Arab governments have, for the most part, claimed legitimacy based on Arab nationalism and persist despite being challenged by Islamicists. The oil-wealthy Arab states attempt to buy the loyalty of their people by providing them with goods and services, while precluding widespread political participation. Neither the poor nor the rich Arab countries have produced nation-states based on a broad base of political participation. As a result, the legitimacy of these governments will continue to be disputed throughout the state building process.
Aside from a large, organized and effective Islamicist opposition, many of these countries also face a potentially large, unstable, unorganized mass of discontented urban lower class. To further complicate matters, this group is apt to be mobilized by revivalist Islam or other radical organizations. The response of these governments to these real or potential threats has been attempts at appeasement through strategies such as food subsidies, and to divide and conquer the opposition, pitting one group against another.