Encased within a consideration of whether and how the Middle East might democratize (and how the West might do a better job of encouraging democratization) are essays setting out the actual workings of politics in 11 Middle Eastern nations. These comprise the big three (Egypt, Iran, and Turkey); two examples of "democracy under occupation" (Iraq and Palestine); two monarchies (Jordan and Morocco); and Dubai, Lebanon, Oman, and Syria. These essays do not just refute the "one size fits all" notion about Middle Eastern politics that still survives in the Western subconscious. They offer a blend of insights, comparisons, and pertinent facts that provoke reconsideration of received wisdom. Let this sampling suffice: Dubai is dubbed "the airport state" -- not a belittlement but a metaphor brilliantly developed to explain this unique entity. Fewer than a quarter of Lebanon's parliamentarians in 2000 were members of any political party. Oman has long been a nation-state, and Omanis are shaped by that history. President Hosni Mubarak is second only to Pharaoh Ramses II as Egypt's longest-serving leader. This discursive, readable, and wise book even manages to work in seamlessly such diverse items as Mozart's The Abduction From the Seraglio and al Jazeera.
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