Working Paper
Resources and the Political Economy of State Fragility in Conflict States

Iraq and Somalia

This paper studies state failure and governance in two conflict-states in the Middle East: Iraq and Somalia. Iraq is currently undergoing a social experiment under which a new form of government is being constructed after the passage of autocratic rule. The government envisaged is a consociational democratic state designed a priori as a political mechanism for the redistribution of resources, mainly oil. Somalia represents a stateless society or anarchy. The paper argues that in resource-rich countries such as Iraq, the consociational project leads to an Olson-type rent-seeking confessional behaviour that hampers economic growth and development. The rent-seeking behaviour in Iraq is fuelling the insurgency that perceives the consociational system as a grabbing attempt of the country’s resources by other ethnic groups. However, state construction is possible since there is a positive economic effect of combining government and resources. In Somalia, on the other hand, the developments and the evolution of anarchy since state collapse in 1991 exemplify the result of prolonged conflict in a resource-poor state. The lack of resources, direct access of producers to resources and low productivity and weak redistributional potential of combining resources and government offer no material incentives to the various groups for resurrecting central authority.