Historically Arab regimes have played critical roles in securing women’s rights in their societies. Yet regimes remain concerned about domestic, especially Islamist and traditionalist, reactions to women’s rights. When regimes feel they can overcome this resistance they honor commitments to women’s rights. When they fear more domestic opposition they renege. This article argues that Arab regimes are less likely to resist domestic opposition to women’s rights when US military presence increases in the region. The authors test the argument using cross-national data including an original expert-coder scale of Islamist power, and estimate an instrumental variable model to allay concerns of endogeneity. A case study of Jordan explicates their causal argument. The results are robust to different measures of Islamist strength and to different estimation techniques. Understanding this unintended consequence of US military deployments to the Arab world is important for future analysis of female empowerment in the Arab world.

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