The Path of Least Resilience: Autocratic Rule and External Powers in the Middle East

Author
Anthony Bubalo
Content Type
Commentary and Analysis
Institution
Lowy Institute for International Policy
Abstract
The examples of Egypt and Saudi Arabia show the risks in betting on the stability of autocratic regimes in the region. Despite the Arab uprisings of the last decade, most countries in the Middle East remain in the grip of autocrats, with a widespread view that this is the 'default setting' for the region. However, an examination of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where authoritarianism has been revived, reveals both regimes are struggling for popular legitimacy. Increasingly reliant on repression, these regimes risk provoking civil unrest, and external powers should reconsider their assumption that autocracy guarantees stability in the Middle East.
Topic
Foreign Policy, Government, Authoritarianism, Political stability, Legitimacy
Political Geography
Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Egypt