The Burke Chair at CSIS has released a comprehensive analysis on the current progress made by countries in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. This report ranks each country's level of success or failure in meeting the needs of its people, and the hopes raised by the Arab Spring, in order to assess its current situation and to provide a prognosis of its near term future.
We have come a long way from the hopes associated with Camp David, “Globalism,” “the end of history,” the end of the First Gulf War in 1991, and the first year of the Arab Spring in 2011 – almost all of it in the wrong direction. From a “realist” perspective, the greater Middle East has deteriorated over time, and in ways that go far beyond its conflicts, competing ideologies and faiths, and the petty power struggles of its ruling elites.
Accordingly, it is time to take a hard, blunt look at what has happened to country-after-country in the region. Far too many have become “failed states” in ways that go beyond the threat posed by Iran, extremism, and ethnic and sectarian divisions. They have failed to make adequate progress in civil and economic reforms, and they have stopped short of reducing corruption and incompetence in national politics and governance. These problems are not specific to any one nation. They have become regional – made worse in virtually every case by the impact of the crisis in petroleum export prices and the Coronavirus on the local and global economy.
The rankings that follow are rough working estimates that do address the full range of such issues and judge each state by its actual progress over time, particularly since 2011. They include every country in the Middle East, and they reflect an attempt to summarize the collective impact of these long-term reasons for failure of a given country. They are limited by the fact that they are subjective, only highlight a few points in each case, cannot as of yet address the lasting impact of the Coronavirus crisis, and highly uncertain even from a relatively short-term prognosis for the next five.
This report entitled, The Greater Middle East: From the “Arab Spring” to the “Axis of Failed States”, is available for download at