Regime Change and Arab Countries' Lobbying in the United States

By Kostyaev, Sergey | Arab Studies Quarterly, Winter 2013 | Go to article overview

Regime Change and Arab Countries' Lobbying in the United States


Kostyaev, Sergey, Arab Studies Quarterly


Abstract:

In this article lobbying by several Arab countries in the United States is analyzed to answer two questions: What are the ramifications of a regime change for lobbying strategy in the United States? Does lobbying matter in securing US government support? First, the study demonstrates that regime change in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya has had no effect on their lobbying in the United States so far. The analysis of lobbying by countries which eschewed regime changeBahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan-surprisingly comes to the same conclusion. Second, the ability of troubled regimes to peacefully control their own populace is more important for securing US support than lobbying.

Keywords: regime change, transition, interest groups, lobbying, Arab Spring

Introduction

What are the ramifications of a regime change in Greater Middle Eastern countries for their lobbying strategy in the United States? Is it going to reverse the pro-American position of some regimes to anti-US orientation and vice versa? Under what circumstances does foreign lobbying matter in securing the US support of a foreign country government? What other factors matter in US foreign policy making?

Almost all countries have tried to use lobbying to influence US foreign policy and to get legitimacy in the international arena. What factors determine the success or failure of these lobbying campaigns? Is lobbying an effective way to influence US government foreign policy? In order to answer these questions I have performed a literature review, outlined a model of foreign lobbying, made several observations on foreign lobbying in the US, provided general characteristics of Arab countries' lobbying, and described lobbying campaigns by countries that have experienced regime change (Tunisia, Egypt, Libya) and lobbying by countries with no regime change which served as a control group. The article neither aims to determine the proper role of ethnic lobbying in the US polity, nor writes on the premises of dichotomy - parochial capture vs. legitimate influence of ethnic lobbies. I believe the issue in question should be debated by politicians, not political scientists. As a conclusion, I have attempted to determine under what circumstances Arab countries' lobbying matters in US foreign policy making.

Literature Review

Literature on regime change is biased towards democratization, in other words, when scholars say regime change they often mean democratic transition. In my opinion the "Arab spring" will not necessarily result in triumph of democracy in the Greater Middle East; more likely, secular authoritarian regimes will be replaced by religious authoritarian regimes. Most students of regime change are occupied with the question of why some regimes democratize while others do not (Gasiorowski, 1995; Pridham, 2005; Teorell, 2010). Of note, there is a substantial literature claiming the possibility of regime change in the Middle East without democratization (Albrecht and Schlumberger, 2004; Bellin, 2012; Ross, 2011).

Currently in the literature on foreign lobbying in the US, most scholars are engaged in the study of Middle Eastern lobbying. A book of collected articles edited by Ambrosio (2002) gives the general idea of foreign lobbying after the end of the Cold War, though occasional comments on Muslim groups' lobbying are made without thorough investigation of the issue. Marrar (2009) provides deep analysis of Arab lobbying, but limits it to the Palestinian issue, which is, by the way, undoubtedly a unifying agenda. Terry (2005) is among the few who is trying to give a systematic description of all elements of the Arab lobby: embassies, League of Arab States, ethnic organizations, etc. Political scientists, concerned with the practices of Israeli lobbyists, remark that they have become dangerously powerful (Mearsheimer and Walt, 2007; Petras, 2006; Terry, 2005; Kostyaev, 2010a). The other critical studies reiterate the same observation concerning the Arab lobby (Bard, 2010; Marrar, 2009). …

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