More Freedom, Less Terror?

More Freedom, Less Terror?: Liberalization and Political Violence in the Arab World

Dalia Dassa Kaye
Frederic Wehrey
Audra K. Grant
Dale Stahl
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 226
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  • Book Info
    More Freedom, Less Terror?
    Book Description:

    A key tenet of U.S. foreign policy has been that promoting democracy reduces terrorism; however, scant empirical evidence links democracy to terrorism, positively or negatively. This study explores the relationship between the two by examining the effects of liberalization processes on political violence in six Arab cases.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4645-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Table
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xiii-xxvi)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxvii-xxviii)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxix-xxx)
  9. CHAPTER ONE “Democracy” and Terrorism in the Arab World: A Framework for Analysis
    (pp. 1-28)

    Very little empirical work has seriously investigated the widespread policy assumption that the promotion of democracy in the Middle East will help “dry up the swamp” of international terrorism. Indeed, the linkages between democracy and terrorism are more often asserted than explained. A senior administration official who helped draft President Bush’s national strategy to combat terrorism reportedly could not cite any authoritative study linking the rise of democracy with the defeat of terrorism, other than to say “I’m personally a huge fan of John Stuart Mill.”¹ Considering that democratization was offered as at least one of the objectives of the...

  10. CHAPTER TWO Egypt
    (pp. 29-58)

    While Egypt has been a relatively stable authoritarian state since the assassination of President Anwar al-Sadat in 1981, the regime of his successor, President Hosni Mubarak, has witnessed a sometimes contentious (and not always forward-moving) process of political liberalization, as well as significant incidents of terrorism. This study is, for the sake of comparison between cases, mainly interested in the 15-year period from 1991 to 2006, which excludes the first ten years of Mubarak’s reign.

    However, Egypt suffered the greatest number of terrorist attacks during the first third of that date range, from roughly 1991 to 1997. To understand the...

  11. CHAPTER THREE Jordan
    (pp. 59-80)

    Jordan may be among the most open countries in the Arab world, but its record of political reform exemplifies many of the trends common in other cases: limited openings tightly controlled by the regime, promises for reform with little substantive action, and backtracking on reforms in the name of stability and security. Because Jordan is considered to be a model of inclusiveness relative to many of its neighbors, the gap between expectations and reality is often wide, breeding frustration and disappointment. Indeed, many Jordanian analysts worry that recurrent backtracking on political and civil liberties may put Jordan at greater risk...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Bahrain
    (pp. 81-102)

    Among Gulf monarchies, Bahrain is arguably the most vulnerable to political unrest and violence. Marked by corruption, nepotism, and a lack of transparency, the rule of the Sunni al-Khalifa family has engendered widespread distrust by the country’s 70 percent Shi‘a population. Bahraini Shi‘a have long suffered from political exclusion, economic marginalization, cultural repression, and accusations of disloyalty, giving antiregime dissent a strong sectarian dimension.¹ Compounding these indigenous drivers is Bahrain’s location in the shadow of an increasingly assertive Iran, which played an important, though not critical, role in animating Shi‘a political violence until the mid-1990s and which obliquely laid claim...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Saudi Arabia
    (pp. 103-122)

    Given its prominence in Western arguments against democracy promotion in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is an especially instructive case study.¹ Moreover, there are important similarities and connections with Bahrain. Like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia’s reform/repression strategy against terrorism appears largely tactical, resulting in few real changes in the governing structure of one of the world’s most closed, yet surprisingly resilient, states.² Aside from size, key differences include the effect of Saudi Arabia’s rentier oil economy in legitimating the rule of the al-Saud, as well as the hotly debated influence of Saudi Arabia’s ideological underpinnings (described as Wahhabism, but more accurately...

  14. CHAPTER SIX Algeria
    (pp. 123-142)

    As the analysis turns to the Maghreb, this chapter assesses the relationship between the failure to deepen and expand democratization and increases of violence in Algeria. Of all the case studies, Algeria offers perhaps the most dramatic example of what might occur when democracy is steered from its course. The nullification of democratic elections in 1992 in which the populist Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) was poised to win saw the explosion of a civil war that would engulf Algeria in turbulence and violence for nearly a decade. The cancellation of the elections occurred against the backdrop of unprecedented reforms initiated...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN Morocco
    (pp. 143-162)

    Situated in close proximity to Algeria and Tunisia, where liberalization is either limited or in retreat, Morocco’s political opening places the country among the better examples of political reform in the region. Initiatives adopted over the last decade saw an expanded role for political parties and other civil society actors, improvements in the status of women, and, significantly, greater inclusion of Islamists. However, an overview of Morocco’s experience shows that the government’s inclination to manage democratic transition by imposing limitations on the liberalization process mutes the substance and consistent implementation of reforms, with potentially dangerous consequences for future violence in...

  16. CHAPTER EIGHT Conclusion
    (pp. 163-176)

    This study has sought to move beyond the polarized debate about whether democracy stops terrorism, has nothing to do with terrorism, or even exacerbates terrorism. Instead, we have examined the effects of reform processes in the Middle East over 15 years, asking whether such processes influenced the choices of domestic actors to engage in or support acts of terrorism or other political violence. We did so by delineating the causal logics usually assumed, but often not articulated, that in theory are expected to link democratic practices to more pacific behavior. This analysis led us to identify three central areas where...

  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 177-196)