iranian politics that bear on the prospects for policy-making and, by implication, governance. As an important institutional pillar of the Islamist state, elections have historically served to maintain political stability and reinforce autocratic rulers.1 However, the regime’s failure to attenuate or subdue the electorate who voted for the opposition candidates, namely Mehdi Karoubi and Mir-Hussain Mousavi, spoke of a sudden loss in the reliability of a process that was originally institutionalized to give governance an appearance of accountability. Although crackdowns on the demonstrations eventually brought to the fore the brute force of the state with the monopoly of violence, the election also evinced the loss of control over competing state actors, mostly those elites like Hashemi Rafsanjani, who sought to challenge the incumbent administration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by supporting Mousavi. The post-election unrest in a way undermined the routine exercise to confirm elite transition, leading to a sudden erosion of state authority as a result of allegations of electoral fraud. By and large, one can argue the failure to address the disgruntled public meant the breakdown of the rules of the game or norms of governing a polity. The state’s use of repression after the elections characterized a tendency to revive the routine course of politics and (re)legitimize the Islamist establishment as the only authority with the ability to exercise legitimate force to maintain order. However, such brute exercise of power also implied, paradoxically, the destabilization of state legitimacy for failing to behave justly towards its subjects demanding accountability. Since arbitrary power is hardly legitimate, the allegation against those involved in post-election demonstrations as agents of foreign states reaffirmed the notion that authority may only be derived from effective, though not necessarily transparent, governance, which requires the use of stringent measures to protect the public from both internal and external threats.

Governance in post-revolutionary Iran


In what follows, I would like to focus on the relationship between efficacy and legitimacy in governance under the reign of the Islamic Republic. As a theocratic-republican state, I argue that post-revolutionary governance in Iran has primarily emanated from shifting social imaginaries that accommodate various visions of state rule. Such imaginaries, as articulated by the constitution and administratively, legislatively and militarily carried out through various institutions and networks, do not ensure clear-cut policies on both the local and national levels. This is so since post-revolutionary governance is built around an intricate management of factions and coalitions, together with strategies of influence, that reflect a broader struggle for determining the trajectory of the Islamic Republic. State-building is therefore motivated by enacting governing processes aimed at steering change and maintaining order through diverse measures of control by various branches of government as uneven centres of power. The present study is divided into three sections. The first will briefly focus on the conceptions or ‘imaginaries’ of governance as shared or contested visions of the Islamic Republic. The second, longer section provides an historical account of the (mis)management of factional politics at the elite level, where various policies and programmes have been endorsed and challenged by competing factions in governmental institutions. The third section focuses on the societal dimension and shows how two kinds of measures of control, reactive and proactive, have been adopted and enforced in order to exert authority over a largely young and middle-class Iranian population. The overall objective here is to show the complexity of managing change and keeping order in a polity still in the making.

Social imaginaries of governance In the political science literature, especially in various versions of institutionalisms, the structure of governance is essentially understood as formal or informal rules and norms in which state-society relations are constructed and managed through a set of organizations and/or institutions that make political power, in terms of state and civil society, possible.2 While the state may be viewed as a set of institutions with core ideologies and structures, and government defined as the exercise of authority by political actors in such institutional settings, governance, however, encompasses mechanisms and techniques embedded in key institutions that produce regulations in order to build or enforce an efficient political order. Governance is not indicative of the type of political system, but, as Samuel Huntington described it, the extent to which a state can exercise power.3 Though the experience of governing can differ from one historical context to another, from one region to another, the ability to implement policy through bureaucracies, networks and institutions produces regulative processes in ways that change is managed, institutions are regulated and social behaviour is controlled. However, what the institutional approaches, including ‘sociological institutionalism’, ignore is how the institutional grounds of formal and informal rules can be primarily anchored in competing visions as collectively shared imaginations of order and change, pragmatism and idealism. The social imaginary, as Cornelius Castoriadis famously described, constitutes practices in which the reference to autonomy and mastery provide the symbolic dimension of the institutions which makes possible shared sense of legitimacy.4 Because visions of politics are likely to mirror those institutions they are meant to legitimize, institutionalization of shared imaginations are continuously reshaped by competing visions with distinct foresights into how a government can be run and how such a system

204 Babak Rahimi of regulation can be made practical according to changing situations and shifting social groups with contending visions of politics. The institutionalization of the social imaginary can also take shape in the form of practices by which citizen subjects become rendered governable. In many ways, governance is not merely about producing policies in order to maintain an efficient system of regulation but also the construction of modes of thought and behaviour that would persuade a society to abide by power, in its multiple manifestations, as a legitimate source of authority. Yet power and, by extension, the exercise of authority can involve multiple and competing visions and diverse strategies of disciplinary or regulative practices in all spheres of life. In the wake of the 1979 Revolution, the early revolutionary state, which in its formation period included competing political forces, sought to accommodate such conflicting visions. The November 1979 Constitution, a revised version of an earlier constitution written by the liberal provisional government led by Mehdi Bazargan, combined populist, republican and theocratic visions of authority that reflected the aspirations of competing forces engaged in the revolution with distinct images of political community. In his seminal study of post-revolutionary Iran, Daniel Brumberg described these competing images as articulated in the 1979 Constitution in terms of the ‘dissonant institutionalization’ of politics or ‘when competing images of political community and the symbolic systems legitimating them are reproduced in the formal and informal institutions of state and society, and in the political rhetoric or ideology of the ruling elite’.5 The social imaginary of governance characterizes competing visions of authority that were standardized and put into practice in various institutions with calculated efforts to govern. Even in its most centralized form, the Islamic Republic displays inconsistencies in exercise of power and resolution of conflicts. Historically speaking, the institutionalization of competing visions included both democratic and authoritarian imaginaries that played a catalytic role in shaping a new power structure based on legislative and theocratic centres of authority. After the fall of the Pahlavi monarchy and the formation of a provisional government, Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, forged ahead with the institutionalization of the theocratic component of the new state based on a radically new concept of Shi’a authority, known as velayat-e faqih or ‘guardianship of the jurist’.6 The new ideology, also known as ‘Khomeinism’, brought together a mix of notions of populism and clericalism that resembled the post-colonial ideologies of many countries in the post-war period.7 The principle also re-constructed the classical Shi’a Islamic notion of authority in the form of a supreme leader who would not merely play a supervisory, but a paternalistic role with the ability to oversee and interfere in governance according to an imagined authentic Islam. The institutionalization of the of velayat-e faqih brought to the fore a new interpretation of Shi’a Islamic government that assigned clerics the responsibility of ruling on behalf of the Twelfth Imam, whose eventual return is believed to culminate in the establishment of divine justice on Earth.8 However, the political vision of velayat-e faqih was only realized along with the popular platform of elections and parliament, which reflected a long tradition of democratic aspirations in Iran since the Constitutional Revolution of 1906.9 The early revolutionary state-building entailed the creation of institutions that would be answerable to both parliament and the unelected office of the faqih, or jurist, whose role as both a spiritual and populist figure was to safeguard the religious and revolutionary spirit of the nation. Although eclipsed by the authority of the unelected theocratic institutions, the Iranian

Governance in post-revolutionary Iran


parliament and the elected office of presidency provided citizens with some degree of authority to exert influence over factions that supported the theocratic edifice of the state. Such authority, though, has risked the prospect of cancelation for transgressing its boundaries under the domain of clerical tutelage. For example, the failure of the first president of the Islamic Republic, Abolhasan Bani-Sadr, to muster popular and elite support to neutralize his clerical competitors based in the Islamic Republican Party, led to his downfall from presidency on 22 June 1981.10 The early phase of the 1997 reform movement led by Mohammad Khatami, the elected president, also saw considerable threats from the conservative state clerics and the paramilitary-intelligence complex in charge of protecting the Islamic Republic, with increasing attempts to reform the political order. At the core of conflict lie the boundaries of authority to exercise power and solving problems that may seem to be at odds with the imagined underpinnings of the republic. Conflict of visions, legacies and narratives of government and its ideological foundations in the early 1980s, therefore, has been an integral feature of the Islamic Republic’s struggle for definition, largely with clerical absolutism clashing with popular sovereignty over institutions and institutional changes. In the early revolutionary period, Khomeini himself came to represent a social imaginary with the manifestation of the cult of personality of the Imam as the leader of the Republic. From charismatic revolutionary figure to pragmatic statesman, from cleric to politician, from strategist to poet, Khomeini’s appeal appeared in an image that accommodated contending ideals, which his follower would interpret in various ways and, subsequently, compete with one another over his legacy after his death in 1989. It is this complex political order of plural authorities and ideals tied to distinct centres of power that post-revolutionary governance has developed into a multi-faceted managerial process with the potential for constant breakdowns and revitalization through conflict and compromise.

Steering regime factionalism During the first nine years following the revolution, the Islamic Republic wrestled with the question of how best to institutionalize the different branches of Islamic government all led by competing factions. The tension over the most effective form of governance became evident in the early months in the formation of the Islamic Republic, as factions, patronage and network associations competed and proposed policies, implementing a mix of utopian and pragmatic agendas in order to shape Iranian economy and society. With the absence of political parties, factional clusters, divided up into groups with competing visions of authority, struggled to assert influence in various governmental branches, especially in the parliament where they could, through institutional and legal strictures, propose new policies. However, to a certain extent popular representation and competition in elected institutions, including the executive office, also involved the ability to contain factional strife which had, at times, threatened the stability of the revolutionary government amid internal conflicts and war with Iraq throughout the 1980s. After the second parliamentary elections in 1983, the dilemma of governance frequently emerged between clerical factions, themselves divided into pragmatic (or ‘moderates’) and conservative, and Islamist leftist, also known as the ‘radical’ faction, with conflicting interests and visions ardently disputed over domestic and foreign policy. The most troubling feature was the ideological tension over state control of the economy and the role of the state in everyday public affairs. The conservative clerics, who mostly favoured free

206 Babak Rahimi markets and less state control, displayed sharp ideological difference from the leftists, who advocated a more centralized conception of governance, with the state as the principal entity for achieving independence and bringing social justice to the people. With conservative clerics dominant in the Guardian Council, the institution charged with overseeing the elections and laws passed by parliamentary legislation, the parliament represented the bastion of mostly leftist radicals, who clashed with their mostly clerical opponents over various issues, in particular the expropriation of private capital. However, competing factions also recognized that ultimate power lay in the supreme leader and that factional politics was a legitimate display of tensions within the boundaries of the theocratic rule.11 The growing tensions began to cause a major problem for the new government, since it lacked the mechanism to balance divisions of power. There was also the problem of a coherent system of managing struggles for power in various government agencies. Accordingly, the difficulty with the lack of experience in shaping party politics and building an organizational basis for factions also helped undermine consensus-building, a central feature of effective rule.12 As elites in each faction failed to follow through with organizations or platforms that defined a political party, factional politics led the charge in the mismanagement of political relations and excess in policy-making and implementation through government agencies. In the early 1980s the impact of factionalism began to surface when a number of parliament’s reform initiatives, mostly revolving around economic issues, were vetoed by the Guardian Council as un-Islamic. The clash between these two institutions led to stalemate, a sign of a major breakdown of governance on the delivery of effective policies that can best be processed through compromise and deal-making. The struggle for the control of government underscored how the 1979 constitution had unclearly identified the authority designated for each branch of power. The emphasis on popular sovereignty and institutional authority over public issues like economic development weighed more heavily in favour of the leftist who dominated the parliament that served as a core imaginary of the Islamic Republic. In many ways, the key figure in this factional conflict lay in the person of the supreme leader, Khomeini, whose April 1980 support for the left in the parliament set the stage for a tendency to favour the non-clerical groups in the popularly elected institution of the parliament. Khomeini’s support for republicanism was made explicit several times throughout his tenure as the supreme leader.13 Yet it was not just republicanism that Khomeini supported, but a populist agenda, advanced under the premiership of Mousavi (1981–9), as a way to bring about deep-seated revolutionary changes in the socio-economic condition of Iranian society. The socialization of the Islamic Republic served the needs of the war period, when unemployment remained high and social demands for goods required a stringent system of distribution of resources. However, the new economic regime also gave way to the expansion of the public sector, which added a new level of corruption and a depletion of state resources.14 In terms of state control of the economy, factionalism played a catalytic role in overcoming problems of inefficiency and mismanagement. The most notable policy was the approval of a land reform law by parliament in 1981, which called for the distribution of land among the peasantry. Despite opposition from the Guardian Council, the bill was made into law, largely because of Khomeini’s injunction in support of the law, ultimately viewed as beneficial for the nation ‘on a temporary basis and so long as there is an overriding need’.15 Khomeini’s support for the leftists with regards to economic policies that favoured state-run programmes, like the nationalization of banks and business sectors

Governance in post-revolutionary Iran


which brought 80 per cent of the economy under state supervision, enhanced a statist system of governance. However, Khomeini’s support also promoted a flexibility of religious interpretation of political economy which underscored the pragmatism necessary to run a government.16 Such flexibility enabled the bending and the overturning of various formal and informal political rules of the game, which partly helped the government to function, though not always efficiently, in the context of factional politics and in the midst of a costly war. In the realm of foreign policy, the secret dealings between Iran, Israel and the USA over arms sales and military co-operation against Iraq during the 1980s provided the best examples of the pragmatic thrust of the early revolutionary years in lieu of the state’s confrontational anti-American and anti-Israeli rhetorical stances.17 Equally important was the fact that conservative and pragmatic clerical factions were also able to make considerable advancements in favour of market-oriented policies, as the leftists also made compromises and conceded property rights and mercantilism, central to their popular base in the bazaar and guild associations.18 Ultimately, what rendered legitimacy to the faction-ridden government of the Islamic Republic in the 1980s was not the effectiveness of administrating economic policies, but the way in which these programmes were implemented during the economic hardship of the war era. The end of the war in 1988 and death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 marked a watershed in post-revolutionary state-building and, by extension, the trajectory of governance. After eight years of economic hardship, the state had to re-invent itself. The push for structural change primarily involved major constitutional amendments that not only broadened the juridical and political power of the guardian jurist, with the absolute mandate to rule, but also the ability to qualify for the post without being a marja’ or high-ranking cleric.19 Constitutional reform was prompted in light of the view that a smooth process of succession can inherently be a stabilizing force. The 1989 appointment of mid-level ranking cleric Ali Khamenei to the position of supreme leader introduced a major transformation in the classical function of the Shi’a juristic authority that previously had only recognized the most learned mujtahid or jurist as the spiritual head of the community. The constitutional separation of the marja’ from the political leadership set into motion a latent secularization of the Islamist state that generated a rift in state power from spiritual authority, making the office of the supreme leader more coherent as a result. The routinization of Khomeini’s charismatic authority into a secularized clerical rule under Khamenei therefore set the parameters for how power can be distributed among the leadership positions of the Islamic Republic and how factional politics can be managed for an improved allocation of the state’s resources and institutions. With the office of prime minister gone, the newly empowered executive branch emerged with the constitutionally sanctioned ability to aggressively initiate reform amid factional politics. The so-called Five-Year Development Plan, a sweeping economic reform initiative, marked a bold attempt to affirm the new elite structure in a postKhomeini system of governance. An equally significant change was the newly enhanced power of the supreme leader, who under the post-Khomeini order could play a more direct role in the decision-making processes of the state. Khomeini’s successor assumed authority over the network of financial activities, social services, namely bonyads or foundations, in charge of public affairs, and also controlled the armed forces, vesting considerable power in the office of velayat-e faqih as the head of the state. Amid the leftists’ despair and expanding elite cleavages, a new era of governance had begun and the

208 Babak Rahimi elected president, Rafsanjani, and the new leader, Khamenei took the helms of governance in the form of a ‘dual leadership’.20 Towards the end of Rafsanjani’s first term, governance became increasingly formalized in a sweeping process of ‘rationalization’ of the regime. As institutions became increasingly accountable to the supreme leader and the president, the leadership authority of factions declined in terms of influence and prestige.21 With Rafsanjani in charge of a new phase in state-building, the Islamic Republic saw increasing government control of both economy and society, improving the capacity of governance as the new parliament, along with other government agencies, began to address socio-economic problems of the post-war period. Known as the reconstruction or baz-sazi era, the post-Khomeini state policies revolved around a developmentalist pattern of state-building maintained by a coalition between traditional capitalists (i.e. bazaar) and state bureaucracies, forming what Ali Ansari calls the ‘mercantile bourgeois republic’.22 While during Rafsanjani’s presidency the new system of governance proved more effective and coherent, the mercantile alliance also led to tensions over the implementation of numerous projects aimed at reconstructing the country’s post-war economy. The second administration of Rafsanjani (1993–7) saw considerable opposition from the parliament, armed with strong populist views in favour of policies related to social justice. The reaction was primarily anchored against Rafsanjani’s close association with the mercantile class and free-market projects like privatization, also associated with the authoritarian economic policies of the Pahlavi period. Rafsanjani’s failure to overcome factional conflicts in the second term of his tenure, including growing tensions with the leader over policy- and institution-building, not only underscored the constraints caused by factionalism that continued from the Khomeini period, but also the limits of popularly elected institutions such as the parliament, which by the mid-1990s had become the centre of open conflict between vying visions of the Islamist state.23 While the legacy of the Rafsanjani years can be identified in close association with the rise of a bloated, though relatively effective bureaucracy and market expansion, the post-Khomeini era also characterized a period during which a new kind of political culture emerged to renew the republican aspirations of the earlier revolutionary leftist Islamists, though now with an entirely new political agenda.24 By the mid-1990s a loose coalition of dissident Shi’a clerics, seminary students, university students, intellectuals and middle-class professionals began to mobilize support for reforms. The presidential elections of 1997, won by the reformist cleric Mohammad Khatami, strengthened the new coalition that represented a growing middle class and a modernist political culture grounded in civil society and the discourse of ‘rule of law’.25 With Iran’s demographic make-up rapidly undergoing change, largely in response to urbanization, bureaucratization and diffusion of new technologies in everyday life, a new generation—mostly born after the revolution— embraced the new alliance. In response to years of economic growth and state building, the reformist phase unleashed a series of reflexive rational-critical and countercultural processes. The impact of the reformist movement can be described in many terms, but one prominent feature is the escalation of political rivalry between reformists, who sought to limit the absolute authority of the supreme leader and the conservative clerics, who aimed to maintain political hegemony through political repression and manipulation of the electoral process. The late 1990s became the high point of political factionalism in the post-Khomeini era, which, in turn, helped to release Iranian civil society from the tight monopoly of conservatives, especially in the legislative branch of government.

Governance in post-revolutionary Iran


In terms of governance, however, the ascendency of the reformist movement initiated a new way of performing governance that was ultimately anchored in accountability and dispersion of power at the electorate level. The reform initiatives for new supervisory measures to bring transparency to formal and informal governmental institutions, including the bonyads or charitable trust foundations in charge of profit-wheeling and the patronage system, to maintain the status quo, served as ways to rationalize bureaucracy and modernize the state. The most significant reformist contribution to post-revolutionary governance was the devolution of power from the central government to the subnational level. The 1999 local elections marked the first attempt towards political decentralization.26 Historically speaking, Tehran has primarily operated as the administrative and bureaucratic centre of the nation, maintaining a multi-tiered system of territorial governance and decision-making processes down from the officials in the capital to every village in the country, largely working through a vast network of patronage and clientelism. With the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979, the bureaucratic, centralized nature of the Iranian state remained intact on the provincial-governmental level. However, the revolution also introduced a factional struggle with most of the power tilting towards those local groups that were closest to the upper echelons in the state apparatus, and yet ensuring some degree of oppositional interaction on the local level. For the most part, factional strife became evident on the municipal level, where governors would compete for resources amid factional politics played out in Tehran. Notwithstanding broader political objectives of the reformist administration, the decentralization reforms created a new layer of provincial administration with the aim of making urban and rural policy more effective and providing new opportunities for involvement in governance by local actors.27 The shura, or city and village councils assumed the responsibility of service-oriented functions and public-sector provisions in charge of the management of municipalities, together with supervising the economic, educational and health situation of the constituencies in the provincial cities and villages. On some levels, under the reformists, local governance introduced an improved sense of effectiveness and delivery of public services, in which elected local officials were held accountable and ordinary citizens, especially women, were encouraged to participate.28 As the local governance system became operational, various problems began to surface. Khatami’s reform initiatives faced significant challenge from the conservatives in the second half of his presidency and this impacted on how government was run on the provincial level. First, the thorny problem of factionalism persisted as local officials would have to be qualified first by the conservative Guardian Council before they could run for office. Local electoral politics therefore began to mirror those of the national parliamentary process, such that conservative candidates would dominate the elections, hence limiting the ability to carry out reforms. Second, incompetence of public management qualifications, organized agencies with professional skills to deal with local situations and state agencies in Tehran led to merely another ineffective bureaucratic organ. In reality, the reformist decentralization initiatives would be subject to the same factional complexities that had slowed down the legislative and executive branches of government since 1979. The focus on cultural and political reforms, however, failed to address the economic condition, especially problems related to poverty and class tensions.29 As economic disparity translated into increased frustration at the popular level, the conservative leadership began to push for greater influence on all branches of government, particularly the executive. The ninth presidential elections, in 2005, saw the advent of a neo-conservative faction with

210 Babak Rahimi Ahmadinejad as the representative of a new elite force against the reforms of the Rafsanjani and Khatami eras. At the core of this new movement lay the revolutionary imaginary of social justice and a pledge to Khomeini’s original mission to establish a just Islamic society prior to the return of the promised Mahdi.30 The late Fred Halliday described such revolutionary fervour as ‘a second reassertion of militancy and egalitarianism that rejects domestic elites and external pressure alike’, a revival of populism advanced by the new guard with nostalgia for revolution and war, martyrdom and support of the destitute.31 In the context of major state and society changes, the neo-conservatives first entered the political scene during tensions simmering between reformists and conservatives in the period of 1997–2004.32 Known as the Iranian Islamic Developers Coalition (etelaf-e abadgaran-e Iran-e Islami), the new coalition enjoyed the backing of several hard-line religious associations with links to the military-security complex.33 They also had the support of the supreme leader. The surprising victories of the neo-conservatives in the 2004 parliamentary elections and the 2005 presidential election, largely due to the interference of the Guardian Council in candidate selection, provided an opportunity for the movement to advance its populist agendas. Focusing on the vision of social justice, they began to tackle corruption, address the everyday needs of the citizens and challenge the old guard believed by the movement to be the source of economic and social problems since the death of Khomeini. In a significant way, Ahmadinejad’s victory marked a transformation in factional politics by which a new leadership of the Revolutionary Guard pushed for greater political influence as it shared a common political interest with the administration and the parliament in power. The ascendency of the military-security complex in Iranian politics also highlights the tight control of factional politics by the supreme leader, who had helped strengthen the Guard since the 1990s in response to reformist electoral victories.34 The policy programmes of the neo-conservatives, also known as the Fourth plan, resembled the populist schemes of the early Islamist leftists, though the maker of new elite cleavages largely resolved with one side resolutely trumping the competing factions, especially the reformists. The increasing monopolization of legislative and administrative institutions by the new elite, sanctioned by the supreme leader, enforced swifter implementation of various populist policies that prioritized the needs of the poor, especially those based in rural areas, with the distribution of oil revenues. However, the implementation of cost-effective governance with the aim of expanding the welfare capabilities of the state also included market-oriented programmes such as the privatization of state companies and the liberalization of foreign goods. Emboldened neo-conservatives saw market reforms as an opportunity to expand the influence of the military-security apparatus and consolidate its independence as an economic sector. In spite of opposition from pragmatic elites like Rafsanjani, the Ahmadinejad administration worked to strength the Revolutionary Guard by building new economic capabilities in the country’s energy and industrial sectors.35 In the realm of foreign policy, the Guard began to play a more central role, as Iran’s developing nuclear programme saw significant challenges from the USA and its European allies. The confrontational stance of the administration, especially with regards to the enrichment of uranium outside of its borders, displayed the extent to which the neo-conservative faction still viewed the USA in terms of an imperialist entity, the global powers of which had to be resisted. With the purge of the reformist from the parliament, the Islamic Republic now assumed an increasingly hard-line identity.

Governance in post-revolutionary Iran


According to the Ahmadinejad administration, with the help of oil-propelled growth, governance would ultimately bolster the ideal of self-sufficiency, especially in the energy sector such as the petrochemical industries upon which most of the state’s revenue would depend. Employment served as a key feature of the neo-conservative political economic agenda, while other public services such as affordable housing were boosted in the new government’s budget.36 Equally important, though, were favouritism offered to security and paramilitary groups and affiliates for control over various public projects, especially in infrastructure and transportation, and the privatization of state companies. In reality, however, tensions between two competing visions of social justice and liberalization entailed significant consequences for governance. The failure largely appeared in the implementation of the populist programmes that entailed inflationary implications for the national economy and the strengthening of energy subsidies. With rising inflation and growth of the public sector, together with Ahmadinejad’s expansion of populist programmes, especially his infamous tour of the provinces and distribution of state funds to the local population, liberalization proved ineffective as the Guard’s monopoly prevented competition and freedom from state intervention over legal issues that regulate the business sector. Yet the key to the administration’s success in overcoming problems of governance has been its ability to effectively marginalize the opposition, both in the conservative and reformist camps who have challenged Ahmadinejad’s authority since 2005. In this light one may interpret the unrest that followed the 2009 presidential elections not as a mere civil rights movement, but as a failure to contain conflict over how best to run the government, including elections, on the elite level. As factional tensions spilled over to the popular level and competing visions of governance by the elite became rallying points for the opposition, the ruling regime resorted to repressive measures to stifle dissidents. Of factors involved in managing factional rivalry in an electoral process, the security institutional underpinnings of the Ahmadinejad administration facilitated the neo-conservatives with the ability to consolidate power and containment of internal divisions that followed the contested 2009 elections. After the crackdowns, the hard-liners, with the support of Khamenei, helped to push ahead with major reforms of public programmes, including cuts in energy and food subsidies on which Iranian society has historically relied since the Pahlavi era. The sweeping economic reforms, which also included changes in the tax code and the expansion of privatization, have reasserted the neo-conservative grip on power.37 This has, subsequently, weakened the influence of dissident groups, though it has not eliminated the administration’s rivals as competing hard-line factions with alternative notions of governance. In many ways the management of factional conflict continues to play an integral role in the practice of governance in post-revolutionary Iran. However, governance alone over elite relations does not render effective authority over social changes; it requires other measures of control for the implementation of legitimate rule. Society is where governance is legitimized and effective rule is recognized.

The management of societal change The revolutionary period introduced a new political community with utopian aspirations. The constitutional politics of the 1980s initiated a series of political paradigms that unleashed major state-building initiatives with distinct governance measures to realize such aspirations. As post-war Iran underwent major institutional transformations, however, it also

212 Babak Rahimi witnessed drastic transformations in societal order with significant implications for statesociety relations. In a way, one of the most important themes of governance for a regime of post-revolutionary social policies has been how best to engineer social change as the country experiences war, sanctions and internal political conflicts. The institutionalization of key social control processes has been the combined reactive and proactive measures that have increasingly become flexible over the years. At the height of the revolutionary period, with a population of over 30 million, Iran was a cosmopolitan society of complex diversity, ranging from secular Marxists to the devotionally pious, from Westernized bourgeois to traditionalist capitalists in the bazaar. In many ways, the crystallization of a new revolutionary nation, however, had to be reinvented and assume a wholly Islamist identity in ways unprecedented in the country’s modern history. In the early years, the first reactive measures institutionalized were the formation of a new legal system that introduced a strict regime of punishment over behaviour and conduct deemed un-Islamic.38 The Islamization of society became fully operational on gender relations and issues related to the family domain, enforcing a deep divide between the public and private spheres of life.39 The institutionalization of strict codes of Islamic dress, together with the legalization of polygamy and temporary marriage, reaffirmed an order of Islamist patriarchy that aimed to construct a newly domesticated woman defined in (Shi’a) Islamist terms.40 In the same period, Islamization also spread to the universities to be ‘cleansed’ of women who did not subscribe to the Islamist ideology.41 Yet such domestication and Islamization also went along with the emergence of new institutions that would provide new opportunities for women to engage in various public activities, increasing the role of women in the labour market especially in the technical and professional sectors.42 Women’s complex social status matched the political imaginary of honorific masculinity, one that would be deeply entrenched in the ethos of bravery, self-sacrifice and virtue.43 In the wake of the Iran–Iraq War, such ethos played an integral role in shaping a new masculine public identity aimed to reverse the Westernization project of the pre-revolutionary years. The new heroic culture became embodied in the Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Basij volunteer force, who carried out the task of enforcing judicial Islamic decrees and, more importantly, stifling dissent on the popular level. The two paramilitary forces operated mostly as vast national networks with a strong support base in both urban and rural regions. On the domestic scene they were responsible for launching a cultural revolution to transform Iranian society into a single body of the familial Islamist identity. During the war years they displayed the revolutionary ethos of martyrdom in the battlefields of ‘sacred defence’. The promotion of various public rituals such as ‘ashura, especially state support for assemblies for men (hey’at) and women (jaleseh), helped to reinvent a new Islamist tradition of mourning and self-sacrifice which, in turn, energized the early post-revolutionary society and legitimized the state as the protector of Shi’a values under the onslaught of the evil forces (i.e. Baathist Iraq). Culture became, partly, a means of social control. In socio-economic terms, governance faced a major setback. While factionalism spread in other branches of government, including bureaucracies, Friday sermons and agencies on the provincial level, economic development programmes saw major impediments. As unqualified officials and bureaucratic agents, together with experts and professionals, migrated from the country as a result of war, the state administration underwent inefficiencies and a decrease in quality of public services. Along with a rigid labour market dominated by strict public-sector employment policies, productivity declined with the promotion of a labour culture of credentialism, characterized by compensation in mere

Governance in post-revolutionary Iran


terms of university diplomas rather than creativity and productivity.44 The educational sphere was also severally undermined, as schools and universities underwent an Islamization process that would favour ideological discourses and teachings over professionalism based on a merit system. Both in rural and urban settings, the state largely continued with the Pahlavi centralization project, leaving little room for a new management schema that would match the challenges of the war periods. While the new Islamist state introduced an education project (nehzat-e savad amozi, or the literacy educational corps), which spread to the rural regions, such expansion gave rise to a high level of literacy in the provinces, expanding the human capital in ways that would cause high unemployment in the post-war period. After the war, Iran saw a demographic transformation. The Iranian population grew in size as the economic revival strengthened the middle class and the youth culture. In response, the Rafsanjani presidency initiated the first phase of proactive social policies, which essentially involved loosening the government’s grip on society and promoting selective promotion of various social openings and public programmes with the aim of appeasing and accommodating the needs and desires of an emerging young society. The attempt to legalize video stores or certain musical performances, which in the 1980s was punishable, provided the most ostensible example of the new proactive measures. Equally important were attempts to bring the Iranian youth closer to the global market through economic liberalization schemes. Rafsanjani’s foreign policy, designed by technocrats and professionals in his administration with a realist mindset, was informed by the rising mercantilism that served as a way of exercising power not merely over international but also domestic affairs.45 The free market-friendly faction sought to accommodate social change with the building of new leisure and interactive spaces, enjoyed mostly by the younger generation, in urban settings. The concern over social change was matched with an interest to develop Iran’s regional relations in order to expand Iran’s domestic market in its neighbouring countries and regions, like Central Asia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.46 Despite US sanctions, the Iranian economy grew as Tehran began to build new relations with its neighbours and regional competitors like Saudi Arabia. Mostly a direct result of an expanding domestic market, social liberalization led to an increase in consumerism, in particular the growth of a narcotic culture, though partly an aftershock of the war period, which caused a serious health problem among the younger generation. As Amir Arsalan Afkhami has shown, after the war the treatment of substance abuse took a sharp departure from the early revolutionary period, when the narcotics problem was addressed by stringent reactive measures such as imprisonment, corporal and even capital punishment. In the first period of Rafsanjani’s presidency, anti-drug campaigns became medically oriented, with stern measures replaced with more scientific approaches such as methadone and drug treatment programmes. The aim of the post-war anti-drug campaigns was to produce a more efficient system of harm-reduction treatment that would re-introduce the subject back into society rather than ostracize them.47 By the late 1990s, the reformists had pushed ahead with other proactive measures that helped to expand Iran’s civil society. These included the transformation of the public sphere with the opening of new print media outlets, and other softer measures to manage social behaviour, particularly the practice of veiling and broader gender relations in public.48 While conservatives challenged some of these measures, the reformists re-implemented the pragmatist agenda to expand social opening processes not merely in physical terms but also in the emerging cyberspace, where new discourses of dissent have begun to emerge

214 Babak Rahimi to challenge the clerical establishment in power. In response to various challenges posed by the Internet, the conservative establishment, in particular the judiciary, introduced tougher measures to assert control over cyberspace. Between 2001 and 2003 a censorship regime of filtering net activity, surveillance tactics and arresting web designers and bloggers was enacted, while dissidents of various political leaning continued to navigate around the restrictions through proxies and anti-filter technology, posting their works for the growing reading virtual public. With the rise of neo-conservatives to power in 2005, a new phase of proactive measures was put into practice during which certain websites would be unblocked during the election season. With permission for some social freedom, the policy was aimed at encouraging younger people to vote. Since higher electoral participation can be a sign of state legitimacy, the authorities would relax some of the reactive measures before elections in order to create a false sense of freedom for the populace. The primary goal was marked in an attempt by the state to bolster its legitimacy through a strategy of selective social openings. By unblocking popular websites like Facebook, the state would flex its muscles by displaying how it maintains the ability to grant (some) social freedoms. The ‘dual’ policy, one that combines complex schemes of restriction and openness with continued promotion of state authority over the Iranian public sphere, lends a measure of legitimacy to a regime that sees the promotion of its authority through shared spaces of interaction like Facebook as a way to consolidate power.49 The frequency of proactive measures declined in the post-election period. The repressive policy of crackdown on protestors and opposition leaders since the 2009 elections underlined how governance, especially under authoritarian rule, can revert to reactive measures once the state encounters challenges of an existential nature, ones that would question its legitimacy. While there is no effective institutional means of total social control, especially under a faction-ridden authoritarian regime, a set of proactive measures still serve the purpose to exert a certain degree of hold on the population. The post-election unrest is an ideal example of how societal forces can assert power when political or social openings are provided by the regime for the consolidation of power. The risk of uprisings, therefore, remains an inherent problem for the complex system of managing society, especially for those states that see legitimacy as the core of governance.

Conclusion Since its establishment in 1979, the Islamic Republic has produced a system of government that has been subject to economic mismanagement, lack of political transparency, and policy-making with an apparent incoherency of trajectory that mostly reflects the contending visions of the country’s factional politics. Despite increasing control of the military-security apparatus since the rise of Ahmadinejad, post-revolutionary governance remains contingent on power struggles that continue to transform according to shifts within elite factionalism and state-society relations. Yet in many ways the state also continues to produce a stable framework for managing elite and societal changes in lieu of internal and external challenges. Why? The key to the Islamic Republic in overcoming obstacles in managing change and conflict has been the ability to remain flexible and creatively adaptable to changing situations despite internal fractures that have followed numerous moments of crisis, especially after the disputed 2009 election, and external threats, especially with regards to the controversial nuclear programme. The element of flexibility is precisely what has

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enabled the Islamic Republic not only to survive internal strife, sanctions and war, but also introduce creative tactics and strategies in order to consolidate power while building new institutions and undergoing major structural adjustments. As the 2009 post-election turmoil also showed, such a complex system of governance is ultimately fragile and through institutions like elections it can at times break down under the pressure of popular will. Three decades after the 1979 revolution, the Islamic Republic is still grappling with how best to govern with a pragmatic agenda that does not betray its Islamist social imaginaries. As a project in the making, the future of governance in Iran will depend on the extent to which the theocratic republic can be re-imagined in light of elite re-alignment and changes in the larger Iranian society.

Notes 1 Jason Brownlee, Authoritarianism in an Age of Democratization (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 157–81. 2 For a sample of studies, see J.G. March and J.P. Olsen, Democratic Governance (New York: The Free Press, 1995); P.A. Hall and R.C.R. Taylor, ‘Political Science and the Three Institutionalisms’, Political Studies 44(5), 1996: 936–57; D.C. North, Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990). 3 P.S. Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1968). 4 See C. Castoriadis, ‘Pouvior, politique, autonomi’, in Le monde morcelé:Les carrefours du labyrinthe III (Paris: Seuil, 1990), 113–39. 5 D. Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini: The Struggle for Reform in Iran (Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press, 2001), 33–34. 6 For an elaborate study of Khomeini’s political ideological development, see V. Martin, Creating an Islamic State: Khomeini and the Making of a New Iran (London and New York, 2003), 100–46; see also S.A. Arjomand, ‘Ideological Revolution in Shi’ism’, in S.A. Arjomand (ed.), Authority and Political Culture in Shi’ism (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1988), 178–209. 7 E. Abrahamian, Khomeinism: Essays on the Islamic Republic (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1993). 8 S.A. Arjomand, Turban for the Crown (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 98–9. 9 See A. Gheissari and Vali Nasr, Democracy in Iran: History and the Quest for Liberty (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2006); and F. Azimi, The Quest for Democracy in Iran: A Century of Struggle Against Authoritarian Rule (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 2008). 10 F. Azimi, The Quest for Democracy in Iran: A Century of Struggle Against Authoritarian Rule (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 2008), 363. 11 For example, after the dismissal of the Bani Sadr from the office of presidency in 1981, the second parliament saw an increase of factionalism while avoiding tensions with the supreme leader. 12 S.A. Arjomand, Turban for the Crown (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 169. 13 Brumberg, 2001, 118. 14 A. Gheissari and Vali Nasr, Democracy in Iran: History and the Quest for Liberty (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 103. 15 M. Moslem, Factional Politics in Post-Khomeini Iran (New York: Syracuse University Press, 2002), 64. 16 J. Amuzegar, ‘The Iranian Economy before and after the Revolution’, Middle East Journal 46(3), 1992: 418. 17 See T. Parsi, Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the US (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2007). 18 See M. Moaddel, ‘Class Struggle in Post-Revolutionary Iran’, International Journal of Middle East Studies 23(3), August 1991: 317–43; and S. Bakhash, ‘The Politics of Land, Law and Social Justice in Iran’, Middle East Journal 43(2), 1989: 186–201. 19 S.A. Arjomand, After Khomeini: Iran Under His Successors (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 248–9. 20 Moslem, 2002, 151.

216 Babak Rahimi 21 Moslem, 2002, 143. 22 A. Ansari, Iran, Islam and Democracy: The Politics of Managing Change (London: The Royal Institute of International Affairs, 2000), 52–81. 23 Factional tensions between Khamenei and Rafsanjani became so intense that in the mid-1990s some conservative clerics called for the elimination of the office of president. See A. Ansari, Modern Iran since 1921: The Pahlavis and After (London: Pearson Education, 2003), 247–56. 24 Towards the mid-1990s, 2 million people were employed in the bureaucracy, mostly a result of a rising educated class who would seek new jobs in the civil service sector. See A. Ehteshami, After Khomeini; The Iranian Second Republic (London: Routledge, 1995), 121–2. 25 S.A. Arjomand, ‘Civil Society and the Rule of Law in the Constitutional Politics of Iran under Khatami’, Social Research 67(2) (Summer 2000): 283–301. 26 Although the concept of local governance can be traced back to the constitutional revolution 1906 and, later, in terms of legal provisions, to the 1979 revolution, 1999 marked the first institutionalization of local government apparatus. See K. Tajbakhsh, ‘Decentralization and the Creation of Local Government in Iran: Consolidation or Transformation of the Theocratic State?’ Social Research 67(2), summer 2000: 377–404. 27 See K. Ehsani, ‘The Urban Provincial Periphery in Iran Revolution and War in Ramhormoz’, in A. Gheissari (ed.), Contemporary Iran: Economy, Society, Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 38–76. 28 G. Tazmini, Khatami’s Iran: The Islamic Republic and the Turbulent Path to Reform (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2009), 71–2. 29 A. Gheissari and V. Nasr, Democracy in Iran: History and the Quest for Liberty (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 135–6. 30 A. Amanat, Apocalyptic Islam and Iranian Shi’ism (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 2009), 239–44. 31 F. Halliday, ‘Iran’s Revolutionary Spasm’, Open Democracy, 30 June 2005, www.opendemocracy. net/globalization-vision_reflections/iran_2642.jsp#. 32 A. Ehteshami and Mahjoob Zweiri, Iran and the Rise of its Neoconservatives: The Politics of Tehran’s Silent Revolution (London: I.B. Tauris, 2007). 33 K. Naji, Ahmadinejad: The Secret History of Iran’s Radical Leader (London: I.B. Tauris, 2009), 79–89. 34 A. Gheissari and V. Nasr, ‘The Conservative Consolidation in Iran’, Survival 47: 2, Summer 2005: 175–90. 35 S.R. Bohandy, J.D. Green, L. Hansell, A. Naderi, A., Nafisi, B. Nichiporuk and F. Wehrey, ‘The Rise of the Pasdaran Assessing the Domestic Roles of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (Arlington, Pittsburgh, Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2009), rand/pubs/monographs/2008/RAND_MG821.sum.pdf. 36 A. Ehteshami and M. Zweiri, Iran and the Rise of its Neoconservatives: The Politics of Tehran’s Silent Revolution (London: I.B. Tauris, 2007), 86. 37 W.Young, ‘Politically Confident, Iran Cuts Subsidies on Prices’, The New York Times 16 January 2011. 38 M. Milani, The Making of Iran’s Islamic Revolution: From Monarchy to Islamic Republic (Boulder, San Francisco, Oxford: Westview Press, 1994), 200. 39 Milani, 1994, 203. 40 See J. Afary, Sexual Politics in Modern Iran (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 292–8; and F. Azari, ‘The Post-Revolutionary Women’s Movement in Iran’, in F. Azari (ed.), Women of Iran: Conflict with Fundamentalism (London: Ithaca Press, 1983), 190–225. 41 See R.K. Ramazani, ‘Iran: The “Islamic Cultural Revolution”’, in P. Stoddard, D. Cuthell and M. Sullivan (eds), Change and the Muslim World (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1981), 40–48. 42 See R. Bahramitash and H. Salehi Esfahani, ‘Nimble Fingers no Longer! Women’s Employment in Iran’, in A. Gheissari (ed.), Contemporary Iran: Economy, Society, Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 77–122. 43 See F. Adelkhah, Being Modern in Iran (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000). 44 D. Salehi-Isfahani, ‘Oil Wealth and Economic Growth in Iran’, in A. Gheissari (ed.), Contemporary Iran: Economy, Society, Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 31–2. 45 See R. Takeyh, Guardians of the Revolution: Iran and the World in the Age of Ayatollahs (Oxford and New York: University of Oxford Press, 2009), 111–28. 46 See E. Herzig, ‘Regionalism, Iran and Central Asia’, International Affairs 80:3, 2004: 503–17.

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47 A.A. Afkhami, ‘From Punishment to Harm Reduction: Resecularization of Addiction in Contemporary Iran’, in A. Gheissari (ed.), Contemporary Iran: Economy, Society, Politics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 194–201. 48 A. Ansari, Iran, Islam and Democracy: The Politics of Managing Change (London: The Royal Institute of International Affairs, 2000), 144–8. 49 E. Gheytanchi and B. Rahimi, ‘The Politics of Facebook’, OpenDemocracy, 1 June 2009, www.

Chapter 13

Civilianizing Turkish policy Civil society in decision-making and civil-military relations Ekrem Eddy Güzeldere

Introduction Governance is a typical social science term without a clear definition. The Worldwide Governance Indicator by the World Bank is based on voice and accountability, political stability and lack of violence/terrorism, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law and control of corruption. The data for Turkey from 1996 to 2009 show hardly any change in any of these six categories, especially during the past 10 years. This is surprising, because there is so much talk about the EU process, democratization, rising living standards and an overall economic boom since the economic crisis of 2001. Has really nothing changed? In this chapter it will be argued that in Turkey important changes have taken place, that there is a trend towards more democratic governance, but that this ongoing process needs to continue. Some of the aspects mentioned in the indicator are hard to measure objectively. In a polarized country like Turkey it becomes even more difficult to measure corruption or government effectiveness, because the political camps will either praise or curse the government for its performance. Therefore, this chapter will look at two aspects that are of the utmost importance for a well-functioning democracy. First, the inclusiveness for participation of civil society in the political decision-making process, where governance means governing together and the government is run not only by elected representatives, but also with the involvement of other types of groups such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), professional chambers, private-sector organizations and universities. Second, that policies of all areas are finally formulated and decided by elected and accountable politicians and not by any other democratically illegitimate institution. To show this, two examples will be analysed in depth: the participation of women’s NGOs in the debate about a new Penal Code in 2004 and the preceding years; and the transfer of decision-making power concerning security policy from the armed forces to the elected government. Both examples were realized within the European Union (EU) process demanding changes to these two aspects, and most reforms happened in the early period of this process, especially between 2001 and 2005. This was also a time of issuebased co-operation between the governing party and the opposition parties, and many reforms were made by compromise. Since 2005 this has changed, as the political climate has become more and more polarized, ideological controversies again gained the upper hand blocking co-operation and consensus finding. Therefore the results are mixed but overall encouraging. It is definitely better than 10 years ago, with important steps taken,

Civilianizing Turkish policy


but to revive this process again the political polarization needs to be narrowed and far-reaching decisions need a broad base of consensus.

Democratization as Europeanization in Turkey The debate about good governance, inclusiveness of civil society and civilianization of the political system in Turkey is only possible after a general trend towards a more democratic political system following the devastating military coup in 1980. This process in Turkey is, especially since 1999, very much linked to EU integration. ‘Europeanization’ has a long history in Turkey and deep roots in the nineteenth century, but it has meant very different things at different periods. Democratic values did not play an important role until relatively recently in this process. Still, when Turkey finally applied to become a member of the European Community in 1987, the human rights record was terrifying and the armed confrontation with the outlawed Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan (PKK— Kurdistan Workers’ Party) in the south-east of the country was gaining in intensity. In fact, with the end of the Cold War an ever-wider normative gap opened up between Turkey and the rest of Europe. As Philip Robins puts it, Turkey did not share in the democratic euphoria in the early 1990s: The 1980s saw the beginnings of a new norms based approach to international affairs, especially in Europe … The ideological change related to the emergence of a hegemony of liberal values, with their emphasis, in the political domain, on democracy, pluralism, human rights and civil society … Turkey just did not connect with the spirit of these normative changes.1 This normative gap undermined Turkey’s standing in Europe. However, the 1990s also witnessed important steps towards democratic consolidation. One of the most striking events in the 1990s for democratization and the development of civil society was the Habitat II Conference in Istanbul in 1996, through which the term ‘governance entered our vocabulary’.2 At the Habitat II Conference the final ‘Istanbul Declaration on Human Settlements’ read: ‘We shall also increase our cooperation with parliamentarians, the private sector, labour unions and non-governmental and other civil society organizations with due respect for their autonomy’ (UN Habitat 2006). For Fikret Toksöz, the director of the think tank TESEV’s good governance programme: The most important result of this conference for Turkey was that the Turkish government officials and municipal representatives started to consider the civil society as a partner, if not a stakeholder.3 This was a step in the acknowledgement of the role of civil society, but it was not yet part of a political vision where a new relationship between governments and civil society could be realized. This window of opportunity was opened with the December 1999 decision at the EU summit in Helsinki when Turkey obtained EU candidate status. By this time, democratic values and respect for human rights had become central to the very notion of ‘Europeanization’, and were expressed in the 1993 Copenhagen accession criteria.

220 Ekrem Eddy Güzeldere The Copenhagen criteria allowed the Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi (AKP—Justice and Development Party) to question almost all key aspects of the traditional state ideology and be open for new channels of co-operation. In 2004 the European Commission declared that Turkey had ‘sufficiently’ fulfilled the criteria to recommend the start of accession talks, and so in 2005 it thus appeared as if the AKP’s rise to power and the EU accession process had triggered a virtuous cycle of democratic consolidation and economic development.

The AKP and governance After a decade of weak and short-lived coalition governments in the 1990s, the rise to power of the AKP with an absolute majority in 2002 was something new to Turkey. But how new was the AKP? The most influential founders and politicians of the AKP had their roots in political Islam and were already active in parties in the 1980s or 1990s such as the Refah Partisi (RP—Welfare Party) or the Fazilet Partisi (FP—Virtue Party). The AKP, though, was more than a successor party of these; it wanted to open itself to new voter groups outside the core voters of conservative religious people in Anatolia and the outskirts of the big cities.4 Therefore it included new faces and new contents. The actual successor party of the RP and FP was the Felicity Party (Saadet), which continued the political line of the founder and most important figure in political Islam, Necmettin Erbakan. Political Islam therefore split up in 2001 in a group of modernizers (AKP) and traditionalists (Saadet). Whereas Saadet became politically irrelevant, the AKP rose to be by far Turkey’s most influential party of the first decade of the twenty-first century. Constitutional lawyer Ergun Özbudun described the ‘AKP ideology: Conservative Democracy’5 and concludes that besides a straitjacket by the law on political parties, the AKP tried to introduce more participatory elements to their party organization. The Law on political parties was passed in 1983 by the military regime and according to Özbudun is ‘the most detailed’6 in Europe. These details concern how the parties need to be organized, membership regulations, candidate selection and party financing. ‘That is why all Turkish parties have very similar organizational structures that are forced upon them by the laws.’7 So far, the AKP has not tackled this law and is as the other parties very much concentrated on its chairperson, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but according to Özbudun it also gave from the outset special importance to the political education of its members. For example, in December 2003 an education seminar for regional and local party leaders was organized with topics like basic human rights, political principles, economic policy, public administration, social policies, foreign policy, party organization and forms of communication.8 In 2004 there were several education programmes for AKP mayors, members of parliament also including topics like body language and presentation techniques. These kind of seminars for regional and local party leaders were repeated throughout 2005 and 2006. In September 2006 approximately 500 members received a ‘training the trainers’ seminar to spread the education topics to an estimated 200,000 party members when giving educational seminars on the local level.9 A founding member and one of the most influential AKP politicians is Ali Babacan. He was minister of the economy from 2002 until 2007, then foreign minister and EU chief negotiator from November 2007 to May 2009; since then he has again been minister of the economy and deputy prime minister. In 2003 he wrote an article for the

Civilianizing Turkish policy


Turkish Policy Quarterly entitled ‘Conservative Democracy: Good Governance for Rapid Convergence’.10 Babacan explicitly states that ‘Governance has a central place in our notion of conservative democracy’. According to Babacan: the key aspects of our understanding of governance in a well-functioning democracy are the following: inclusiveness, dialogue with related parties in decision making, transparency with regard to the Government’s decisions and policy implementation, accountability of both local and the central Government authorities and the opportunity for everyone to participate in politics. Our understanding of democracy is based on consensus seeking, … we do our best to reach a compromise solution.11 For Babacan, this good governance approach is directly linked to democratization and the EU process, as he concludes: We believe that this good governance process itself helps the institution building necessary for a better functioning democracy in Turkey. Convergence of ideas in identifying and solving problems will speed up Turkey’s eventual aim of her convergence to the economic and political standards of the European Union as well.12 Therefore, what will be shown is how this approach of including stakeholders in the political system, namely civil society and a consensus-building approach, manifested itself in the reform of the (civil code and the) penal code, with a special focus on laws important for gender equality.

Civil society and the political decision-making process The almost complete exclusion of civil society organizations from the political system was not by chance the case for most of the time of the Republic, but was wanted by the ruling elites, be they military or civilian. A suspicion of the public has always characterized the political system, but after the 1980 coup the apolitization of society was an explicit goal of the coup makers. The two years following the coup saw the ban of almost all civil society organizations, political parties, trade unions and professional associations together with the imprisonment of many activists. Existing democratic intermediary structures were destroyed and their re-foundation was made more difficult. As the constitutional law professor Ergun Özbudun wrote in 1991: ‘Perhaps the single most important difference between the Turkish Constitution of 1961 and 1982 can be summarized as follows: the latter opted for a much less participant and pluralistic version of democracy compared to the former … The makers of the 1982 constitution did not envisage a model of pluralistic politics in which trade unions, voluntary associations, and public professional organizations play an open and active role in politics’.13 However, the coup in the long run also had positive effects for the re-emerging civil society, as Binnaz Toprak argued in 1996: ‘Paradoxically the coup which set out to destroy the institutions of civil society helped to strengthen the commitment to civilian politics, consensus-building, civil rights and issue-oriented associational activity’.14 Three major events were essential in the development of civil society, its growth and perception by the public: the Habitat Forum in 1996, the earthquake near Istanbul in August 1999 and the EU process starting after December 1999.

222 Ekrem Eddy Güzeldere Table 13.1 The increase of NGOs establishment in Turkey (1980–2011) Year

Number of NGOs

1983 1980s 1990s 2000–07 2009 2011 2012

‘0’ Slow growth, 1986 founding of IHD Accelerated growth up to 65,000 by the end of the 1990s Saturation, 77,500 by the end of 2007 81,713 (May 2009) 86,661 (January 2011) 91,168 (May 2012)

Note: For statistics on associations, see

The Habitat II Forum and the 1999 EU decision have been mentioned already above. An additional importance of the Habitat Forum was that it mobilized hundreds of Turkish NGOs and other key stakeholders, paving the way for Turkey’s participation in the global movement of civil society while also increasing awareness of the role of NGOs in addressing issues of social justice and sustainable development. According to Ulas¸, the increased vitality of Turkish NGOs after Habitat is also linked to the fact that NGOs succeeded in gaining the support of international donors. Four months before the EU decision, in August 1999, a devastating earthquake in the Marmara region, south-east of Istanbul, created widespread destruction, leading to the death of over 20,000 people. In response to this disaster, NGOs mobilized thousands of volunteers and donations and the public witnessed the essential role of NGOs in meeting the most urgent needs of citizens. As the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) noted, ‘the 1999 earthquake caused … a boost in civil society participation. As a result, numerous associations have appeared, steadily claiming their right to be involved in the management of local affairs’.15 Four months later, in December 1999 in Helsinki, a turning point for Turkey’s democratization took place when the EU accepted Turkey as an official candidate for membership. This decision triggered a series of reforms, many of which directly affected civil society. These reforms were critical in opening the space for civil society in Turkey, lifting restrictions that suffocated NGOs for nearly two decades. The most important legal change took place in 2004, when a new law on associations was passed. Law No. 5253,16 in effect since November 2004, eases problems of associations making it formally easier to establish an association and to receive support from domestic and foreign sources. This law was passed just three weeks before the European Council decided on 17 December 2004 to open EU membership negotiations with Turkey and has to be seen as a critical step aligning Turkish law with EU standards.

The reform of the penal code, women’s NGOs and the question of honour In Turkey there was for a long time the perception that the laws were good, modern and of high international standards, and that there were merely problems with their implementation. Many laws were passed or better, imported, in the 1920s, taking examples from at the time the most developed European states: e.g. the Civil Code from Switzerland served as the model for the Turkish Civil Code of 1924, and the Italian Penal Code was the basis for the 1926 Turkish Penal Code. However, while these

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European states have changed their respective laws continually since World War II, Turkey by and large left these laws unchanged, not realizing that their contents were no longer modern and of European standard. They reflected much more the world view of the first two decades of the twentieth century, when both Italy and Switzerland were far from being modern democracies. However, since for a long time nobody challenged the contents of these laws in Turkey, they survived until the twenty-first century. Concerning the legal situation of women, there was a huge discrepancy between existing laws and the perception of these laws. In this case it was not the EU that brought these flaws to light, but the United Nations (UN), namely the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which entered into force in 1979 and was ratified by Turkey in 1985. The Convention requires signatory states to reflect the equality of the sexes throughout their legislation, and to prohibit all forms of discrimination. Discovering that much of its Civil Code was in violation of these principles, Turkey was compelled to issue embarrassing reservations17 to the provisions of the Convention. It was unable to grant men and women equal rights and responsibilities in marriage, divorce, property ownership and employment. In political terms, CEDAW accomplished a radical shift in perspective. The yardstick for measuring Turkey’s law was no longer the Ottoman past, but contemporary international standards. By highlighting the shortcomings of the 1926 Civil Code, Turkey’s reservations to CEDAW set a clear reform agenda for the Turkish women’s movement. Campaigns launched by women’s rights activists in the 1980s to reform the Civil Code came to nothing in the face of indifference from the political establishment. It was not until the 1995 World Conference on Women in Beijing that Turkey committed to withdrawing its reservations to CEDAW. It did so in September 1999, but without having amended its Civil Code. From this point on, the EU became an additional influence on the process, with the yearly pre-accession progress reports noting the need to bring the Civil Code in line with CEDAW’s requirements.18 Finally, Turkey’s new Civil Code was adopted on 22 November 2001. It was a radical change to the legal foundations of gender relations and the family. Spouses became equal partners with the same decision-making powers and rights over the children and property acquired during marriage. This was also an important success for the Turkish women’s movement. Having started as small groups of urban women meeting in apartments in Istanbul in the early 1980s, the women’s NGOs had become a serious factor in national politics. However, the Civil Code was only the warm-up for a broader, more professional and also more successful campaign by women’s NGOs. The Turkish Penal Code, in force from 1926 until 2004, was the most striking example of the divergence between rhetoric and reality in Turkey. It was the process of European integration that provided women’s NGOs with the political opportunity to make real progress, because a reform of the Penal Code was made a condition for the start of EU membership negotiations. The association Women for Women’s Human Rights (WWHR) launched a working group in early 2002 representing academics, NGOs and bar associations to prepare recommendations for a new Penal Code: ‘to each article pertaining to us we formulated a word-by-word amendment, including a justification to explain our point of view’ (Ercevik Amado). The association began the process of raising awareness of the issues through publications, media campaigns and networking across civil society. In Ankara another NGO, the Flying Broom, was doing a similar job.

224 Ekrem Eddy Güzeldere The 1996 CEDAW report on Turkey had concluded that 29 articles in the Penal Code did not conform to the requirements of the Convention. Remarkably, the draft prepared for the government in power from 1999 to 2002 had left all of these provisions intact, except for cosmetic changes. However, it was this draft that the AKP justice minister first submitted to the 24-member Parliamentary Justice Commission in April/May 2003. For the WWHR and the women’s working group this was the moment to launch a broad-based public campaign by creating a broader coalition of over 30 NGOs: the Platform for the Turkish Penal Code. WWHR circulated a booklet with concrete recommendations to parliamentarians and called a meeting with the head of the parliamentary Justice Committee, Köksal Toptan (AKP; WWHR 2003). Over the summer of 2003, it became clear that, for the first time, a real public debate on gender equality was underway, supported also by influential columnists like Ali Bayramoglu and Kürsat Bumin from Yeni Safak. On 23 July Bayramoglu encouraged the government to meet with the women’s groups and take their concerns seriously. The next day the columnist published a letter from an academic at Istanbul University, arguing that consultations on the new draft had been too brief, and that feedback had not been taken into consideration. Bayramoglu concluded: The important thing is how the Ministry’s interaction and participation mechanism works regarding an issue that involves the whole of society. This is more important than the Penal Code draft itself.19 The subcommittee extended its deliberations for nine months, until June 2004. Its members included three AKP members of parliament, two from the Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi (CHP—Republican People’s Party), and three academics. The academics were known as critics of the draft and suggested that it be rewritten from first principles. The press were also given a daily account of the discussions—a very unusual degree of transparency in Turkey—and the opposition also actively participated. Gaye Erbatur, a CHP (at that time the only opposition party) MP was a key ally of the women’s organizations throughout the whole process. I went to the sub-committee meetings every day to figure out what was being discussed. I used the intermissions to discuss issues like virginity tests or rapists marrying their victims with committee members. I was giving them concrete examples, to make them understand how women feel. The debates were very heated.20 After nine months of work, the draft was almost entirely rewritten, beginning with a new Article 1, which stated that the purpose of the law was to protect the rights and freedoms of individuals. The draft was finally passed on 26 September 2004. The outcome was no less than a legal and philosophical revolution for Turkish society. The minister of justice told parliamentarians: ‘Turkey is experiencing a deep and silent mentality change. The most important reflection of this is the Penal Code’.21 The entire process was conducted in a highly transparent fashion, with intense debate and inputs from across society. As academic Sözüer stated, ‘This was a turning point in the history of Turkey, as never before has parliament conducted public consultation in the drafting of bills’.22

Civilianizing Turkish policy


Remarkably, this acutely sensitive set of reforms was achieved through cross-party consensus between AKP and CHP. As the minister of justice informed the parliament in September 2004, ‘In half a century of multiparty life this may be the first time that the Parliament has produced its own draft’.23 He celebrated this as a shift in the traditional confrontational culture of parliamentary politics, marking it as ‘perhaps the most important achievement of this parliament’. The Penal Code of 2004 represents also a profound achievement for the women’s movement, the government and the opposition. Unlike the reforms of the 1920s, it was achieved not by authoritarian dictate, but through intense dialogue and the engagement of civil society and the media in the parliamentary process. It was not just a victory for Turkish women, but also for Turkish democracy. However, this example of inclusiveness, consultation and co-operation was the exception to the rule. Not only had the political climate become harsher since 2005, with 2007 and 2008 especially characterized by a power struggle between the government and the old elites in the armed forces, bureaucracy, opposition parties and related NGOs, but also the co-operation with civil society could not be repeated as with the women’s NGOs in 2003–4. Civil society does participate also in the debates around the Kurdish issue, the demands of the Alevi religious minority or the Roma minority, but in these meetings with the government only one section of these NGOs participates and the influence of NGO involvement is not as obvious as during the debate about the Penal Code. However, the process leading to the new Penal Code could serve as an example of how to involve civil society, but also how important it is to have a consensus on sensitive questions with at least a part of the opposition parties.

Civilian-military relations Turkey was strikingly different until at least 10 years ago from all other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states in several aspects concerning civil-military relations, and is partly still so today. The special position of the armed forces starts in the protocol hierarchy, which was reformed in May 2012. However, the chief of general staff is still fourth after the president, the speaker of parliament and the prime minister. The cabinet ministers, including the minister of defence, are only in 15th position, they are stil preceeded by the highest ranking generals (12th position). In the USA, the top military commander ranks 48th on the protocol list. In Spain, he ranks 33rd and 25th in Italy. 24 This position leads to an awkward situation at NATO meetings, because two protocol hierarchies are in conflict: ‘The Chief of the Turkish General Staff, who sits in front of the Ministry of Defence according to the state protocol, should sit behind him according to NATO protocol’.25 The armed forces have always had a strong position since the foundation of the Turkish Republic. Both Mustafa Kemal (‘Atatürk’) and Ismet Inönü, the first two presidents, were ‘war heroes’ from the War of Liberation. Since 1935 the armed forces have been specifically charged with ‘responsibility for defending the nature of the regime as defined in the constitution’.26 However, civil-military relations have been dramatically reshaped over time as a result of several military coups and interventions: three direct ones in 1960, 1971 and 1980 and more indirect ones in 1997 and 2007. The 1960 and 1980 interventions saw soldiers and tanks in the street and generals taking power, even if temporarily. All coups affected democracy negatively, however, especially that in 1980, which had harsh consequences for civilian-military relations. After two years of direct

226 Ekrem Eddy Güzeldere military rule, the generals transferred the power again to civilians, but not before dictating a new constitution, a heavy legacy for the years to come. What is striking is that in view of the armed forces, all these interventions were done in accordance with existing laws.27 The legal role and obligations of the military were defined in Article 35 of the Turkish Armed Forces Internal Service Law of January 1961, passed after the first military coup: The duty of the Turkish Armed Forces is to protect and preserve the Turkish homeland and the Turkish Republic as defined in the constitution.28 The Turkish Armed Forces Internal Service Directive,29 passed in September 1961, is even more explicit both about the methods that are to be used ‘to protect and preserve’ the Turkish Republic and about the military’s duty to repel domestic and foreign threats. Article 85/1 of the Directive states: It is the duty of the Turkish Armed Forces to protect the Turkish homeland and the republic, by arms when necessary, against internal and external threats.30 That’s why the Damocles’ Sword of a military coup was still present until recently. Soon after the rise to power of the AKP in November 2002, leading military personnel were working on plans to overthrow the newly elected government, as made explicit in the diaries of retired Navy Commander Admiral Özden Örnek.31 The diary—exposed by the now-defunct Nokta magazine in 2007—revealed that commanders of the Land Forces (General Aytac Yalman), the Air Forces (General Ibrahim Firtina) and the Gendarmerie (General Sener Eruygur) were making preparations to stage military coups in 2004. However, even if the coups were not realized and the generals planning them retired, the armed forces continued to interfere in politics. After a postmodern coup in 1997, what followed 10 years later could be labelled the ‘e-coup’. On 27 April 2007 then-chief of general staff Yasar Büyükanit published a dire warning by way of a late-night posting on the general staff’s website. The general staff declared its opposition to the nomination of Abdullah Gül as presidential candidate. It reminded the Turkish government of the military’s role as ‘staunch defender of secularism’, and warned that it would display its ‘position and attitudes when it becomes necessary’. Mass demonstrations against Gül followed in several cities. However, this time the intimidation failed. Prime Minister Erdogan called for early elections, which resulted in a huge success for the AKP, which won almost 47 per cent of the votes on 22 July 2007. Answering the military’s e-memorandum, daily Radikal titled the day after the elections ‘This is the people’s memorandum’.32 Subsequently, also Abdullah Gül was elected president in August 2007. The Economist wrote quoting an EU diplomat in Ankara: ‘The army tried to dictate its will and the people said no—and what’s happened since shows that the army is losing its power’.33 Different to all other NATO member states, the military also constantly interfered in daily politics via press conferences that are usually broadcast live by numerous TV stations on all sorts of topics not necessarily limited to security issues (General Staff press releases). A recent example was a press statement of the armed forces on 17 December 2010 concerning the debate about mother tongue education in Kurdish: ‘We are following with concern the discussions of the past days about “our language” in which there have been

Civilianizing Turkish policy


attempts to bring the matter to a point that would lead to a change in the basic, underlying philosophy of Turkey’.34 Commenting on the situation of civilian politicians towards the military, Hasan Cemal wrote in 2010 that politicians ‘assumed that to “dance with the military” was the democratic game’.35 There are some peculiar aspects setting Turkey apart concerning civilian-military relations, some of which are: 1 The National Security Council (NSC) The institution symbolizing the military’s influence over politics is the NSC. The NSC was established after the military coup of 1960 as a constitutional institution, in 1961. According to Gencer, the NSC is ‘situated at the centre of the security state structuring that was reviewed by the military administration between 1980 and 1983’ (Gencer 2005: 37). The NSC’s structure, authorities and duties were re-defined in article 118 of the 1982 constitution, and with this article the NSC ceased to be an advisory committee, and from then on the council of ministers was obliged to ‘give priority consideration to the decisions of the National Security Council concerning the measures that it deems necessary for the preservation of the existence and independence of the State, the integrity and indivisibility of the country and the peace and security of society’.36 At that time the NSC met once a month. Additionally, the National Security Council Law of 1983 defined national security in such broad terms that it could be interpreted as covering almost every policy area. Article 2a states that: National security means the defence and protection of the state against every kind of external and internal threat to the constitutional order, national existence, unity, and to all its interests and contractual rights in the international arena including in the political, social, cultural and economic spheres. The National Security Council Law also covers the establishment of the NSC General Secretariat, which is responsible for collecting information and preparing briefing papers for NSC meetings. Its head is a general secretary and, in theory, like the General Staff, it comes under the Prime Ministry. ‘But Article 15 of the National Security Council Law states that the NSC general secretary is always a serving full general or admiral, and in practice the NSC General Secretariat works very closely with the TGS [General Staff].’37 The NSC General Secretariat is also responsible for co-ordinating the preparation of the National Security Policy Document (NSPD), which ‘not only reflects the military’s evaluation of the internal and external threats to Turkey but also serves as the foundation of the country’s security policies’.38 The NSPD was drawn up by the General Staff, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Intelligence Organization, co-ordinated by the NSC General Secretariat. After being completed it was presented to the NSC without consultation or approval of the parliament. Since the contents are not published and it is not presented by the civilian government, the NSPD is also known as the ‘Red Book’ or the ‘Secret Constitution’.39

228 Ekrem Eddy Güzeldere 2 Military budget The armed forces not only dictated security policies, they also decided over their own budget, which was not discussed or challenged in parliament, but merely ‘approved’ by the elected politicians. What the military did with the budget, acquisition of arms, personnel costs, investments, etc., was not audited by civilian institutions. Ahmet Yildiz explained in 2005: As the Ministry of National Defence does not present any information of an adequate technical level on military matters to committee members and the members do not request such information, defence budgets have to date been the most unproblematic budget item. In other words, it comes as a package and is approved almost without change.40 The Turkish armed forces have also developed into one of the most potent economic players in Turkey in other ways. The Ordu Yardimlasma Kurumu (OYAK—Army Solidarity Institution) was an institution founded in 1961 as the pension fund for military personnel for families of injured or killed soldiers. It therefore owes its existence to the legislative activity of an extraordinary period right after the first military coup: ‘OYAK’s structure as a capital group was planned from its very foundation and unlike other social security institutions it was not subject to any restrictions on investment activities.’41 The number of companies affiliated with OYAK has increased over the years and is now over 50, among others Renault Turkey, several cement and construction companies, banks and insurance firms. As Akca comments, ‘the army’s activities as a collective capital group through the Armed Forces Pension Fund (OYAK) are an important aspect of militarization in Turkey’.42 3 Two-fold judicial system Turkey for a long time had, and partly still has, a two-fold judicial system of civilian and military courts. Former military judge Ümit Kardas wrote in 2005 that the problems concerning the competence of military courts is the lack of definitions: ‘There is no definition in the Military Penal Code as to what constitutes a military crime. However, the need for such a definition remains of utmost importance, as other spheres of duty are determined with respect to this definition.’43 One anomaly of the Turkish system was that civilians could also be tried in military courts. Crimes committed in collaboration by civilians and military personnel are considered military crimes and civilians committing these crimes are tried in military courts. If a crime is committed in a military location, it will fall within the sphere of military jurisdiction. Military location as defined by Article 12 of the Law on Internal Services are battalions, headquarters and military institutions (military hospitals, schools, officers’ clubs, sewing workshops, military plants, recruitment offices, supply centres and depots). However, the concept of ‘military crime’ is not defined.44 In practice, the military courts guaranteed impunity for crimes committed by military personnel. Gareth Jenkins wrote in 2001 that the Turkish military has ‘traditionally vigorously resisted any attempt by the civilian authorities to investigate allegations against serving or retired officers’,45 refusing to ‘cooperate with investigations into, allegations of

Civilianizing Turkish policy


corruption or human rights abuses involving members of the security forces, especially the gendarmerie, apparently because it believes that even an investigation would harm the image of the armed forces’. Another problem is the lack of independence and immunity for military judges. Military judges carry out their duties in an officer’s uniform and therefore within a hierarchical structure. While commanders influence the promotion of military judges via their records, the appointment of military judges depends on the force commanders with whom they are affiliated. As Ümit Kardas comments, ‘They carry out their duty in military uniform, and their commanders have influence over their records and transfers. There is no independent and neutral judiciary’.46 4 The ‘postmodern’ intervention in 1997 gave the armed forces even more power At a meeting of the NSC on 28 February 1997, the armed forces issued an 18-point memorandum forcing the government to take measures against what they believed to be Islamist activities. Then-Prime Minister Erbakan resigned following the memorandum and the media campaign supported by NGOs against his party (Welfare) and coalition government. Concerning security policy, what followed was a new domestic security doctrine built on the Emniyet Asayis ve Yardimlasma Birlikleri (EMASYA—Protocol Concerning the Security and Public Order Assistance Units).47 Signed in July 1997 by the Office of the Chief of the General Staff and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the protocol regulates the intervention of military forces in cases of public disorder and security situations. Under certain conditions EMASYA allowed military operations for internal security matters without authorization from civilian authorities. Many of the peculiar aspects of Turkey’s security sector, the strong position of the armed forces in the political system and their ability to influence law-making and government policy were guaranteed by laws and regulations. Therefore it is also possible to reduce the influence of the armed forces by changing the relevant laws that allowed this privileged position. This is exactly what has happened in the framework of the EU process since 2001 in some of these aspects. However, legal changes are not enough; they also need to be fully implemented, which is why the picture is mixed. A process has started but needs to be completed. Some striking examples of civilianizing the security policy already are: NSC reforms The symbol of military guardianship, the NSC was transformed step by step from the decisive security institution dominated by generals to a consultative organ dominated by civilian politicians. A series of reforms started in October 2001 adding civilian members (ministry of defence and deputy prime ministers) as permanent members. Therefore, the NSC consists of six civilian (prime minister, deputy prime ministers, ministers of justice, national defence, internal affairs, foreign affairs) and five military members (chief of general staff, commanders of land, naval and air forces, and the general commander of gendarmerie) and is headed by the president: ‘This allows most of the members to come from the government wing’.48 The statement that decisions to be taken by the NSC

230 Ekrem Eddy Güzeldere ‘would be given priority by the Cabinet of Ministers’ was changed to ‘would be taken into consideration’; the NSC decisions were downgraded to recommendations (Sarlak 2010: 95). However, the year of more substantial change to the NSC was 2003, with the ratification by the Turkish Grand National Assembly of the Seventh EU Harmonization Package in 2003, the very first year of AKP rule. Within this framework, the Law on the National Security Council and its General Secretariat was amended and the Council’s duties were redefined. The NSC’s jurisdiction was narrowed and it was reduced to an ‘advisory board’, similar to its counterparts in Western democracies.49 In December 2003 the secret regulation concerning the duties and working principles of the NSC General Secretariat was abolished. General Sukru Sariisik was the last military NSC general secretary, whose term of office ended on 30 August 2004. As of September 2004 the NSC General Secretariat was headed by a civilian. Also in 2004 the authority of the NSC General Secretariat and the general staff to appoint members to the Higher Council of Radio and Television (RTUK), the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT), and the Council of Higher Education (YOK), was abolished. Important civilian institutions were finally civilianized. National Security Policy Document It took longer to substantially change the National Security Policy Document (NSPD), which in 2001 was still formulated by the military. In October 2005 the new NSPD was approved during an NSC meeting and took into consideration the armed forces’ objection to the EU’s stance on the PKK, the Cyprus issue, and Aegean territorial waters. It was decided that ‘taking into consideration Turkey’s special circumstances, it was necessary for the current arrangement to continue’.50 However, according to Gencer Özcan there were two important changes in the preparation process of the NSPD: ‘The first is the simplification of the document from its original 90 pages to 25 pages upon the request of Prime Minister Erdogan. The second involves the suggestions concerning changes to the tone of the document in the update prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (Özcan 2005: 43). Therefore, the document was less detailed, more broadly referring to both domestic and external threats such as neighbouring countries and terrorism. The debate about the content of the document was put again on the agenda in April 2006 by two NGOs, the Human Rights Association (IHD) and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV). The IHD and TIHV presented a petition to the Council of State for the annulment of the NSPD.51 This request was denied, but discussion about the civilianization of this document intensified. However, it took another four years to reach that point. In October 2010 the NSPD was finally dominated by the views of the elected civilian politicians. Through this, the perception of both external and internal threats was changed. As Justice Minister Cemil Cicek announced concerning internal threats, ‘The owner of the state is the nation. A state that sees its own nation as a danger, cannot become a nation’.52 The military wing of the council agreed with the government on the issue and the infamous ‘reactionary threat’ was not cited in the new document. Instead, it mentions ‘radical groups exploiting religion’, a term which, under the Turkish Penal Code, refers to groups that, by employing violent methods, use religion for destructive and separatist activities.

Civilianizing Turkish policy


EMASYA The EMASYA Protocol was finally abolished on 4 February 2010. Interior minister Besir Atalay explained that this was a mutual decision agreed upon by the General Staff: In my earlier meeting with Chief of General Staff Ilker Basbug, we had agreed on abolishment of the protocol. We had earlier emphasized that regulations and laws are already detailed enough. We agreed that there is no need for a new protocol or a new regulation.53

Change has started but reforms need to continue However, besides these far reaching changes, there are still aspects that need further reform to normalize civil-military relations. This means further legal changes, but more important a mentality change that allows for the thorough implementation of reforms. This especially needs to be done concerning the military budget and military judiciary. Military budget Concerning the military budget, its oversight by elected politicians and the auditing of military spending, several legal changes were made. However, the thorough implementation is not yet secured. In December 2003 the Public Financial Administration and Control Law (Kamu Mali Yonetimi ve Kontrol Kanunu) was accepted and went into effect in January 2005. This law stipulates the parliamentary oversight of the armed forces’ budget. With a decree that was passed in February 2004 based on this law, the road was opened for the Supreme Court of Accounts to supervise military expenditure and any extra budgetary defence expenditure by demand of the president of the parliament.54 Among several constitutional amendments introduced in May 2004 was the striking-out of a ‘secrecy clause’ that had hitherto shielded armed forces assets from the Court of Audit’s scrutiny. The bottom line here is that from 2005, the legislature’s defence commission, and sub-committees of its budget commission, are theoretically now in a position to probe the military’s bids for resources and use of resources. For Bayramoglu and Insel these regulations so far are only cosmetic, as they state in 2008, the ‘Court of Auditors’ oversight of military expenditures continues to exist only on paper’.55 Military expert Ismet Akca explained the situation in 2010: Actually the parliament can evaluate the defense budget, there is no obstacle to it, but it is not done. The politicians look at the budget demand of the Armed Forces. And they meet it exactly. Later they distribute what is left in their hands to education, health etc.56 Military judiciary Also in November 2010 the chairman of the Parliamentary Constitutional Commission, Burhan Kuzu, commented on the anomaly of Turkey’s judicial system: The unity of the judiciary is essential in the world. There is no Supreme Court of Appeals of the military and civilian authority and there is no Council of State of the

232 Ekrem Eddy Güzeldere military and the civilian authority in the world. Turkey has adopted a system which is non-existent elsewhere in the world.57 However, also concerning civilian-military relations in the judiciary, important steps have been taken, but need to go further. Under the 1982 Constitution so-called Devlet Guvenlik Mahkemeleri (DGM—State Security Courts) were established to try cases involving crimes against the security of the state, and organized crime. These courts existed in eight provinces (then out of 67) and consisted of three judges, one a military judge. The DGMs were functioning until 2004; however, in 1999 the military judges were removed. With the new Criminal Procedure Code from 1 June 2005, the official name for these courts has been ‘Heavy Penal Courts with Special Authority’ (competent to examine crimes under article 250 of the Criminal Procedure Code; EUSG 2004). However, for Osman Can, this has not really solved much, as he wrote in August 2010: Again actions concerning the security of the state got into the authority of the heavy penal courts with special authority. So as a result what has changed? The name plate has changed, the make-up was done and the scope was reduced a little bit. Anyway we usually deal with make-up within the Turkish political system. Then in 2005 a new penal code was accepted and the working area of these courts was reduced a little more. However, it needs to be accepted that the heavy penal courts with special authority occupy a very problematic place in the Turkish judicial system.58 Finally, with the 12 September 2010 referendum, the ‘temporary’ Article 15 of the Constitution saving the 1980 coup leaders from persecution was abolished. The day after the referendum several individuals and NGOs sued coup leader Kenan Evren, now 93 years old, in various cities in Turkey (Istanbul, Ankara, Bursa).59 The indictment against the coup leaders was presented in January 2012, the trial started in April 2012. Additionally, military officers who commit crimes against the state, such as preparing a coup, will be tried in civilian courts. The competence of military courts was restricted to crimes of military personnel related to military service and duties, allowing civilian courts to try military personnel on all other occasions. The term ‘military location’ was completely deleted from the competence of military courts.60 However, the two-fold judicial system is still by and large in place, with military courts, the military court of cassation (askeri yargitay) and the military court of administration (Askeri Yuksek Idare Mahkemesi). In the past, the security sector has became more civilian, but as seen above there are still anomalies concerning the position and role of the armed forces. Further reforms are necessary to align Turkey with modern democratic states, where the military is occupied with the defence of the external borders and is not a decisive factor in domestic policies with legal and economic privileges.

Conclusion This chapter did not try to give a general overview of governance in Turkey, thus it is not possible to give a general verdict about the state of governance in all possible areas. Concerning the inclusiveness of civil society in the political process and the civilianization of the political system, it is possible to see a positive trend during the past decade. However, the process prior to the passing of the new penal code is not the rule for co-operation

Civilianizing Turkish policy


between civil society and the government, and neither is the process of civilianizing the political and judicial system yet complete. Still, Turkey is not very experienced in consulting civil society during the decisionmaking process and these forms of co-operation are everything but institutionalized. Also the co-operation between government and opposition worsened after 2005 and resulted in harsh confrontations. However, these confrontations are not surprising. The reforms in recent years were supposed to bring an end to a decades-long tradition of military tutelage. They were designed to encourage Turkish governments to tackle the many outstanding taboo issues of Turkish politics. This second phase is deeply political, and in Turkey it is everything but smooth. It requires real shifts in power and is bound to generate friction. This friction was particularly visible during the election campaign of 2007 ahead of the national elections, or in 2009 prior to the regional elections, and then in 2010 for a constitutional referendum a constant campaign atmosphere was not helpful in finding compromise. And the next elections will be in June 2011. That is why bigger reform projects such as a new so-called civil constitution seem only to be possible after elections and in at least partial co-operation between government and opposition on the basic direction of the constitution. This does not seem impossible, because it does not require the invention of something completely new, but the return to the period of 2001–5 when a broad coalition of political parties in co-operation with civil society succeeded in passing a series of legal changes and EU harmonization packages. Civil society has continued to grow stronger, more professional and more internationally linked, especially through the EU process with European NGOs. It will continue to voice its demands and make itself heard. Concerning the position of the armed forces, an understanding among political parties, including the opposition, civil society, the media and the population is growing that the armed forces should be responsible for securing the borders and external threats, and not constantly interfere in political debates on social, cultural and economic issues. Both processes would mean a further normalization of the political system in Turkey, aligning it with current European standards. This is, with setbacks and postponements, by and large what has been happening over the past decade.

Notes 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Philip Robins, Suits and Uniforms: Turkish Foreign Policy since the Cold War (London, 2003). Fikret Toksöz, Good Governance: Improving Quality of Life (Istanbul: TESEV Publications, 2008), 3. Toksöz, 2008, 70. Hakan Yavuz (ed.), AK Parti, Kitapyayinevi (Istanbul, 2010); Ergun Özbudun and William Hale, Türkiye’de Islamcilik, Demokrasi ve Liberalizm [Islamism Democracy and Liberalism in Turkey—The Case of the AKP] (Istanbul: Dogan Kitap, 2010). Özbudun and Hale, 2010, 57. Özbudun and Hale, 2010, 92. Özbudun and Hale, 2010. Özbudun and Hale, 2010, 97. Özbudun and Hale, 2010. Ali Babacan, ‘Conservative Democracy: Good Governance for Rapid Convergence’, Turkish Policy Quarterly, March 2003, 2003-3-babacan.pdf. Babacan, 2003, 1. Babacan, 2003, 5.

234 Ekrem Eddy Güzeldere 13 Ergun Özbudun, ‘The Post-1980 Legal Framework for Interest Group Association’, in Metin Heper (ed.), Strong State and Economic Interest Groups. The Post-1980 Turkish Experience (Berlin and New York, 1991), 41–42. 14 Binnaz Toprak, ‘Civil Society in Turkey’, in A.R. Norton (ed.), Civil Society in the Middle East, Vol. II (1996): 95. 15 OECD Territorial Reviews (Istanbul, Turkey, 2008), 229. 16 The law on associations (in Turkish), view=article& id=180%3A5253-dernekler-kanunu&catid=30%3Akanunlar&Itemid=43& lang=tr. 17 The reservations are to Articles 15 and 16 of CEDAW. 18 European Commission, ‘From the Commission on Turkey’s Progress Towards Accession’, 8 November 2000, 18–19, 19 Ali Bayramoglu, ‘Ogretim Uyesinden Adalet Bakanina Mektup’ (Letter from University Faculty to the Minister of Justice), Yeni Safak, 25 July 2003. 20 European Stability Initiative (ESI), ‘Sex and Power in Turkey. Feminism, Islam and the Maturing of Turkish Democracy’, June 2007, 21 Cemil Cicek, Minister of Justice, ‘TBMM Adalet Komisyonu TCK Tasarisinin Tumu Uzerindeki Gorusmeler’ (Discussion on the Turkish Penal Code Draft in the Parliament Justice Commission), 2004, 52. 22 Adem Sözüer, ‘Reform of the Turkish Criminal Law’, Hukuki Perspektifler Dergisi, 212. 23 General Assembly, 2004. 24 Yasin Kılıç and Serkan Sag˘ lam, ‘NATO meeting a chance to revise protocol hierarchy in Turkey’, Today’s Zaman, 12 February 2010, 25 Institute of Strategic Thinking, ‘Is Turkey the new hero of NATO?’, 10 February 2010, www.sde. 26 Gareth Jenkins, ‘Context and Circumstance: The Turkish Military and Politics’, Adelphi Paper 337, International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2001, 42. 27 Lale Sariibrahimoglu, ‘The Turkish Armed Forces’, in Umit Cizre (ed.), Almanac Turkey 2005 – Security Sector and Democratic Oversight, DCAF-TESEV Series in Security Sector Studies, September 2006, 56, 28 Full text of the law, (original in Turkish). 29 Full text of the directive, Iliski=0& sourceXmlSearch=t%C3%BCrk%20silahl%C4%B1 (in Turkish). 30 Jenkins, 2001, 45. 31 The Örnek diaries were included into the Ergenekon Indictment; one can download the full text of the Örnek diaries at 32 Radikal, cover page on 23 July 2007, 33 The Economist, ‘Coups away’, 11 February 2010, 34 General Staff, original press statement, 17 December 2010, Yayin_Faaliyetleri/10_1_BasinAciklamalari/2010/BA_03.htm. 35 Hasan Cemal, Turkiye’nin Asker sorunu [Turkey’s military problem], August 2010, 22. 36 Jenkins, 2001, 45. 37 Jenkins, 2001, 46. 38 Jenkins, 2001. 39 Meryem Erdal, ‘National Security in the Constitution’, in Ahmet Insel and Ali Bayramoglu (eds), Almanac Turkey 2006–2008 Security Sector and Democratic Oversight (Tesev Publications, August 2010). 40 Ahmet Yildiz, ‘Turkish Grand National Assembly’, in Umit Kardas, ‘Military Judiciary’, in Umit Cizre (ed.), Almanac Turkey 2005 – Security Sector and Democratic Oversight (DCAF-TESEV Series in Security Sector Studies, September 2006), 19, Almanak-2005-Ingilizce-Tam%20Metin.pdf. 41 Ismet Akca, ‘OYAK: Whose Economic Security?’, in Ahmet Insel and Ali Bayramoglu (eds), Almanac Turkey 2006–2008, Security Sector and Democratic Oversight (Tesev Publications, August 2010), 151. 42 Akca, 2010. 43 Ümit Kardas, ‘Military Judiciary’, in Umit Cizre (ed.), Almanac Turkey 2005 – Security Sector and Democratic Oversight (DCAF-TESEV Series in Security Sector Studies, September 2006), 50–55,

Civilianizing Turkish policy 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60


Kardas, 2006, 68. Jenkins, 2001, 19–30. Kardas, 2006, 70. The protocol consists of 27 articles concerning the implementation of Article 11/D of Law No. 5442 on Provincial Administration. Erdal, 2010, 37. Ferda Balancar and Esra Elmas, ‘Military Interference in Politics and the Politicization of the Army’, in Ahmet Insel and Ali Bayramoglu (eds), Almanac Turkey 2006–2008, Security Sector and Democratic Oversight (Tesev Publications, August 2010), 157. Balancar and Elmas, 2010, 159. Balancar and Elmas, 2010, 160. Yeni Safak, ‘Milli Güvenlik Siyaset Belgesi kabul edildi’, 22 November 2010, Politika/?i=289055. TurkishWeekly, ‘Turkey Annuls Emasya Protocol’, 4 February 2010, news/97102/turkey-annuls-emasya-protocol.html. Kardas, 2006, 58. Ahmet Insel and Ali Bayramoglu (eds), Almanac Turkey 2006–2008, Security Sector and Democratic Oversight (Tesev Publications, August 2010), 15. Ismet Akca, ‘OYAK: Whose Economic Security?’, in Ahmet Insel and Ali Bayramoglu (eds), Almanac Turkey 2006–2008, Security Sector and Democratic Oversight (Tesev Publications, August 2010). Hurriyet Daily News, ‘Turkish government could eliminate military judiciary’, 28 November 2010, Osman Can, Darbe Yargisinin Sonu [The end of the coup judiciary] (Timas Publishing, August 2010), 163. Today’s Zaman, 14 September 2010. Hurriyet Daily News, ‘What will the constitutional changes mean for Turkey?’, 12 September 2010,

Chapter 14

The Kingdom Can the magic last? David Dunford

Overview Saudi Arabia is both the birthplace of Islam and home today to one of the more puritanical versions of Islam. The government of Saudi Arabia owns more than 20 per cent of estimated world oil reserves. It also boasts one of the most technologically advanced petrochemical industries, while, well into the twenty-first century, it is both the only country in the world named after a family and the only country that does not permit women to drive automobiles. Saudi Arabia considers itself a leader of both the Arab and Muslim worlds and Saudi stability has major implications for the stability of the entire Middle East and the vital interests of the USA and other major industrial powers. The family-run government has shown remarkable resilience despite the turbulence of recent decades, including the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Saddam Hussain’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 and the terrorist attacks on the USA in September 2001 by a group of mostly Saudi hijackers. Can the al-Sa’ud family withstand the inevitable shocks of the coming decades? If so, what adjustments will the royal family have to make?

Brief history Saudi Arabia is a young country, created by conquest during the first third of the twentieth century. Modern Saudi Arabia combines the Hedjaz, including the port city of Jeddah, the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, and the heights of Ta’if, with the Nejd, which includes the capital Riyadh, and al-Hasa (today the Eastern Province) which borders the Persian (or Arabian) Gulf. The Arab/Muslim Empire began in the Hedjaz but, after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, the capital moved first to Damascus and later to Baghdad. The obligation of Muslims to perform the hajj, or pilgrimage, gave Mecca and Medina a certain prominence over the centuries, but little attention was given to the Nejd until the al-Sa’ud burst upon the scene. The rise to power of the al-Sa’ud in the middle of the eighteenth century and the alliance with the followers of Sheikh al-Islam Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab al-Tamimi. Ibn Abd al-Wahhab put the Nejd, nominally part of the Ottoman Empire, on the political map at least briefly. Abd al-Wahhab preached a doctrine of strict monotheism and a return to the fundamentals of Islam. Egyptian ruler Muhammad Ali led the Ottoman response which crushed the upstart Saudis. While the threat that the Saudis posed to the Ottoman Empire was eliminated, the alliance between the family and the conservative religious followers of Abd al-Wahhab, known by their detractors as Wahhabis, continues

The Kingdom: Can the magic last?


to this day. By the end of the nineteenth century, the Al Rashid family dominated the Al Sa’ud and the Nejd and the key Al Sa’ud family members lived in exile in Kuwait. Abd al-Aziz Al Sa’ud led a skilful attack on Riyadh in 1902 which re-established Al Sa’ud rule in the Nejd. It took 20 years for Abd al-Aziz finally to defeat the Al Rashid. By that time, Al Sa’ud control had expanded to the eastern part of Arabia at the expense of the Ottomans. The Saudis remained on the periphery of the various and conflicting machinations of British diplomacy, focused on the Hashemites of Mecca, during and immediately after World War I. The British kept their hand in central Arabia by making modest payments to the Saudis, but in 1923 they ended the transfer of money to both Al Sa’ud and the Hashemites, shifting the balance of power to the Al Sa’ud. When the Hashemite Sharif of Mecca declared himself Caliph in 1924, Abd al-Aziz struck and, with the help of the Ikhwan (or Brotherhood), soon controlled all of the Hedjaz. The Ikhwan, made up largely of Bedouin warriors, rebelled in 1929 and was put down harshly by Abd al-Aziz. In 1932 Abd al-Aziz combined the Kingdom of the Hedjaz and the Sultanate of the Nejd into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A brief war with Yemen in 1934 led to the addition of the mountainous Asir region and the consolidation of the Kingdom within roughly its current boundaries.

Royal family dynamics The last two decades of Abd al-Aziz’s rule were largely the story of the discovery of oil and the use of the revenues to build the foundations of what has become a modern oil state. Abd al-Aziz was the father of his country in more than one sense, as he had 36 sons and 21 daughters from a number of different wives.1 Like the Prophet Muhammad and many Arab leaders before and after him, he used marriage to consolidate control over conquered territory. Understanding maternal lineage is therefore important to understanding the dynamics of the Saudi royal family. Abd al-Aziz died in 1953 leaving 34 sons and the problem of how to determine succession. Abd al-Aziz’s eldest son, Sa’ud, became king but Sa’ud’s personal lifestyle choices and his mismanagement of state affairs led the family to replace him with Faisal. Two principles were thus established. First, that succession would go from brother to brother, planting the seeds of an impending crisis when the brothers began to age. Second, seniority was important but not the only qualification. The family had to endorse the selection and the family could also initiate a change in leadership. The size of the family in 2001 was estimated at between 5,000 and 8,000, and it is safe to say that it is rapidly growing and will likely continue to do so in the coming years.2 Faisal led the kingdom for over a decade and used the massive transfer of wealth from oil consumers to oil producers that accompanied burgeoning US, European and Japanese demand for petroleum to modernize the country. Modernization inevitably opened up the Kingdom to Western influence, to the distress of the religious conservatives. It was a deranged nephew, angered at Faisal’s modernizing steps including education for women and the introduction of television, who assassinated Faisal in 1975. Khalid assumed the throne and Fahd was appointed Crown Prince and Heir Apparent. Much as Faisal had played a major role in Saudi governance during Sa’ud’s reign, Fahd played a strong role as Crown Prince. Khalid’s frequent bouts of poor health meant that Fahd was often running the government. One of the major challenges to Saudi stability was the takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979 by a small band of Islamist extremists. The rebels accused the royal family of corruption and demanded that all traces of Western influence

238 David Dunford be eradicated from the Kingdom. After a three-week siege, the government, with French and Jordanian assistance, defeated the rebels and later executed the surviving members. The death of Khalid from a heart attack in 1982 did not come as a surprise and Fahd’s transition to power was smooth. The quickly established new line of succession made Abdullah, then the next eldest surviving son, as Crown Prince and Heir Apparent, while allowing him to retain control of the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG). The SANG, essentially an heir of the Ikhwan, is a paramilitary force that recruits largely from the desert tribes. Sultan became the Second Deputy Prime Minister and thus second in line to the throne. Sultan retained his position as Minister of Defence and Aviation in charge of the regular armed forces. The existence of two separate armed forces, each led by a senior member of the royal family, may have more to do with maintaining internal political stability than ensuring Saudi Arabia’s external defence. Fahd was the first Saudi monarch to call himself the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques rather than the King or Your Majesty, although the latter terms remained in wide use. Fahd was the oldest son of Hassa bint Ahmad al-Sudairi and he and six of his full brothers formed a powerful alliance within the royal family. Sultan, Minister of Defence and current Heir Apparent, is reported to be in poor health and no longer capable of running the country,3 although, as of this writing (February 2011), he has officially resumed his duties after a long sabbatical. The elevation of Nayef, who has been Minister of the Interior for 35 of his 77 years, to next in line to the throne after Sultan is considered a setback for Saudi progressives and modernizers. Nayef is reportedly still recovering from cancer and his health may yet disqualify him from taking the throne. Efforts are reportedly being made to soften his image and it is possible that Nayef could surprise his detractors, as Abdullah has done. Salman, Governor of Riyadh and three years younger, is also considered by many a viable candidate for the throne, but others warn that he has heart problems. The other three members of the ‘Sudairi Seven’ (after the family of Abd al-Aziz’s favourite wife), Abdul Rahman, Turki and Ahmad, continue to hold powerful positions of influence within the royal family but are not seen as serious contenders.4 Issued by King Fahd, the Basic Law of 1992 decrees that a family council will make the decision, but adds little in the way of detail to the process of choosing future monarchs. While there is considerable opaqueness surrounding the internal dynamics of the royal family, it seems apparent from the outside that the family is strongly determined not to allow internal rivalries to endanger government control of Saudi society and the Saudi economy. In 2006 Abdullah formalized the succession process somewhat by creating the Allegiance Council. Each of its 35 members represents the family of one of the 35 sons of Abd al-Aziz. Mishal, who is close to Abdullah and is not a Sudairi, was appointed Chair. The Council was seen as diluting the power of the surviving Sudairis, so it came as a surprise to some that Nayef was subsequently anointed next in line after Sultan. Assuming that the Saudi royal family remains firmly in power, the throne will inevitably pass one day, perhaps sooner rather than later, to the next generation, to one of the grandsons of Abd al-Aziz. The best-known members of that generation outside of Saudi Arabia are the Western-educated sons of Faisal (Sa’ud, Turki and Khalid), Khalid and Bandar ibn Sultan, and the ‘astronaut prince’, Sultan ibn Salman. Sa’ud al-Faisal, aged 69, has been Foreign Minister since 1975, but reportedly suffers from Parkinson’s disease and a bad back. Turki al-Faisal, aged 65, was head of the General Intelligence Division from 1977 to 2001 and has since served first as Ambassador to the UK and later as Ambassador

The Kingdom: Can the magic last?


to the USA. He resigned abruptly from the latter post in December 2006. He is the leading candidate to replace his brother as Foreign Minister. Khalid, born the same year as his brother Sa’ud, was Governor of the Asir for 36 years before being appointed Governor of Mecca in 2007. Khalid, a poet and painter widely respected by all the royal family, is, according to veteran royal family-watcher Simon Henderson, the most likely member of his generation to become king.5 Bandar ibn Sultan was Saudi Ambassador to the USA from 1983 until 2005, but played a larger role, often called upon to undertake special projects including major arms buys for the Saudi government. His disappearance from public sight in 2008 sparked widespread rumours, but he was greeted on his return to the Kingdom in October 2010 by an impressive royal family delegation. There seems little doubt that Bandar is not only back in the Kingdom, but that he will continue to be a significant player in Saudi politics. Khalid ibn Sultan headed Saudi forces during Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990–1 and, while he has managed to stay well under the radar as Assistant Minister of Defence and Aviation, he is the leading candidate to replace his father as Minister of Defence. Sultan ibn Salman, the astronaut prince, now heads the Saudi Commission on Tourism and Antiquities and has the challenge of putting a public face on the hitherto undeveloped Saudi tourism industry. While less visible internationally, the sons of Fahd and Nayef cannot be counted out as contenders for the throne. The most notable are Muhammad ibn Fahd, Governor of the Eastern Province since 1985, and Muhammad ibn Nayef, a Deputy Minister of Interior who survived an assassination attempt in 2009.

Saudi political institutions Because of the close relationship between the Al Sa’ud family and Islamic religious conservatives, the basic government institutions go back to the time of Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century. Decisions are made by consensus through the process of shura, or consultation. The process takes place within the family and between the family and the senior ulema, or clerics. During the decades since oil was discovered and government administration was broadened and deepened, a seemingly modern structure has been created, with ministries and inter-ministerial councils. With considerable assistance from the USA, the Saudis now have the ability to manage the complexities of oil exploration, production and export, the sound investment of billions of dollars of foreign exchange earnings, civil aviation and telecommunications, and sophisticated defence systems. Underlying all the trappings of modernity, however, is a political system that requires all important and some not so important decisions to be elevated to the King. Much of the story of the modernization of Saudi Arabia is the story of ARAMCO or the Arabian-American Oil Company. In 1933 Standard Oil of California (SOCAL) won the exclusive right to explore for oil. Later SOCAL took on Texaco, Mobil and Standard of New Jersey as partners and formed ARAMCO. Abd al-Aziz’s decision to favour US over British companies reflected his affinity for Americans and suspicion of British imperial motives. He was aware of the good works of US missionary doctors as well as being grateful to Charles Crane, whose name is best known from the ill-fated King-Crane commission. In 1930, asking nothing in return, Crane offered to send a mining engineer to the Kingdom to survey its water and mineral resources. Until World War II, the US-Saudi relationship was largely conducted through ARAMCO. During the war years

240 David Dunford the Saudis were broke, as the war prevented both the influx of pilgrims to Mecca and Medina and the export of oil. The USA recognized the importance of oil, among other things, to sustain its military efforts and included Saudi Arabia in the group of countries eligible for lend-lease assistance. A diplomatic office was established in Jeddah (diplomats were permitted to visit Riyadh only by invitation), which gradually led to wider contacts including military-to-military contacts. On 14 February President Franklin D. Roosevelt met Abd al-Aziz aboard the USS Quincy in the Great Bitter Lake in Egypt. Over the years, the USA provided a steady flow of assistance to the Saudi regime, a flow that accelerated after the rapid rise of oil prices associated with the 1973 war between Egypt and Israel. In 1951 the State Department recruited an international finance expert named Arthur Young to help the Saudis put together a Central Bank. This was a sensitive issue given the Quranic ban on riba, or interest. With Young’s assistance the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority was created and it remains Saudi Arabia’s central bank. The decision by King Faisal to embargo oil to the USA had a dramatic, if temporary, effect on the driving habits of Americans, threatened the availability of petroleum to fund US military operations in Vietnam and elsewhere, and sparked concern about the outflow of US dollars to Saudi Arabia and other OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) producers. These factors led to the decision by the Nixon Administration (which soon gave way to the Ford Administration because of the Watergate scandal) to strengthen the US-Saudi economic and security relationship. With leadership from Secretary of the Treasury Paul Simon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the USA set up a Joint Security Cooperation Commission and a Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation (JECOR). JECOR was essentially an economic assistance programme, but it was managed by the US Treasury Department, the Saudis paid for it and there was very little Congressional scrutiny. This led to a large deployment of US civilian experts into Saudi ministries. While JECOR played a significant role in the modernization of the Saudi government, it operated fairly independently of the US Embassy and came to be seen as more of a resource for the Saudi government than an instrument of US policy. When oil prices dropped sharply in the 1980s, JECOR became a way for ministries to fund projects off-budget. Modernization projects take time and the Saudis had to deal with the immediate problem of how to invest their windfall oil revenues. The US capital market was the most attractive because of its size and depth. Soon US advisers were working with the Saudi central bank (SAMA) to invest billions in the US capital market. By 1976 the Saudis had invested US$60 billion in the US market.6 US military assistance dates back to World War II, when the US military used the Dhahran Airfield and provided training to Saudi pilots. Abd al-Aziz, from the time of his 1945 meeting with Roosevelt, was interested in knowing what military assistance the USA was prepared to provide Saudi Arabia in the event that the Kingdom and its oilfields were threatened. The USA was initially reluctant, but by the early 1950s it declared Saudi Arabia to be of strategic importance and made it eligible for military assistance in the form of training and eligibility to purchase US equipment. In return for continued use of the Dhahran Airfield, the USA established the US Military Training Mission (USMTM). The USMTM trains the conventional Saudi military forces, which are organized under the Ministry of Defence and Civil Aviation (MODA). These forces are responsible for defending the Kingdom against external aggression. The Saudis have long been interested in purchasing the most sophisticated weaponry available. While their first

The Kingdom: Can the magic last?


choice is usually to buy American, they have clearly demonstrated a willingness to go elsewhere when the USA baulks. The USA has been reluctant in some cases because of a fear that the Saudis do not have the capacity to operate and maintain sophisticated weapon systems. Objections by Israel, which finds ready support in the US Congress, have also often been a factor. The controversial sale of air warning and control systems (AWACS), early in the Reagan Administration, was nevertheless approved by Congress over the objections of Israel. A major example of the Saudi willingness to diversify their military suppliers was the negotiation of the al-Yamamah deal with the British government involving the barter of Saudi oil for British Tornado fighters and other military equipment. The deal, reported to be worth $80 billion, triggered allegations that a significant portion of the money went on bribes and kick-backs. The Saudis also surprised the USA in 1988, when it bought from China and had installed a number of intermediate-range ballistic missiles in the desert south of Riyadh. While the Saudis were undoubtedly more focused on the threat from Iran than Israel, Israeli and congressional concern led to a major crisis in US-Saudi relations, leading to the recall of US Ambassador Hume Horan. The Saudi Arabian National Guard was formed in 1956 and came under the control of Abdullah ibn Abd al-Aziz in 1962. With the death of Khalid in 1982, Abdullah became Crown Prince and in 2005 he formally assumed the title of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. Until the 1973 war between Israel and Egypt, the SANG was trained by the British. The Saudis then agreed to transfer that responsibility to the USA, which set up an office in Riyadh headed by a brigadier general known as the Office of the Program Manager (OPM/SANG). Over the years, most of the actual training has been performed by the Vinnell Corporation, a private US contractor. The evolution of the SANG into an effective and modern light infantry force is one of the success stories of US-Saudi relations. The SANG performed quite credibly during Desert Shield and Desert Storm (1990–1), most notably in an early battle with Iraqi forces that attacked the Saudi border town of Khafji. There has been concern expressed by human rights groups and the US Congress that, since the major purpose of the SANG is to maintain internal stability, the USA is in effect underwriting Saudi authoritarian control of its society. Both MODA forces and SANG forces have become increasingly professional over the years, although considerable room for improvement remains. Experts7 give the SANG higher marks for reducing nepotism and better management of its more limited weapon systems. MODA commanders, Cordesman and Obaid write, tend to focus excessively on acquiring weapons systems and not enough on personnel management, operations, maintenance and sustainability. Minister of Interior Prince Nayef controls all of the other Saudi internal security forces, including the intelligence services, the Border Guard, the Coast Guard, and Drug Enforcement Forces. Beginning with the attack outside OPM/SANG headquarters in 1995, US counterterrorism agencies, including the FBI, of necessity had to learn to work with the Saudis as well as with each other. The FBI was frustrated by the Saudi Ministry of Interior’s way of doing business and in particular the lack of access afforded by the Ministry to viable suspects. The Saudis were annoyed by the intrusiveness of the FBI and the world media attention the FBI presence focused on the deliberately opaque Saudi security agencies. Despite this rocky start, there is substantial evidence that Saudi and US counterterrorism experts have learned to work together constructively. A recent example was the tip from Saudi intelligence that led to the seizure of printer cartridges reportedly rigged with explosives sent from Yemen to Jewish addresses in the USA in late October 2010.

242 David Dunford Saudi defence modernization accelerated under the auspices of the Joint Security Cooperation Commission (JSCC) set up shortly after OPEC lifted its oil embargo in 1974. While there were some limitations to the technology the USA was willing to provide to the Saudis, the number of contracts awarded to US defence contractors mushroomed and US defence contractors became strong advocates of the US-Saudi relationship. In the new post-embargo atmosphere, the military advisers to USMTM and OPM/SANG became integral participants in the modernization of the military, while the Army Corps of Engineers became a major player in building Saudi infrastructure. The USA is now moving forward at this writing with a major new arms package for Saudi Arabia estimated to be worth roughly $60 billion. This will help ensure, barring a tectonic shift in the US-Saudi security relationship, that military co-operation will extend for some years to come. A major US motive appears to be to keep Saudi Arabia from responding to the suspected Iranian nuclear weapons programme by developing one of their own. The OPEC embargo and the US reaction to it led to significant, although not always sensible, investments by the Saudis in agriculture. There were reports that the USA, a major exporter of wheat to the rest of the world, might consider a food embargo in retaliation for the oil embargo. This dalliance with the idea of using food as a political weapon accelerated a long-standing Saudi desire to become more self-sufficient in food production. The resultant Saudi programme of subsidies focused on the increased production of wheat. They were aided in this, as in many other endeavours, by well-meaning Western experts. The subsidies programme was so successful in stimulating wheat production that it quickly became a major drain both on the Saudi budget and on scarce Saudi water resources. Since Saudi production costs far exceeded world market costs in wheat, while at the same time expanding wheat production well beyond what Saudis could consume, the government found itself exporting wheat to the rest of the world at a substantial loss. The result was not unlike what would result from pumping water out of aquifers, thousands of years old and not being replenished, directly into the sea. While wheat production was the most egregious example, the subsidies programme extended to raising livestock and dairy farming. Critics focused on the economics of agricultural production, but many Saudis argue that the programme achieved several worthy objectives beyond increased self-sufficiency, such as increasing employment and slowing down the natural relationship between modernization and urbanization.

Political opposition While the rise of Gamal Abd al-Nasir (Nasser) and his siren calls for Arab nationalism in the 1950s and 1960s certainly exerted influence over many Saudis, including members of the royal family, the most potent opposition over the years has come from religious conservatives, who argue that the royal family does not live up to the ideals of Islam. Nasser found a sympathetic audience among many Saudis, particularly in the military, and the Al Sa’ud had to deal with several coup attempts. The result was a systematic reorganization of the military and the security services to ensure loyalty and to protect against disloyal elements. Shi’a agitation against what they consider unfair discrimination and lack of freedom of worship has also been a concern to the royal family. Although Shi’a make up a minority of the population (perhaps 10 per cent to 15 per cent, according to the BBC), their numbers are concentrated in the oil-rich Eastern Province. The concern was heightened by the Iranian Islamic Revolution, which resulted in Iran emerging as a

The Kingdom: Can the magic last?


challenge to Saudi leadership in the Islamic world. Abdullah, first as Crown Prince and now as King, has taken some steps to respond to Shi’a concerns and to include them in what is called the ‘national dialogue’. The Al Sa’ud have always sought to co-opt the religious conservatives but periodically have been challenged by them and have dealt harshly with them. The Ikhwan revolt was put down soundly and Abd al-Aziz ordered the razing of villages where the Ikhwan was strong. The effect of the sharp rise in oil prices in the 1970s and the decision of the family to modernize the economy and the infrastructure put severe strains on Saudi society. Religious conservatives resisted the societal Westernization that seemed an inevitable result of economic modernization. The year 1979 saw two serious threats to the monarchy, both religious in nature. The Iranian Revolution in early 1979 resulted in a modernizing monarchy with wellfinanced security services being overthrown by religious conservatives. The takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca that followed later in 1979 came as a profound shock to the Al Sa’ud. The government executed the 63 survivors of the takeover promptly to send the message that dissent would not be tolerated. The message of the insurgents—that the royal family was corrupt, un-Islamic and far too permissive in allowing Western cultural influence to penetrate the Kingdom—had considerable resonance with large segments of the population and put the royal family on the defensive. The message was clear. The Al Sa’ud had to adjust the balance of accommodation and control to stay in power. Events outside Saudi Arabia in 1979 and the 1980s, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Iran–Iraq war, conspired to create new threats to Saudi stability. The Al Sa’ud and most Saudis were fiercely anti-communist. The cause of the pious Afghan mujahidin fighting against atheistic communism was extremely popular in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government rode the wave by financing the training of the mujahidin and encouraging Saudi citizens to volunteer to fight alongside the Afghans. Few Saudis focused on the fact that much of the training and weaponry that they were financing was being provided by the USA. When the resistance succeeded and the Soviets withdrew, they left behind a number of radical Muslim Arab ‘Afghans’, including Saudis, who were battle-hardened and trained in modern technology, and looking for a new cause. Meanwhile Saddam’s decision to invade Iran in 1980 led to an eight-year war of attrition which left Iraq exhausted and deeply in debt to countries like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Saddam’s decision to invade Kuwait led to the monumental decision by Fahd to acquiesce to the deployment of US troops on Saudi soil, rising in number to 500,000 by the end of 1990. The decision, while blessed by the senior Saudi ulema, was a major rallying point for younger, more radical clerics, as well as Saudi Afghan veterans like Osama bin Laden. For years thereafter, as bin Laden increasingly came to be seen as a threat to the royal family, he would refer to the Al Sa’ud decision to invite infidels into the land of Mecca and Medina as the primary reason for his opposition to the royal family. In November of 1990, less than three months after US troops began pouring into the Kingdom, a small group of Saudi women decided that the time had come to push the government to allow women to drive. They had their male drivers take them to a central shopping district in downtown Riyadh. The male drivers were dismissed and the women began driving their cars in a small procession around the district. Saudi religious conservatives were outraged and pressed the government for action. The government cracked down harshly. Husbands were summoned and ordered to control their wives. The women had their passports confiscated and many were stripped of their jobs.

244 David Dunford When the Iraqis were driven out of Kuwait in early March of 1991, the US troops either departed or faded into invisibility, and the young radical religious conservatives began to ratchet up the pressure on the government, calling for sweeping political and social changes. Petitions addressed to King Fahd and signed by intellectuals or religious figures (one in May 1991 and another in September 1992) called inter alia for the creation of a Consultative Council (Majlis ash-Shura) with powers to legislate stricter adherence to Islamic values, limits on Western influence, and curbs on mismanagement and government corruption. Younger, more radical religious figures like Salman al-Awdah and Safar al-Hawali accused the more senior clerics of being co-opted and corrupted by the Saudi government. Their sermons were widely circulated as audio tapes and found a broad audience. In May 1993 several well-known Saudi religious figures announced the formation of the Committee for the Defence of Legitimate Rights (CDLR). Their programme was relatively moderate and not inconsistent with the Western concept of universal human rights. The Saudi government reacted defensively, arresting the signatories, dismissing them from their jobs and subjecting them to interrogation. Their leader, Mohamed al-Masaari, crossed into Yemen and later found his way to London, where he began a programme of faxing communiqués into the Kingdom and around the world documenting the moral and political flaws of the royal family. While the CDLR never represented a clear alternative to the Al Sa’ud, it posed some embarrassing questions and its message not only had an effect on public opinion in Saudi Arabia, but also focused international attention on the human rights situation in the Kingdom. In 1995 Saudi Arabia experienced the first real political violence since the 1979 takeover of the Grand Mosque. In November a car bomb exploded outside the offices of US military advisers to the Saudi Arabian National Guard, killing five Americans and two Indian nationals. Saudi authorities later charged and executed four Saudi citizens who had fought in conflicts in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya. The following year, in June, a truck bomb exploded outside an apartment building housing US Air Force personnel in al-Khobar in the Eastern Province, killing 19 US servicemen and one Saudi, and wounding hundreds of others. To this day, although there is plenty of evidence that Saudi nationals were responsible, it remains unclear whether Iran or al-Qa’ida was complicit in the attack. Violent political attacks continued in Saudi Arabia through to 2004, the most notable being a May 2003 simultaneous attack on three Riyadh compounds housing Americans and other expatriates. Altogether 35 people were killed and 160 wounded. Since then the Saudi government has, through a combination of improved security policing, economic reforms, relatively high oil prices and efforts to re-educate militants, succeeded in greatly reducing the incidence of political violence.

Saudi foreign and security policy Saudi foreign policy is constructed around its need to maintain markets for its oil reserves (today estimated at between 20 per cent and 25 per cent of world oil reserves) and its role as the guardian of the two holiest places in Islam, Mecca and Medina. Saudi Arabia is a relatively young country, without the inferiority complex that bedevils many other Arab and Muslim countries that experienced European colonialism. For more than a decade after OPEC successfully raised oil prices from roughly $3 per barrel to as high as $40 during the spike in the market that accompanied the Iranian revolution, Saudi Arabia gave OPEC real muscle in the oil market by acting as a swing producer.

The Kingdom: Can the magic last?


The Saudis would try to moderate swings in the market by producing more when prices were perceived as too high and less when prices were too low. In 1985, as a result of rising oil production and changes in the market, oil prices dropped to near $10 per barrel, and the Saudis abandoned the swing producer role and sought to maintain their share of the market and their OPEC quota share. For several years the Saudis sought to keep prices in a relatively narrow band from $22 to $28 per barrel. What the Saudis wanted very much to avoid was driving consumers in the USA, Western Europe and Asia to invest in synthetic fuel plants, nuclear power, wind and solar and other alternative energy sources. Saudi Arabia today wants to be seen as a reliable supplier and is unlikely ever again to use oil as a political weapon. The Saudis want to invest downstream in refineries and distribution to strengthen their market positions. They have understandably, given their reliance on oil exports for income, expressed scepticism about climate change and international efforts to combat it. Although Saudi military modernization has made great progress, the Saudis remain quite vulnerable to conventional attack from regional powers like Iran and Iraq. The Saudis want to benefit from the US security umbrella while at the same time keeping US forces, if no longer over the horizon, at least on the periphery of the Kingdom in other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. The invasion of Kuwait by Saddam Hussain led the Saudis to the unprecedented decision to invite US troops to deploy to Saudi soil. At the height of the deployment, 500,000 US troops were in Saudi Arabia, mostly in the Eastern Province. The conservative backlash to this decision made the royal family far more cautious. While US Air Force troops were stationed in Saudi Arabia throughout the 1990s, the Saudis ensured that they were virtually invisible to most of Saudi society. By the time of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, all US troops other than military advisers to MODA and SANG had been moved to other GCC countries like Kuwait and Qatar. It is unlikely, however, that Saudi Arabia’s neighbours would have consented to the US presence without Saudi acquiescence. Religion plays a major role in Saudi foreign policy. As a self-acknowledged leader of the Muslim world, Saudi Arabia has taken the lead in the formation of the World Muslim League (WML) and the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). The WML, with its mission of the propagation of Islam and Islamic law (shari’a), is nominally a nongovernmental organization that is funded largely by the Saudis and headquartered in Mecca. The OIC, with a secretariat in Jeddah, is an organization of 57 Muslim states with its purpose to ‘strengthen solidarity and cooperation among Member States’ (from the OIC website). Saudi Arabia has always been a strong advocate of the Palestinian cause and sees itself, as leader of the Muslim world, as having a special responsibility for the future of Jerusalem (the third holiest place for Muslims). For many years the Saudis collected a tax from Palestinian residents to help finance the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). One of most difficult challenges for Saudi foreign policy has been to insulate the critical US-Saudi relationship even while strongly criticizing US policy towards the Arab–Israeli conflict. Abd al-Aziz was profoundly shocked when the USA quickly recognized Israel in 1948, believing that Roosevelt had promised him in their 1945 meeting that the USA would not do anything to harm the Palestinians. Faisal’s passion about the issue no doubt contributed to his decision to put the relationship with the USA on the line when he supported the OPEC embargo. Saudi Arabia under Khalid broke relations with Egypt after it made peace with Israel in 1979. Fahd, shortly after acceding to the throne, proposed a plan whereby Israel

246 David Dunford would withdraw behind the 1967 borders and a Palestinian state would be established in Gaza and the West Bank, with its capitol in East Jerusalem. He implicitly recognized Israel by saying that, ‘all states in the region should be able to live in peace’. Some 20 years later, in 2002, then Crown Prince Abdullah went one step further to promise explicit recognition of Israel and normalization of relations if Israel would withdraw behind the 1967 borders. When Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat flew to Baghdad and publicly embraced Saddam Hussain. The Saudi response was to expel Palestinians from the Kingdom and to cut off all funding to the PLO. Since then, the Saudis have been reluctant, despite considerable diplomatic pressure from the USA, to either provide major funding to the PLO or to make conciliatory gestures toward Israel. One of the biggest challenges for Saudi Arabia has been its relationship with the USA. The traumatic effect of the terrorist attacks of 2001 on the USA led to the development of considerable hostility towards Saudi Arabia. Many in the USA accused the Saudis of fostering terrorism through their education system and financing terrorism either directly or by funding schools throughout the Muslim world that emphasized the Saudi version of Islam and hostility towards the West. Saudi Arabia has responded both by expanding counterterrorism co-operation with the USA and by seeking to diversify its foreign relations including broadening and deepening its relationships with other parts of world. The expanded relationship with China is the most salient example. China overtook the USA as the world’s leading market for Saudi oil in late 2009. Abdullah visited China and India in January 2006. The Saudis are investing in increased Chinese refinery capacity for Chinese crude. Saudi delegations to China and Chinese delegations to Saudi Arabia are now commonplace. The Chinese president has visited Saudi Arabia twice since Abdullah’s 2006 visit. There is little evidence that China aspires to replace the USA role in Saudi security, but the Saudis see much benefit in an expanded relationship with China. China provides no advice about Saudi governance, while the USA presses at least rhetorically for more democracy and sharply criticizes the Saudi human rights situation. The popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt in early 2011 will no doubt have increased anxiety within the Saudi royal family and may lead to increased internal and external pressure for political change in Saudi Arabia. The torrent of diplomatic cables that found their way into the public domain because of Wikileaks makes it clear that the Saudi-US relationship remains important to both countries. The Saudis have pressed the USA to deal harshly with Iran (Abdullah was quoted as urging the USA to ‘cut off the head of the (Iranian) snake’). The Saudis have been slow to respond to US pleas to provide greater support to the Maliki government in Iraq, given their concern about the level of Iranian influence in Iraq. The leaked diplomatic cables also revealed that the Saudis have welcomed a US offer to provide training for Saudi security forces tasked with guarding critical Saudi oil and desalination infrastructure.

Education Education in Saudi Arabia has long been dominated by religious conservatives. King Faisal managed to significantly increase educational opportunity for Saudi girls. When the rapid increase in oil revenues fuelled rapid modernization, the Saudis scrambled to create a cadre of educated Saudis to complement and eventually replace Western experts. Saudis

The Kingdom: Can the magic last?


were sent at government expense to colleges and universities in the West and especially the USA, where they learned English and received degrees in engineering and agricultural science. Over time, the Saudis constructed large universities at home, including King Abd al-Aziz University in Jeddah, King Sa’ud University in Riyadh and the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran. The Imam Mohamed University outside of Riyadh was devoted exclusively to religious studies, but all universities included some measure of religion. As the oil glut began to impact on the Kingdom in the mid-1980s, fewer Saudis were sent abroad and more Saudis were educated at home. Those who were educated in the West often became frustrated on their return with the ‘glass ceiling’ that prevented them from rising above a certain level on merit alone. The reaction of the USA to the attacks of 11 September 2001 (15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens) led to much tighter visa restrictions on young Saudi males, and the number of Saudis educated in the USA dropped sharply. Since then, restrictions have been eased somewhat and the number of Saudis attending US universities has again risen. King Abdullah has taken the initiative to create a new graduate research university, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), located on the Red Sea north of Jeddah. KAUST has an endowment of billions of dollars and a mission to create a world class university that educates men and women in an atmosphere insulated from the harsh social restrictions found elsewhere in Saudi society. The university aspires to compete with the top science and technology universities in the world. The King, in his statement announcing the university’s establishment, called it a new ‘Beit al-Hikma’ after the House of Wisdom that existed in Baghdad during the golden age of the Arab-Muslim Empire.

Women in Saudi Arabia Change has come particularly slowly for women. The official backlash against the demonstration of female drivers in November 1990 drove home the message that change until now comes from the top down (not the bottom up) and cannot be forced. As a result of the change in responsibility for the education of girls from religious authorities to the Ministry of Education, women now make up 58 per cent of the enrolment in Saudi universities.8 The Ministry of Higher Education has launched the construction of the Princess Noura bint Abd al-Rahman University for Women near the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh. The goal of the new university is to be the largest centre for women’s education in the Arab world. Covering 8 million square metres, it will cost billions to construct, is currently under construction in Riyadh, and expects to enrol 26,000 students. Women are moving into the labour force. According to one report, 29 per cent of women now work outside the home, an impressive figure for those long familiar with Saudi culture. One-third of civil service positions are to be filled by women. For the first time, a woman holds a seat on the Council of Ministers. Although it resulted in bitter debate, the new King Abdullah University of Science and Technology will be co-educational. Change, while not dramatic, is happening.

Human rights and religious freedom Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is widely criticized by international human rights organizations and in relatively detailed reports on human rights and religious freedom prepared by the US Department of State. Accusations include arbitrary arrest, lack of due process, restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly, severe restrictions on religious

248 David Dunford freedom, corruption and lack of transparency. Freedom House, a monitoring and advocacy organization for political and civil rights, rated Saudi Arabia in 2010 as among the worst in political rights (7/7) and only slightly better on civil liberties (6/7). Transparency International, an organization that monitors corruption, rates Saudi Arabia 50 out of 178 countries (from least corrupt to most corrupt), a good score relative to other countries in the region. Public practice of religions other than Islam is not permitted. The government professes to allow private practice of other religions but such practice is not defined by law and is often disrupted by the religious police (Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice or mutawwa’in). The Saudi government has taken some modest steps that reflect increasing sensitivity to domestic and international criticism. King Abdullah put his name to an international media campaign to promote an interfaith dialogue stressing moderation and tolerance. A major overhaul of the judicial system announced in 2007 is being implemented. It includes establishment of a new supreme court and includes regional appeals courts, a number of specialized courts, systematic review of judicial decisions and organizational reforms to improve the training and supervision of judges. The Senior Council of Religious Scholars has been broadened to include representatives of all four branches of Sunni jurisprudence. The Hanbali school of Islam historically dominated Saudi jurisprudence.

Conclusion Saudi Arabia’s family-run government has been strongly tested both internally and externally and has nevertheless emerged as a major player in international political and economic policy. The size of the royal family and its determination to maintain a unified face both to the rest of Saudi society and to the world are great strengths. Royal family members are well distributed geographically throughout this large country and they are also distributed throughout government and the economy. Most Saudi citizens believe that they have access to one or more members of the royal family who can communicate their suggestions or grievances up to the King and other senior members of the family. This relieves the pressure on the family to create the kinds of institutions that normally characterize a democracy. The revenues that flow from a relatively high price of oil are also a factor in relieving the pressure for a more open system of government. Countervailing pressure has come from rapid advances in communications technology (radio, television, satellite TV, fax and the Internet), which allows Saudis to learn how their government is seen by other Saudis and the rest of the world. The important role that social networks played in the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt will reinforce what many observers see as a new sensitivity of the Saudi government to international concerns about the human rights situation in the Kingdom, including the position of Saudi women. Adherence to a strict and austere version of Islam has been and continues to be the key to the legitimacy of the King and the Saudi government. This has proven to be an everpresent brake on the pace of economic, social and political modernization. The events of 1979 (the Grand Mosque takeover, Iranian Revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan) convinced the Al Sa’ud that it needed to work hard to accommodate the Kingdom’s religious conservatives while modernizing. The Saudi economy has made impressive strides. Saudi Arabia has developed a modern oil and petrochemicals industry, a modern infrastructure, a modern health care system

The Kingdom: Can the magic last?


and has made great strides in education, including the education of women. Saudi Arabia took the steps necessary to join the World Trade Organization and related changes in its regulatory environment have earned it the number one ranking in the Middle East and North Africa in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rank (www.doingbusiness. org). Because of Saudi Arabia’s economic strength, it is now the only Arab member of the Group of 20, a group that has assumed a greater role in international economic co-operation since the 2008 crisis in the world economy. Saudi Arabia’s success has depended heavily on the USA. The USA has played a major role in making Saudi Arabia the economic success it is, and the USA has provided a security umbrella against external threats. However, the relationship with the USA is also a lightning rod for religious extremists. The USA represents the threat of a secular, materialistic culture and the strong US support for Israel has helped to catalyse opponents like bin Laden. At the same time, the Saudi relationship with the USA has survived relatively well despite it coming under severe stress due to the attacks of 2001. Saudi Arabia, while by no means abandoning its relationship with the USA, will likely continue to hedge its bets by reaching out to other emerging international powers, like China and India. At this writing, no one betting against Saudi stability under the current regime has collected any winnings. The future is harder than ever to predict in the aftermath of the dramatic events in Tunisia and Egypt in early 2011. As The Economist observed in a recent prescient article about Egypt and Saudi Arabia, change is coming.9 It is critical that the government of Saudi Arabia ride that wave rather than getting swept up in it. Under King Abdullah, the Saudi government has been relatively successful but, at 86, a change of leadership will happen soon. The reign of Crown Prince Sultan, if he outlives Abdullah, will likely be short. Nayef, although reportedly in good health, is neither young nor particularly popular. Saudi Arabia’s continued stability will depend on the family’s ability to move peacefully to the next generation for its leadership.

Notes 1 Joseph A. Kechician, Succession in Saudi Arabia (New York: Palgrave, 2001), 175. 2 Kechician, 2001, 24. 3 Simon Henderson, ‘Bandar is Back’, 21 October 2010, 21/bandar_is_back. 4 The Economist, ‘When kings and princes grow old’, 15 July 2010, 16588422?story_id=16588422. 5 Henderson, 2010. 6 Rachel Bronson, ‘Thicker Than Oil: America’s Uneasy Partnership with Saudi Arabia’ (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 126. 7 Anthony Cordesman and Nawaf Obaid, ‘Saudi Military Forces and Development’, CSIS Working Draft, 20 May 2004. 8 Chas W. Freeman, Jr, ‘The End of Progress without Change’, speech 02/saudi-arabia-the-end-of-progress-without-change. 9 The Economist, ‘Arab autocracy’, 15 July 2010, 16591002.

Chapter 15

Qatar Democratic reforms and global status Louay Bahry

The history of the modern state of Qatar is inextricably tied to the clan of Al Thani. The Al Thani clan moved to Qatar at the end of the seventeenth century from Najd (now in Saudi Arabia). They settled first in the northern part of the Qatar peninsula, and then moved south to Doha. At that time the tribes of Qatar paid taxes to Al Khalifa, the rulers of Bahrain, who claimed control over Qatar. In 1866 Sheikh Muhammad bin Thani, considered by Qataris as the founding father of Qatar, chased the Bahraini representative out of this territory and gathered his tribe around him. In 1867 Bahrain tried unsuccessfully to reassert its control over Qatar.1 The Al Thani then turned to the British and sought help in preventing the Al Khalifa from returning. The Al Thani family then quickly moved to spread its authority over the entire Qatar peninsula, and at the same time imposed its Wahhabi beliefs on the population, thus opening the door for its establishment as a new ruling dynasty in Qatar. Gradually, it took its distance from Bahrain, and not surprisingly relations between the two dynastic countries remained uneasy, if not to say tense.2 In 1871, against a background of competition between the Ottoman Empire and the British to control Qatar, the ruler of Qatar put himself under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire.3 To assert this sovereignty, the Ottomans stationed a small military force in Qatar, but their control and influence were marginal. The Ottomans only withdrew in 1915 after the start of World War I. In the following year the Sheikh of Qatar signed a treaty of ‘protection’ with the British, similar to those signed with other Amirs and Sheikhs of the Persian Gulf.4 At the time, the Al Thani had cause to fear the rising power of Ibn Sa’ud in neighbouring Arabia, another regional challenge. The British protectorate over Qatar lasted from 1916 to 1971, when Great Britain officially withdrew from the Gulf. Even the British, however, did not leave as large an imprint on Qatar as they had on some neighbouring sheikhdoms, such as Bahrain and Kuwait. The post-World War I period witnessed the gradual growth of Qatar as a state from very modest beginnings. It is important to understand the tribal and Islamic nature of the environment out of which the state emerged. The ruler (sheikh) was the centre of government; people would go to see him directly to ask for advice and help in settling disputes. The ruler would hand down opinions and judgments, based in part on tribal custom and in part on Islamic heritage. The sheikh would impose fines on those found at fault and use his authority to compel the feuding parties to reconcile. If a clan or tribe was not pleased with the results or if they had a dispute with the sheikh, they would have the right to migrate to another territory outside Qatar. The ruler would nominate a respectable Islamic scholar to be a qadhi (Islamic judge), who would apply shari’a (Islamic

Qatar: Democratic reforms and global status


law) in personal status matters (marriage, divorce, inheritance). The first official court in Qatar, al-Mahkama al-Shari’a (Islamic Law Court), was only established in 1928. This court started, for the first time, to record its judgments in writing. In the 1930s an ‘administration’ for shari’a courts was established, headed by a supreme Islamic judge, the Qadhi al-Qudha. Only after World War II did more modern institutions appear. The first hospital in Qatar, the Rumailah Hospital, opened in 1946 with a British doctor at its head. Next came a second hospital, in Dukhan, mainly for oil company workers. However, the real change in building state institutions came in 1949 with the arrival in Qatar of a British officer who was to organize the country’s security and police affairs. In the same year the first bank opened, and the first British Agent arrived. Until that time Qatar had depended on the British Residency in Bahrain for its relations with Britain. This step was followed by the nomination of a British ‘adviser’ to the Sheikh of Qatar, who arrived in Doha with a small contingent of British technocrats and engineers who were assigned as heads or advisers to local government departments, such as the police, customs, land registration, water, electricity and the postal service.5 The influx of foreign labour after the export of oil also obliged the ruler to institute labour laws, and in 1962 a labour court was established, followed by an immigration department in 1968. By this time, Qatar’s transition from a tribal government territory to an entity that could be recognized as a country or state was well underway. The next significant turning point in Qatar’s modern political development was realizing independence in 1971. However, Qatar’s movement to independence was not cost-free. Territorial disputes between Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain continued for a long time, and have only recently been settled. Border disputes were only one aspect of the problem faced by a newly independent Qatar. More important was the need for foreign protection in an unstable neighbourhood. The Iranian revolution of 1979 and the onset of the Iran–Iraq War in 1980 made clear to the Arab countries bordering the Persian Gulf (Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman and Qatar) that they needed strong measures for defence in the region. As a result, they formed the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Initiated in 1981, its goal was to provide a regional defence mechanism and to co-ordinate trade and economic policy among these countries of similar background and political formation. Despite these efforts, and the formation of several institutions, the GCC states are still dependent on Western powers (mainly the USA) for their defence. The GCC countries share many common characteristics. They are all tribal in origin, governed by ‘ruling families’, and they are wealthy as a result of oil and gas resources. They all strive to keep these traditional characteristics in the face of political and social reforms introduced by the West.

Oil and the state Another important factor in Qatar’s development as a more modern state was the development of its oil wealth. Oil was discovered in commercial quantities in Qatar in the 1930s by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, but it was not until 1949 that oil was exported from Qatar on a regular basis. Prior to that time Qatar was poor. Traditionally, the population depended on pearl diving and the pearl trade. This source of income dried up in the late 1920s; the international economic crisis and the development of

252 Louay Bahry artificial pearls delivered a severe blow to the pearling industry in Qatar and the rest of the Gulf. Qatar’s economy went into a deep crisis. The discovery of oil in Qatar and the steady income that it brought after 1949 came as a godsend and marked the beginning of the transformation from a tribal society to a recognizable political entity that would become increasingly modern. Thereafter, foreign workers flowed into the country, per caput income rose, and modern institutions and public services were established.6 Oil and gas have given Qatar the highest per caput income of any country in the world after Lichtenstein. In addition to gas it has proven oil reserves of 15,000m. barrels which should last, at current production levels, for 37 years. Qatar’s proven reserves of natural gas exceed 25,000,000 million cubic metres, the third largest in the world and about 14 per cent of the world’s total.7 The build-up of Qatar’s economy became the basis for stronger relations with the USA. In the early 1990s the current ruler, the then Crown Prince Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, began to enact his policy for the development of Qatar’s oil and gas. He allied himself with the oil giant, Mobil, allowing the company to build new hydrocarbon infrastructure and to acquire the shipping and marketing rights to Qatar gas. This relationship made Mobil (now Exxon Mobil) a leading partner in Qatar’s hydrocarbon industry and integrated the country firmly into the global capitalist economy. The Qatar-Mobil oil and gas deals of the 1990s were influential in persuading Sheikh Hamad to establish close political and security ties with the USA. These ties ultimately led to the establishment of the al-Udeid US base in Qatar, one of the largest military facilities outside the USA.8

Growth of state institutions Modern state institutions in Qatar grew only slowly under the stewardship of Sheikh Ahmad Al Thani (1960–72) mainly, as indicated, because of the need for services. The first public schools for boys were established in 1951 and for girls in 1955. This necessitated the establishment of a central authority to direct the education sector; thus, a ministry of education was formed in 1957, the first ministry in the history of Qatar. A ministry of finance followed in 1960, headed by Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani. Sheikh Khalifa was deputy and heir apparent to the Amir, and all of the ministries and departments in the country were put under his supervision. During the 1960s several ‘departments’ were created for different branches of government activity. Hence departments for health, government administration, legal affairs and oil came into being. In 1969 a ‘department of foreign affairs’ was created, but it only became a real Ministry of Foreign Affairs after independence in 1971.9 At the same time, a process of ‘Qatarization’ also took place, as foreign (mainly British) employees were replaced. In the beginning of the 1960s, the position of ‘government adviser’, responsible for administration in Qatar and then held by a British citizen, was abolished. The government began a programme of Arabization of the administration (for example, using Arabic instead of English), and began hiring Qatari officials to replace the British and other foreign personnel for top jobs. Thus, the Head of the Security Force, a British man, was replaced by a Qatari, and by 1968 most high-level positions in the country were filled by Qataris. There were some exceptions in technical and military positions, which remained in the hands of British advisers and officers. In 1968 Britain announced its decision to withdraw from the Gulf by 1971. This decision was followed by increased political activity in the region. Intense negotiations

Qatar: Democratic reforms and global status


took place between Qatar, Bahrain and the seven emirates of the Trucial Coast (now the UAE). Sheikh Khalifa played a major role in the negotiations for the federation of Arab emirates that resulted in the creation of the United Arab Emirates in 1971. On 7 July 1968, as part of the negotiations, Sheikh Khalifa was appointed federal prime minister. Disagreement, however, surfaced between the different rulers over the division of federal powers, which caused first Bahrain, then Qatar, to leave the negotiations. Both then proclaimed their own independence. In April 1970, one year before independence, the first constitution in the history of Qatar, the ‘temporary basic law’, was issued. It established the first cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa, then Crown Prince. The cabinet was composed of 10 ministers. The different ‘departments’ of the government became ministries on 3 September 1971, when Qatar became fully independent. A series of laws laid out the duties of the ministers but there was nothing in the constitution that obliged the prime minister or his cabinet to present any programme to the Amir. In this constitution, the ministers were appointed and discharged by the Amir and were responsible to him for the actions of their ministries. Finally, as befitting Qatar’s new independent status, the Treaty of Protection with Britain was replaced by a Treaty of Cooperation and Friendship between Qatar and Britain.10 In some ways independence strengthened the role of the ruling family in decisionmaking in Qatar. Not only were the British advisers removed, but the Amir gathered in his hands all the powers in the country. Traditionally, the Sheikhs in Qatar were called ‘governor’ (hakim), a term that conveys some sense of accessibility. This changed after independence in 1971, when they acquired the title of ‘Prince’ (Amir) of Qatar, more akin to a monarch. The constitution also specified that ‘ruling’ would be kept in the hands of the Al Thani clan, making government a family enterprise.11 The tradition was that the ruler appointed an heir apparent during his lifetime, and assigned him some responsibility in order to give him the necessary experience to rule. The age of the Crown Prince was not a major factor in the choice; more important was trust of that person and his judgement. Until the 2005 constitution came into effect, the tradition was that when the Amir wished to nominate an heir apparent, he would gather the senior members of his extended family (the Al Thani clan) along with the heads of Qatari tribes and other notables, and inform them of his decision. They would then pledge allegiance to the new heir apparent by giving him their blessings and felicitations, which suggested loyalty to the person.12 Sheikh Hamad (the Amir of Qatar at time of writing, in 2012) has broken with the previously accepted tradition, which did not insist that leadership pass from father to son, but alternate among different parallel matrilineal lines. The smaller states of the Gulf have always been influenced by their neighbours, and Qatar is no exception. The first step towards more openness in political institutions in Qatar was taken in 1964 by the Amir of the time, Sheikh Ahmad. By royal decree, he established an Advisory Council (Majlis al-Shura), which was given the responsibility for advising the Sheikh on public policy. In this undertaking, he was influenced by Kuwait, which achieved its independence in 1961, earlier than other GCC states. In 1963 Kuwait formed the first elected parliament in the Gulf. However, the first Qatari Majlis al-Shura was not elected; it was appointed and included the deputy Amir and Crown Prince together with 15 members of the ruling family, representing different wings of the family and thus differing views. With time, the Shura Council membership was opened to non-members of

254 Louay Bahry the Al Thani family. Membership of the council was increased periodically until it reached 45, all appointed by the Amir. However, although it was an innovation in its time, in reality the first Majlis did little and in the course of time it has faded. Today, the Amir remains the source of authority in Qatar and any reforms must be initiated by him. The reforms that have come in Qatar since the assumption of power by the current Amir have come from the top down. The Shura Council has no right to initiate laws; this function is given to the Amir and the cabinet. The Shura Council can only give advice and recommendations. However, any law issued by the executive power must first pass through the Shura Council.13

‘Wahhabism’ in Qatar In considering reforms in Qatar, the ideological framework of the state is also important. Qatar is not only an Islamic state; it has adopted Wahhabism. Wahhabism, as it is known to foreigners, is a strict, even extreme interpretation of Islamic teachings, going back to the preaching of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, who rose to importance in Najd in the eighteenth century. He called for a strict, even literal, interpretation of the shari’a. The doctrine began to spread inside the Arabian peninsula in the mid-eighteenth century. The austere tribes of the interior adopted it quickly, and soon began a jihad to spread it, attacking the tribes living on the shores of the Gulf. These attacks continued throughout the nineteenth century, including assaults on tribes of Kuwait, Oman and the Qasimi tribes now living in the UAE; the latter adopted Wahhabism. The Al Khalifa family, then in control of Qatari territory, resisted Wahhabism, but the Al Thani clan, then living inside modern day Saudi Arabia, adopted it. They then spread its teachings to Qatar when they moved to the territory in the nineteenth century. That century was filled with conflict between the non-Wahhabi Al Khalifa family ruling in Bahrain, and the Wahhabi Al Thani that came to rule Qatar. Religious differences added to tribal and territorial feuds. Today the extreme teachings of Wahhabism have been considerably moderated in Qatar, particularly when compared to Saudi Arabia, which is the champion of the doctrine. Differences in lifestyles between Saudi Arabia and Qatar are noticeable, although both are officially ‘Wahhabi’. For example, women in Qatar enjoy much more freedom than they do in Saudi Arabia. They are allowed to work in public spaces; they can vote and run in elections, and have the right to drive. In contrast to their sisters in Saudi Arabia, they can follow a more relaxed dress code if they wish.14 Qatar is adopting modern, Western-style education and encouraging foreign tourism, albeit with some limits. This more relaxed attitude has made the introduction of reforms easier, although Qatar is still a conservative society by Western standards.15 Under pressure from some of the 1.4 million foreign workers in Qatar, many of them Christians, the Qatari government allowed the opening of churches in Qatar. The first church was opened in 2008 and a second one followed in 2009. Saudi Arabia still does not allow churches to open.16

Reforms begin in Qatar The history of reforms in Qatar is tied to Sheikh Hamad, who replaced his father, Sheikh Khalifa, on 27 June 1995 in a bloodless palace coup while the older man was vacationing in Switzerland. Although modern state institutions had already been established in Qatar by independence, between 1971 and 1995 little had been done to reform these

Qatar: Democratic reforms and global status


institutions or society. In fact, despite growing oil wealth and prosperity, Qatar’s political and economic progress was sluggish, especially compared to neighbours like the UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain, to which Qatar liked to compare itself. Pressures for change finally brought the palace coup that put the current Amir (as of 2012), Sheikh Hamad, in power.17 This relatively young (43), reform-minded Amir began a new era for Qatar. The decade after his accession in 1995 was marked by the introduction of reforms in many areas and by the beginnings of ‘democracy’ in the form of elections rather than appointments to political institutions. These provided some representation of the people. He also began the establishment of civil society institutions, such as professional associations, and expanded human and civil rights in society. Qatar also saw reforms in the status and role of women, in freedom of the media and religion, and in the introduction of major educational changes, all providing a basis for democratization. These have been broad in scope, their influence occasionally stretching to the surrounding countries. With respect to women, the changes have been dramatic. Qatar promoted recognition of political rights for women and a rise in the status of women. For example, Qatar was the first GCC country to appoint a female minister, when it designated Dr Sheikha Ahmad al-Mahmud to be Minister of Education in 2003. In August 2003 the Amir also appointed the first woman to be President of Qatar University, Dr Sheikha Abdulla al-Misnad. The Amir is aided by his wife, Sheikha (Princess) Moza bint Nasir al-Misnad, who heads several organizations in Qatar aimed at serving women, the family and children. She has also been instrumental in Qatar’s flagship project in education. Sheikha Moza was the first of the traditional wives of political figures in the GCC states to play a public role. She appears in women’s gatherings, attends conferences in Qatar and abroad, signs educational agreements with foreign universities, some while she is abroad, and continues to play a pivotal role in improving conditions for Qatari women. In some ways she acts as a Gulf ‘First Lady’. Her actions are clearly understood by young Qatari women as a path to increased possibilities for the future. Even more daring was the Amir’s enfranchisement of women. In many ways, Amir Hamad is a man of surprises, announcing reforms when they are neither expected nor demanded by his people. The first surprise came in November 1995, when the new Amir announced his intention of holding a general election for a 29-member central municipal council to be attached to the Ministry of Agriculture and Municipalities. The few other GCC countries (mainly Bahrain and Saudi Arabia) that have elected municipal councils, did so after Qatar’s precedent.18 Initially it appeared as though the Amir intended to enfranchise only males in the municipal elections, but gradually he revealed his desire to give the right to vote—and to hold office—to women as well. His caution, probably justified, was due to his unwillingness to alarm the ultra-conservative Muslims in Qatar and thus ruin any chance of change.19 He also had reason to be concerned about reaction from his neighbour, the ultra-conservative Wahhabi state of Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, in the fall of 1997, the Amir finally announced that women would be allowed to vote and hold office if elected. The elections for the municipal council took place on 8 March 1999, and represented the first case of universal suffrage in any GCC country. However, the results of the elections were a disappointment for the women’s movement in Qatar and the GCC countries, as no one among the five women candidates was elected. Several factors played a role in preventing women from winning. The most important was that Qatari society was and still is a conservative Islamic society that does not easily accept electing women to represent both men and women. The second is

256 Louay Bahry Qatar’s tribal background and a tradition of electing important tribal (male) notables. Among other reasons is that many women (under pressure from males in their family) did not vote for women. A number of women in Qatar still think that politics is the males’ domain. When the second municipal council elections took place in March 2003, one woman became a member of the Council.20 The third municipal council election was held on 1 April 2007. Three women and 122 men ran for the 29 seats in the council. One female candidate, Sheikha al-Jufairi, was elected with the highest number of votes of all 125 candidates. The decree establishing a municipal election and enfranchising women was the Amir’s first step in democratizing Qatar. On 16 November 1998 he went one step further. He again surprised his people by announcing his desire for a new, permanent constitution to replace the temporary constitution of 1970 that was promulgated after Qatar’s independence. Simultaneously, he announced his desire to have an elected parliament composed of both men and women. In July 1999 he appointed a 32-member committee to draft the permanent constitution for Qatar. They presented the new constitution to the Amir in July 2002. The constitution was put to a popular referendum in April 2003 and was approved by a substantial majority. The Amir signed it in June 2004 and announced that it would take effect a year later, in June 2005, when it was published in the official Qatar Gazette. On 1 November 2011 the Amir announced that the first general elections for the parliament, the Majlis al-Shura, were to be held in 2013. It took almost eight years to write and approve the new constitution.

The constitution of 2005 Since the new permanent constitution took effect in 2005, the Amir established a Supreme Constitutional Court in September 2009. Its purpose is to ensure that legislation complies with the constitution and to oversee lower courts. It will also interpret law when there is a dispute over the lower court judgments. For the first time, the new constitution introduced the idea of a separation of powers in the country (Article 60). Until now, all power has been concentrated in the hands of the Amir, who rules as an absolute monarch. Under the new constitution (Article 64) the Amir’s person would be inviolable and must be respected by all. The constitution also gives the Amir the power to appoint 15 members—one-third—of the Majlis al-Shura (Article 77), to dissolve that body (Article 104), and to issue decrees with the force of law (Article 104). The prime minister and all the ministers are made responsible collectively and individually to the Amir for the implementation of government policies (Article 123). These are only a few examples taken from the permanent constitution. They show that even under the ‘reform’ constitution, the Amir will continue to hold much power. The constitution also guarantees human rights and freedoms, such as freedom of speech, expression, the press, and others, and emphasizes social rights (Articles 42–58). Article One makes shari’a law ‘a main source of legislation’, though not the only source. The constitution also calls for the establishment of ‘a Council of the Ruling Family’, the members of which are appointed by the Amir (Article14). The council’s only well-defined task is to work with the Majlis al-Shura when, in the event of the incapacitation of the Amir, it becomes necessary to elevate the heir apparent to power (Article 15).

Qatar: Democratic reforms and global status


As for the legislature and its powers, the constitution states that parliament will have 45 members (30 elected; 15 appointed) (Article 77). Its members must hold ‘original’ Qatari nationality and should pledge loyalty to the Amir (Articles 80, 91).21 The Amir may dissolve the legislature, but must provide reason for the dissolution (Article 104). The Amir must ratify any draft laws that the Majlis passes. If he does not, the law is returned to the Majlis, which can then override the Amir with a two-thirds majority (Article 106). The Majlis also ratifies the state budget and has the authority to question any minister, including the Prime Minister, and can even vote a minister out of office under certain conditions (Articles, 105, 109, 111). The composition of the new parliament in Qatar will be influenced by many factors on the ground. Judging by experience, few people will show interest in the public policies of the government. Society is quite homogeneous (90 per cent are Sunnis). It is a conservative Islamic society with strong tribal values and inter-tribal linkages. There are few deep divisions among Qatari people. Traditionally, the Amir seeks consensus on decisionmaking, rather than encouraging debate, which often leads to divergences of opinion. It is probable that during the first two or three parliamentary elections, and for the life of the first two or three parliaments, Qatar will see ‘tame’ election campaigns and parliamentary life. Even so, the Amir does not seem to be in a hurry to have an elected legislature.

The Crown Prince Article 8 of the new constitution deals with the Crown Prince. Historically, the appointment of the Crown Prince was marked by feuds and a struggle for power among members of the Al Thani ruling family, often resulting in sudden coups, the intention of which was either to prevent the ruler from nominating a successor, or worse, to overthrow the ruler and allow the assigned Crown Prince to assume power. According to Article 8 of the new constitution, the ruler must be a direct male descendant of the ruling Amir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. The Heir Apparent is Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, born 3 June 1980, a son of Sheikha Moza, a notable choice since the Amir has older sons from two other wives. The functions of the Heir Apparent are not ceremonial. He is under constant training by his father to enable him to assume full responsibility in the future. Normally he is present when his father receives dignitaries and heads of state. He is sent abroad to undertake certain missions and to conclude agreements with foreign countries. He can accept the credentials of foreign ambassadors. All of these activities give him considerable experience so that he is ready to assume the position of Amir after the death of his father.

The opposition in Qatar To the ordinary observer, there is no political life in Qatar. There are no political parties or political groups. The press rarely debates important domestic issues.22 Very few Qatari personalities are ready to criticize the government on any subject. When they do, they use caution. Chief among such personalities is Dr Muhammad Salih al-Misfir, a Professor of Political Science at the University of Qatar. Born in Saudi Arabia, he is a naturalized Qatari and an Arab nationalist. Others include Dr Najib al-Nu’aimi, a prominent liberal lawyer and a former Minister of Justice, Dr Abd al-Rahman bin ‘Umair al-Nu’ami, a Professor of History at Qatar University and an Islamist activist, and Khalid Abd al-Aziz

258 Louay Bahry al-Khatir, an engineer by training and also a liberal. These men emphasize, in their writings, the necessity for public accountability and popular participation. Street protests and demonstrations are rare, unless tolerated—or sometimes even organized—by the government.23 Nor are workers’ unions of any kind allowed. The government has refused to allow certain kinds of professionals to form professional associations, such as teachers or journalists. Since 2004, it has allowed a few associations, such as that of the Qatari Accountants. In 2003 a committee on human rights was established, but it was entirely appointed. Historically, however, Qatar has seen several types of political protest and evidence of popular discontent. In one way or another, Qataris have found ways to express opposition to government policy and leadership. The most significant ‘mass’ movement against the policies of the regime occurred in 1963, when Qatari Arab nationalists and those sympathetic to the Baath Party joined in the ‘United National Front’ and staged a miniuprising that culminated in a major strike in the central Doha market (al-suq al-kabir). This movement was sparked when one of the sheikhs, Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ali Al Thani, the ruler’s grandson, opened fire on a nationalist demonstration.24 This demonstration had been organized by North Yemeni migrant workers who were calling on their government—led by President Abd Allah al-Salal—to join the union of Syria, Egypt and Iraq, the United Arab Republic, which had just been announced. One demonstrator was killed. In the aftermath of the demonstration, upset Qataris joined the protest movement. A United National Front was formed, under the leadership of a tribal leader, Sheikh Hamid al-Atiyya and Abd Allah al-Misnad, a well-to-do businessman, and a tribal leader. The Front made several demands, including:     

The ruling family should pay their debts to merchants and others A cinema and broadcasting station should be opened Water and electricity should be fairly assessed Trade unions for workers should be allowed A municipal council should be elected

The government rejected all of these demands, and the country remained tense for months afterward; several members of the Front were arrested and sentenced without trial. Among these were Abd Allah al-Misnad, who was exiled. Nasir al-Misnad, another prominent figure and the father of Sheikha Moza, was also arrested and then exiled to Egypt. Sheikh Hamad, then a high school student and strong Arab nationalist, was arrested and jailed himself around 1965 and spent time in the same prison with Nasir al-Misnad. The time together in jail strengthened ties of friendship between the two men.25 The uprising induced the Amir to speed up the pace of institution-building in Qatar. He appointed members of the Al Thani family as the heads of the new organizations, making the country more—not less—dependent on the ruling family. However, the government did open a new broadcasting station (1968) and allowed a cinema corporation to function (1968). For decades after the 1963 events, Qatar remained a country without active internal opposition, excepting three peaceful ‘palace coups’ (1964, 1974, 1995), internal family struggles in which one member of the Al Thani clan replaced another. However, Qataris still found distinct ways to express opposition to the views of the ruler. One was to chose ‘exile’—or to be ‘forced into exile’. This phenomenon is perhaps rooted in the tribal society still alive in Qatar. A person, family, clan, or even a tribe

Qatar: Democratic reforms and global status


sometimes chose to be exiled, or was forced to do so after dissenting to the tribal leader’s policies. One example of this is the self-imposed exile of the al-Khatir clan, which migrated to al-Jubail in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia in the 1950s before reconciling with the Amir and returning to Qatar, where they now reside mainly in the suburb of al-Wakra. In a more recent case, members of the al-Murra tribe, particularly the al-Ghufran clan, trying to regain power, joined forces with the former Amir, Sheikh Khalifa, in a failed coup attempt in February 1996. The government announced that foreign-backed elements were responsible, then arrested and tried hundreds of suspects. The trial lasted for several years. In February 2000 a verdict was announced. While some defendants were acquitted, others were sentenced to death or imprisoned.26 However, the Amir remained suspicious of the al-Ghufran clan, and after a second coup attempt in October 2002, allegedly supported by Saudi Arabia, the Amir decided in 2005 to deport some 5,000 members of the clan to Saudi Arabia. They were accused of holding dual Qatari and Saudi nationality, something prohibited under Qatari law. The following year (2006) they were pardoned by the Amir and regained Qatari nationality.27 Occasionally, some individual Qataris, mainly writers, journalists, professors or the like, produce writing critical of state policies, especially in domestic affairs. Normally, these articles are published in the Arab press and the electronic media outside Qatar. The general elections in Qatar—or the lack thereof—are a primary concern for these writers. The Amir has been silent on any date for such elections, even though he promised an elected parliament as early as 1998. Those desiring elections want a faster pace of democratization. On the other hand, conservative Islamists—and there are some in Qatar—accuse the Amir of being too liberal because he allows alcohol consumption in certain locations, such as hotels that cater to Westerners. They also criticize the Amir for giving women equal voting rights in the elections for municipal council and the general elections, and for putting women in positions in which they have authority over men, such as in a ministry job or as head of Qatar University.28

Tribal democracy Whatever the outcome of the constitution, Qatar is not likely to become a Western-style democracy. It is more likely to be something much closer to the realities of its life and social environment, something resembling a ‘tribal democracy’. Indeed, this was clearly laid out by Sheikh Hamad bin Jasim bin Jabir Al Thani, known commonly as ‘HBJ’, Qatar’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs,29 in his lecture in March 2004 at a cultural conference in Doha. In that important speech, he stressed that the only acceptable method of building democracy and popular participation in Qatar was one that adhered to Qatar’s cultural particularities. These particularities include ‘the collection of morals, laws, beliefs and historical heritage’ that gives the nation ‘its own social behaviour in life’. Society could not support a sudden change in these values. In his view, the principle of shura (consultation) is basic to the teachings of the Islamic religion that Qatar respects. Hence, there will not be political parties in Qatar; they are not suitable for the country now. Qatar has what can be called al-hizbiyya al-qabaliyya (tribal partisanship).30 Hence, Prime Minister Hamad (HBJ) signalled that any new parliament would not conform entirely to Western-style ideals. Any opposition would be influenced and informed by tribal traditions.31 The shura system in Islam referred to by the Prime Minister requires the ruler to listen to wise men and knowledgeable people (ahl al-hall wal-’aqd) and to make decisions

260 Louay Bahry accordingly. The ‘tribal partisanship’ referred to by the Prime Minister is based not on modern day political parties, but on the tribal ties that link rulers to tribal leaders who owe the rulers allegiance as long as their interests are duly safeguarded. Today, the Amir, in consultation with a small circle of trusted, political figures, does the important government decision-making. These include Prime Minister HBJ and Abd Allah bin Hamad al-Atiyya, the Amir’s uncle and Minister of Energy. The process is secretive, and important decisions can be announced suddenly and without much explanation.32 The composition of parliament will probably reflect the native population. Most Qataris are descendants of some 12 closely related tribes. Among the 1.5 million foreign workers in Qatar, very few can become citizens through naturalization. This is partly because Qataris do not wish to share their wealth and, as members of a tribal society, do not readily accept foreigners in their community. Additionally, almost all Qataris adopt a theory of origins that excludes foreigners by tracing their lineage to a particular eponymous ancestor who came from the Arabian Peninsula. Despite the tribal nature of society, the shores of the Gulf have always been open to trade and outside influences. Its port cities encompass Arab Shi’a from Iraq; freed slaves from Africa; Indians from the sub-continent; and farmers and merchants from Iran. All these ‘immigrants’ settled in the Gulf before the discovery of oil in the 1930s, and some of them obtained citizenship in Gulf countries. Some even took the names of the families for whom they worked as slaves or clerks. These immigrants reside and work in Qatar and benefit—some more than others—from its wealth. Nonetheless, in Qatari political life, tribalism trumps cosmopolitanism. In Qatar, all important decisions are made by the Amir in consultation with the senior members of the ruling family, a few other advisers, and the Council of Ministers. Even a cursory glance at the Council of Ministers, the most public manifestation of the official government, shows that it is full of his family members and representatives of two other important families. In fact, there has never been a minister of non-Qatari origin. A good example is the Qatari cabinet of 2004, composed of the following: Family background of the Council of Ministers, 2004 Family

Number of ministers

Al Thani Al-Atiyyah Al-Mahmud Others Total

15 3 3 6 27 ( 144.htlm (accessed 3 February 2005))

Dr Abd al-Rahman bin ‘Umair al-Nu’aimi has criticized the Amir’s decision to extend the Majlis al-Shura for another four years as an advisory body, the members of which are all appointed by the Amir. He has called for true implementation of the constitution, which states that members of that body should be elected.33 Qataris themselves admit that, should parliamentary elections come into effect in Qatar, tribalism would play a role and affect the work of the parliament. One Qatari has written that ‘tribal society is in

Qatar: Democratic reforms and global status


control in Qatar and it is not possible for a man to abandon his culture and his tribe overnight’. Another Qatari sees more hope for parliament in the future: ‘There is another solution’, he wrote. ‘That is to spread education and improve the teaching of the constitution and the means of choosing more suitable candidates than those from tribes, a concept that is now imprinted on people’s minds.’34 A future parliament in Qatar might have two important groups playing in its arena. One would be the conservative, Sunni Islamists, like Dr al-Nu’aimi, and the other representatives of different Qatari tribes. The idea of defending tribalism and its role in the political system is gaining ground in the Middle East, even beyond the GCC in countries like Jordan and especially post-Saddam Iraq. In Iraq, the revival of tribalism and the use of tribal sheikhs as political tools by the central government goes back to Saddam Hussain’s era in the mid-1980s.35

Reform of education Public education in Qatar started in the 1950s with the beginning of the infusion of oil money into the economy. Despite the fact that Qatar is a Wahhabi state, unlike in Saudi Arabia, there was little resistance to female education from the Qatari population and officials. For a decade after the first schools were opened in 1951, the teaching methods were very traditional, based on memorization of provided materials. With this system, teaching itself is non-interactive: a teacher lectures students, who pretend to be listening. Rarely are questions entertained or students encouraged to provide their own impressions and ideas. As a result, standards of education were low; in some cases, teachers sold tests and many gave ‘private tutoring’ to students. It was almost impossible to fail a student; cheating was common and so, too, was skipping classes. Nor were the teachers carefully selected.36 The result was that schools, from primary level through to high school, were producing few graduates qualified to enter the university or the workforce. This changed after the 1995 seizure of power by Sheikh Hamad, and the gradual involvement of his wife, Sheikha Moza, who took on the responsibility of reforming and modernizing education in Qatar. In the summer of 2001 the Qataris asked the RAND Corporation to examine the K-12 school system. They had in mind achieving a fundamental change in their educational system that would modernize education, not only in Qatar but also in the surrounding area, by acting as a model. Essentially, they wanted high-quality results: success for their students in college and the job market. Starting in 2004 the new reformed schools, called ‘independent schools’, began to appear in Qatar. The aim was to replace the old, traditional schools within 10 years. Each school was owned and managed independently by an educator who was required to have a licence to operate from the Higher Council of Education, under the supervision of which they fell, while the more traditional public schools were, and still are, managed by the Ministry of Education. To make them effective, each school had its own committee of advisers composed of experts, usually outsiders from the USA and Britain (translators were provided). Each of these committees worked in the schools for a year before moving to another school. They worked side by side with the teachers to advise and orient them in their new methods of teaching. Each school had its own budget, and the principals were given permission to choose the teachers and curriculum, and to add sports programmes and other extracurricular activities. By the end of 2010 all schools in Qatar were transformed into independent schools.

262 Louay Bahry Much emphasis in the new education reform was focused on the idea that school must be tied to Qatari society—its history, geography and current affairs. After absorbing theoretical materials, students had to do their own research in actual departments and ministries of the government. These included such areas as municipal elections, water supply, the stock exchange, and oil and gas institutions. Even the study of Islamic law, shari’a, was tied to practical aspects of life. The school year in the new ‘independent schools’ is 180–190 days, compared to 90–100 days in the traditional system. Emphasis is put on teaching English, along with Arabic. Within a general framework of education, independent schools can concentrate on their own priorities and select their own texts and curricula, although these must be submitted to the Ministries of Education and Higher Education for approval, according to Qatar officials. It was not long before students in such schools began to change. They became more intellectually active, began to discuss subject matter in class, and to perform better in school. They also began to develop the courage to challenge their fellow students and to enter into dialogue with their teachers. They learned to listen to opinions. In short, students began to learn, not only how to think and analyse, but to develop different habits of social interaction. With the rise of this new generation of schools, there is competition today, especially among the top schools, to register the best students and recruit the best teachers.37 Each school has a board of directors and holds periodic meetings with parents.38 Both boys and girls go to separate ‘independent’ schools, and teachers are offered yearly awards. There are, however, a few difficulties in establishing such a new system of education in Qatar. One is a complaint that virtually 95 per cent of the teachers in these high schools are non-Qataris (foreign Arabs, such as Syrians, Palestinians, Egyptians, and others), compared to 70 per cent Qataris in primary schools. Although the new education system aims to bring some profound changes to the field of education in Qatar, it faces some difficulties in distinguishing itself from the old system. Already some voices are heard criticizing the application of the system in Qatar. ‘Aisha ‘Ubaidan, a former school principal and a noted Qatari teacher and writer, has noted, for example, that some licences to operate independent schools were given to unqualified persons, ‘[lacking] the necessary experience and formation’. She has also criticized ‘the way some teachers were hastily chosen in these schools on the basis of a short interview that did not last more than ten minutes’. Some teachers were accepted because they were willing to take low salaries.39 Dependence on foreign teachers has increased in recent years as Qatari teachers have quit their jobs for better work opportunities outside the school system. They also reject the length of their work day, which lasts until 2:30 pm. On the other hand, foreign teachers lack the necessary knowledge of Qatari history and society to teach it well.40

Higher education in Qatar Higher education in Qatar started in 1973 with the establishment of the faculty of education. Other faculties soon followed and the University of Qatar was established in 1977. Today the University of Qatar has some 10,000 students, 70 per cent of whom are women and only 30 per cent are men. This phenomenon can be explained by the fact that male students usually go into the private sector (in family-owned businesses) or start to climb the ladder in government jobs. Some male students enrol in the police and military

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academies. As social customs do not usually permit girls to travel abroad to continue their higher education—a constraint that does not apply to males—most boys travel to Arab countries or the West for higher education.41 Since 2003, the University of Qatar has been headed by Dr Sheikha al-Misnad, a Qatari professor of Education. In the few years since Dr Sheikha al-Misnad has become president, the university has seen tremendous progress and reform.42 There are now seven faculties: education, humanities and social sciences, law, shari’a and Islamic studies, engineering, business administration and economics and technology. There are two adjacent campuses, one for boys and the other for girls. Professors (both male and female) shuttle between the two campuses to teach and conduct office hours.

The Qatar Foundation The Qatar Foundation was established by the Amir Sheikh Hamad in 1995 soon after he took power. The purpose of the foundation, as its website states, ‘is to prepare the people of Qatar and the region to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world and make Qatar a leader in innovative education, scientific research and community development’. The foundation works through Education City, inaugurated in 2003, which has universities, academic and training programmes, and a Qatar Science and Technology Park. Education City is located on the outskirts of Doha and it is the lifeblood of the Qatar Foundation. It hosts and supports branch campuses of a number of well-known and respected universities. The local branches of the six universities are: Virginia Commonwealth University (1998), offering programmes in Arts and Design; Weill Cornell Medical School (2002); Texas A and M University (2003), offering programmes in engineering; Carnegie-Mellon University (2004), offering programmes in computer science, business and IT; Georgetown School of Foreign Service (2005), offering programmes in international affairs; and Northwestern University (2008), offering programmes in journalism and communication.43 The opening of these branches was accompanied by a lot of fanfare, including extensive press coverage and the attendance of high-ranking officials.44

The media in Qatar In 1969, even before Qatar independence, a Department of Information was established. This department was upgraded to the status of a ministry in 1972 as the Ministry of Information and Culture. An official law aimed at regulating censorship over the media was issued in 1979. According to that law, many newspapers and books were prevented from entering the country because they did not agree with the government’s political, economic or religious policies at the time. However, in 1995 censorship was lifted and a new, more liberal, press law was issued. The move came only after Sheikh Hamad became ruler.45 A big ‘first’ in the history of the media in the Arab world was introduced by Qatar in October 1998, when the Amir officially abolished the Ministry of Information and Culture (responsible for censorship), signalling that censorship of the media was over. In reality, the move did not generate a fundamental change. The local press remained ‘tame’ and until today does not express views that are in any way critical of the government, let alone of the ruling Al Thani family or its members. Journalists conduct their business and produce a kind of ‘free press’ by working in the West or in less restricted

264 Louay Bahry areas such as the neighbouring Kuwait. The margin of freedom given to the Qatar press goes as far as publishing complaints or stories about municipal services, or evaluating sports events; the media avoids any real discussion of sensitive issues. Op-ed pieces on public issues, excepting those agreeing with or praising government policies, are not published. There is a tacit understanding in the media that there are ‘natural red lines’ not to be crossed. In a rare editorial touching on freedom of the press in Qatar and the practice of ‘self-censorship’, Mr Salih bin ‘Afsan al-Kawari, Chief Editor of the daily Al-Raya wrote, in an editorial entitled, ‘The Responsible Media Freedom’, ‘We thank God that we work here in Qatar within the limits of a responsible media freedom which came after the abolition of the Ministry of Information … The state made self-censorship the criteria and the real supervisor of the work of the media apparatus’.46 The press applies such principles of self-censorship when dealing with issues concerning the GCC, but has a freer hand in reporting on international stories. In his editorial, Mr al-Kawari concluded by commenting, ‘The freedom of the press is secured as long as it conforms to the spirit of the laws and their text’. In addition to ‘self-censorship’, press laws in Qatar make offending the ruling family, the army, or the Islamic faith a punishable offence. Abiding by such limitations obliges the media to regulate itself.47 The case of the Doha Centre for Media Freedom (DCMF) The abolition of censorship allowed foreign journalists to report directly from Qatar. Relations between foreign journalists and Qatari authorities remain generally cordial, but there have been a few examples where such relations went sour. The most famous case is that of the DCMF. The DCMF was established in Doha in October 2008 by the Qatar Foundation, headed by Sheikha Moza. The move illustrated the Foundation’s ambitions to expand its activities to include the media. The purpose of the DCMF was to promote media freedom, not only in Qatar, but also throughout the region, and to provide a refuge for persecuted journalists. The centre was established in partnership with the Paris-based media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders (RWB). Robert Menard, a liberal/left French journalist and former head of the RWB, was appointed by Qatar to head the DCMF, with promises to give him a ‘free hand’ in directing the new centre. However, it did not take long for differences to surface between Menard and the Qatari authorities. At the heart of these tensions were several initiatives taken by Menard that did not please the Qataris. These included an invitation by Menard to some unwelcome journalists to visit Doha, without any prior authorization from the government. The most notorious was the publisher of the Danish newspaper that ran the cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a terrorist. Early in 2009, tensions between the Qataris and Menard rose again when officials at the Doha airport refused to let two aides of Menard fly to Bahrain because they did not have ‘proper approval’ from the government. On another occasion, the Qataris refused visas to some persecuted foreign journalists to enter Doha and use one of two ‘safe houses’ established there by the DCMF.48 In order to have some supervision over the activities of the centre, the government appointed two Qatari nationals to work there, despite protests from Menard. In the end, relations between the two parties degraded to the point where Menard resigned and left Doha on 23 June 2009. The DCMF case is a vivid example of the misunderstanding and misconception of ‘media freedom’ between Qatari authorities and

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foreign journalists, in this case one actually working in Qatar and paid by the Qatari government. Al Jazeera Nothing in the recent media history of the Arab world has made a bigger impact on Arab public opinion or developed a reputation to equal the Qatari satellite TV station, Al Jazeera. The abolition of the Ministry of Information and media censorship by the Amir in March 1998 opened the way for a non-censored TV station. The Amir wanted a television station that showed Qatar’s new image to the outside world. The decree establishing Al Jazeera was issued in February 1996, and the station started broadcasting nine months later on 1 November 1997. Al Jazeera was able to recruit about 120 of the best Arab journalists based in London, after they were fired by the BBC following a dispute with the Saudi government.49 The station began broadcasting six hours a day, then increased to 12. Since 2 January 1999 Al Jazeera has been broadcasting 24 hours a day. To enable Al Jazeera to function, Amir Hamad has granted the station US$137 million. The hope was that Al Jazeera would be able to establish itself and become financially independent within five years, but so far it has not achieved that independence, and is still subsidized by Qatari sources. There is continuous talk of Al Jazeera going public and raising enough funds from commercial advertising and the sale of its programmes.50 Today, Al Jazeera is the main TV station to watch and to listen to. It has offices in all the capitals of the Arab world and in many foreign countries. Its reporters travel to the four corners of the world to report from ‘hot spots’ everywhere. Al Jazeera programmes tackle issues that were previously considered taboo in Arab societies, including critical analysis of the acts of Arab governments and leaders, Islam, women’s issues, and sports. It opens its doors to host opposition personalities, writers and other intellectuals. Al Jazeera hosts not only Arabs, but also foreign personalities and specialists. In 2006 it launched an English-language channel based in Doha, London and Washington, DC. Because it challenged policies of Arab governments and leaders, Al Jazeera has confronted endless waves of protest, almost all from Arab governments, and numerous hostile acts, such as shutting down its offices, arresting or expelling its correspondents, as well as diplomatic protests that sometimes included the recalling of ambassadors from Doha. The Qatari government has stood by Al Jazeera through all kinds of protests from abroad, telling everyone that Al Jazeera operates within guidelines of media freedom and that the Qatari government has no control over it. It is significant, however, that Al Jazeera never criticizes the internal affairs of Qatar; it never touches the Amir of Qatar, his wife Sheikha Moza, or the Qatari ruling family. Since the launching of Al Jazeera, several Arab countries have started competitors and imitators. The most successful is al-Arabiyya, another 24-hour all-news TV satellite station, launched in March 2003, financed by Saudi Arabia and based in Dubai. In March 2008 the BBC also launched a successful around-the-clock Arabic cable network that is also trying to compete with Al Jazeera.51 To a large extent, Al Jazeera is a family-controlled enterprise, owned by the Al Thani rulers. It was created by the Amir Sheikh Hamad, who provided the funds for its first five years of operation and has given it unconditional support. Today, Al Jazeera is financed by Prime Minister HBJ. Al Jazeera is managed by Sheikh Hamid bin Thamir,

266 Louay Bahry who is Head of the Board of Directors and a cousin of the Amir. In an interview, one of the anchors working for Al Jazeera acknowledged the authority of Qatari decisionmakers over Al Jazeera, saying, ‘Al Jazeera’s source of strength comes from the political will of the Qatari decision-makers, who believe that Al Jazeera should stay and should expand’.52 After all the talk of Al Jazeera’s unlimited scope of freedom, there are sometimes ‘certain limits’ by which Al Jazeera has had to abide in dealing with foreign governments. The New York Times published a story about Al Jazeera stopping attacks on Saudi policies after a meeting in the fall of 2007 between King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and high-level Qatari officials. The two parties came to an understanding because of ‘the Iranian threats, anarchy in Iraq and the necessity of solidarity among Gulf countries’.53 Relations between the USA and Qatar were strained for a while as a result of what Washington considered anti-American programming by Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera was the first TV station in the world to receive videos of Osama bin Laden and to interview him personally in 1998. In 2000 Al Jazeera was the only TV station to be allowed by the Taliban to open an office in Kabul.54 It also reported on and interviewed Taliban leaders. All of these acts were badly received by the USA. US planes bombarded the Kabul offices of Al Jazeera in 2001. Al Jazeera offices in Baghdad were attacked by air on 8 April 2003.55 During the Clinton and, later, the Bush Administrations, the USA tried, without much success, to have the Qatari government curb what it considered Al Jazeera’s anti-American reporting and its giving public exposure to well-known terrorists.56

Relations with neighbouring states: Qatar’s ‘border problems’ Historically, the GCC countries did not have borders; the borders of any ruler extended only as far as the dira (territory) of his tribe or confederation of tribes from which he could command loyalty. After creation of the modern states of the GCC, border issues among them led to conflicts and disputes; these were exacerbated by the discovery of oil, which added more value to the territories they inhabited. Each country began to claim more territory. Qatar was no exception. Conflicts over borders between Qatar and its two immediate neighbours, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, became issues that shaped relations with these two states in a negative direction for a long time. Since the 1930s, Qatar’s relations with Bahrain have remained tense over a string of islands (the Hawar Islands) between the countries and the eastern coast of the Qatar peninsula (Zubara). The Hawar Islands are reputed to be a rich source of fish and natural gas. The dispute finally reached the International Court in The Hague. On 16 March 2001 the court put an end to the dispute, which, in reality, was over the size of the territorial waters separating the two countries. Bahrain was awarded the Hawar Islands located within 10 nautical miles of Bahrain, while Qatar was awarded most of the rest of the waters separating them, which will now compose Qatar’s territorial waters and are currently under Qatar suzerainty. These are particularly important since they contain one of the richest sources of natural gas in the area. The Court also decided that Qatar should keep the village of Zubara, now uninhabited, and formerly claimed by Bahrain.57 Both countries welcomed the international court decision, which eased relations between them. They have even agreed to build a bridge of some 45 km (29 miles) between the two countries.

Qatar: Democratic reforms and global status


However, even after the resolution of the border dispute, relations between Qatar and Bahrain remained uneasy. Qatar had an unfavourable reaction to the forthcoming nomination of a Bahraini as the new GCC Secretary General. The term of Abd al-Rahman al-Attiyah, a Qatari, ends on 1 April 2011, and Bahrain wanted to replace him with a Bahraini national, Abd al-Latif bin Rashid al-Zayani.58 Qatar was opposed to the appointment of a Bahraini, but they were persuaded to drop their opposition after the Saudis intervened. In June 2010 Qatar arrested tens of Bahraini fishermen in its territorial waters who were then put on trial in Qatar. They were freed only after the intervention of Sheikh Sabah al-Amad al-Sabah, Ruler of Kuwait.59 Boundaries with Saudi Arabia Historically, there is little evidence of any border demarcation between Qatar and Saudi Arabia until the mid-1960s. It was only after Abd al-Aziz ibn Sa’ud created the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that the issue of ‘borders’ emerged. Abd al-Aziz once even claimed all of Qatar as part of al-Hasa, now in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. This was naturally rejected by Qatar’s rulers as well as the British (Qatar was then a British protectorate). The discovery of oil in Qatar in the 1930s and the increasing interest of the international oil companies in this oil made the questions of borders between Saudi Arabia and Qatar a real issue of debate between the different parties involved.60 However, it was not until 1965, when the Saudi army occupied a border post in south-east Qatar, that the first effort at a border agreement took place. This episode was followed by a hasty border agreement between the two sides, signed the same year, but the agreement was never published. For decades after that border conflict, the countries had a tense relationship over boundaries. On 30 September 1992 there was a serious border incident. Qatar accused Saudi Arabia of occupying the al-Khafus border post and killing two Qatari soldiers.61 Saudi Arabia claimed that ‘an exchange of fire’ with Qataris had occurred inside Saudi territory. Qatar retaliated by withdrawing its signature from the 1965 Agreement and threatened not to attend the 1992 GCC summit, which was being held in Doha that year, unless Saudi Arabia withdrew its forces to a distance of 5 km from al-Khafus as ‘a sign of good will’. In 1992, with Egyptian mediation, Qatar and the Saudis signed a new border agreement in Madina. In the 1992 agreement the two countries settled the first demarcation of their borders, to be done within six months. However, the committee charged with that task never convened because of continuing disagreements between the two countries. In 1996 Qatar and Saudi Arabia charged a French company that specializes in border demarcation withdrawing their borders and in June 1999, based on this work, the two countries signed maps agreed to by a joint committee demarcating both land and territorial water boundaries.62 Particularly contentious was the oil-rich coast of Qatar around Doha Salwa, the south-eastern part of Qatar facing Bahrain. In 2000 the countries agreed to split the offshore waters, and still another border demarcation took place the following year. On 21 March 2001 a ceremony was held in Doha to celebrate the demarcation of 60 km of sea and land borders where Bedouin had frequently roamed between the two countries.63 However, the story was not finished. A settlement of a border dispute between the UAE and Saudi Arabia in 1974 significantly affected Qatar. In accordance with this settlement, Abu Dhabi had to concede coastal territory around Khawr al-’Udaid to Saudi

268 Louay Bahry Arabia. That territory had previously been crucial in linking Qatar directly to the UAE. In this agreement, Saudi Arabia also obtained a coastal stretch of territory alongside the Saudi–UAE border. These new borders cut off Qatar’s direct access to the UAE. Now, anyone wanting to travel by land from Qatar to the UAE, or vice versa, first has to pass through Saudi Arabia. Even the ordinary Qatari citizen bitterly resents the fact that Qatar has no common border with the UAE. Qatar now has only Saudi Arabia connecting it by land to the rest of the world. This was not an accident. The talks between Qatar and the UAE to build a bridge connecting their countries have raised Saudi objections, since such a bridge would necessarily pass over ‘Saudi territorial waters’. Saudi Arabia claims that its territorial waters extend 12 nautical miles into the Gulf.64 Despite this feud over borders, Saudi Arabia and Qatar managed to put the ink on a socalled ‘final’ border agreement in July 2008, without reference to the UAE.65 However, this is not likely to be the end of the story. In June 2010 Abu Dhabi lodged complaints with the United Nations (UN), claiming that the deal violated the terms of agreements signed by the UAE and Qatar in 1969 and 2006.

The development of an aggressive Qatari foreign policy Since the current Amir seized power in 1995, Qatar has risen, slowly, to the rank of a top power in many respects. Doha City has developed from a sleepy village to a cosmopolitan city and is still on the rise. It is now an international destination for business, international conferences and even tourism.66 Modern high-rises are everywhere, especially in the fashionable ‘Dafna’ area, where four- and five-star hotels compete for clients and the right to host international conferences. Qatar withdrew from the joint GulfAir Company and created its own airline, Qatar Airways, which continues to expand to new destinations.67 The population of the country has risen sharply from 579,000 in 1996 to 1.7 million in 2010, the majority of whom are foreign workers.68 The native Qatari population enjoys a real welfare state. There are no taxes on income, and water, electricity and health services, including medicine, are provided free of charge. Civil servants, male and female, get equal pay and they can obtain easy loans and mortgages at very low rates. Salaries are raised regularly. In 2010 Qatar signed a major contract with a German company to develop an ultra-modern metro for Doha and a railway network that will unite all of the country. Since the agricultural sector is weak, Qatar imports all of its agricultural products from abroad, either by land or sea, some via Saudi Arabia. Qatar aims to host the World Cup football match in 2022 and is building five giant football stadiums for this global event. Sheikha Moza is personally involved in this ambitious project.69 Qatar already has four world-class museums and plans to expand them to seven and ultimately to 14.70 Since 2003, Qatar has allowed foreigners to own real estate in certain areas of Doha and consequently obtain residency in the country. Qatar, because of its small size and population, historically did not have a significant role to play in the Arab world, let alone the international arena, compared with much larger and more important countries, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. It is only in the last 20 years, and particularly since 1995 when the current Amir assumed power, that Qatar started climbing the social ladder, achieving greater acclaim, and continuously playing a role in regional and international politics. Qatar marked its first such attempt in 1995 when it agreed to open an Israeli trade office in Doha. This action shocked the

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area, but the GCC countries opened their doors to Qatar in order to get involved in the Arab–Israeli conflict. This caught the attention of the USA and the rest of the world.71 Qatar hosted the summit conference for the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in 2002 and the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, now known as the Doha Round. In 2006 Qatar hosted the Asian Olympic Games. All of these acts, and others, led some writers to see Qatar as a symbol of a small, rich country with natural resources playing an important role in the world arena, and as a consequence of ‘branding itself’. Debating this concept, J.E. Peterson says: Qatar has adopted a high profile independent stance within the GCC. It has raised international awareness of the micro-state by hosting major international conferences and enhancing its involvement with international organizations … The branding strategy has involved economic objectives as well. Qatar oil wealth and production have long been part of its branding image.72 Sheikh Hamad, with the help of his energetic prime minister, HBJ, has adopted a pan-Arab policy, intervening in Arab feuds to play the role of mediator. One example was the conflict among Lebanese factions in 2008, which he helped to settle. He also intervened in the Dharfur conflict between the Sudanese government and the Dharfur rebels, and in the conflict between the Yemeni government and the Houthis in 2009, as well as inter-Palestinian feuds between Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank. Such Qatar mediation efforts are numerous and have sometimes brought Qatar into political confrontation with important Arab countries, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. To undertake these efforts, Qataris either invite the parties of the conflict to Qatar for negotiation, or travel to the ‘hot spots’ themselves to solve the problems. Sometimes they do both. Qatar’s achievements in the fields of mediation and reconciliation have been much touted in the media; as a result, new terms have developed such as the ‘Doha Accords’, the ‘Doha Conference’ or the ‘Doha Agreement’, on issues related to trade, economics, politics and the like. The Qatari Ambassador to Washington, explaining his country’s efforts at international mediation, says ‘Qatar, through its conviction that the use of dialogue to resolve differences and conflicts between Arab countries, or between rival parties inside one Arab country, has done so by putting Arab national interests first. It uses its good efforts to achieve peaceful, acceptable solutions among parties involved in conflict’.73 Qatar has not limited itself to playing a role in inter-Arab conflicts; it is also expending efforts to find solutions for some of the socio-political problems afflicting the region. For example, Qatar is attempting to find a solution for the huge number of non-Arab workers in the six GCC states, where some 12 million–14 million foreign workers have reduced the native population to minorities in their own countries.74 One solution Qatar has suggested is to incorporate Yemen ‘at some point in the future’ as a member of the GCC, allowing some of the 10 million unemployed Yemenis to work in GCC countries.75 Qatar has gone even further, proposing humanitarian projects on a global scale. In the fall of 2010 HBJ offered a Qatari initiative aimed at establishing an international military force with a mission to intervene in natural disasters, to deliver emergency relief to countries in need, and ultimately to combine both military and civilian resources to aid in such disasters.76

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Conclusion Qatar is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. The per caput income in 2009 was about $83,000.77 With the third-largest reserve of natural gas in the world, it is already the world’s leading exporter of liquefied natural gas, and gas exports are only expected to increase.78 The Qatari population is small—around 200,000—and has a population of foreign workers of about 1.5 million, who serve the country in all aspects of life. The country today, a huge construction field, hopes to compete with Dubai as a centre for trade, finance and tourism in the Persian Gulf and beyond. Because of this wealth and rapid growth, and because its population is small and homogeneous, there are few social tensions in the country. Qataris are fully employed and the government distributes its wealth equitably among the native population. For this reason, the government can afford to move slowly in implementing Western-style political reforms. It is under no pressure to do so, considering the economic boom expected in the next decade. Indeed, the process of democratization and political modernization in Qatar has been gradual ever since its independence in 1971, and the fruits of these reforms have all come under strict government control. The current regime has insisted on practical reforms that emphasize prosperity for the people and maintaining public order, a reform process not based on written documents but on implementation of social and economic reforms. As the country further develops, politics are likely to be left to the Al Thani, while the elite, as in the UAE, go into business and trade and avail themselves of expanding opportunities.79 The only potential rumblings in the system, as elsewhere in the Gulf, could come from Islamists and those who may oppose the US presence in the country, but their voice is not strong. The Qatari people will probably continue to enjoy their present tranquillity and not be in the mood to ask for change in the political system. Hence the Qatari style of democracy and political reform might provide positive results, though only time can tell how deep and transformative the recent changes will be to the underlying traditional society.

Notes 1 Sheikh Muhammad bin Thani is considered by Qataris to be the founder of Qatar because he gained access to power on 18 December 1867. The Qatari government marks 18 December as their national day, which illustrates the unity of Qatar and its national identity. Under Muhammad bin Thani, the tribes of Qatar united for the first time in the peninsula’s history and founded a genuine political entity. See Michele Barrault, Regards Qatar, trans. Anne Sarda, 2nd edn (Vesoul, France: Editions Michel Hetier, 1997), 19. 2 Adil Muhammad Ghanim, ‘Observations on Changes in Qatar Politics before the First World War’ (in Arabic), Conference on Changing Issues in Qatar Society (Doha: al-Sharikah al-Hadithah lil Tiba’ah, 1991), vol.1, 29. 3 Ahmad Zakaria al-Shalaq, The Political History of Qatar (in Arabic) (Doha: Modern Printings, 1999), 27–8. 4 In this treaty Britain promised to help Qatar against any foreign aggression if it came from the sea, and to use its good offices to help resolve the conflict if it came from land (i.e. from Saudi Arabia). The Sheikh in return promised not to enter into relations with any foreign power other than Britain. al-Shalaq, 1999, 67. 5 In 1960, after a protest by the locals, the British Adviser to the Sheikh of Qatar was asked to leave. He was replaced by an Egyptian, Hasan Kamil, who was named ‘legal adviser’ to the Qatari government. In 1967 he was promoted to Government Adviser. Muhammad Nasir Muhanna, Qatar: History, Politics and Modernization (in Arabic) (Doha: The Modern University Bureau, 2001), 68.

Qatar: Democratic reforms and global status


6 For the story of the discovery, exportation and impact of oil on Qatar and its foreign relations, see Sa’d Thamir al-Humaidi, The Role of Oil in Qatar’s International Relations (in Arabic) (Cairo: Center for Academic and Strategic Studies, 2001). 7 CIA, World Fact Book, 3 August 2010, geos/qa.html (accessed 22 March 2012). 8 Louay Bahry, ‘Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani’, in Michael Fischbach (ed.), Biographical Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa, Vol. 1 (New York: Gale Group, 2008), 90. 9 The creation of the department of foreign affairs met with displeasure from Bahrain and some of the other emirates, which were then seeking to create a federation between them. al-Shalaq, 1999, 170. 10 Qatar became a member of the Arab League on 11 September 1971. In the same month it became a full member of the United Nations. 11 Rosemarie Said Zahlan, The Creation of Qatar (London: Croom Helm, 1979), 112. 12 It was almost in this manner that the Amir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad, changed his heir apparent in August 2003. The Qatari newspapers were full of photos of dignitaries paying their respects to the new Crown Pince, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, born in 1980. 13 Yusif Muhammad ‘Ubaidan, Ma’alim al-Tandhim al-Siyasi al-Mu’asir fi Qatar [Characteristics of the Contemporary Political System in Qatar (1972–84)] (Doha, Qatar: Ubaidan Press, n.d.), 127–30. 14 There are some restrictions on these rights for Qatari women. Although they can drive cars, they must obtain written authorization from a male custodian, who has legal authority over the woman when she applies for a driver’s licence. This could be her father, husband or brother. A Qatari woman can take driving lessons in a driving school and be alone in a car with a male teacher for that purpose. Foreign women in Qatar enjoy the liberty of dressing in Western-style clothes. In the last six or seven years, alcoholic beverages have been served publicly to Qataris and non-Qataris in luxury hotels, but Qataris cannot buy alcohol in retail stores. Nor are there any ‘morality police’ (mutawa’a) to enforce public behaviour and dress, as is the case in Saudi Arabia. 15 One of the characteristics of conservative ‘Wahhabism’ in Qatar is the separation of married and unmarried women in certain circumstances. For example, married women attending high school are not allowed to mix with unmarried women; they have their own high schools. 16 Christian Science Monitor, 9 February 2009, 17 Amir Hamad took power in 1995 after ousting his father from power in a bloodless palace coup. Amir Hamad was born in Doha in 1952, where he attended primary and secondary schools, and then joined the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, UK. He graduated in July 1971. He then joined the Qatar Armed Forces with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and was appointed commander of the first mobile regiment. When he became Crown Prince, his father delegated to him most of the powers of administration, and he ran daily state affairs, which helped him gain experience and influence. 18 Bahrain had its first elected municipal council in 2003. Saudi Arabia held partial elections for municipal councils in February 2005. While men and women had the right to vote in Bahrain’s elections, Saudi Arabia did not allow women to vote. 19 There was strong resistance to giving women the right to vote by a small minority of Islamic activists led by Dr ‘Abdul Rahman bin ‘Umair al-Nu’aimi, now professor of history at Qatar University. The Amir arrested Dr al-Nu’aimi in 1998 and imprisoned him for 1,027 days for opposing this right. The objection of the conservative Islamists was based in their belief that women should not rule over men. 20 The woman in question is Sheikha al-Jifri, who was ‘elected’ as a member of the council only because the other two male candidates in her district (both of whom are related to her) mysteriously withdrew their candidacies before the election. For the participation of women in the municipal elections, see Dr Badriyya Mubarak Sultan al-’Ammari, The Central Municipal Council and the Role of Women (in Arabic) (Doha: al-Sharq, 1998). 21 The Elections Law that was published in 2006 indicates that the original Qataris are the people whose families settled in Qatar before 1930; interview with Dr Yusuf ‘Ubaidan, a member of the committee that prepared the elections law, Washington, DC, 27 March 2010. 22 The press is quite vocal when it comes to discussing other countries’ affairs, especially Western countries. It is less vocal in discussing affairs in the GCC countries. 23 On one occasion in 2002 there was a major street demonstration in Doha in favour of the Palestinian intifada (uprising). The demonstrators included Qataris, Palestinians and other Arab nationals

272 Louay Bahry

24 25

26 27 28



31 32 33 34 35

36 37 38 39 40

working in Qatar. The demonstration was led by Yusif al-Qaradhawi, the leading Islamist ‘Alim in the country. Some Qatari officials also participated in this demonstration. In 2002 the author found posters attached to the walls of buildings at Qatar University, attacking the government of Qatar and other Arab countries for their policies on Palestine. The posters were signed by a group calling itself ‘The Free Qatari Students’. This sheikh was removed as a candidate for Crown Prince in favour of Sheikh Khalifa. ‘The United Arab Emirates and Qatar: Pro-Imperialist Producers in the Gulf’, in Documents of the National Struggle in Oman and the Arabian Gulf, translated (from Arabic) and published by the Gulf Committee (London: Russell Press Ltd, 1974), 30–1. See also Muhammad Nasir Mahna, Qatar: al-Tarikh, al-Siyasah, al-Tahdith (Qatar: History, Politics, Modernization) (Egypt: al-Iskandariyya, al-Maktab al-Jami’i al-Hadith, 2001), 68. By spring of 2012, none of the death sentences had been carried out. Water and electricity were cut off from the houses of clan members affected by the deportation order, to force them to leave the country. Those working for the government were fired. In April 2004, for example, Dr Abd al-Rahman al-Nu’aimi told the author that he was seeking an audience with the Amir to ‘protest’ the nomination, in 2003, of a woman, Dr Sheikha bint Abd Allah al-Misnad, the aunt of Sheikha Moza, wife of the Amir, as president of the university, a position that gives her a position directing men. Sheikh Hamad bin Jasim (HBJ) is one of Qatar’s most dynamic and shrewd politicians, and an assistant to the Amir. A wealthy businessman, he is known as the official spokesman of the Qatari government. He is widely travelled and gives talks and lectures around the world. He has also mediated several inter-Arab disputes in the name of Qatar. He has strong ties to influential US personalities and has played an active role in establishing the strong relations between Qatar and the USA. The Qatari Foreign Minister did not elaborate on the meaning of this term. What seems clear is that he meant there should be no political parties that compose an opposition in the country. Instead, tribal leaders and their deputies, who will make up much of parliament, will act as ‘bodies of opposition’. Tribal traditions in Qatar historically oblige people who are engaged in a feud or confrontation to use peaceful methods, such as reconciliation or mediation, to settle their feuds. Al-Raya (Arabic daily), Doha, 16 March 2004. For a detailed biography of HBJ, see Louay Bahry, ‘Hamad bin Jasim bin Jabr’, in Michael Fischbach (ed.), Biographical Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa, Vol. 1 (New York: Gale Group, 2008), 90. Abd al-Rahman bin ‘Umair Al-Nu’aimi, ‘Waqi’a Al-Mujtama’ wal-Tamdid li Majlis al-Shura’ (The Reality of the Society of the Extension of the Advisory Council), Muntadiyyat Shabakat al-Ashum al-Qatariyya (Qatar Shares Forums), April 2010, Commenters on Al-Nu’aimi, ‘Waqi’a Al-Mujtama’ wal-Tamdid li Majlis al-Shura’ (The Reality of the Society of the Extension of the Advisory Council). After the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, talk of tribalism and tribal alliances (whether with or against the US occupation) increased noticeably. Tribal leaders became more vocal in their demand for political representation. The installation in June 2004 of the head of the Iraqi Shammar tribe as President of Iraq gave tribalism more standing. In an interesting interview with the Qatari daily Al-Sharq in March 2004, Sheikh Humaidi Daham al-Jarba of the Shammar tribe, developed this theme of tribes ruling a country. He said ‘Iraq is the Iraq of tribes. It is not the Iraq of political parties and sects … Iraq is not based on a religious or secular state. It is a state where tribes are the base. The tribes should rule Iraq, not political parties or nationalities’ (al-Sharq, Doha, 2 March 2004). Interview with Ibrahim al-’Ardan, principal of al-Yarmuk independent high school. Al-Yarmuk was the first high school to be converted to the new system of independent schools. Doha, 6 November 2007. Interview with Dr Nawal al-Shaik, Head of the Council of Higher Education, Doha, 8 November 2007; interview with Mustapha Ali Fadhla, Principal of al-Ahnaf High School, Doha, 9 November 2007. Al-Watan, Doha, 10 November 2007. Al-Sharq, Doha, 5 November 2010. For an in-depth criticism of the programme, see a series of articles by ‘Aisha ‘Ubaidan, al-Raya (Arabic daily), Doha, 25 January 2004; 4 April 2004; 29 May 2005; 4 December 2005; 12 February 2006; 15 April 2007; 4 June 2007. Interview with ‘Aisha ‘Ubaidan by telephone, 2 October 2010.

Qatar: Democratic reforms and global status


41 In 2010 the Qatar Military College had 400 students, all of them male. 42 Louay Bahry, ‘Reform at the University of Qatar: A Profile of Female Leadership’, The Middle East Journal: Encounters, 4 February 2008, EncountersArchive/tabid/543/ctl/Detail/mid/1636/xmid/201/xmfid/20/Default.aspx. 43 The story of the import of these foreign universities and colleges in the Gulf during the last two decades has not always been a success story. George Mason University established its campus in Ras al-Khaimah in 2005 and closed its doors in 2009 after reaching an impasse with the UAE over budget and control issues. On 6 July 2010 Michigan State University announced that it was closing its undergraduate programme in Dubai because it had failed to attract a sufficient number of students and was no longer financially sustainable. Marjorie Kelly, ‘Issues in the Development of a Gulf Studies Program at the American University of Kuwait: an Ethnography’, Review of Middle East Studies 44: 2 (Winter 2010) (Tucson, AZ: Middle East Studies Association of North America). 44 The author noticed that not everybody in Qatar showed enthusiasm for the intrusion of foreign universities in their country. Some people thought them costly, as well as Westernizing, since teaching in all of these institutions is in English. Some people feel that this will weaken the knowledge of Arabic among the students and might lead to the creation of a class of Westerneducated Qataris, alienated from their Arabic and Islamic roots. Others object to the fact that the schools are co-ed. 45 The first radio station in Qatar was established in June 1968. The Qatar News Agency was founded in 1975. Both of these institutions were under the control of the Ministry of Information and Culture. In May 1977 Qatar established the Qatar General Broadcasting and Television Corporation, an autonomous body directly responsible to the Council of Ministers. 46 Al-Raya (Arabic daily), 7 September 2009. 47 There are seven dailies in Qatar, four published in Arabic (al-Sharq, al-Arab, al-Raya and al-Watan), and three in English (The Gulf Times, The Peninsula and The Qatar Tribune). 48 Magda Abu-Fadil, ‘Robert Menard Slams Door, or Booted Out, of Doha Center for Media Freedom?’, Huffington Post, 30 June 2009, cited on internet 14 October 2010, www.huffingonpost. com/magda-abugadil/robert-menard-slams-door_b_223300.html. 49 For the history of Al Jazeera, see Louay Bahry, ‘The New Arab Media Phenomenon: Qatar’s Al-Jazeera’, Middle East Policy Vol. 8, 1 June 2001: 89–90. 50 The boycott of Al Jazeera by Saudi advertisers (as part of Saudi dissatisfaction with the station) has reflected badly on Al Jazeera’s finances. Saudi Arabia has the largest economy in the Middle East. 51 In the last few years, Al Jazeera has spread its wings and developed a network of special TV channels and media activities, such as ‘the Documentary Al Jazeera’, ‘Al Jazeera for Children’, ‘Al Jazeera Centre for Strategic Studies’, ‘Al Jazeera Documentary Film Festival’, and ‘Al Jazeera Sports’. 52 Khadija bin Qanna, a female anchor of Al Jazeera, cited in al-Quds al-’Arabi (Arabic daily), London, 3 May 2010. 53 Al-Quds al-Arabi, 5–6 January 2008. 54 For more details on Osama bin Laden interviews and his relationship with Al Jazeera, see Mohammed el-Nawawy and Adel Iskandar, Al-Jazeera: How the Free Arab News Network Scooped the World and Changed the Middle East (Westview, 2002), 148–63. 55 Such attacks were received badly by journalist groups such as the International Journalist Group, which demanded complete disclosure from the British and US governments over reports that the USA considered attacking Al Jazeera headquarters in the Qatari capital, Doha (Manchester Guardian, 23 November 2003). 56 The Amir of Qatar told reporters in Washington on 3 October 2001 that both Administrations had complained about some Al Jazeera programming. He added that ‘his government plans for a parliamentary democracy dictate that freedom of the press should be granted’. Human Rights Watch, ‘US Presses for Censorship of al-Jazeera TV’ (Washington, DC: Human Rights Watch, 15 October 2001), (accessed 9 August 2010). 57 The village of Zubara is now uninhabited. It contains only ruins of a fortress and a village claimed by the ruling Al Khalifa family of Bahrain; the area was under their sovereignty until 1868. For a detailed account of the Qatar-Bahrain border dispute, see Yahya al-’Awadh, Istratijiyyat Idarat al-Izma (The Strategy of Crisis Management) (Doha: Kitab al-Sharq, No. 4, al-Sharq (Qatar daily newspaper), 2001).

274 Louay Bahry 58 Al-Zayani is a Major General who heads Bahrain’s public security. He comes from a well-respected Sunni Bahraini family. Bahrain had previously selected another Bahraini, Muhammad al-Mutawa’, a former minister, but Qatar rejected his nomination on the grounds of his stance during the bitter border dispute (Riyadh, Saudi Gazette, 2 September 2010), print (accessed 2 September 2010). 59 London, al-Quds al-’Arabi, 2 September 2010. 60 Rosemarie Said Zahlan, The Creation of Qatar (New York: Harper and Row, 1978), 80–5. 61 ‘Saudi, Qatari Reports Differ on Border Clash Leaving at Least 2 Dead’, Los Angeles Times, 1 October 1992, (accessed 9 June 2010). 62 Yahya al-’Awadh, 2001, 16–18. 63 BBC News online, ‘Saudis and Qatar settle border dispute’, 21 March 2001, middle_east/1233718.stm (accessed 22 March 2012). 64 Occasionally, the Qataris seize fishing boats belonging to Saudi and Bahraini fishermen in their territorial waters. On 13 July 2010, for example, Qataris seized six Saudi boats and 28 Saudi fishermen. The Saudi Embassy in Qatar had to intervene, hiring a Qatari lawyer to follow the case (Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, 3 August 2010). 65 Despite this agreement, Abu Dhabi lodged complaints with the United Nations disputing the Qatar-S