In writing my book, I had two principal and two secondary goals. My principal goals related to Algeria itself: first, to explain the country's peculiar trajectory with political stability and, eventually, its descent into violence, followed by its fascinating restabilization; second, to use the Algerian experience to contribute to the “rentier state” literature and show that oil has not been the “curse” that the “resource curse” folks suggest it to be. My secondary goals had to do with enriching and contextualizing the argument I was making about Algeria. I sought to do so in two ways: by offering “some preliminary comparisons” between Algeria's experience and that of other Middle Eastern oil-exporting states at times of economic shocks, and by cautiously extending the argument about variations in stability in Algeria to account for variations in stability in the four other countries. Four of the five empirical chapters of the book are devoted exclusively to Algeria; a single chapter—what I refer to as “a brief excursion into comparative analysis”—is devoted to Iran, Iraq, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia and the comparison with Algeria.
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