Some people ask how it is possible for someone to understand the politics of 22 separate countries, for this is the number of Arab states. The answer is that it has been – until fairly recently – fairly straightforward. Many Arab countries have moved along familiar pathways of postcolonial dictatorships, or have monarchical or theocratic systems. Such systems of governance meant national politics took a backseat in the Middle East in the late 20th century, at least in forms recognised by western observers. Politics was stifled and treated as an elite activity.
In most of the Middle East this is no longer the situation and countries are unlikely to revert to their old ways. So what comes next in the 21st century? Where are the politics and political economy of MENA countries heading?
Naturally there are still many pan-Arab trends and similarities facing countries: resources such as water, gas and oil; job-creation; demographics and generational change; security challenges; migration; openness; the ‘deep state’; corruption. But countries have their own political arrangements which are often compromise settlements that have become unsettled through generational changes. This creates challenges of legitimacy, for example in Lebanon and Iraq.
Mark has followed the twists and turns of Middle Eastern politics for over 35 years and worked as Chief Political Analyst in Baghdad. He is also a keen analyst of English politics and is on record for making the right call (unfashionably at the time but based on insight and experience) in various electoral contests, for example the 2010 Iraqi Parliamentary elections; 2015 Egyptian Parliamentary elections; 2016 UK referendum on EU membership and more.
As a trained analyst skilled in using first-hand sources and possessing a detailed knowledge of the history and roots of each country, Mark is well-placed to offer clients independent analysis, briefings and insight into both MENA politics and English politics, as well as language, media and communications analysis on these subjects.