The usual method employed by Middle Eastern states to counter sectarianism has been the use of force. Under authoritarian governments, discriminatory policies regarding service delivery and political representation and the threat or use of violence have proven effective in countering sectarian opposition. It is also important to note that Middle Eastern regimes have tended to pursue a policy of underestimating the size and consequently strength of minority populations, as political elites have tended to benefit from minority exclusion (see helpdesk report on inequality and religious identity). Some scholars argue that, whether morally acceptable or not, this policy of repression has led to the alignment of minority group identity with national identity in some cases (Ziadeh, 2009).
The implication of this pattern of repression is that very few other policies have been tried to counter sectarianism, especially social and economic policies. Consequently few evaluations of these policies have been conducted, leaving the literature on the issue of countering sectarianism in the Middle East extremely limited.
Social, legal and economic policies that have been tried in the Middle East include constitutional guarantees, employment quotas, special education provisions for minorities, initiation of religious dialogue and media campaigns. While these policies may address some of the grievances felt by sectarian groups, they often seem to be more cosmetic than progressive. However, by easing grievances these policies may still have important consequences for countering mobilisation along group lines. The limited literature available on these initiatives makes this point in need of further study.