The three articles in this special section address several processes of legitimisation in the contemporary Arab World. They provide compelling insights into why Islamist movements moderate, how alternative political orders arise in response to issues of state legitimacy and the ways in which regional and international actors legitimise their involvement in Middle Eastern conflicts. Unifying the three articles is a motivation to understand processes of legitimacy, sectarian identity and discourse, in the power vacuum following the Iraq War of 2003 and the Arab Spring of 2011. These seismic regional events have created a wave of identity entrepreneurs, who have pragmatically attached themselves to concepts of Islam, sect and democracy, in order to solidify their hold on legitimacy and power.
Photo by Lara Jameson