Turkey and Iraq Illustrate Two Sides of the Middle East’s Strongman Problem

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at an operations center outside Fallujah, Iraq, June 1, 2016 (AP photo by Khalid Mohammed).
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at an operations center outside Fallujah, Iraq, June 1, 2016 (AP photo by Khalid Mohammed).

The Middle East has a long history of authoritarianism, and the legacy of that history is illustrated in contrasting ways by two key states in the region. Turkey, a flawed but functioning democracy for most of a century, is returning to a more authoritarian model, while Iraq has replaced its strongman with a more normal political leader, provoking nostalgia for the old system. The U.S. has some leverage to push both states to strike the right balance between too little or too much power at the top. Before the Arab Spring, political scientists examining the durability of authoritarianism in the […]

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