When studying authoritarianism, focusing on historical factors is most important when analyzing a regime. Categorizing regimes in MENA based on resources and regime types can be difficult, as not one state is the same. Looking at multiple historical factors can explain the regime’s function much better than its counterparts.

Syria’s history of colonization, continuity, and their history of repression is significant. While regime types indicate this, there are outliers — like Libya before 2011 being an RRLP country but being more similar to RRLA countries. When looking at the history of regimes, it is crucial to conclude the past for why events are happening now, such as in the case of Iran and previous foreign interference.

Single-detailed case studies, like Lisa Wedeen’s book, are helpful, but only after knowing other regimes. Wedeen’s book focuses on symbols and humor in Syria — a form of passive resistance before the uprising. Without understanding other regimes’ activism during this time, it is difficult to understand why Syrian citizens engaged in this form of protest. Looking at a similar regimes, like Libya, which involved itself in passive resistance, paints a bigger picture. You learn a significant amount about one regime but do not see the pattern in the region.

Region-spanning, thematic studies, like Cammett, Diwan, Richards, and Waterbury, are much better at modeling similarities through regions. These studies are more effective for comparative politics; they present synthesized data that applies to the region. Cammett, Diwan, Richards, and Waterbury’s research found similarities and differences within the regime concerning economics and compared them regionally and globally. This form of data production gives a broader understanding of the regime and the world.

Understanding different regime types requires extensive comparison with a multitude of factors. Using historical analysis, however, is the most effective. When studying historical aspects, the regime outcome is much more individualistic and allows a greater understanding of the regime. It allows comparison of similarities, such as colonization, and enables one to see differences — such as why different regimes did not succeed during the uprisings.


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