Leadership Succession in the Arab World: A Policymaker's Guide

by Jerrold D. Green

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In a rapidly changing world, the Arab states of the Middle East seem stuck in pre-modern forms of government--in most cases autocracies whose leaders have been in power for some time. Because Middle East ruling families are large and complex, it is difficult to determine which family member will assume power. Furthermore, something can always come along to upset what seems like a certain line of succession. Finally, it is not possible to effectively gauge the political performance of leaders in the Arab world. The author concludes that (1) the absence of democracy in the Arab world has yet to undermine the pursuit of Arab-Israel peace; (2) succession is important everywhere, not just in the Arab states; (3) the vitality and survival of unilateral peace agreements made with Israel are not necessarily lacking in public support; and (4) Arab-Israeli peace is likely to be achieved by well-established, seasoned, older leaders rather than less certain newcomers.

Originally published in: Changing Leadership in the Arab World, The Center for Policy Options, University of Judaism, Policy Papers Series, Summer 2000, pp. 1-24.

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