The Liberal Peace Argument in the Middle East - Ali in Wonderland or Crude (Oil) Reality?

Conference paper

Sørli, Mirjam E. (2001) The Liberal Peace Argument in the Middle East - Ali in Wonderland or Crude (Oil) Reality?, presented at ECPR's Standing Group on International Relations fourth pan-European conference, 1 September.

The liberal peace argument makes a strong case for its theoretical argument and empirical findings that democracy and economic development are conducive to peace. However, little attention has been paid to Middle East peace and conflict from this perspective. Based on theory and empirical studies from the liberal peace tradition, this study looks into the correlates of conflict in the Middle East and compares them to their global counterparts. Research on resource dependent states show that oil has been more a curse than a blessing, both when it comes to economic development and democratization. Has this exceptional blend of circumstances also created a unique Middle Eastern recipe for conflict? Using international and domestic conflict as the independent variable, simple bivariate and logistic regression analysis is used to examine the correlation between interstate and intrastate armed conflict and the independent variables regimetype, economic development, trade, oil export, military expenditures and religion. Due to the study's limited time-period and number of observations, the findings were few. However, economic development recurred as a strong and consistent variable positively related to peace. Countries with a high level of oil-export were at a higher risk of being involved in conflict. More accountable and liberal Middle Eastern regimes would be of central importance to the region’s stability. Nevertheless, the emergence of a Middle Eastern liberal peace, on both dyadic, national and interstate levels, belongs to the realm of the optimistic future.

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