Although it is fashionable to blame the region’s travails on ancient hatreds or the poor cartography of Mr. Sykes and Monsieur Picot, the real problems began with the modern Arab state system. After World War II, the Arab states came into their own. Most shed their European colonial masters, and all adopted more modern political systems, whether secular republics (read: dictatorships) or new monarchies.
None of these states worked very well. For one thing, their economies depended heavily on oil, either directly, by pumping it themselves, or indirectly, via trade, aid, and worker remittances. These rentier economies produced too few jobs and too much wealth that their civilian populations neither controlled nor generated, encouraging the ruling elites to treat their citizenries as (mostly unwanted) dependents.
The oil money bred massive corruption, along with bloated public sectors uninterested in the needs or aspirations of the wider populace.
To make matters worse, the Arab states had emerged from Ottoman and European colonialism with their traditional socio-cultural systems intact, which oil wealth and autocracy made it possible to preserve and even indulge.
By the 1990s, popular discontent had risen throughout the Middle East … more> http://goo.gl/GE8UCj
- Preparing for the Collapse of the Saudi Kingdom, Sarah Chayes, Alex de Waal, Atlantic