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Resources and the Political Economy of State Fragility in Conflict States: Iraq and Somalia

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  • Dibeh, Ghassan

Abstract

This paper studies state failure and governance in two conflict-states in the Middle East: Iraq and Somalia. Iraq is currently undergoing a social experiment under which a new form of government is being constructed after the passage of autocratic rule. The government envisaged is a consociational democratic state designed a priori as a political mechanism for the redistribution of resources, mainly oil. Somalia represents a stateless society or anarchy. The paper argues that in resource-rich countries such as Iraq, the consociational project leads to an Olson-type rent-seeking confessional behaviour that hampers economic growth and development. The rent-seeking behaviour in Iraq is fuelling the insurgency that perceives the consociational system as a grabbing attempt of the country?s resources by other ethnic groups. However, state construction is possible since there is a positive economic effect of combining government and resources. In Somalia, on the other hand, the developments and the evolution of anarchy since state collapse in 1991 exemplify the result of prolonged conflict in a resource-poor state. The lack of resources, direct access of producers to resources and low productivity and weak redistributional potential of combining resources and government offer no material incentives to the various groups for resurrecting central authority.

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File URL: http://www.wider.unu.edu/stc/repec/pdfs/rp2008/rp2008-35.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER) in its series Working Paper Series with number RP2008/35.

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Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:rp2008-35

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Keywords: fragile states; political economy; resources;

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References

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  1. Christopher Foote & William Block & Keith Crane & Simon Gray, 2004. "Economic policy and prospects in Iraq," Public Policy Discussion Paper 04-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  2. Torvik, Ragnar, 2002. "Natural resources, rent seeking and welfare," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 455-470, April.
  3. Silje Aslaksen & Ragnar Torvik, 2005. "A theory of civil conflict and democracy in rentier states," Working Paper Series 5805, Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
  4. Olsson, Ola, 2003. "Conflict Diamonds," Working Papers in Economics 86, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised 30 Nov 2003.
  5. Dibeh, Ghassan, 2005. "The Political Economy of Postwar Reconstruction in Lebanon," Working Paper Series RP2005/44, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  6. Mubarak, Jamil A., 1997. "The "hidden hand" behind the resilience of the stateless economy of Somalia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(12), pages 2027-2041, December.
  7. Findlay, Ronald, 1989. "Is the new political economy relevant to developing countries ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 292, The World Bank.
  8. Leeson, Peter T., 2007. "Better off stateless: Somalia before and after government collapse," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 689-710, December.
  9. Karras, Georgios, 1996. "The Optimal Government Size: Further International Evidence on the Productivity of Government Services," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(2), pages 193-203, April.
  10. Martin C. McGuire & Mancur Olson Jr., 1996. "The Economics of Autocracy and Majority Rule: The Invisible Hand and the Use of Force," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 72-96, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Makochekanwa, Albert & Kwaramba, Marko, 2010. "Dwindling access to basic services in Zimbabwe," MPRA Paper 28271, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Amara, Jomana, 2012. "Implications of military stabilization efforts on economic development and security: The case of Iraq," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 244-254.

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