ABSTRACT

Although the Islamist challenge varies from country to country, no regime in the Middle East can afford to ignore it. State policies, for example in Jordan in the 1950s and Egypt in the early 1970s, contributed directly to the growth of Islamist movements as regimes sought to weaken the nationalist or leftist opposition. However, since the collapse of the Shah’s regime in Iran, the extent to which regimes in the region have retained power – even without much political legitimacy – is remarkable. This is particularly the case in Iraq and Syria, known throughout the 1950s and 1960s for extreme political instability.