Recent scholarly interest in the politics of migration and diaspora across the Global South has yet to address how authoritarian states attempt to reach out to populations abroad. In an effort to shift the discussion on state-diaspora relations beyond liberal democratic contexts and single-case studies, this article comparatively examines how authoritarian emigration states in the Middle East - Libya, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, and Jordan – behave towards their own citizens living beyond state borders. It identifies how each state develops multi-tier diaspora engagement policies aimed at three separate stages of citizens’ mobility: firstly, policies of exit regulate aspects related to emigration from the country of origin; secondly, overseas policies target citizens beyond the territorial boundaries of the nation-state; finally, return policies set processes of re-admission into the country of origin. In doing so, the article identifies similarities across disparate Middle East states’ engagement with emigration and diaspora policy-making. At the same time, the article paints a more complex picture of non-democracies’ strategies towards cross-border mobility that problematises existing conceptualisations of authoritarian practices and state-diaspora relations.
- Middle East