Explores the major political, economic, social, and security challenges facing - and emanating from - the Middle East. Particular attention paid to the causes of the so-called Arab Spring and the prospects for genuine democratization. Explores the role of colonial legacies, Islam, peculiarities of the physical environment, demographic patterns, cultures of patriarchy, the distortions of foreign aid and oil wealth, and the machinations of great powers in generating the region's particular pattern of political development. Embraces a variety of theoretical and empirical literatures, including translated works by Middle Eastern commentators, politicians, and social theorists. Students will emerge from the course with both an understanding of a changing region whose geopolitical importance - to the United States and the world - shows no sign of waning, and a grounding in some of the principal analytic approaches in the study of comparative political systems.
This is a course about how democracy comes into being and how it breaks down, and about what citizens, activists, and policymakers around the world can do to make the former more likely and the latter less so.... Read more about Getting and Keeping Democracy
In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, democracy in the Arab world seems farther away today than at any point in the last 25 years, leaving one to conclude that the answer to the question posed in this special anniversary issue of the Journal—“Is Democracy in Decline?”—is, at least in the case of the Arab world, a resounding, even deafening, yes. If democracy is to ever arrive in the region, it will likely be through an evolutionary and elite-driven process.
Why does Islam seem to dominate Egyptian politics, especially when the country's endemic poverty and deep economic inequality would seem to render it promising terrain for a politics of radical redistribution rather than one of religious conservativism? This book argues that the answer lies not in the political unsophistication of voters, the subordination of economic interests to spiritual ones, or the ineptitude of secular and leftist politicians, but in organizational and social factors that shape the opportunities of parties in authoritarian and democratizing systems to reach potential voters. Tracing the performance of Islamists and their rivals in Egyptian elections over the course of almost forty years, this book not only explains why Islamists win elections, but illuminates the possibilities for the emergence in Egypt of the kind of political pluralism that is at the heart of what we expect from democracy.