This chapter details the seminal events surrounding the Arab uprisings and their outcomes, approaching them from a bottom-up perspective of the peoples of the Middle East. It highlights the conception of popular uprisings against aged and mostly despotic governments that have long silenced popular dissent. It also argues that the Arab uprisings demonstrate the weakness of traditional international relations (IR) by showing how much the people matter. The chapter points out how the Arab world continues to be subject to external interference and persistent authoritarian rule, even if the Arab uprisings have not delivered on popular expectations. It discusses the part of the Arab world in the ongoing processes of global protest and change that are facilitated by new media and technology.
15. The Arab Spring: The ‘People’ in International Relations
This chapter looks at the Arab uprisings and their outcomes, approaching them from the perspective of the peoples of the region. The Arab uprisings are conceived of as popular uprisings against aged and mostly despotic governments, which have long silenced popular dissent. Ultimately, the Arab uprisings demonstrate the weakness of traditional international relations, with its focus on states and power, by showing how much the people matter. Even if the Arab uprisings have not yet delivered on popular expectations, and the Arab world continues to be subject to external interference and persistent authoritarian rule, they are part of a process of global protest and change, facilitated by new media and technology, which challenges the dominant international relations theories.
This chapter deals with the most central and contentious security issue in the international relations of the modern Middle East: the conflict between Arab states and Israel. It traces the characteristics of the Arab–Israel conflict and how these have changed over time. It also demonstrates how both realism and identity politics have informed the position of different parties to the conflict. The chapter explains how the 1967 war or the Arab–Israel conflict was as much about Arab identity and leadership as it was about the struggle with Israel, even at its high point. It shows how from 1948 to the present, the unresolved Palestinian question has remained at the heart of debates about regional relations, even as more Arab states have signed accords with Israel.
This chapter discusses different aspects of the Arab–Israeli conflict over time — military, political, and economic. The first two decades of the Arab–Israeli conflict, often marked by armed hostilities, were notable for Arab refusal to recognize Israel's existence. Since the 1967 war, Arab states, specifically Syria and Saudi Arabia, have displayed willingness to recognize Israel, and two, Egypt and Jordan, have signed peace treaties; Yasser Arafat recognized Israel's right to exist in the 1993 Oslo agreement. In this regard, most Arab states have adopted a realist approach to the Arab–Israeli conflict, seeking coexistence based in part on acceptance of Israel's military supremacy. In contrast, Israel appears to insist on security through regional domination, coupled with retention of the West Bank as Greater Israel.
This chapter highlights the legacy of the Cold War in the Middle East and shows how it continues to resonate, including Russia’s ‘return’ to the region via its presence in Syria. It examines traditional interpretations in the historiography of the Cold War which are linked to dominant realist paradigms in international relations and attribute great importance to external agency. It also covers the US policy which was viewed both by contemporaries and subsequent scholars as a reaction to the Soviet threat. The chapter reviews accounts released from post-Cold-War archives, which add more nuance and detail to the role played by domestic actors in shaping the conflict. It emphasizes the persuasive power of realism and the dominance of material interests and recognizes the role of local actors and forces in determining the trajectory the states of the Middle East.
This chapter examines the effects of the Cold War upon the states of the Middle East. Although the region was not so profoundly affected as other parts of the world in terms of loss of life or major revolutionary upheaval, it is clear that the lack of democracy and many decades of distorted political development in the Middle East are in great part a legacy of the region's involvement at the interstices of Soviet and American foreign policy. After a brief discussion of early manifestations of USSR–US rivalry in Greece, Turkey, and Iran at the beginning of the Cold War, the chapter uses Iraq as a case study of the changing nature of the relations between a Middle Eastern state and both superpowers from the 1940s until the collapse of the Soviet Union.
2. The Emergence of the Middle East into the Modern State System
This chapter traces the origins and the entry of the Middle East states into the international system after the First World War. It draws on the ideas of the ‘English School’ for whom international relations is understood in terms of an ‘international society’ in which shared norms, values, and practices develop that states find in it their interests to nurture and preserve. The chapter also explores the emergence of the Middle East, which saw states entering and participating in society, though on very unequal terms. The chapter analyzes visible elements of resistance and revolt, wherein the state system and the regimes it sponsored failed to meet the needs of different peoples and became synonymous with oppression and inequality. It covers the experience of Ottoman reforms that left an important legacy of statecraft in the Arab world, but the Arab people had little prior experience of diplomacy.
2. The Emergence of the Middle East into the Modern State System
This chapter traces the origins and the entry of Middle East states into the international system after the First World War. The modern states of the Arab Middle East emerged from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the post-First World War settlement. The fall of the Ottoman Empire left the Turks and Arabs ready for statehood, although unprepared for dealing with the international system. Indeed, the Palestine crisis brought to light Arab weaknesses in the international arena and in regional affairs that were a legacy of the way in which the colonial powers shaped the emergence of the modern Middle East. Ultimately, the emergence of the state system in the Middle East is a history both of the creation of stable states and of destabilizing conflicts.
This chapter explores the evolution and development of relations between the European Union (EU) and its member states and the Mediterranean Middle East. It considers Europe’s colonial legacy in the Middle East and the geographic proximity and complex nature of the ties that link both areas to each other. It also looks at factors that have shaped a relationship that contrasts with the Middle East’s relations with the more distant United States. The chapter assesses the different interests that have driven European policies towards the Middle East and their impact, including the responses and strategies of the Middle East’s governments vis-à-vis European policies. It assesses Europe’s role in the quest to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its responses to the aftermath of the Arab uprising that resulted in major regional instability in the Middle East and a massive increase in the number of refugees and migrants trying to reach Europe.
This concluding chapter explores the evolution and development of European approaches to the Middle East. An expansion of European imperial rule across the Middle East followed the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War. By the end of the twentieth century, the United States was unrivalled power-broker across the region, but the Europeans had turned old imperialist relationships into commercial ones. Bound to MENA by economic interdependence and migration flows, the European Union (EU) formulated a series of initiatives designed to address new transnational security concerns through the deployment of ‘soft power’. By 2011 and the eruption of popular uprisings across the Arab world, the EU was itself in the throes of an economic crisis that forced a rethink in European policies toward the region and a reassertion of bilateralism.
10. Foreign Policymaking in the Middle East: Complex Realism
This chapter provides an analysis of foreign policymaking by major regional states based on a complex realist approach. It explains how a complex realist approach acknowledges the weight of realist or power-based arguments and highlights other factors, such as the level of dependency on the US, processes of democratization, and the role of leadership in informing states’ foreign policy choices. It also examines decision-making by Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and Egypt in relation to the key events and crises of the last decade. The chapter lays out a framework of the factors that shape the foreign policies of Middle East states, including their external environments and policy processes. It covers the 2003 Iraq War; the 2006 Hezbollah War; and the post-2014 War with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS), which indicated the states’ foreign policies that respond to threats and opportunities and their relative power positions.
11. Foreign Policymaking in the Middle East: Complex Realism
This chapter studies foreign policymaking by regional states in the Middle East based on a ‘complex realist’ approach. This acknowledges the weight of realist arguments but highlights other factors such as the level of dependency on the United States, processes of democratization, and the role of leadership in informing states' foreign policy choices. To illustrate this approach, the chapter examines decision-making by four leading states — Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and Egypt — in relation to the key events and crises of the last decade: the 2003 Iraq War; the 2006 Hezbollah War; and the post-2014 War with the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS). The cases indicate that, as realists expect, states' foreign policies chiefly respond to threats and opportunities, as determined by their relative power positions.
This chapter explores the shifting security dynamics in the Gulf, focusing on the policies of Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, as well as the shifting patterns of US involvement. It argues that the classical realist tool, the balance of power, only partly explains the positioning of states. It also points out the importance of the domestic framework and its interactions with transnational influences and external actors to understanding the environment within which local states operate. The chapter explores the need to manage both internal and external threats as regime security drives states in their foreign policies. It talks about the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq and the relative immunity of the Gulf monarchies from the effects of the Arab Spring, which have afforded greater regional influence and autonomy for the states.
This chapter focuses on the international politics of the Gulf region, which are defined by the interplay of the local states and outside powers. The domestic framework and its interactions with transnational influences and external actors are crucial to understanding the environment within which local states operate — whether revolutionary Iran, Saddam Hussein's Iraq, or the Gulf monarchies themselves. Given that regime security drives states in their foreign policies, the need to cope with both internal and external threats is compelling. Outside actors are important in as much as they supply or help to combat such threats. The withdrawal of US forces from Iraq and the relative immunity of the Gulf monarchies from the effects of the Arab Spring have afforded these states greater regional influence and autonomy, but events since 2015 also reveal deep divides among them over issues like IS, Iranian foreign policy, and the war in Yemen.
International Relations of the Middle East provides a guide to the subject of international relations in this important region. It combines the analysis of the key themes, actors, and issues with the history of the region, and insights from a leading team of international experts. The text provides a thematic overview of the subject, combining history with analysis, as well as topical material and perspectives. The text also offers a wide range of perspectives, encouraging students to think critically to formulate their own arguments and opinions. Finally, it provides current, topical insights, including developments such as the Syrian conflict, the increasing importance of Russia and China in the region, and the impact of the Trump administration. One chapter looks at Russia, China, and the Middle East and examines the role of these increasingly important actors in the region. The text also includes coverage of the most recent developments, including those relating to the conflict in Syria, the refugee crisis, so-called Islamic State, and the impact of the Trump administration.
International Relations of the Middle East provides a guide to the subject of international relations in this important region. It combines the analysis of the key themes, actors, and issues with the history of the region, and insights from international experts. The text provides a thematic overview of the subject, combining history with analysis, as well as topical material and perspectives. The text also offers a wide range of perspectives, encouraging readers to think critically to formulate their own arguments and opinions. Finally, it provides current, topical insights, including developments such as the Syrian conflict, the increasing importance of Russia and China in the region, and the impact of the Trump administration. One chapter looks at Russia, China, and the Middle East and examines the role of these increasingly important actors in the region. The text also includes coverage of the most recent developments, including those relating to the conflict in Syria, the refugee crisis, so-called Islamic State, and the impact of Trump.
1. International Relations Theory and the Middle East
This chapter offers a detailed survey of international relations (IR) approaches, including the particular difficulties that IR in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region shares with other parts of the Global South. It highlights the creation of the modern states system in the Middle East that closely coincided with the development of international relations as an independent discipline. This discussion constitutes both an essential starting point and a useful set of tools for understanding the Middle East’s international relations and the relevant theoretical underpinnings. The chapter looks at vital and enduring points of entry into understanding the international politics of the Middle East via its twentieth-century history. It highlights the unending dialogue with the past that was underlined by the unanticipated course of events surrounding the Arab uprisings and their consequences.
1. International Relations Theory and the Middle East
This chapter discusses the different theories and approaches that characterize the study of international relations. Mainstream theories focus on the ways that states interact with one another in circumstances where no overarching authority governs their behavior — in other words, under conditions of anarchy. These theories include structural realism, neoliberal institutionalism, and the scholarship on relational contracting. An important alternative perspective — the English School — argues that, even under anarchic conditions, there is a high degree of orderliness in world affairs. Meanwhile, proponents of constructivism assert that states take shape in specific historical contexts, and that the conditions under which states coalesce and become socialized to one another play a crucial role in determining how they conceive of themselves and formulate their basic interests. Scholars of the Middle East have so far addressed only a fraction of the many theoretical debates and controversies that energize the field of international relations.
Introduction: The Middle East and International Relations
This chapter offers a comprehensive, up to date, and accessible guide to understanding the international relations of the modern Middle East. It points out two issues on studying the international relations of the Middle East: The first relates to the definition of the region itself and second is the appropriateness of scholarly approaches. It also concerns the mechanisms and institutions of formal interstate relations and the multiple informal interactions and networks operating above and below the level of states. The chapter considers how the Middle East is still seen as an ‘unfinished’ region where territory and borders are contested, and interstate conflict persists. It discusses the Pan-Arabism that has slowly declined as a dominant ideology and the Arab uprisings that gave rise to further fragmentation and inter-Arab sectarian divides.
Introduction: The Middle East and International Relations
This introductory chapter provides an overview of the study of international relations in the Middle East. The two disciplines of international relations and Middle East studies are highly interdependent. No book on the contemporary politics of the Middle East can possibly ignore the way in which external forces have shaped the development of the region's politics, economics, and societies. Similarly, no international relations text can ignore the rich cases that the Middle East has supplied, and how they illuminate different theories and concepts of the discipline, whether in respect of patterns of war and peace, identity politics, or international political economy. The chapter then looks at some of the particular problems that arise in studying the international relations of the Middle East.