The Domestic Democratic Peace in the Middle East


  • Uriel Abulof Princeton University
  • Ogen Goldman Ashkelon Academic College, Haifa University



The democratic peace theory has two complementary variants regarding intrastate conflicts: the “democratic civil peace” thesis sees democratic regimes as pacifying internal tensions; the “anocratic war” thesis submits that due to nationalism, democratizing regimes breed internal violence. This paper statistically tests the two propositions in the context of the contemporary Middle East and North Africa (MENA). We show that a MENA democracy makes a country more prone to both the onset and incidence of civil war, even if democracy is controlled for, and that the more democratic a MENA state is, the more likely it is to experience violent intrastate strife. Interestingly, anocracies do not seem to be predisposed to civil war, either worldwide or in MENA. Looking for causality beyond correlation, we suggest that “democratizing nationalism” might be a long-term prerequisite for peace and democracy, not just an immediate hindrance. We also advise complementing current research on intrastate and interstate clashes with the study of intercommunal conflicts and the democratic features of non-state polities.

Author Biographies

Uriel Abulof, Princeton University

Uriel Abulof is an assistant professor of politics at Tel-Aviv University and a senior research fellow at Princeton University. He studies democratization, nationalism, ethnic conflicts and political legitimation. His recent books are Living on the Edge: Zionism’s Existential Uncertainty (Haifa University Press; recipient of Israel’s 2012 Best Academic Book Award) and The Mortality and Morality of Nations (forthcoming, Cambridge University Press).

Ogen Goldman, Ashkelon Academic College, Haifa University


Political Scientist

terrorism, domestic politics and interstate wars


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How to Cite

Abulof, U., & Goldman, O. (2016). The Domestic Democratic Peace in the Middle East. International Journal of Conflict and Violence, 9(1), 72–89.



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