Document Type

Capstone Project

Publication Date

Spring 4-25-2017


US aid, Authoritarianism, Democracy, Middle East, North Africa, Military, Oil Rentierism


Many factors have been used to explain durable authoritarianism in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and one of the most important external influences of MENA governments’ structure is support from the United States. The US balances security concerns and democratization rhetoric in the region, but much literature promotes that security concerns are the most important factor for US support in MENA. Using US aid as a proxy for US support, this study finds that US aid actually increases democratization in MENA, and counterintuitively, aid to MENA military and police forces seems to have a stronger democratization effect than US aid to MENA economic sectors. Comparing US aid with other democratization variables, this study supports that other MENA factors such as oil rents and civil society are more impactful on their levels of democracy than US aid.