The Middle East’s Struggle Over Rights and Legitimacy Is Far From Over

An army soldier scuffles with an anti-government protester outside a military court in Beirut, Lebanon, Feb. 22, 2021 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).
An army soldier scuffles with an anti-government protester outside a military court in Beirut, Lebanon, Feb. 22, 2021 (AP photo by Hassan Ammar).

What would it take to transform the way countries in the Middle East are governed? That question has taken on added urgency over the past year, in which we’ve seen stark new tests of competing theories of power and change in the Middle East. The region’s reformers and despots are still engaged in a struggle over the central purpose of government: Should the state provide social goods and services—including security—as well as a sense of belonging to the governed, or is the state simply a vehicle to uphold sovereignty, as defined, personified and exploited by a country’s rulers? This bedrock […]

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