Civil wars currently underway in Libya, Syria, and Yemen demonstrate that patterns of economic governance during violent conflict exhibit significant continuity with prewar practices, raising important questions along three lines. First, violent conflict may disrupt prewar practices less than is often assumed. Second, continuity in governance highlights the limits of state fragility frameworks for postconflict reconstruction that view violent conflict as creating space for institutional reform. Third, continuity of prewar governance practices has important implications for the relationship between sovereignty, governance, and conflict resolution. Civil wars in the Middle East have not created conditions conducive to reconceptualizing sovereignty or decoupling sovereignty and governance. Rather, parties to conflict compete to capture and monopolize the benefits that flow from international recognition. Under these conditions, civil wars in the Middle East will not yield easily to negotiated solutions. Moreover, to the extent that wartime economic orders reflect deeply institutionalized norms and practices, postconflict conditions will limit possibilities for interventions defined in terms of overcoming state fragility.
© 2018 by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
Heydemann, Steven, "Civil War, Economic Governance & State Reconstruction in the Arab Middle East" (2018). Middle East Studies: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.