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Broken Contracts in the Middle East

An unspoken social contract keeps the peace throughout much of the Middle East. The terms of the contract are simple: Governments give their constituents a high quality of life, and their constituents give their governments their absolute loyalty. But the economic model that contract depends on — a model that features heavy subsidies, bloated public sectors and high commodities exports — has run its course. Thanks in part to low oil prices, governments have been forced to cut expenditures, raise taxes and diversify their economies, creating conditions for political unrest in some of the world’s most autocratic countries.

The terms of the contract are simple: Governments give their constituents a high quality of life, and their constituents give their governments their absolute loyalty.
(KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images)
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