Arab Leaders Seek to Bribe the Opposition Silent

Boosting Subsidies a Popular Option for Officials Intent on Clinging to Power

Suppose you’re a US-backed dictator. You’ve been in power for longer than anyone can remember and your growing tyranny and corruption has left your economy on the brink of ruin. How do you survive?

The old answer was violence against the protesters, but with that being tried and failing in both Egypt and Tunisia, officials are now scrambling for a new “go-to” option, and that option appears to be subsidies.

With unrest on the rise officials are promising major pay hikes to the minions that keep them in power, and throwing additional subsidies at the bare minimum necessities of survival needed by the poorest people, hoping it will quiet them up.

Experts say the move may work in the short-term, but warn it will make it difficult for the command economies to invest more in their infrastructure. Even this seems to ignore the underlying cause, however, that long-term oppression and corruption is not a recipe for success and stability, and that bribing security forces and the poor into shutting up about it is not a solution at all, but just another layer of problems.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.