The author would like to thank the following for reading and commenting on an earlier draft of this article: Christopher Davidson, Guilain Denoeux, Noureddine Jebnoun, Clement Henry, Steffen Hertog, Hazem Kandil, Roger Owen, Glenn Robinson and Bruce Stanley. The author is solely responsible for its contents.
"Deep states can only exist where citizens are unable to freely organize politically and so cannot change their governments through elections or subordinate militaries and intelligence services to their institutionalized control."
The term "deep state" came into American parlance in the early months of the Trump administration. Leaks to the media caused right-wing commentators to allege that a deep state wanted to "terminate" President Trump.1 To them, this deep state consisted of a "group of Obama-aligned critics, federal bureaucrats and intelligence figures, as well as the media."2 A counternarrative quickly emerged from the left that concurred in the existence of an American deep state, but asserted it was a "nexus of the national security apparatus, arms companies and corporate lobbies as the . . . all-pervasive shadow government dominating the political life of the country."3
Various publications then sought to define the term "deep state," generally agreeing that it originated in Turkey, where "secretive conspiracies hatched in the corridors of power and removed from the democratic process shadow the nation's politics."4 The Turkish derin devlet (deep state) was defined, for example in The Economist as a "network of individuals in different branches of government, with links to retired generals and organized crime, that existed without the knowledge of high-ranking military officers and politicians."5 The Middle Eastern origins of the term and its particular applicability to the politics of that region were then further emphasized with reference to Egypt, where it was said the one-year rule of President Muhammad Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood was undermined by that country's deep state — the bureaucracy, the military and the security services — all intent on "the perpetuation of the military-dominated political system."6
The "concept traveling" of the deep state from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to the United States is one of the few cases of an even quasi-social-science term originating there and then being generalized. One might even argue that this unusual case of a concept being exported from MENA is due to an implicit Orientalism, whereby the alleged infection of the normally healthy, democratic American body politic has been transmitted from the "East." Whether that was the conscious or possibly unconscious intent of those who borrowed the term to characterize contemporary American politics is less relevant than is the fact that it is a clear case of what Giovanni Sartori identified as "concept stretching": extracting a concept out of the context in which it was developed and changing its meaning.7
The alleged American deep state, if such a state exists, is but a pale shadow of its Turkish and Egyptian counterparts as it does not rest upon a a coercive institution aimed at domestic opponents. For commentators on the left and right who claim to have spied out a U.S. deep state including the involvement of the military, the CIA and the FBI, that involvement is described as individuals leaking confidential information, not battalions of armed men assaulting governing institutions or undercover agents assassinating civilian politicians.8 By contrast, the Turkish deep state is described as having seized power directly on more than one occasion through coups d'état and physically liquidating perceived political opponents and their political organizations. Its Egyptian counterpart has been accused of similar transgressions on the rights and powers of civilians and their institutions. At most, the alleged U.S. deep state is a very shallow version of the prototype. Because it is generally characterized as an informal network of disobedient public officials leaking information to the media — maybe even just individual leakers, rather than armed personnel acting in concert — it seems a case of a concept having been stretched too far.
AMBIGUOUS EVEN IN MENA
This is not to suggest, however, that the concept has been clearly defined theoretically or systematically operationalized even in its Middle Eastern homeland. A key difference in the alleged natures of the Turkish and Egyptian deep states is reflective of such ambiguity. The former is typically described as in The Economist: a network linking those occupying formal roles in the military and intelligence services with a range of civilian actors, including criminals and thugs, but "without the knowledge of high-ranking military officers and politicians."9 So, in Turkey, the surreptitious deep state has not been thought of as a direct instrument of rule at the disposal of an incumbent regime, but as a freelance network arrogating to itself the right and power to set the parameters within which government can operate.10 By contrast, the deep state in Egypt is depicted as an extension of the regime: the inter-institutional, largely formalized, network upon which it relies to implement its rule.11
Paradoxically, although Turkey was the progenitor of the concept, in its subsequent generalization in the Middle East the deep state came to be viewed more as the Egyptian than the Turkish variant. It has not been seen in most MENA countries as just a "hidden hand" keeping the ship of state on course, without a regime hand on the rudder. Instead, the Egyptian model of the regime and deep state as flip sides of the same coin has been deemed more characteristic of MENA polities.
This evolution of the deep state from an independent actor defining the boundaries of politics, to a if not the constituent element of regimes themselves, began not in Egypt, but in Iraq, where Charles Tripp detected the existence of what he termed a "shadow state."12 He traced the origins of the Iraqi variant back a century, arguing that it "consisted of official Iraqi institutions and hidden networks of power and patronage" that constituted a state parallel to the formal, official one and through which initially the British, then the Baath and Saddam, and finally the Dawa party, with its allied Badr Organization and sundry Shia allies, have ruled the country.
Conceptualization of the deep state as the "real" state, constituting either or both the institutions and networks through which the regime rules, is not restricted to Arab states. In recent years, even Turkey's deep state has been redefined by some observers as now the means through which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AK (Justice and Development) Party govern the country after having dispatched first the military-Kemalist deep state, then the Gulenist one, in some 15 years of subterranean political war. Observers of Iran also generally concur that the country is run by a deep state, but disagree over its composition. Some argue it comprises solely the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) acting in concert with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and others that it is the broader "intricate security, intelligence and economic superstructure" cobbled together by him.13
Increasing use of the deep-state concept by experts on MENA suggests that it may be more than just an omnibus conspiracy theory employed by detractors of a particular government. It may accurately describe political reality in at least some MENA, and possibly non-MENA, countries; and it may be a useful concept with which to understand politics and even economics in those countries. But for the deep state to be a useful conceptual tool, its origins, functions and variations must be clarified.
ORIGINS AND FUNCTIONS
History has shaped contemporary MENA political institutions, including deep states, which are just as beholden to national legacies as are the more visible super-structural state institutions such as parliaments and legal/judicial systems, most copied from those of the colonial powers. Which historical era should be emphasized as having initiated the path dependency that led to the proliferation of MENA deep states is, however, a matter of contention, the three in question being the precolonial, colonial and postcolonial ones.
In his From Deep State to Islamic State, Jean-Pierre Filiu refers to those in control of deep states as "modern Mamluks."14 These medieval "slave" rulers of Egypt and the Levant, according to Filiu, first established the system of government that has served as a prototype for contemporary deep states. Foreign to the countries they ruled, Mamluks constituted a military elite, "a counter-society. . .alienated from local Arab societies. . . ." They widened, according to him, "the classical Islamic divide between the ruling elite or khassa (the 'special' ones) and the masses of the amma (the 'ordinary' ones)," while militarizing government, subjecting the vizier, the nominal civilian ruler, to their control.15 Filiu analogizes rulers of most postcolonial Arab republics to these Mamluks, who, "like their medieval predecessors, lacked the legitimacy of century-long dynasties . . . (coming) from lower social strata, where the army was the only route to social promotion."16
By contrast, Tripp traces contemporary deep states back to the colonial period. According to him the British, opposed to the creation of a modern, democratic nation-state in Iraq, created instead "a dual state — one official and the other a shadow state — consisting of official Iraqi institutions and hidden networks of power and patronage based on allegiance and respect." These institutions and networks were, according to Tripp, "run by British officers, who had little stake or faith in democracy."17 The culture of "patronage and provincial alliances" they established was inherited by Sunni Arabs of northwestern Iraq, who left the Kurds and the Shiites "outside the benefits of the formation of a new state," so much so that "Iraqis were well aware that power did not lie with the official state," but with a deep state, which became the "vehicle for the accumulation of wealth, power, and prestige."18 Tripp concludes by noting that the lineage of the shadow state extends up to the present. "Despite being twentieth century history, all of this has a very contemporary ring," as reflected in the shadow state established by Nouri Kamal al Maliki and his Dawa party associates and Iranian backers in the wake of the overthrow of Saddam, copying, as they did, what the British had done in 1920 and the Americans in 2003.19
Joseph Sassoon explains contemporary authoritarian rule in eight Arab republics as constituting networks linking political parties, intelligence services, the military, presidencies and economic actors, both public and private. He paints a personalized picture of human and institutional interactions in these deep states, although he does not use the term.20 In explaining the origins of these political orders, he references the long and, in his view, unbroken history of authoritarian government dating back to the Ottoman Empire and continuing through British, French and Italian colonial rule, then in postcolonial states before taking on contemporary forms. Today's deep states are the manifestation of a seamless web of authoritarian political tradition.
Whatever allegedly formative historical period emphasized, analysts concur that MENA's path dependency is one of authoritarianism, political power having long been concentrated in the hands of those with coercive power and those recruited to assist them — in effect, a deep state. The specific causal factors embedded in these accounts differ, but one theme predominates: the resources necessary to build and sustain these states were primarily exogenous rather than generated and extracted from within national political economies. Some were acquired by plunder and conquest, as in the case of the Mamluks; from imperial powers, in the case of the colonial states; or from rents derived through fossil-fuel exports or geopolitical leverage, in the case of postcolonial and now post-postcolonial states. This ready availability of exogenous resources militated against MENA states developing national economies and extracting resources from them for public purposes.21 The motor force of state building in Europe, external war, was less powerful in MENA because militaries were supported more by external patrons than by the resources of their own countries.
The purposes of MENA deep states were thus not those of performing the three critical governing tasks of providing security to the population as a whole, developing the national economy, and building inclusive societies, economies and polities. Instead, MENA deep states were intended to impose control over potentially fractious, disobedient populations; to gatekeep the ruling coalition to ensure its members' disproportionate shares of power and material resources; and to prevent or mitigate conflict arising within that elite. The logic of deep states was inimical to good governance. National populations could not be made secure, say through effective and impartial policing, lest that security embolden them to organize and place collective political and economic demands on the system. So deep states heightened insecurity and intimidated and divided those they ruled. Potential development of national economies by autonomous actors posed threats to deep states, as the endogenous resources such development would generate might accrue to and strengthen independent, even oppositional, forces. Economic development, therefore, had to be carefully supervised by deep states, which were willing to accept the tradeoff of slower development for more assured control and the rents made available by it. Finally, deep states could not grant universal citizenship rights without threatening the elite-dominated order that they monitored.
Deep states, in sum, were incentivized to provide bad governance and to do so as secretly as possible. Rendering their self-serving objectives and powers manifest would have been counterproductive. So deep states were hidden behind super-structural institutions and their official, if largely meaningless, rhetoric and stated purposes. Visible, public politics was reduced to the status of what Mohammed Hachemaoui has labeled, with reference to Algeria, as "pseudopolitics . . . such politics that works in order to render real politics invisible."22 According to him, the Algerian deep state sponsors elections, legislative assemblies, constitutional conventions and other nominal democratic practices "because they do not affect policymaking or the composition of the ruling elite." They are tools of control and camouflage for real decision-making organizations, intended "not to govern or to represent but to implement state policy."23 The pseudopolitics of Algeria thus borders on the farcical; governments have lasted on average just over one year. Eighty-year-old President Abdalaziz Bouteflika, in his fourth term, confined by one or more strokes to a wheelchair and rarely seen in public, is being lined up for a fifth term by his deep-state backers, including his brother, Said.24
DIMENSIONS OF VARIATION
MENA deep states have common historical origins, are driven by shared rationales, and serve the same control, gatekeeping and internal conflict-mitigation functions. They differ, however, in their formation, composition and resource bases. As previously mentioned with reference to Turkey and Egypt, deep states vary in their relationship with other actors in the national political economy. These relations range from the deep state's being virtually indistinguishable from the formal ruling elite — as in the cases of Egypt and Saddam's Iraq — to being independent but supportive of that elite — as in the case of Turkey prior to the AK Party's rise to power — to being in opposition to the formal government, or at least some components of it, as in contemporary Lebanon.
The second dimension of comparison is the nature of the deep states' composition: the degree to which they are based on formal institutions as opposed to informal networks, and the degree to which those informal networks are embedded in larger social formations, such as tribes and religious, ethnic, regional or other groupings. Egypt's deep state is at the formal end of the spectrum, comprised primarily of the military, intelligence and presidential institutions, among which and from which extend both formal relationships and informal networks. The latter are utilitarian rather than affective, born out of self-interest, sometimes reinforced by kinship or friendships, but not out of deeper social formations.
In Saddam's Iraq and the Assads' Syria, by contrast, the institutional bases of deep states — primarily the office of the president, the intelligence services, selected units of the military and leaders of the Baath party — were recruited primarily from Sunni Arabs or Alawis, respectively. The networks within them were of greater importance than formal institutional hierarchies, comprising yet another subterranean layer under the formal state. In Iraq, for example, the "shadow state," to use Tripp's term, was reflected in the appointment by Saddam of "non-Arab Sunnis in many symbolically prominent positions," coupled with his decision "to staff the inner circle with Sunni Arab members of the Baath descending mainly from the northwest of Baghdad, where his tribe was dominant." As for the public administration, it was "a hollow shell," reflecting the fact that the shadow state was "a network of power functioning under the shadow . . . of the actual state."25
Algeria's deep state resembles Turkey's, in that it has operated more independently of the country's leader than, say, Egypt's. As in Turkey, it is based primarily on the military, but in Algeria the key intelligence service has played a more substantial role in the deep state than has Turkey's. The high command of the Algerian military has been more fragmented than Turkey's, and networks have extended from generals down into social forces formed of tribal and regional loyalties.26
The deep state that underpinned Zein al Abadin Ben Ali's rule in Tunisia differed from its Egyptian, Turkish and Algerian counterparts in that it rested much more heavily on the intelligence services than the military. In addition, the familial network of Ben Ali and his two wives appears to have played a more central role than equivalent networks in those other countries. As for being rooted in a social force, Ben Ali's deep state was drawn disproportionately from the favored coastal regions, so was less inclusive than Egypt's or Turkey's, but less regionally or tribally rooted than Algeria's.
In sum, these MENA deep states differ in their relations with the ruling elite and are rooted in various ways in a mix of formal institutions and informal networks, the latter drawn in differing degrees from specific social forces. But in all cases, they take much more corporate form and have more coercive bite than the hypothesized American deep state.
The types and magnitude of resources upon which the power of deep states rests is the third dimension of their variation. These resources are material, ideational and relational, the material ones being the most important. Some are provided directly by the state, and others are garnered and controlled independently by the deep state itself. In the former category are human and physical resources, such as military and security personnel and equipment, as well as public economic enterprises, including their personnel, capital equipment and outputs, over which deep states have official control, such as in military-owned and operated enterprises.
Resources generated and controlled by deep states independently of the government consist of those created or captured through both legal and illegal activities. In the former category are resources parasitic on the state, such as employment of retired military and security officers in the civil administration or state-owned enterprises, as well as those spawned through the deep state's undertakings made possible by its networks, such as companies formed of ex-officers that derive rents from state contracting or restrictions on competition.
Resources generated by the illegal activities of deep states range from the relatively benign, such as bribes and kickbacks in contracting, to the truly malignant, such as drugs, arms and oil smuggling, human trafficking, and shakedown rackets. Along the resource sub-dimensions, one can thus plot relatively wealthy, integrated, centralized and legalized deep states, such as Egypt's, to those more closely resembling international mafia organizations, such as that of Qadhafi's Libya.
Ideational resources are those both internal to the deep state and projected by it. The internal ones are the messages and means of delivering them through which the deep state maintains its own ideological coherence. The Turkish deep state, for example, depended heavily on the Kemalist message propagated in military academies, a message that underscored not just the ideology of the state's founding father, but the responsibility and indeed the right of the deep state to defend it, including from Turks themselves who might not subscribe to Kemalist secularism. Iran's IRGC, which comprises either a part or virtually the entirety of that country's deep state, is yet more ideologically coherent, again with associated, self-assumed responsibilities and rights to defend the "Islamic Revolution," of which the Iranian state and even nation are defined as the products.
The standard message of deep states to their members, conveyed through a variety of methods of indoctrination, is that sovereignty is vested in them, not in the population as a whole, which is too naïve, untrustworthy, and maybe even disloyal to hold the nation's fate in its hands. Brigadier General Yadollah Javani, for example, one of the leading "theoreticians" in the IRGC, argues that the Iranian identity is composed of "Islam, revolution and historical depth," all of which render it subject to permanent, unceasing attack by "America and the Zionist regime," from which it can only be successfully defended by the IRGC.27
Ideational resources vary in the capacities of institutions devoted to the task of propagating the deep state's message of its own legitimacy, in the coherence and acceptance of that message, and in the degree of formalization of these communications. Turkey prior to the rise of the AK Party and contemporary Iran, for example, developed institutions to formulate and propagate coherent messages of justification for the deep state, which persuaded large segments of their respective populations. In Yemen, by contrast, the deep state under Ali Abdullah Salih had neither the capacity nor the will to develop and project an equivalent message. That state rested on informal networks snaking through the military and intelligence services, linking together members of Saleh's Sanhan tribe and connecting them to the broader Hashad confederation, from whose heartland in three northern provinces almost two-thirds of the entire military was recruited.28
Relational resources consist of formal and informal linkages that connect the deep state internally to formal state institutions, and outward into civil and political societies, including the economy. Some deep states, like that of Egypt, possess sprawling networks that connect its constituent institutions and its whole into the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, into civil-society organizations and political parties, and into public and private sectors of the economy. Ben Ali's deep state in Tunisia was not as interlinked, in part because it depended more on his family ties, and in part because, based on the intelligence services rather than the military, it was smaller and lacked its own institutionally generated material resources. Consequently, Tunisian political and civil-society institutions, enjoying more freedom from the deep state than Egypt's, were able to play more effective roles than their Egyptian counterparts once their respective regimes collapsed.
Indeed, given the opacity of deep states, it is only when regimes collapse above them that their true nature and strength is revealed. Tunisia's was not strong enough nor sufficiently independent of Ben Ali to reconstitute itself, although its coercive residues still lurk under today's democratically elected government.29 The legal framework created by Ben Ali to develop and protect the financial interests of his cronies within the deep state also remains unchanged.30 Egypt's deep state, by contrast, more independent of Mubarak and more firmly based in the military, quickly reasserted its power after the 2011 uprising.
The manner in which deep states are reconstituted reflects the distribution of power within them. In the Soviet Union, for example, run by the police rather than the military, the intelligence services provided the institutional base and linkages upon which Vladimir Putin built his successor regime to the transitional one presided over by the hapless Boris Yeltsin. Through first the KGB, then its successor organization, the FSB, Putin spread his personal network into the military, political organizations and, most important, the freshly privatized economy, the reins of power of which he plucked from the hands of Yeltsin-era oligarchs and placed in the hands of his own cronies.
The struggle by remnants of Ali Abdullah Salih's deep state to reconstitute their power after losing it in 2012 reflected its more informal, personalized nature and its tribal base. The coercive power of that deep state was vested primarily in military units commanded by Salih's son and other relatives, which deserted the elected successor government headed by President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. Lacking the capacity to unseat that government by itself, these military units under Salih-family leadership forged a tactical alliance with the Houthi insurgency against which the Salih regime had paradoxically previously conducted a decade-long counterinsurgency. Similarly, in Libya, residues of Qadhafi's deep state, in the form of his son Saif al Islam, along with his supporters, combined with military units gathered under the leadership of former Qadhafi general-turned-CIA-agent Khalifa Haftar, are operating in tandem and with the external support of Egypt and the UAE to bring down the Tripoli-based competitive successor government to Muamar Qadhafi.
Given variations in the composition, internal and external relationships, and resources of deep states, it is hardly surprising that they take different forms even in MENA, to say nothing of other regions. But such variation is also true of parliamentary democracies, which are commonly deemed to constitute a distinctive type of political system. The deep-state concept refers to a mode of governance as similar across cases as is parliamentary democracy. Deep states, however, are more complex and difficult to understand, not only because of their novelty in social-science analysis, but because they are purposely hidden from view by those within or allied to them, and because they can be formed from the top down by ruling elites, or from the bottom up by strivers seeking to displace incumbent elites or to fill a leadership vacuum.
TOP-DOWN AND BOTTOM-UP
The four surviving examples of top-down deep states among the MENA republics — Iran, Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria — have not coincidentally been built in countries with much more homogenous populations and more robust histories of statehood than the Arab countries where bottom-up state building based on particular social forces is now underway. If it enjoyed real sovereignty, Palestine would also qualify as an Arab country whose political system rests on a deep state constructed by its leadership, though in this case there are two — one under the control of Fatah and the Palestine Authority it dominates in the West Bank, the other being put together by Hamas in Gaza.
Of these "four and a half" MENA countries, Tunisia stands out as the one in which the postcolonial deep state, presided over first by the founding father, Habib Burguiba, then by Ben Ali, has not been reconstructed as yet in the post-postcolonial period that commenced with the latter's overthrow in early 2011. The residue of the core of the Tunisian deep state, centered in the intelligence service, has thus far rebuffed efforts by elected governments to reform it and subordinate it to constitutional authority. The Tunisian military also remains largely beyond institutionalized civilian control, leaving open the possibility that a deep state could be reconstructed on one of these institutional legs, or in a dual or even tripartite alliance involving a civilian political actor.
Deep states constructed from the bottom up in the wake of state collapse have in all cases been erected on the foundations of particular social forces, or, in the case of contemporary Turkey, a political movement that embodies exclusionary interpretations of Sunni Islam and Turkish nationalism, thereby essentially denying equal citizenship rights to minorities. The profound dependence on external support of bottom-up deep-state building efforts in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Syria reflects their inherent weakness resulting from their reliance upon networks within a dominant social force. Such deep, deep states are necessarily the most repressive and least inclusive.
In the case of Lebanon, the social force in question is that of Arab Shii Muslims, organized since the early 1980s by Hezbollah under the tutelage and with the support of its Iranian backer. Hezbollah has come to penetrate and exert predominant influence over most state institutions, including the military. By 2017, it had accumulated sufficient power to impose Maronite Christian Michel Aoun, its choice for president, on the country and looked set to consolidate control of parliament in the 2018 elections, thanks to a favorable new electoral law it managed to have adopted.
Crucial to Hezbollah's erecting a deep state with which to penetrate and control the nominal state was its accumulation of coercive power, initially by building its own militia with Iranian backing, which ultimately has come to outgun the weaker Lebanese army, and then by becoming the dominant force within the army itself. Accompanying this process was an ever-expanding propaganda effort to identify Hezbollah's aims with the national interest and present that organization as the primary defender of the sovereignty and welfare of Lebanon. The apotheosis of this public-relations campaign was reached during Hezbollah's successful summer 2017 offensive against the jihadi organization Tahrir al Sham in Arsal, which borders Syria. Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah claimed in a televised speech on July 26 that Hezbollah's victory was for "all Lebanese and peoples in the region, Christians and Muslims, who have suffered from takfiri terrorism."31 The speech was preceded by footage showing Hezbollah troops replacing Tahrir al Sham's flags with newly created ones divided between the Lebanese flag on the top and Hezbollah's on the bottom.32 Hezbollah's media simultaneously launched a campaign under the motto "army, people, resistance," with the message that it has become the primary defender of the vulnerable Lebanese nation.
Resources for Hezbollah's deep-state building project come from three sources. The initial provider was Iran, which continues to allocate to it some $200 million annually for "political and social services," as well as military aid, a figure that substantially exceeds the $80 million in foreign assistance provided to the Lebanese Armed Forces by various Western countries.33 The next resource to be tapped as Hezbollah's strength increased was a range of illegal activities, key of which was drug smuggling, which expanded from its original focus on hashish from Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, one of the two heartlands of Hezbollah, into a wide array of illegal substances, including the Arabian Peninsula's "most popular illegal drug," Captagon, of which Hezbollah had by 2015 become "the only faction systematically involved in producing the drug."34 Finally, as Hezbollah's penetration of the Lebanese state increased, it increasingly drained resources away from it through both legal and illegal, direct and indirect means, from allocations for reconstruction conducted by Hezbollah-controlled companies to complicity by Hezbollah-penetrated security services in smuggling.
The Lebanese prototype of construction from the bottom up of a deep state is currently being replicated in Iraq, with similar, if less successful, efforts also underway in Syria, Yemen and Libya. In Iraq and Syria, Hezbollah itself, under Iran's guidance, is playing a direct role in training and equipping militias overwhelmingly composed of local Shii.35 As in Lebanon, these militias, usually with their attendant party organizations, appear to be implementing a three-phased program. The initial phase is building a political-military capacity with external support, in these three cases directly or indirectly provided by Iran. Following on from that is the penetration of the state's administrative, political and judicial institutions and then, if possible, assertion of direct control over the state, as has been achieved in Lebanon, where Hezbollah is steadily eliding the distinction between itself and the nation's interests and, indeed, sovereignty.
Iraq has traveled furthest down this path of the hollowing out of the existing state by a deep state built upon a social force — again, Arab Shii Muslims. Unlike in Lebanon, however, the organizational vehicle through which Iran has sought to hollow out the Iraqi state erected in the wake of the 2003 American invasion has been composed of multiple overlapping and intertwined political and military organizations. This has camouflaged Iran's involvement and enabled it to better manipulate potentially rebellious Iraqi allies and outright clients. The Badr Organization has since 2014 become "Iran's most important instrument in Iraq," so tracing its rise is equivalent to mapping the expansion of the emerging deep state more generally.36
As in Lebanon with Hezbollah, the initial phase in the development of the Badr Organization was focused on its coercive capacities. It was founded as the Badr Corps in 1983, probably not by coincidence the same year in which Hezbollah was created. Initially the armed wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), composed overwhelmingly of Shii who fled Saddam's Iraq to Iran, it was under direct operational control of Iran's then newly created Quds (Jerusalem) Force within the IRGC and linked through it to Hezbollah. It was renamed the Badr Organization in 2003, when it entered Iraq in the wake of the U.S. invasion, with which it temporarily cooperated. Under the cloak of SCIRI — in 2007 renamed the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq — it was a key base of support for the government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, formed in 2006.
As the main coercive arm of Iran's subterranean intervention, one increasingly involved in combat against American troops, the Badr Organization necessarily played a more covert political role, this division of labor between coercion and politics widening as violence and the need for armed forces intensified. In 2007, Badr's former official leader and probably still its actual one, Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, founded the Kataib (Battalions) Hezbollah, also under the IRGC and used by it as the key force to combat American troops. Under the triumvirate of Badr, the Supreme Council and Kataib Hezbollah, several smaller militias cum political organizations were created. This complicated network of personal and organizational ties took on an ever-more coherent deep-state form, reaching new heights during the fight against ISIS from 2014 to 2017. In that initial year, the Badr Organization and Kataib Hezbollah assumed command of the so-called Popular Mobilization Forces (al Hashd al Shabi), the creation of which marked the transition of this collection of Shia militias into a — if not the — principal coercive force of the Iraqi state.
The transition was facilitated by the capture of state resources resulting from these interlinked Shia military and political organizations penetrating the state superstructure. Drawing upon these governmental resources provided through the ministries of transport and interior and from control over Diyala and other governorates, the Badr Organization had by 2017 built up its forces to some 50,000 men under arms, supported by heavy artillery, armored troop carriers and tanks.37 The budget provided by the government of Iraq to the Popular Mobilization Forces, of which the Badr Organization is the strongest component, was, in 2016, $1.5 billion, half a billion dollars more than in the previous year, despite a dramatic downturn in governmental revenues. According to one analyst, "The Badr Organization is well on its way to establishing a state within a state that is dependent on Iran."38
That deep state is purging those possibly opposed to it within vital institutions of the superstructural state. In the summer of 2017, for example, Foreign Minister Ibrahim al Jaafari, former prime minister and Dawa party spokesman, recalled and then fired 40 senior diplomats, most of whom were Sunnis and none of whom had links to Dawa or other organizations allied with Iran.39 With the power of the deep state becoming ever more apparent, and hence threatening to Iraqis not in or allied to it, a growing number of politicians, including prominent Shii, such as Muqtada al Sadr, began to distance themselves from it and its Iranian backer, hoping the 2018 elections might provide them an opportunity to at least staunch the flow of resources from the government into the deep state. The case of Lebanon suggests, however, that once a deep state has grown from the bottom up on the back of a social force supported by a powerful external actor, it is almost impossible to contain. If it comes to possess dominant coercive power, as Hezbollah has in Lebanon, even members of other social forces will submit to the deep state's will and seek its protection, as many Christians have done in Lebanon and a substantial number of them, as well as Sunni Muslims, in Iraq.
Bottom-up deep-state building projects in Syria, Libya and Yemen differ from those in Lebanon and Iraq in several regards, key of which is that in each country alternative state-building projects have been underway simultaneously as opposing forces struggle to gain political pre-eminence and a claim over sovereignty. In Syria, the Damascus-based government headed by Bashar al Assad would have been overrun in the absence of external support provided originally by Iran and subsequently by Russia. Presumably as a result of its aid, Iran will have substantially increased its influence within Assad's government, most notably in the military, associated militias and intelligence services. Whether this will result in those Iranian-backed elements' becoming key actors within a reconstructed deep state, as they have in Lebanon and Iraq, remains to be seen. The Syrian opposition never succeeded in erecting an alternative government, to say nothing of a deep state, even though it continues to hold patches of territory in various parts of the country. The ISIS state-building project centered on Raqqa has also failed, leaving the tattered Iranian-backed Damascus government in a pre-eminent position, though a weak one from which reconstruction of an Alawi-controlled deep state, even with dedicated Iranian support, seems a Herculian task.
In Libya, remnants of Qadhafi's deep state headquartered in Benghazi and backed by the UAE, Egypt and Russia contest for power with an amalgam of Islamist forces centered on Tripoli and backed by Qatar and Turkey, where the UN-backed, neutral government is also based. Just as in Syria, then, the bottom-up deep-state building project of opposed forces, in this case with the UN-backed government in the middle, seems a stretch too far. The same is true in Yemen, where the remnants of former President Ali Abdullah Salih's deep state, allied until November 2017 with the Houthi Shia movement in the north and backed by Iran, controlled Sanaa and much of the old North Yemen. The "legal" government of President Hadi, elected in 2012 and backed primarily by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, was headquartered in Aden in the former South, where various forces — key of which are al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, various salafi groupings and al hirak al junubi (Southern Movement) — also contested for power. With UAE backing, southern separatists succeeded in early 2018 in gaining control in Aden, ousting Hadi's forces. As in Syria and Libya, power remains too fragmented for any of the contesting parties easily to establish predominance, to say nothing of total control. But if any one actor did prevail through force of arms, it would have to base its rule on a deep state built upon the principle and mission of subduing and excluding from power much of the population, as is the case in Lebanon and Iraq.
Turkey is the other MENA republic within which bottom-up deep-state building projects have occurred. In its case, three have been pursued sequentially. The first was the Kemalist deep state erected on the main foundation of the military but extending through informal networks into even the criminal underworld. With four coups in its republican history, to say nothing of dirty wars against Kurds and repressive measures and systematic violations of the human and civil rights of those in the leftist and Islamist political oppositions, the deep state gradually became the primary target of opposition forces, far and away the most important of which were Islamists. Their operating assumption, based on two generations' political experience with the Kemalist deep state, was that they could not assume sovereign power through strictly democratic means. They would have to construct their own parallel deep state to neutralize the Kemalist one.
They began the project under Turgut Ozal, who as the civilian prime minister following the military government that ruled from 1980 to 1983, opened both political and economic space for Islamists, presumably partly out of sympathy and partly out of the calculation of his need for a political support base to reduce the deep state's leverage over him. This opening ultimately gave rise to competitive Islamist deep states. The first to emerge was that associated with Fethullah Gulen, originally a village imam whose moderate Islamist message, combined with his organizational skills, enabled him to construct a sprawling network that included as many as three million members in Turkey, hundreds of schools there and worldwide, the prominent newspaper Zaman and Samanyolu television network, Bank Asya, and from the mid-1990s on, increasing penetration of nonstate and state institutions, ranging from the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON) and parliament, where it had some 60 members (10 percent of the total), to institutions more central to power, such as the police force and judiciary, the bedrocks of the Gulenist deep state.40 By 2013, it had also made inroads into the military.
The exact nature of the relationship between the sprawling Gulenist network and the political party face of Turkish Islamism remains unclear. It could have been a conscious division of labor, or simply two like-minded actors coordinating their efforts. In any event, initially the Welfare Party in the mid-1990s provided the political face for Islamism, while the Gulenists provided organizational and institutional muscle to support it. After that party was dismissed from government and declared illegal in 1998, as a result of pressure from the Kemalist deep state, its role was inherited by the AK Party, which assumed government following its success in the 2002 parliamentary election. At some stage, most probably once Recep Tayyip Erdogan became prime minister, the political face of the Islamist movement embodied in the AK Party began to construct its own deep state, lest it be dependent upon and possibly even replaced by the Gulenists. But between 2002 and 2013, cooperation enabled them to root out the Kemalist deep state, a task they managed primarily through their control of the judiciary and police forces. Having finally uprooted it by 2013, the Gulenist-AK Party alliance collapsed as both sides sought to inherit the powers of the Kemalist deep state.
Over the following three years, a subterranean war, conducted initially within the court system and among the police forces, then in the military, was played out, with Erdogan and his deep state ultimately defeating the Gulenists, who were purged by the tens of thousands from state institutions and private organizations, including business and the media, in the wake of the failed July 2016 coup that Erdogan accused them of having organized. The high command of the military, along with the mid-ranking officer corps, was decimated by these purges, which within a year of the failed coup attempt had resulted in the discharge of fully half of the high command, suggesting that in one fell swoop Erdogan, now president serving under the new, undemocratic constitution drafted with his supervision and approved in April 2017, had mopped up the remnants of both the Kemalist and Gulenist deep states.41
The Turkish case thus exemplifies the "pseudopolitics" associated with deep states: the determinative struggles for power were within and between deep states. It is true that the formal political superstructure played a more important role in Turkey than in Algeria. Actors in the Turkish deep state had to take account of elections and parliaments over which they could not exert absolute control. Yet, ultimately, the decisive struggle for power took place between the competitive deep states.42 In Algeria, by contrast, with the exception of the period 1989-91, when the deep state was divided and thus opened the door to a free and fair election, the deep state has ensured that all politics are of the pseudo variety. They have no real impact on political outcomes, which are determined entirely by the deep state itself.
DIFFERING RESOURCES OF DEEP STATES
The types and quantities of material resources under the control of deep states reflect their nature, but also the sources and magnitudes of the nation's wealth. Deep states rely primarily on plunder and criminal earnings, with the balance between them determined primarily by the amount of resources under the nation-state's control. In the wealthy oil exporters, including Libya and Iraq, Qadhafi's and Saddam's deep states simply plundered oil revenues, having little need for additional earnings from crime. Syria and Yemen, with substantially smaller hydrocarbon-generated revenues, gave rise to deep states that plundered oil revenues but also siphoned off additional ones by creating monopolies for those within the ruling elite, and by engaging in criminal activities, typically smuggling.43 After the 2011 uprising in Syria, violence and criminality became yet more central to its deep state's revenue generation. Former pillars of the business community were forcibly displaced by militia leaders, and "new trading and smuggling rings displaced the old landowning nobility at the top of the social pyramid." One such militia figure based in Latakia is Ahmad al Foz, whose profits from extortion, theft and smuggling, condoned and even assisted by the elite around Bashar al Assad, enabled him to purchase the very symbol of the old Damascene elite, the Orient Club.44
Top-down, relatively institutionalized deep states raise the bulk of their revenues through plunder rather than theft. Algeria's earnings from oil and gas exports have been sufficient to sustain its deep state since resources seized from French colonialists financed its construction in the wake of their departure. Iran's fossil-fuel export earnings have been proportionately less, so in addition to plundering them, the deep state has generated further rents by creating monopolies, preferential access and other legal and semi-legal means that favor elements within the ruling elite that the deep state gate-keeps.45 The very language of those within the Office of the Supreme Leader and the IRGC reflects their bifurcated view of the political economy, as they verbally divide the population into "one of us" (khodi) and "not one of us" (naa-khodi).46 Among the former is the Bonyad-e Mostazafan, a religious foundation whose ostensible purpose is to provide charity for the poor. In reality, the multibillion-dollar enterprise is "a slush fund for regime insiders and particularly the generals from the Revolutionary Guards."47 This bonyad and its assets are but the tip of the iceberg of the deep state's economic empire, which also includes the country's largest engineering firm, Khatam al Anbiya Construction Headquarters, which employs more than 160,000.48 The "semi-state sector," which includes "religious, revolutionary, military foundations and cooperatives, as well as social security and pension funds," is larger than the private or public sector. At its heart is the "network of companies around the IRGC," which expanded enormously during the 2005-13 presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. At that time, the head of the Khatam al Anbiya, Rostam Qassemi, was made minister of petroleum, thereby opening up that sector even further for the IRGC.49
Egypt's deep state also depended initially on assets seized from the colonial power and the comprador bourgeoisie that prospered in its shadow, then from oil and gas export revenues and internal allocations of those fuels to energy-intensive processing industries owned by cronies. Revenues derived from hydrocarbons have never been sufficient, however, so they have been augmented through a legalized system of crony capitalism that created rents in various sectors of the domestic economy, probably the largest being derived from the allocation of state land for private purposes. Tunisia's endowment of natural resources is even less than Egypt's, so its deep state has had to rely even more heavily on cronyism, aptly described in a 2014 World Bank report.50 Tax data analyzed after the fall of the Ben Ali regime revealed that 220 companies owned by his relatives "earned 21 percent of all the country's private-sector profits between 1996 and 2010, in large part benefitting from rules in their favor."51 As a World Bank co-author of the report noted, "There is nothing illegal happening here, it is just that these laws do not necessarily benefit the public."52 In other words, Ben Ali's deep state plundered rather than stole.
Turkey's sequential deep states have amassed resources differently. The Kemalist deep state, more authorized than created by a ruling military, hence based more in informal networks than established relationships between formal state institutions, garnered resources through both plunder and theft. The military economy provided it with access to state funding, while the government's extensive intervention into the economy enabled it to favor a Kemalist economic elite that dominated industry and finance and provided resources to sustain the networked deep state. As for theft, connections into Turkey's criminal underworld, heavily involved in drug smuggling among other nefarious activities, provided the networked Kemalist deep state with straight-out illegal gains.
What ultimately led to the dismantling of that deep state was its relative tolerance of oppositional political and economic activities. The latter generated increasingly substantial resources, especially those by the so-called "Anatolian Tigers" — small and medium-sized entrepreneurs with Islamist leanings who took advantage of duty-free entry into the EU after 1995 to export both manufactures and agricultural commodities. Resentful of the state's privileging of Istanbul-based Kemalist economic elites, this newly energized Islamist bourgeoisie contributed valuable resources to Islamist political activists, of whom the most successful were Gulen and Erdogan. Now that the latter has gained control of the Turkish state and built under it his own deep state, he is in a position to generate resources from that control. The massive increase since 2002 in state-funded construction, carried out largely by firms connected to the AK Party, is indicative of Erdogan's strategy of plunder.
In sum, the differential resource bases of these deep states, combined with their composition and relationship with regimes, have affected how they deal with national economies. At one end of the spectrum is Qadhafi's Libya, in which the deep state simply plundered the economy, preventing it from nurturing the growth of fixed capital assets. At the other is Kemalist Turkey, within which the deep state at least allowed, if it did not actually facilitate, the emergence of an alternative dynamic economy that ultimately undermined that deep state while laying the foundations for new ones. In all cases, those in the ruling elite gate-kept by deep states benefitted disproportionately from national economies; in most, this in itself was sufficient to brake more rapid economic growth.
All MENA deep states considered thus far are in republics. Do they also exist in MENA monarchies? The simple answer is no, with the one possible exception of Jordan and the general qualifier for the others of, "not yet." The monarchies have rested on patrimonial, rather than deep, states. They have relied more on rents than coercion to induce compliance and reduce demands for access to elite status.
A review of the factors that determine the nature of all MENA states suggests why the monarchies emerged and have survived as patrimonial systems. The first is the role played by specific actors in state building. The second is the degree of national homogeneity, and the third is the availability of economic resources. A fourth factor, the nature of the royal family, is also relevant.
Postcolonial state builders in the republics were in all cases commoners, typically of relatively humble origins, whose power was initially based on their membership in the military, intelligence services or a political party, and subsequently on a deep state comprising those bodies augmented by police forces, the judiciary, and public and private economic actors. By contrast, monarchial states were in six cases built from the top down by the British who selected a ruling family that first shared and then inherited sovereign power. There are two exceptions. In Morocco, the king, head of a royal family with a pedigree stretching back more than three centuries, sided with the nationalists against the French colonial power. In Saudi Arabia, Abdalaziz Al Saud, leader of the tribal cum religious Wahhabi movement that dated back to the eighteenth century, orchestrated a successful revolt against British efforts to install the Hashemites as principal rulers of the Arabian Peninsula. Both these families were legitimated by their precolonial status as well as by nationalist credentials earned through opposition to a real or potential colonial power. As for the other six monarchies, only in Jordan was the military a vital actor in the state-building process. The British-commanded Arab Legion augmented Hashemite King Abdullah's tribal levies. Following his grandson King Hussein's assuming direct command of that force in 1956, as the renamed Royal Jordanian Army, it became the vital prop of monarchial rule.
The degree of societal cohesiveness has been central to the types of deep states erected in the republics. In those with heterogeneous societies divided into sharply competitive social forces — such as Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Lebanon — deep states have been perched precariously on a particular social force, whether religious, ethnic (now in the case of Kurdish Iraq) or tribal. While the most homogeneous monarchy is the smallest (Qatar), minority religious or ethnically-based social forces are to be found in all the others, though in none until recently was the degree of conflict among them as pronounced as in Iraq, Syria or Yemen. So, the challenge of knitting together a national political community was not as daunting as in most republics.
The relative abundance of national resources also affects the need for deep states. The greater the patronage available to MENA rulers, the less they have had to rely upon repression — the bigger the carrot, the smaller the stick.53 The ratio of hydrocarbon revenues to populations in all GCC monarchies has considerably exceeded the average in MENA republics. But while oil revenues have until now been sufficient to sustain those monarchies, they are not a deus ex machina. Oil revenues per capita in Libya under Qadhafi matched those in the GCC. In the two other major oil- and gas-exporting republics, per capita rents in Algeria and Iran have been similar to those in monarchies, even slightly exceeding those in Bahrain and Oman. Overall, though, the monarchies have enjoyed substantially greater oil rents per capita than republics. Jordan's lack of oil or other significant sources of revenue has been partially compensated for by subventions from Western powers.
As Michael Herb has argued, the monarchies differ in the size of their ruling "families," with all of those in the GCC other than Oman being more accurately referred to as family dynasties; they are actually extended clans or tribes.54 There is strength in numbers. The Saudi ruling family, for example, may have some 20,000 princes, of whom a substantial portion serve in the military and intelligence services, elsewhere in state institutions, and in the public sector of the economy, to say nothing of being key figures in private business. That "family" is akin to a deep state but has the advantage of greater legitimacy and cohesion than republican deep states, so it relies less on coercion. Similar, if less sprawling, dynastic family networks rule in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE. Their primary vulnerability has been intra-family tensions, commonly manifested during successions, which have been chronic in Kuwait, intermittent in Qatar and now greatly intensified in Saudi Arabia. Oman, Morocco and Jordan are ruled by monarchs, not family dynasties. They are inherently less stable, as their rule, like that of the presidents of the republics, depends heavily on non-family members.
A key question is whether deep states might be emerging in what formerly were patrimonial monarchies. Certainly, the conditions that have supported them in the past are changing. The favorable rent-to-population ratios they enjoyed as a result of oil and gas revenues are in decline. Presumably, therefore, more stick than carrot will be required to induce compliance. Increased repression in the wake of Arab springs, such as in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and even Kuwait, suggests such a trend has commenced. A related factor is militarization of the monarchies. Morocco, Jordan and Oman have comparatively large, well-financed armed forces, accounting on average for about 20 percent of all government spending. These three monarchies have in total about 350,000 troops on active duty.55 But these financial figures pale in comparison to the GCC monarchies, several of which, led by the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, are among the world's highest spenders on their militaries. In 2014, the three together spent over $120 billion on their armed forces.56 Attending the personnel and financial growth of monarchial armed forces has been an increased tendency to deploy them — such as by Saudi Arabia in Bahrain and Yemen and by the Emirates in Yemen and Libya — or to implicitly threaten their use, as in the dispute that began in 2017 between Qatar and other GCC states. As the monarchies expand their militaries and base ever more of their foreign-policy leverage upon them, so will the domestic political clout of those armed forces grow. Much the same can be said of security and intelligence agencies, which are being beefed up to confront real and perceived domestic challenges.
Finally, the Achilles heel of all authoritarian political systems, leadership succession, is now afflicting many of the monarchies, as it has the MENA republics. In Jordan, Oman and Morocco, the challenge of succession is choosing from a limited number of candidates within comparatively small royal families. The case of Oman, where no clear successor has yet emerged, illustrates that problem, as did the last-minute choice in Jordan of Abdullah as successor to his father, King Hussein, rather than Crown Prince Hassan.
In the family dynasties, succession poses a much greater challenge, however. They have swollen into sprawling conglomerates, divided vertically between contending lines, horizontally between generations. The struggle over succession to King Salman in Saudi Arabia illustrates the problem and its consequences for a potential deep state to emerge there. In seeking to ensure the succession of his young son Muhammad, the king was forced to sideline his nephew, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayif, then serving as minister of interior. Among other things this necessitated a reshuffle of power within the sprawling security and intelligence system so as to eliminate the chance that Muhammad bin Nayif's supporters might challenge Muhammad bin Salman's ascendency. So, in June 2017, the king issued a decree changing the name of the Investigation and Prosecution Authority to that of Public Prosecution, removing the head of the authority, a supporter of Muhammad bin Nayif, and simultaneously awarding himself the power to fill the newly created post of public prosecutor, attached directly to the office of the king. Named as the new public prosecutor was Shaikh Saud al Mujab, a close confidant of Muhammad bin Salman's. Accompanying this move was the promotion of General Saud bin Abdulaziz al Hilal to director of general security services, thereby placing the two key institutions with direct, potentially coercive power over other members of the royal family in the hands of the king and his son Muhammad. Six months previously the king had established the National Security Center, a competitor to the Ministry of Interior, directly under his control, and intended to neutralize it. Accompanying these changes was a smear campaign against Muhammad bin Nayif, including charges that he was a drug addict and supporter of the Qatari ruling family.57
While the Saudi dynasty has been riven in the past by succession struggles, most notably that which erupted in the late 1950s and pitted King Saud against the future King Faisal, never before have royal divisions penetrated so far down into the coercive agencies of the state or sounded so much like intrigues in republican deep states. Intra-family struggles in Saudi Arabia and, by extension, many if not all of the other family dynasties, will in the future almost necessarily involve at least a veiled threat, if not the actual use of force. This condition alone elevates the relative power of coercive agencies, already being beefed up in the face of both domestic and foreign challengers.
In sum, the border between deep-state republics and patrimonial monarchies is becoming more porous, with a growing possibility that more of the latter will cross over into the deep-state political territory formerly occupied almost exclusively by republics. Prior to the Arab Spring, the term jumlukiyya, combining the Arabic words for republic (jumhuriyya) and monarchy (malakiyya), was coined by Egyptian sociologist Saad al Din Ibrahim.58 At that time, many Arab "presidents for life," as Roger Owen dubbed them, were scrambling to secure successions for their sons, thereby founding family dynasties.59 In the wake of the failure of such efforts, the tide is flowing the other way. There is, for example, steadily less to distinguish the dependence of Jordan's King Abdullah on his military and security services and network of crony capitalists from the similar dependencies of several presidents. The exercise of power in family dynasties also increasingly resembles that in republics. Contending royals are seeking to establish their own lineage as paramount, entrenching their power in coercive agencies. It is as if they were battening down the hatches in preparation for coming political storms whipped up by intensifying intra-familial conflicts, declining rents, more mobilized populations, and intensifying regional hostilities. This hunkering down will inevitably foster the growth of subterranean coercive politics, converting already fragile above-ground ones into "pseudopolitics" of the republican variety.
Deep states can only exist where citizens are unable to freely organize politically and so cannot change their governments through elections or subordinate militaries and intelligence services to their institutionalized control. Such conditions clearly do not exist in the United States. They do, however, exist to a greater or lesser extent in all MENA republics other than Israel, and in the Arab monarchies. Almost all of the latter have, for several interrelated reasons, not yet degenerated from patrimonialism to reliance on the latent coercion embodied in deep states. While scholars disagree over which era has been most critical in establishing the path dependency that has led to this plethora of deep states in the MENA, they agree that they are historically rooted. Since the Arab Spring and the collapse of several Arab republics in which deep states had been constructed from the top down, efforts have commenced in all to reconstruct deep states from the bottom up. Turkey has for some two decades witnessed a subterranean struggle between competitive deep states, a struggle President Erdogan's has won. In sum, in most of MENA, "real" politics that determine who gets what, when and how, is the preserve of deep states, leaving others with only "pseudopolitics."
1 Jana Winter and Elias Groll, "Here Is the Memo That Blew Up the NSC," Foreign Policy, August 10, 2017, http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/08/10/heres-the-memo-that-blew-up-the-nsc/; and "What Is the Deep State?" The Economist (March 9, 2017).
2 Ishaan Tharoor, "What an Actual 'Deep State' Looks Like," Washington Post, March 7, 2017.
5 "What Is the Deep State?"
6 "What an Actual 'Deep State' Looks Like"; and Bessma Momani, "In Egypt, 'Deep State' vs 'Brotherhoodization," Brookings op ed, August 21, 2013, https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/in-egypt-deep-state-vs-brotherhoodiz….
7 Giovanni Sartori, "Concept Misformation in Comparative Politics," American Political Science Review 64, no. 4 (December 1970): 1033-1053.
8 Even a scholarly indictment of America's "shadowy security state" alleges only that the FBI and CIA surveil and harass individual Americans opposed to it, rather than seeking to liquidate them, and that between the media, the courts and the broader political system, even those efforts can be thwarted. Alfred W. McCoy, In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power (Chicago: Dispatch Books, 2017). For a concise statement of McCoy's view of the "security state," see his "Exploring the Shadows of America's Security State," Lobelog Foreign Policy, August 27, 2017, http://lobelog.com/exploring-the-shadows-of-americas-security-state/.
9 "What Is the Deep State?"
10 According to Dexter Filkins, the Turkish deep state "is a presumed clandestine network of military officers and their civilian allies who, for decades, suppressed and sometimes murdered dissidents, Communists, reporters, Islamists, Christian missionaries, and members of minority groups — anyone thought to pose a threat to the secular order. . . ." According to historians, Filkins notes, it has "functioned as a kind of shadow government, disseminating propaganda to whip up public fear or destabilizing civilian governments not to its liking." Dexter Filkins, "Letter from Turkey: The Deep State," New Yorker, March 12, 2012.
11 Robert Springborg, Egypt (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2017).
12 Charles Tripp, A History of Iraq, 3rd edition (Cambridge University Press, 2007); Charles Tripp, "Iraq's Dual State: Product of the Past, Very Present," Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs, Brown University (October 22, 2010); and Charles Tripp, "Militias, Vigilantes, Death Squads," London Review of Books, 29, no. 2 (January 25, 2007): 30-33.
13 Sanam Vakil and Hossein Rassam, "Iran's Next Supreme Leaders: The Islamic Republic after Khamenei," Foreign Affairs (May/June 2017): 76-87. For the view of the Iranian deep state as being comprised of the IRGC, see Alex Vatanka, "How Deep Is Iran's State?" Foreign Affairs (July/August 2017):155-159.
14 Jean-Pierre Filiu, From Deep State to Islamic State: The Arab Counter-Revolution and Its Jihadi Legacy (Oxford University Press, 2015), 45.
15 Ibid., 45
16 Ibid., 48.
17 "Iraq's Dual State: Product of the Past, Very Present."
20 Joseph Sassoon, Anatomy of Authoritarianism in the Arab Republics (Cambridge University Press, 2016).
21 Adeel Malik, "Renthinking the Rentier Curse," in Combining Economic and Political Development: The Experience of the MENA, ed Giacomo Luciani (Leiden: Brill Nijhoff, 2017), 41-57.
22 "Who Really Governs Algeria?" 8.
23 Ibid., 8.
24 "Algeria: Reviving the Land of the Living Dead," The Economist, July 1, 2017, 42.
25 Thanassis Papamargaris, "War and the Shadow State: The Case of Iraq during the War against Iran," Policy Paper, Center for Mediterranean, Middle East and Islamic Studies, University of Peloponnese, n.d.
26 The KGB-trained head of the infamous DRS (Departement du Renseignement et de la Securite), General Muhammad Mediene, generally known as Toufik, served for a quarter of a century in that post where he methodically "hid his power behind either the 'strong man' of the army, (by turns Khaled Nezzar, Liamine Zeroual, Mouhamed Laamari and Ahmed Gaid Salah), the military chief of staff or the presidency." Mohammed Hachemaoui, "Who Really Governs Algeria?" Sciences Po, Paris, unpublished MS, 2017, 23.
27 Shahir Shahidsaless, "Why Iran's 'Enemy Narrative' Is Flawed," Atlantic Council, August 11, 2017.
28 Nayla Moussa, "Bound to Fail: Does Anyone Care about Yemen's Security?" in Bassma Kodmani and Nayla Moussa, Out of the Inferno, 104-124. Accordingly, "military ranks have no authority unless bolstered by an influential tribe: communication lines follow tribal lines, not command structures." Florence Gaub, "Arab Armies: Agents of Change? Before and After 2011," Challiot Papers, EU Institute for Security Studies, 131.
29 Noureddine Jebnoun, Tunisia's National Intelligence: Why "Rogue Elephants" Fail to Reform (Washington, D.C.: The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University, 2017).
30 Borzou Daragahi, "Former President's Tunisian Crony Capitalism Laid Bare," Financial Times, March 25, 2014, 6.
31 Abdurahman al-Masri and Alexander Corbell, "Hezbollah Re-Ascendant in Lebanon," Sada, Carnegie Endowment (August 17, 2017).
33 Ibid. Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of Hizbullah, stated in June 2016, in a speech broadcast by the organization's TV station, al Manar, that "We are open about the fact that Hezbollah's budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, come from the the Islamic Republic of Iran." "Hezbollah Brushes off U.S. Sanctions, Says Money Comes via Iran," al Monitor, June 24, 2016, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/afp/2016/06/lebanon-hezbollah-banks.html.
34 "Captured by Captagon," The Economist, July 22, 2017, 38.
35 Ben Hubbard, "Hezbollah: Iran's Middle East Agent, Emissary and Hammer," New York Times, August 27, 2017.
36 Guido Steinberg, "The Badr Organization: Iran's Most Important Instrument in Iraq," SWP Comments 26, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, July 2017.
37 Ibid., 5.
38 Ibid., 7.
39 Tallha Abdulrazzaq, "From Top to Bottom, Iraq Reeks of Corruption," Agence Global, August 2, 2017.
40 "Letter from Turkey."
41 Carlotta Gall, "President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey Replaces Top Military Chiefs," New York Times, August 2, 2017.
42 The subterranean battle commenced in earnest in 2007, when military members of the Kemalist deep state tried to block the AK Party's presidential candidate from running. A year later the chief prosecutor sought to ban the party on the grounds that it was anti-secular. So, as in Egypt, Turkey's Islamists had good reason to believe that winning power and then holding it through democratic means would only be possible if it countered the opposed deep state with its own.
43 Since the beginning of the Yemeni civil war in March 2015, the competing deep states have fought for control over the Central Bank, the oil producing regions of Marib and the Hadhramaut, the supply of fuel to the population, customs, mobile phone networks, and smuggling of Qat. Rafat Al-Akhali, "The Battle to Control the 'Commanding Heights' of the Yemeni Economy," #LSE Yemen, Middle East Centre, London School of Economics, March 29, 2017. In Syria, Hafiz al Asad depended ever more heavily on his security services, which were allowed to extract resources from the population. This was done through a variety of means, from "blackmail to bribes people paid for 'security approval,' as it is called in Syria. This refers to the security forces' approval of any kind of activity after one's graduation, from opening a barber shop or founding a company, approving someone for a job with the state, or even holding a wedding." Abdel-Nasser al-Ayed, "Can Syria Be Salvaged?", 70-103.
44 Khaled Yacoub Oweis, "Syria's Society Upended," SWP Comments, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, July 2017.
45 Alex Vatanka, "Rouhani Goes to War against Iran's Deep State," Foreign Policy, May 18, 2017, http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/05/18/rouhani-goes-to-war-against-irans-d….
48 Sanam Vakil and Hossein Rassam, "Iran's Next Supreme Leader: The Islamic Republic after Khamenei," Foreign Affairs (May-June 2017): 76-86.
49 Bijan Khajehpour, "The Real Footprint of the IRGC in Iran's Economy," al Monitor, August 9, 2017, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/08/iran-irgc-economy-foo….
50 The report was prepared by the Peterson Institute for International Economics and is cited in "Former President's Tunisian Crony Capitalism Laid Bare."
53 For a review of the literature relevant to this argument, see Robert Springborg, "GCC Countries as 'Rentier States' Revisited," Middle East Journal 67, no. 2 (Spring 2013): 301-309.
54 Michael Herb, All in the Family: Absolutism, Revolution and Democracy in Middle Eastern Monarchies. (Albany: SUNY University Press, 1999).
55 Jomana Amara, "Reality vs. Fantasy: Transforming the Arab States' Military Force Structure," Middle East Policy 24, no. 3 (Fall, 2017): 104-116.
56 Ibid., 110.
57 "Saudi Royal Decisions Bring Prince bin Salman One Step Closer to the Throne," Rai al Youm, June 18, 2017.
58 For a discussion of his coining of the term and its subsequent spread, see Juan Cole, The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Arab World (Simon and Schuster, 2014), 32-33.
59 Roger Owen, The Rise and Fall of Arab Presidents for Life (Harvard University Press, 2014).