Creating the enemy, constructing the threat: the diffusion of repression against the Muslim brotherhood in the Middle East.

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Abstract

On 25 December 2013, the military-backed government in Egypt declared the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist organization. A few months later, the Saudi Kingdom followed suit and attempted to build a regional coalition to counter this constructed enemy. Although the Saudi Kingdom, acting as an aspiring regional autocratic power, exerted pressure to compel other regimes to follow its lead, the recipient states varied in their willingness to converge. Whereas the United Arab Emirates followed the Saudi lead, Jordan, Kuwait, and Bahrain resisted the diffusion of repression against the Muslim Brotherhood to their domestic spheres. This article examines this variation in the (non-)convergence of repressive policies as an outcome of diffusion. While most explanations of how autocratic policies diffuse focus on either ideology or interest as drivers of state behaviour, this article provides a nuanced understanding of this phenomenon. Based on a neoclassical realist approach, I explore the variation in the convergence with fellow autocrats as the result of interaction between regional interests and regime autonomy vis-à-vis societal groups. By looking at autocratic diffusion of repression as a process lying at the intersection of regional and domestic spheres, this article contributes to the literature on the international diffusion of authoritarianism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1289-1306
Number of pages18
JournalDemocratization
Volume24
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2017

Keywords

  • Diffusion
  • convergence
  • authoritarianism
  • regime interest
  • regime autonomy
  • repression

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