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Is an “Islamic Political Economy” in the Making across the Middle East and North Africa?: A Path-Dependent Institutional Change Analysis

The Arab Uprisings and their transformational impact across MENA have generated immense debate about the future of the region’s countries during a period of reorganizational crisis in the international political economy. At this stage of the unfolding region-wide transition in the MENA, this paper performs a two-step theoreticopractical examination of the processes between and after the Uprisings. Firstly it crystallizes the ambiguous manifestations between the theory of Islamic political economy and the praxis of these Muslim-majority countries: the high-income Arab Gulf States, upper-middle-income Tunisia, and lower-middle-income Egypt. Secondly it contextualizes the evolving continuities and discontinuities in these countries between economy, polity, and society using the eight patterns of path-dependent changes that the author develops. A discussion will ensue on the prospective changes these nations will face in terms of the potential trajectories of systemic change between the embedded path-dependencies of the established regimes and the patterns of change demanded by the subversive Islamic factions.

Is an Islamic Political Economy in the Making across the
Developing Eight (D-8), established in Istanbul in 1997 by 8 Muslim countries, aims to improve economic cooperation between member states and their position in the global economy. AFP PHOTO / JEWEL SAMAD

Contemporary Muslim countries were either derived from the transformation or breakup of earlier regimes, such as the Ottoman Empire, the Iranian monarchy, and the Tunisian, Moroccan, Egyptian, and other Sultanates, or built up as new territorial entities, such as Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Senegal.1 In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries, which became independent after World War I, World War II, and up until the 1970s, three main forms of political regimes were established: elective, parliamentary, or quasi-democratic (Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Sudan); authoritarian constitutional monarchies (Jordan, Morocco, Kuwait, Bahrain) or absolutist monarchies (Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, the UAE); and single-party states (Algeria, South Yemen).

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Call for Paper | Politics of the Balkans and Future Perspectives