a. What are sectarian taïfas in middle eastern societies?

In Lebanon as in other former Ottoman ruled regions, sectarian taïfas are religious sectarian communities that are more than mere groups of individuals who share common beliefs. Sectarian taïfas are exclusive entities that develop in stateless regions or rise from the ashes of a failed state to serve a specific purpose: The protection of their members from external and existential dangers. Sectarian taïfas are pseudo-parties devoid of genuine internal political structures or systems. They typically designate a leader to run internal affairs and manage external political relations. Those leaders often build a cult of personality as defenders of the group’s interests from other sectarian taïfas. At the same time, they try to assert their dominance over other leaders within the same sectarian taïfa. Elections in Lebanon are effectively a rubber stamping process for sectarian taïfa leaders to size each other up and reassert their dominance.