The Middle Eastern Exceptionalism theory characterizes the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with an inevitable, conflict-ridden nature that cannot be resolved. Such a theory, when adopted by policy makers and scholars, leads to misconceptions about the region. Amongst these misconceptions is blaming factors such as the dominance of the religion of Islam and social fractionalisation for the conflict in the region. More fundamental factors, such as poor economic conditions are then seen as mere results of such social characteristics. This study contends the theory of Middle Eastern Exceptionalism, and compares the factors that increase the likelihood of civil war globally to those in the MENA region. This study concludes that three economic factors have the greatest influence on increasing the likelihood of civil war, and these are: low income per capita, low economic growth, and large population size. It also finds that foreign intervention and religious fractionalisation increase the likelihood of civil war onset. Most importantly, however, the study presents strong results that there are no factors unique to the MENA region that increase its likelihood of civil conflict. This conclusion encourages policy makers to eliminate the theory of Middle Eastern Exceptionalism, and to instead adopt more tactical and proactive approaches in the region to treat the prevalent grievances that cause civil war.
The pattern of stagnating growth and underdevelopment remains an all too common phenomenon for countries with a colonial past, regardless of efforts by developmental economists and international organizations. In order to increase our understanding of what factors lead to this pattern, this study investigates the link between colonization and growth by examining trade characteristics of prior colonies. Using data from the World Bank, the IMF and the OECD, this study utilizes simultaneous equation modeling to determine how trade patterns can provide the link between colonization and the current state of underdevelopment in Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. This leads to a more refined understanding of why economic development fails to occur even in a period of booming international trade and globalization. Probing into the trade patterns of these nations, this paper answers the following question: Does colonial identity impact trade and growth patterns today? This study finds that history plays a role in determining how countries trade and grow, but the results are varied depending on the analysis utilized. Furthermore, there is a link between the types of goods traded and the growth of a nation, but trade in primary products does not necessarily limit a country’s growth potential.