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Persistence Of Authoritarian Rule In The Middle East

1389 words - 6 pages

Authoritarian rule has always been predominant in Middle Eastern society. From its inception the problems caused by external state formation have negatively affected life in the former Ottoman Empire. This creation has caused problems of identity, it began a now chronic regional conflict (often border disputes), helped perpetuate the ideals of Arab "exceptionalism" and aided in the development of a rentier state (a nation which relies heavily upon rents due to it from other nations from a rent 'where no good or service is being produced' usually a natural resource such as oil in the Arab World (i.e. Middle Eastern countries whose state revenue comes primarily from oil rents). The economic instability of Middle Eastern countries has created a great dependence of the people upon the state for financial stability; the severity of the problem forced many people to believe that a militarily operated nation was the only way change could come about. The external formation of the Middle Eastern nations has created perpetuating problems of economic instability, and political desperation which have ensured the proliferation of authoritarian military rule in this area.Firstly the problem of state formation left the Arab world very weak. The governments were not legitimatized they were under colonial rule and the military was the only group able to reclaim the country. The people had become disillusioned with democracy and Western ideals they were still uneducated, uncared for, and unhappy; they had been oppressed and economically exploited...they demanded change. Militants preached that if you wanted freedom from Western oppression it didn't matter what was sacrificed so long as liberation was realized (the ends will justify the means). Authoritarian regimes promised the world; from nationalization (everyone getting a fair share of state revenue), to the creation of state-formed enterprise to eliminate class conflict, to subsidies on food and energy; the people wanted these kinds of regimes and what they promised (Richards, Waterbury p 277). The military sought national reform, other revolutionaries did not. They acknowledged that renouncing democracy might be necessary to creating a powerful nation and economy (Waterbury 333). As the people gained their independence from the West they just as quickly lost it again; to the authoritarian regimes (Waterbury 331).In order to successfully bring about what they had promised the authoritarian rulers in place had quite a few obstacles to overcome and they could all be overcome if they could rule every aspect of life as they had learned...militantly. The Western ideals borrowed from Germanic-speaking nations such as Prussia and the Habsburg Empire of enlightened absolutism seemed perfect for attaining their goals. Enlightened absolutism promised that there could be increased state power and benefits for its citizens if government became highly centralized and the government controlled economic, social and even...

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