What’s the effect when Middle Eastern leaders make sudden and unexpected exits? Of course, there’s always a question of who will follow. But beyond succession mechanics, is a leader’s departure necessarily history-changing?
The answer: it depends. And my answer: it depends mostly on where the hand of fate interrupts the leader’s arc of life. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy is running a new series on hypothetical succession scenarios in the Middle East. My contribution, the opening salvo, is a historian’s take on sudden departures.
Illnesses and assassinations account for most of them. Some had profound consequences, but others didn’t, even if they unfolded in dramatic ways. I take a look at some famous cases, from Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia. At eight pages, it’s obviously more a think piece than an all-encompassing theoretical statement. So read it, think a bit, and come up with your own modifications.