Outline of the book

The book proceeds as follows: Chapter 2 presents the theory and its scope and addresses methodological questions and alternative explanations. The empirical analysis in the form of a multiple comparative case study design applies the theoretical framework in Chapters 3, 4, 5, and 6. Chapter 3 introduces the Middle East monarchies and their interstate and inter-societal relations and presents a plausibility probe of monarchic cohesion in periods of a common threat - the Arab Cold War in the 1950s and 1960s and the Arab Spring after 2011. Because of the high threat level, not only was a shared identity among monarchies especially likely, but it was so strong that it not only impeded war between them but also made them ally against their opponents. This chapter contextualizes the monarchies' conflict and alliance patterns on the regional level and illustrates the theory. Chapter 4 presents two case studies where war between two monarchies was close and a real possibility for external observers, "near misses” of monarchic conflicts, and shows how monarchic ingroup identity contributed to de-escalation. The first case, that of Bahraini-Qatari relations, shows this process between two similar and close monarchies with an established joint identity that therefore shows a particularly clear case of ingroup identification, while the second explores the scope conditions to such an identification and illustrates the emergence of a common identity from previous rivals and even enemies. The two case studies of Chapter 5 conduct "quasi-experiments”: if shared monarchy is important for peace, what happens when one monarchy in the pair breaks down and changes its political system? These cases therefore serve to separate the effect of joint monarchism from other factors. Again, the first case is a "more likely” case of ingroup identification and subsequent breakdown of relations after regime change, namely Iraqi-Kuwaiti relations, which led to an all-out war in the post-monarchic period. The second case explores the limits of monarchic ingroup identification for a dyad that had strong asymmetries even during their jointly monarchic period in the case of Iran and the UAE but still had more cooperative relations than they had after regime change. In Chapter 6, two cases that merit examination and explanation will be shortly discussed: the Saudi-Yemeni War of 1934 and the Qatar Crisis that erupted in 2017. The findings will be summarized and discussed in the final chapter.


  • 1 Counting only authoritarian monarchies, if all formal monarchies (including the democratic monarchies) are counted, the number is far higher, about 34%-22% (Friske 2007, 125).
  • 2 The data is based on a regional definition that excludes Mauretania. Sudan, and Turkey. Adding these (conflict-prone) republics would provide even stronger evidence of monarchic restraint.
  • 3 Given that the contributions by Jordan and Saudi Arabia to the war effort in the Yom Kippur War of 1973 were merely symbolic (Pollack 2002, 348-350, 433), there is an argument to be made to exclude them, which would put Saudi Arabia in the “once” category, further bolstering the overall tendency.
  • 4 The CoW data set on interstate conflict formed the basis of this paragraph as well, in this case comprising all interstate wars in the Middle East where at least one Middle Eastern state was a direct participant.
  • 5 This is not an indictment of republics in general, because there are various differing subtypes among them that have widely differing rates of conflict participation and initiation (see e.g. Weeks 2012).
  • 6 The uncertainty arises from the missing fatality numbers for the disputes between Egypt and Jordan in June 1948 and between (North) Yemen and Britain in 1949 and 1956-1958.
  • 7 The UCDP defines “armed conflict” as “a contested incompatibility that concerns government and/or territory where the use of armed force between two parties, of which at least one is the government of a state, results in at least 25 battle-related deaths in a year" (Harbom, Melander, and Wallensteen 2008, 700).
  • 8 Even if we include the UK, which for the just-noted reasons belongs to a different category of state, the number merely increases to ten mixed dyads, including one monarchic participant. Six of those reach the highest intensity level of war.
  • 9 Although there is some debate on the differentiation between the two concepts, they will be used here interchangeably (cf. Kailitz and Kollner 2013, 9).
  • 10 Outside the Middle East, further authoritarian monarchies are found in Africa (Lesotho and Swaziland), Asia, and the Pacific (Bhutan. Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Malaysia [a federal electoral monarchy], Thailand, and Tonga). Controversial cases include the Vatican and Samoa (cf. Riescher and Thumfart 2008).
  • 11 The contemporary definition of monarchy, as exemplified by the Merriam-Webster encyclopedia is “a government having a hereditary chief of state with life tenure and powers varying from nominal to absolute” (monarchy 2012). Although that definition is somewhat Eurocentric in that it is skewed toward Commonwealth and European monarchies and excludes elective monarchies, of which the UAE (or Malaysia) is a representative, it is sufficiently conceptually narrow to serve as the basis for definition in this work.
  • 12 A monarchy is considered authoritarian if it scores below 7 on the Polity IV scale or “not free”/“party free” in the Freedom House categorization respectively. The United Arab Emirates is a slightly deviant case in that it is a federation of seven “mini-monarchies”, each with its own ruling families; the highest posts are the president and the prime minister and are selected. Still, it is a distinction without a difference for the analysis because the de jure “elected” head of state (president) and head of government (prime minister) of the federation are de facto hereditary since they are customarily occupied by the (hereditary) emirs of Abu Dhabi and Dubai respectively.
  • 13 The two elements can be independent. Because a common threat is as much a matter of perception as of material reality, a decrease in monarchies might enhance the feeling of threat. However, there is no necessary connection since there might be no clear common threat but a decreasing number of monarchies in the region - e.g. when the number of republics rises because of a wave of independence in new states.
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