Book Title
Introduction to International Political Economy 7th Edition

978-1138206991 Chapter 14

August 23, 2020
This chapter provides a broad overview of political and socio-economic trends in the Middle East,
situating the region in the global economy and the global security structure. There is much more
emphasis on conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa in this edition of the textbook than in
earlier editions. The severity of fighting and humanitarian crises in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq
The Middle East has been subject to the influence of outside powers for hundreds of years. This
legacy of colonialism and alliances with Western powers has shaped modern developments. The
chapter demonstrates that despite some tensions between the MENA and the West,” there are
many cultural, political, security, and educational ties between the regions that makes any notion of
a “clash of civilizations” seem very simplistic. The chapter also attempts to provide perspectives on
the global economy and global politics from those in the region.
We examine the Arab Spring and its aftermath, accounting for some of the reasons why only
Tunisia was the only Arab country that had a successful democratic transition and why there were
some state failures and civil wars. We clarify a number of different political and diplomatic
divisions and alliances that have solidified since the Arab Spring (sketched out in Table 14.2). The
Sunni-Shia split has deepened, and the EU, Russia, and the United States are intervening more
heavily than at any time since the Cold War, as seen in the Syria conflict and the campaign to crush
Key Terms
Arab Spring
defensive modernization
Muslim Brotherhood
rentier state
civil society
Teaching Tips
This chapter provides an opportunity to discuss how the “weight of history” affects
changes in contemporary political economies. Ask students to assess how much can be
explained by referring to developments decades or hundreds of years ago.
Many students will not be familiar with some of the countries mentioned in this chapter. Project
a map of the Middle East and North Africa on the board at the beginning of class and point to
each country, adding a bit of commentary about each country’s colonial history, economic
status, and foreign relations.
Have students identify some of their initial perceptions of countries in the Middle East. Ask
them if the chapter makes arguments or observations that conflict with those perceptions. Have
students enumerate some of the possible reasons why American understanding of the region is
sometimes inaccurate. Possible reasons may include: Hollywood portrayals, government
propaganda during the “War on Terror,” and lack of personal interaction with people from the
Middle East.
There are many changes in the region since the Arab Spring started. There will be important
developments after this book’s publication. We recommend that you talk about Middle East
current events to help students connect events to deeper structures and processes discussed in
this chapter.
Ask your students to assess the role of the United States in the region. How do their perceptions
of this role contrast with how others in the region perceive U.S. behavior? Ask students to
explain why mainstream U.S. views on Israel often differ from those held by many in the
Many students will not be familiar with the location of many of the countries mentioned
in this chapter. Encourage them to make use of maps in class and other aids to understanding
the region’s political geography. Moreover, students may feel a bit overwhelmed by the names
of important leaders in the region, historically and currently. You may want to give some
background on some of the leaders in class.
To develop the ability of students to see the interconnectedness of events in the region, ask
readers to assess how they think countries in the region would be different if the United States
had not invaded Iraq, if Palestinians and Israelis had signed a peace treaty in 2000, if the Cold
War were still around, if Iran becomes a nuclear power, or if the price of oil reaches $200 per
Sample Essay Questions
1. Describe some of the significant political divisions and interstate alliances in the Middle
East since 2011.
2. Which Middle East countries are best prepared to face the challenges of globalization?
3. Has the Arab Spring lived up to its promises? In what ways has it changed some countries
for the better? What were unintended negative consequences? What does this tell us about
our ability as IPE scholars to predict how complex social trends will unfold in the future?
4. None of the MENA’s monarchical regimes (in Jordan, Morocco, and the GCC countries)
was ousted during the Arab Spring. What factors might explain why these regimes have
been relatively stable compared to those in Yemen, Libya, Syria, Egypt, and Tunisia?
6. Describe several examples of how instability in the Middle East and North Africa has been
7. What do scholars believe are some of the main impediments to the spread of democracy in
the Middle East and North Africa?
8. In what Arab territories does Israel maintain settlements? Are Israeli or Arab policies
mostly to blame for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
9. What are some of the reasons for the spread of Sunni Islamist extremism and jihadism
since the 1980s?
10. Is it fair to say that the United States has betrayed its own stated values and principles in
the MENA since 1990?
11. In what ways has the United States contributed to or caused conflict in the MENA?
12. In what ways have Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Israel exacerbated conflicts in the Middle East
or impeded conflict resolution?
13. In what ways is the MENA deeply integrated into the global economy?
14. What trends suggest that the MENA is “falling behind” in the global economy, i.e., not
becoming more competitive, not fully using its human capital, and not transforming its
economic structures?
Sample Multiple-Choice Questions
1) Which of the following statements is incorrect?
2) Which of these countries has a relatively low per capita GDP and does not export oil?
a) Saudi Arabia
3) Which statement is incorrect?
4) Which of these countries does not have a significant Shia Muslim population?
a) Syria
5) The first two countries in which leaders were overthrown during the Arab Spring were
a) Libya and Syria.
6) Which of the following is not cited as an impediment to democracy?
a) civil society characteristics
7) Which of the following is an important consequence of the Arab Spring?
a) Islamist political parties have refused to participate in democratic elections.
8) Which of these countries did not have a regime change during the Arab Spring?
a) Egypt
9) As of mid-2018, Bashar al-Assad, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi were
the leaders of which respective countries?
10) Which of the following statements is incorrect?
d) In the last 25 years, the United States has imposed significant economic sanctions on Iraq
and Iran.
11) Which of following is not a characteristic of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries?
a) Expatriates make up a large percentage of the workforce.
12) Which statement about the MENA would a structuralist most likely disagree with?
d) More than half of the crude oil China consumes comes from MENA countries.
14) Which three MENA countries send the highest number of students to study in U.S.
15) According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the highest number of immigrants to the United
States who were born in the Middle East came from which two countries?
d) West Bank
17) In 2014, ISIS (Islamic State) established control over large swathes of territory in which
two countries?
d) Egypt and Syria
d) Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) are investment funds owned by governments.
19) Which of these statements is incorrect?
a) The Arab Gulf countries have one of the lowest rates of female employment in the
Suggested Readings and Links
Abboud, Samer N. Syria. 2nd ed. Malden, MA: Polity, 2018.
Achcar, Gilbert. Morbid Symptoms: Relapse in the Arab Uprising. Stanford, CA: Stanford
University Press, 2016.
Pappe, Ilan. Ten Myths about Israel. Brooklyn, NY: Verso, 2017.
Phillips, Christopher. The Battle for Syria: International Rivalry in the New Middle East.
Updated paperback ed. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2018.
Saleh, Yassin al-Haj. Impossible Revolution: Making Sense of the Syrian Tragedy. Chicago, IL:
Haymarket Books, 2017.
Springborg, Robert. Egypt. Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2018.
Stern-Weiner, Jamie, ed. Moment of Truth: Tackling Israel-Palestine’s Toughest Questions. New
York: OR Books, 2018.
Audiovisual Resources
5 Broken Cameras. Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi, dirs. Guy DVD Films, Alegria Productions
and Burnat Films Palestine, 2011. Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary. A
personal account of Palestinian non-violent resistance in the West Bank village of Bil’in.
Confronting ISIS. Reported by Martin Smith. FRONTLINE production with RAINmedia,
2016. Examines U.S. efforts to defeat ISIS. At
Goodbye Aleppo. Christine Garabedian, dir. BBC Arabic, 2017. “A team of four young citizen
journalists document their final days in Aleppo as the battle rages around them
(Journeyman Pictures website).
On the Road with Yazidis Fleeing Islamic State. Footage shot by Zmnako Ismail, 2014. Aired by
Channel 4 News. At https://rorypecktrust.org/Awards/2015/Award-Finalists/Rory-Peck-Award-
Radio Kobanî. Reber Dosky, dir. Dieptescherte, 2016. Distributed by Journeyman Pictures. A
young Kurdish reporter chronicles the experiences of people from Kobanî, a Syrian city
attacked by ISIS.
The Square. Jehane Noujaim, dir. Noujaim Films and Makeshift Productions, 2013.
Chronicles Egypt’s Arab Spring protests and their aftermath. Nominated for an Academy
Award for Best Documentary.
Syria: Gasping for Life in Khan Sheikhoun. Riad Al Hussein, dir. 2017. Broadcast by CNN.
Shows the aftermath of the chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Syria in April
2017. At https://edition.cnn.com/2017/05/09/middleeast/syria-chemical-attack-
Syria: The World’s War. Richard Cookson, dir. Lyse Doucet, presenter. BBC Current Affairs
Production, 2018. Two parts.