Oil financed vast national systems of patronage and

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oil financed vast national systems of patronage and sustenance, will become increasingly unsustainable over time. Even the region’s resource-poor countries will be a ff ected, since most Arab countries became in some way dependent upon the region’s oil revenues. Arab countries have little hope of developing prosperous societies without new political and economic models. As citizens are asked to sacrifice long-standing social welfare ben- efits in the name of fiscal austerity, their acceptance of the old systems of top-down rule will wither. Th ey will demand accountability, justice, and a greater say in national a ff airs in return. For leaders long accustomed to absolute power, this is a dangerous trap—large- ly of their own making. Th ey would be right in believing that the path of political and economic reform would likely lead to a loss in power. Th us, with few exceptions, regimes continue to cling to an untenable status quo, even at the risk of catastrophe. With the old order in disarray, there is no clarity about where the region is heading. Writing from a prison cell in fascist Italy during the 1930s, the Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci observed, “ Th e crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum, a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” Th is is the reality faced by today’s Middle East, a region that remains critical to global peace and security. Th is report attempts to explore the underlying causes of the region’s turbulence. It examines the fundamental national and transnational trends playing out in the region’s human, political, and geopolitical landscapes, both horizontally and vertically—that is, the interrelationships between these trends both within countries and across them. Spe- cifically, the analysis looks at Th e Human Landscape —the changing experiences of Arab citizens amid demo- graphic pressures, human migration, political polarization, and social activism. Th e Political Landscape —the crisis of governance across the region, the stresses upon the rentier systems, and the influence of the security sector and media on Arab politics.
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6 ARAB FRACTURES Th e Geopolitical Landscape —the collapsing regional order in the context of myriad internal and interstate conflicts, the implications of lower oil prices, and the longer-term impacts of climate change and water scarcity. Th e findings constitute a framework for understanding how the breakdowns within each landscape interact with each other and how various countries might begin to address them. To help illustrate how these breakdowns and trends are playing out in di ff erent settings, eight case studies are presented: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Tunisia. Although other countries could have been chosen, these bell- wethers highlight the main trends in the Arab world, as well as the disparate manner in which governments are facing them. Understanding their experiences is vital to under- standing what lies on the Arab horizon.
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