This paper examines the evolving symbiosis of authoritarian state power and neoliberal governance in the Middle East in the wake of the 2007–8 economic crisis and popular uprisings in 2011–13. I revisit the debates on ‘authoritarian resilience’ in the region to highlight that the efforts to push through neoliberal reforms in the face of popular opposition have expanded the scope of authoritarian rule. However, the strengthening of the executive power further creates antagonisms which are bound to result in the weakening of the state’s institutional capacity and legitimacy to enforce those reforms. These considerations highlight the fissures of ‘authoritarian resilience’ in the region and signal that state centralization and the strengthening of executive power could produce avenues for contesting both neoliberalism and authoritarianism.
Forthcoming in vol. 118, no. 2 (April 2019)