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Chapter

This chapter addresses the role of Islam in the international relations in the Middle East. In a historically informed account, it shows how Islam has interacted with the domestic, regional, and international politics of the region in a variety of forms. Its influence, however, has ebbed and flowed alongside different currents in regional and international relations. In this regard, globalization has been a facilitator of transnational Islam, but by no means a force for union. Notwithstanding its evident importance, there has been little substantive presence of religion in the foreign policies of Middle Eastern states, even in those more overtly Islamic ones such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. However, the popular uprisings in the Arab world created new opportunities and challenges for the Islamic movement, which continue to affect states' foreign policies notably through the phenomenon of ‘sectarianization’.

Chapter

This chapter assesses the critical issue of political reform in the Middle East. The Arab world has been slow to respond to the global processes of democratization. The chapter then highlights the political economy of states, the persistence of conflict, regime type, and the ambiguity over the relationship between democracy and Islam. This relationship is not necessarily a contradictory one. Islamic discourse is marked by participation and diversity rather than by rigidity and intolerance. Further, as the Arab Spring has illustrated, civil society is vibrant and growing in many states across the region. Meanwhile, responses from the West to political reform have been lukewarm, with stability and regional alliances privileged over democracy. The evidence from the region, even before the Arab uprisings, is that peoples want better and more representative government, even if they remain unclear as to what type of government that should be.

Book

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.