Whereas developed countries are almost always the product of an organic, internally driven process, in the Middle East’s case, the countries are mostly the product of a British-French agreement made in 1916 Sykes-Picot that paid little attention to local sociopolitical realities. As a result, few possess the historical roots, social cohesion, and legitimacy necessary to nurture the complex institutions that are a prerequisite for development and democracy. On the contrary, most suffer from both sectarian divisions and weak government—the causes of state fragility.

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The social divisions, weak institutionalization, and artificiality that plague all these states begs the question that I posed at the top: If people in the Middle East could democratically choose what country they lived in, would they choose the one they are in now?

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