Middle East Government Resources and International Information UofL Libraries at University of Louisville
Civil society organisations are not engaged in public administration and public financial management processes. While the justice system is inadequately independent, the executive is flawed by poor transparency. The current political system in Iran was designed to allow Iranians to decide their future by themselves without being oppressed by authorities, but in practice only allows a limited democracy. One of the main problems of Iran’s system is the consolidation of too much power in the hands of the Supreme Leader who is elected by the Assembly of Experts for life (unless the Assembly of Experts decides to remove him, which has never happened). The power of the Supreme Leader under Iran’s constitution is almost unlimited and unrestricted in practice. They have been even threatened by death sentence (though all such verdict in recent years have been dropped in higher courts in recent years) and some have been assassinated by the Ministry of Intelligence and militias in the past (no such case has been reported in recent years).
He has published extensively on the Middle East, Iraq, international studies, and the political ideologies of the Middle East. Opponents of American intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq have, however, criticized that democracy cannot be imposed from outside. The two countries have since had relatively successful elections, but have also experienced serious security and development problems.
Middle East and North Africa: MENA Governments
English-language sources abound, but many official media are not independent despite being quite readable, such Kuwait’s The Kuwait Times and the UAE’s Gulf News. The Israel Democracy Institute’s Peace Index runs monthly surveys on public sentiments in Israel regarding the Palestinian conflict. Finally, the Schusterman Center at Brandeis University contains a wide variety of online essays, syllabi, images, and resources devoted to Israeli studies. Tunisia is a peculiar case in the MENA – a single-party dictatorship that, after a half-century, turned into a democracy defined by compromise and cooperation between Islamists and secularists. The post-Arab Spring decade of democratic politics embodied the success of electoral competition and new institutional rules, but problems of economic underdevelopment and transitional justice confront the country as governments and parties continue adapting to the demands of pluralism.
Near East applied to the region nearest Europe, extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf; Middle East, from the Persian Gulf to Southeast Asia; and Far East, those regions facing the Pacific Ocean. However, critics of these theories observe that some countries which experience many of these democracy-inhibiting factors are successful in their quest for democratization. A prominent figure in this movement is Saad Eddin Ibrahim who advocates and campaigns for democracy in Egypt and the wider region, working with the Ibn Khaldun Centre for Development Studies and serving on the Board of Advisors for the Project on Middle East Democracy. The decline and fall of the Ottoman Empire set the stage for nationalist movements to emerge in Southwest Asia and North Africa as the Second French Empire, the Italian Empire, and British Empire began to target and colonize the region.
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Sunni Saudi Arabia and its autocratic Gulf allies want the Syrian president to go, and have armed the rebels fighting him – though they fear “blowback” from Isis and al-Qaida. The Gulf states loathe Shia Iran, supporting Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad as well as Assad. The UK and other western countries fret about radicalised Muslims coming home from the battlefields of the Levant. It plays a key role in building local communities, encouraging a growing generation of health-conscious citizens and strengthening the region’s reputation on the global stage. The region is home to several prestigious sporting events, and building a robust sports sector is part of national transformation agendas. Government readiness, and its resilience and agility has direct bearing on public confidence and trust, socio-economic development, and quality of life for citizens.
What defines a Middle Eastern country?
The most common but exclusive definition of the Middle East at the time of writing extends to Egypt in the West, Iran in the East, the Arabian Peninsula in the South and Turkey in the North (although occasionally Turkey and, more rarely, Egypt are omitted).
For political, civil, and social rights, the region continues to struggle with authoritarianism, with even the leadership changes sparked by the Arab Spring uprisings of over a decade ago ultimately failing to improve the social contract. Power structures have continued to allow those at the top to retain control and hinder political integrity. This has caused pervasive civil unrest – and violent conflict – as people fight for their rights and voices to be heard. The instability and consolidation of power in turn fuels political corruption, feeding the vicious cycle of authoritarianism, corruption and conflict across the Arab world.
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The Arab Spring shook its authoritarian political system, but fragmentation and conflict waged by various actors – separatist fronts, religious movements, the transitional government, youth groups, tribal militias, and outside powers – have all but ensured the state’s breakdown since 2012. The potential exists for further political transition and dialogue, and perhaps even a unitary country, but at the end of the 2010s the priority for many global observers is staunching the humanitarian disaster unfolding across the population. Inheriting a past fraught with colonial trauma, revolutionary victory, and recent social conflict, Algeria at the close of the 2010s is experience a period of political change driven by a restive society hungry for greater openness and new leadership. In this section, you will find useful learning materials from each chapter, including summaries; multimedia from each chapter; discussion questions; links to online sources for further research; flashcards; and true/false quizzes.
Without a doubt, effectively deploying e-government services will secure the public’s trust and improve the country’s competitiveness across the global landscape. They will also be in much better shape to weather the next surge of disruption or crisis that comes their way. By digitizing, governments can provide services that meet the demands and expectations of citizens and businesses, despite tight budgets and complex challenges such as inequality and instability. Not only are digital services and interactions preferred nowadays, but these can also empower and broaden engagement with the government.
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According to Dr. Khaled Mahdi, secretary-general of the supreme council for planning and development, between 2024 and 2025, Kuwait aims to reach 30th place in the United Nations e-government development index. A total of 50 new services were launched last year in Bahrain, reaching over 600 e-services in total. Its deposed dictator, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, lives in gilded exile in Saudi Arabia. The Islamist al-Nahda party, close to the Muslim Brotherhood, stands out for accepting the need for power-sharing with rivals and playing down interest in Sharia law. The political system is still fragile, while polarisation and violence in Egypt and Libya make Tunisia’s transition all the more difficult. Western-backed Sunni monarchy, hosting US naval base, repressing island state’s restive Shia majority despite professed committment to political reform.
Why is the Middle East so rich?
The region is rich in natural resources with oil and gas running regional economy. The abundant petroleum fields in Arab countries attract Western powers to the Middle East. The United States' influence in the Middle East for past two decades is a prime example of it.
The Iranian Revolution of 1979 resulted in an electoral system (an Islamic Republic with a constitution), but the system has a limited democracy in practice. One of the main problems of Iran’s system is the consolidation of power in the hands of the Supreme Leader who is elected by Assembly of Experts for life (unless the Assembly of Experts decides to remove him which has never happened). Another main problem is the closed loop in the electoral system, the elected Assembly of Experts elect the Supreme Leader of Iran, who appoints the members of the Guardian Council, who in turn vet the candidates for all elections including the elections for Assembly of Experts. However, some elections in Iran, as the election of city councils satisfies free and democratic election criteria to some extent.
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Our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems, and our strategy for achieving this is to work as part of a community of solvers, addressing the two most fundamental needs our government and public sector clients across the Middle East have. Iraqi blogs furnish unmediated views of political and social life inside the country. E-government websites include the official government portal (where some ministries and councils maintain decent websites); the Department of Statistics, which provides quantitative data on every aspect of the country; and the homepage for parliament. For deeper analysis, including political data and economic data, consult these importance sources and organizations.
Because of the arid climate and heavy reliance on the fossil fuel industry, the Middle East is both a heavy contributor to climate change and a region expected to be severely negatively impacted by it. These are mostly the monarchies (such as Jordan, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia) where royal families have ruled for generations, often since the country’s independence. Several other authoritarian countries, such as Egypt, Iran, and Syria, offer the veneer of democracy while in reality often keep their elections carefully—or clumsily—orchestrated. In Egypt’s 2018 presidential election, the incumbent General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi imprisoned, intimidated, or barred every legitimate political opponent from running against him. That left just one handpicked opposition candidate who, in fact, endorsed General Sisi for the presidency.
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Does Palestine support Hamas?
Hamas, unsurprisingly perhaps, finds growing support, especially among West Bank Palestinians. Backing for the militant group as a political party has increased there nearly four-fold (from 12% to 44%) in the three months between September 2023 and December 2023.
What government runs Dubai?
The Ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is the Vice-President, Prime Minister and Defence Minister. The UAE's federal structure includes a Supreme Council (comprising the Rulers of each Emirate), a Council of Ministers and Federal National Council.
Is Israel considered a democracy?
Israel is a parliamentary democracy, consisting of legislative, executive and judicial branches. Its institutions are the Presidency, the Knesset (parliament), the Government (cabinet), the Judiciary and the State Comptroller.