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Modes of State Evolution and Crisis Management in Arab Countries

6 hour course by Yezid Sayigh (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

  • Schedule: 3, 4 & 5 July (11:15-13:15)
  • Venue: IBEI

Ruling elites in a number of Arab countries faced with deepening financial and economic crises are responding to the loss of the resources they previously used to maintain rentier governing systems and social control by deploying twin strategies to ensure their survival. First, abdication of state responsibility for the delivery of key capacities: the ability to accomplish policy goals, regulate markets and collect taxes, enforce law and order, and provide other public goods. Second, managing their crises “as if waging war:”sidestepping the governance vacuum through polarizing politics so as to retain the loyalty of core social constituencies, while capturing revenue streams, mobilizing military assets, and asserting the territorial boundaries of rival communities. This course will draw on trends in Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen in particular, with consideration of Tunisia and possibly Algeria, so as to gain comparative insight from their convergences and divergences. This will additionally highlight the varying impact of external actors, while also allowing an examination of similarities and differences in the strategies and outcomes pursued in more stable Arab countries where ruling elites may be characterized as shifting from the role of “stewards of states” to that of “management committees of family-owned businesses.”

Yezid Sayigh
Senior fellow at the Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, where he leads the program on Civil-Military Relations in Arab States (CMRAS).

His work focuses on the comparative political and economic roles of Arab armed forces and nonstate actors, the impact of war on states and societies, and the politics of postconflict reconstruction and security sector transformation in Arab transitions, and authoritarian resurgence. Previously, Sayigh held teaching and research positions at King’s College London, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Oxford, as well as visiting positions or fellowships at Harvard University, Brandeis University, the American University of Beirut, and the School of Oriental and African Studies. From 1998–2003, he also headed the Middle East program of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. Sayigh was also an adviser and negotiator in the Palestinian delegation to the peace talks with Israel and headed the Palestinian delegation to the multilateral peace talks on Arms Control and Regional Security from 1991–1994. From 1999, he provided policy and technical consultancy on the permanent-status peace talks and on Palestinian reform.