The Future Security Environment in the Middle East

The Future Security Environment in the Middle East: Conflict, Stability, and Political Change

Nora Bensahel
Daniel L. Byman
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 365
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mr1640af
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  • Book Info
    The Future Security Environment in the Middle East
    Book Description:

    This report identifies several important trends that are shaping regional security. It examines traditional security concerns, such as energy security and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as newer challenges posed by political reform, economic reform, civil-military relations, leadership change, and the information revolution. The report concludes by identifying the implications of these trends for U.S. foreign policy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-3619-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)
  4. TABLES
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. SUMMARY
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xix-xx)
  7. Chapter One INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-14)
    Nora Bensahel and Daniel L. Byman

    The security environment in the Middle East has become increasingly complicated during the past decade. Up to and including the 1991 Gulf War, the regional environment was largely shaped by fears of interstate aggression, either by superpower intervention or by regional states against each other. Fears of interstate aggression certainly remain today, but they are manifesting themselves in new ways. The Arab-Israeli conflict has been a persistent source of tension for decades, for example, but it has taken on new dimensions in the aftermath of the failed Oslo process and the recent explosion of violence that shows no signs of...

  8. Chapter Two POLITICAL REFORM IN THE MIDDLE EAST
    (pp. 15-56)
    Nora Bensahel

    The Middle East has been largely left out of global trends toward democratization. ¹ Authoritarianism seems alive and well, as monarchs and ruling families remain firmly in charge throughout the region. Even Egypt, which is nominally democratic, is governed by a single party that restricts political competition and imposes strict limits on the freedoms of speech and association. However, some currents of reform are percolating throughout the region, in ways that are significant even if they are not highly visible. Some states have increased political participation by granting legislatures jurisdiction over selected issue areas and allowing citizens to choose their...

  9. Chapter Three ECONOMIC REFORM IN THE MIDDLE EAST: THE CHALLENGE TO GOVERNANCE
    (pp. 57-128)
    Alan Richards

    Many students of the world economy portray Middle Eastern¹ countries as “global losers,” lagging seriously behind other major world regions.² Looking ahead, the economic challenges facing the region are certainly severe, while the policy response appears limited. A comparison of the region’s performance either with that elsewhere in the world or with the severity of the challenges facing the region leaves little room for optimism. Economic stagnation undermines regime legitimacy and even, in some cases, the capacity to govern. The problem is particularly serious because stagnant economies cannot provide adequate jobs for the rising tide of young job seekers. The...

  10. Chapter Four CIVIL-MILITARY RELATIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
    (pp. 129-162)
    Risa Brooks

    Military establishments are among the most—if not the most—important domestic constituencies in the states of the Middle East. Despite periodic experiments with political and economic liberalization, the region’s Arab states in particular remain solidly nondemocratic. ¹ Political leaders rely ultimately on coercive power to maintain their positions and depend upon their armed forces to defend against challengers and opponents. For this reason, military organizations are constituencies no authoritarian leader can afford to ignore. In fact, political leaders have proven quite successful in managing relations with their armed forces. Throughout the Middle East, leaders have attained and retained political...

  11. Chapter Five THE IMPLICATIONS OF LEADERSHIP CHANGE IN THE ARAB WORLD
    (pp. 163-196)
    Daniel L. Byman

    The politics of the Middle East may be more dependent on the ambitions and whims of individual leaders than in any other region of the world. Middle Eastern leaders are often unconstrained by domestic political institutions or popular sentiment: Their ambitions and preferences, as well as their weaknesses and foibles, can make the difference between war and peace, revolution and stability. Leadership change in the Middle East, however, is infrequent and seldom routinized. The region often seems frozen in time, with certain leaders—Muammar Qadhafi of Libya, Yasir Arafat in the Palestinian Authority, and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, among others...

  12. Chapter Six ENERGY AND MIDDLE EASTERN SECURITY: NEW DIMENSIONS AND STRATEGIC IMPLICATIONS
    (pp. 197-226)
    Ian O. Lesser

    After almost 20 years of limited attention, energy security questions are once again part of the strategic discourse. Instability in world oil prices and concerns over the domestic energy situation in the United States have led to fears of a “third” energy crisis. As a dominant energy producer and exporter, the Middle East, as a region, is at the center of this revived debate, a reality strongly reinforced by the September 2001 terrorist attacks, the debate over U.S.-Saudi relations, and the war in Iraq. Energy is a leading factor in Western strategic perceptions regarding the Middle East, and a factor...

  13. Chapter Seven THE INFORMATION REVOLUTION AND THE MIDDLE EAST
    (pp. 227-252)
    Jon B. Alterman

    In the last two decades, the information and media environment in the Middle East has changed dramatically. Partly through such recent high-tech advances as the Internet, and even more fundamentally through older technologies like satellite television, photocopiers, fax machines, and videocassettes, individuals and groups in the Middle East have far greater abilities to share ideas than ever before.

    This change in the information environment has broad implications for the societies and politics of the region, and for U.S. policy. Increasingly informed public debate, the ability of actors living abroad to influence events in the region, and the spread of images...

  14. Chapter Eight WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION IN THE MIDDLE EAST: PROLIFERATION DYNAMICS AND STRATEGIC CONSEQUENCES
    (pp. 253-298)
    Ian O. Lesser

    The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and the means for their delivery at longer ranges has been an important part of the debate about security in the Middle East since at least the 1970s. The 1991 Gulf War brought these concerns to the forefront, especially among Western observers. The post–September 11 environment, the subsequent debate over the “axis of evil,” and the 2003 war against Iraq have strongly reinforced these concerns, as a matter of national security strategy, but also in a regional setting.¹ Indeed, the perceived nexus between weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and global reach...

  15. Chapter Nine CONCLUSIONS
    (pp. 299-316)
    Nora Bensahel, Daniel L. Byman and Negeen Pegahi

    The Middle East in the coming decade is likely to experience a range of challenges that will demand creative, and at times difficult, responses from the United States and its partners. The spread of WMD, potential leadership changes, and increased Russian and Chinese activism in the region could complicate U.S. attempts to engage friendly states in the region and deter hostile ones. Continued violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories could further destabilize the region, strain U.S. relations with its closest regional ally, and make it more difficult to achieve other U.S. regional objectives. Even progress on some U.S. goals,...

  16. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 317-348)