chapter  3
18 Pages

The state in the Middle East and North Africa

ByIrene Costantini

Chapter 3 , The state in the Middle East and North Africa contextualises the state in the MENA region. While the states in the region have developed according to individual trajectories, there are common characteristics, in relation to which the chapter discusses representation and political authority, security and the monopoly of violence, and wealth creation and distribution. The second part of the chapter examines specific state experiences that are relevant for the cases of Iraq and Libya: the shadow state refers to a distribution of power that lies beyond the formal structure of the state while the rentier state is grounded on a political economy dominated by the dependence on natural resources. The Islamic State is both a peculiar form of proto-state and a key challenge to other state forms in the MENA region. The chapter concludes by laying out the contradictions that define the trapped states of Iraq and Libya: the maintenance and adaptation of previous modes of organisation and operation; a new but mostly empty state form; the irrelevance of the state for its citizens; and the widespread presence of violent modes of interaction with and contestation to the state.