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Global Transformations and the MENA: A Comparative Political Economy Analysis

The regional geographical entity known as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has been at the epicenter of global power struggles over the course of the last centuries with an ever-increasing intensity. While the region has been a popular subject in the literature of political science and international relations due to the sheer volume of conflicts raging within the parameters of its borders, writings on international/comparative political economy focused on alternate regions such as East Asia characterized by a sustainable economic growth potential. This study aims to make a critical contribution to the political economy literature by conducting a theoretically and historically informed analysis on the transformation dynamics in the MENA region. To this end, the multi-faceted legacy of colonialism; the role of oil as a strategic resource; structural changes in the world economy; and divergent politico-economic reform trajectories in the wake of economic globalization will be evaluated.

 

Although the geographic entity described, in a rather Eurocentric manner, as the “Middle East” as well as the adjacent North Africa have been historically located at the epicenter of tectonic shifts and hegemonic struggles in world politics, the exceptional importance attached to these critical regions has generally resulted from distributional conflicts over strategic natural resources and geo-strategic considerations. In the same vein, it seems hardly possible to claim that the Middle East and North Africa, or MENA area to use the conventional shorthand, has traditionally been a fertile ground in terms of the emergence of exceptional success stories with respect to accomplishments such as rapid and sustained industrialization, structural transformation, as well as extensive integration with global trade, investment and finance networks. This negative state of affairs has

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