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Chapter

This chapter offers critical reviews of the explanatory power of identity and culture in understanding international relations in the Middle East. It focuses on Arabism and other regional ethnicities as sources of political identity. The importance of these identities within the region has been accentuated because of the poor fit between identity and states and regimes — a colonial legacy, but one that remains pertinent today, as revealed in the Arab uprisings. Indeed, the persistence of conflict in the Middle East must be understood through this ‘incongruence of identity and material structures’. Focusing on pan-Arabism, as well as the irredentist and separatist movements that have characterized the history and political development of the region, the chapter shows how the interaction of identity with state formation and development has contributed to numerous wars, and most recently to the evolution of regional developments following the Arab Spring.

Chapter

This chapter examines the issue of political reform in the Middle East. More specifically, it considers the enormous challenges that face proponents of political reform in the region. To this end, the chapter focuses on the legacies of state formation that shape the contemporary political systems, as well as the changing economic and social parameters of societies in today’s Middle East. After explaining the democracy deficit in the Middle East, the chapter shows that the Arab states have been slow to respond to the global processes of democratization. It also explores the political economy of Arab states, the persistence of conflict, regime type, and the ambiguity over the relationship between democracy and Islam. Finally, it analyses the Arab Spring as evidence of the vibrancy and growth of civil society in many states across the region.

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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.

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This chapter examines the Arab Spring and its outcomes from an international relations (IR) perspective by offering a revisionist interpretation that emphasizes the importance of the interactions of civic (peaceful/ruly) and non-civic (violent/unruly), top-down and bottom-up, state and non-state, local and global manifestations of political behaviour. The Arab Spring is generally regarded as a local phenomenon of ‘street politics’ with no connection to global trends. The chapter challenges this notion and throws the Arab ‘revolution’ into sharper relief, first by tracing its origin and second by analysing its ‘itinerary’ through the region in the context of globalization. It also explores the problem posed by the Arab Spring for Orientalism, and more specifically to Arab ‘exceptionalism’, as well as the centre–periphery dyad. Finally, it discusses the impact of the Arab Spring on democratization and the international relations of the uprisings.

Chapter

This chapter examines the evolving regional security situation in the Middle East since the end of the Cold War. While longstanding issues like the Arab–Israeli conflict and the nuclearization of Iran still characterize the regional security context, the biggest game changer has been a series of domestic events that came to be known as the Arab Spring. The chapter considers old and new security challenges — economic, political, and social — faced by the Middle East during the period, focusing on the role of ‘intermestics’: the close connection between the international and domestic politics of the region. It also explores other key themes that have come to dominate the contemporary international relations of the region, including oil, globalization, and religio-politics. Finally, it discusses the notion of ‘Arab exceptionalism’ and the winds of change that continue to persist throughout the region.

Chapter

This chapter examines identity politics in the Middle East, focusing on Arabism and other regional ethnicities as sources of political identity in the region. It argues that the persistence of conflict in the Middle East stems from the incongruence of identity and material structures. It shows how the interaction of identity with state formation and development has contributed to numerous wars, and most recently to the evolution of regional developments following the Arab Spring. The chapter first considers the problem of nation-building where identity and territory are incongruent before explaining how irredentism generates interstate conflict. It then explores the impact of identity on perceptions of interest in foreign policymaking, along with the rise, decline, and evolution of pan-Arabism. It also describes the instrumentalization of identity in the post-Arab uprising regional power struggle, asserting that identity has motivated, but material power structures have frustrated, efforts to create a regional security community.

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This volume offers an account of the international relations of the modern Middle East. It examines the international politics of the region by providing further scholarly engagement between the two major disciplines of international relations (IR) and Middle East Studies. The text focuses on important contemporary themes in Middle East international relations such as political economy, democratization and political reform, the management of regional relations, and patterns of war and security. It looks at key regional case studies incorporating historical, contemporary, and theoretical perspectives. Topics include the foreign policy practices of different states, the Arab–Israeli conflict, and the Arab Spring and its consequences. This introduction considers some of the particular problems that arise in studying the international relations of the Middle East and how they are addressed in this volume. It also provides an overview of the chapters that follow.

Chapter

This chapter examines the unrest across the Middle East in the 2010s. The first section focuses on the civil war in Syria and the role of so-called Islamic State., examining the causes of the Syrian uprising and the development of protests against President Assad into civil war. It describes the growth of Jihadism, formation of Ahrar al-Sham, and emergence of ISIS, and the subsequent declaration of a Caliphate. The escalation and destructive impact of the conflict is examined in the context of increasing international intervention and the involvement of foreign powers in both exacerbation of the conflict and efforts to restore peace. The second section describes the growing regional importance of Iran alongside the 2015 nuclear deal and tensions with Saudi Arabia. The chapter concludes with the Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt, conflict in Yemen, and the downfall of Gaddafi in Libya.

Chapter

This chapter describes the changing dynamics of regionalism and alliance-making in the Middle East, processes that are closely related to and reflect states' foreign and domestic policy choices. The Middle East is not a region without regionalism at the societal or interstate level. There have been multiple forces for cooperation, particularly in the Arab world, based upon common identity, interests and beliefs; multiple alliances that intersect the Arab and non-Arab world; and evidence of cooperation in both broader and narrower regional settings like the Gulf. Global as well as regional trends and influences also push the Middle East into new arenas of cooperation. However, outcomes are mixed: an array of factors including regime insecurity, local rivalries, and external influence inhibit attempts at regional cooperation. Events since the Arab Spring have presented opportunities but also further challenges for Arab regional institutions as new divides and regional alignments emerge.

Book

International Relations of the Middle East provides a balanced overview of international relations in the Middle East. Chapters combine a history of the region with analysis of key themes, actors, and conflicts, using a range of learning features and online resources to support learning. Offering a wide range of perspectives, this text exposes the reader to different approaches to the subject, and encourages them to think critically in order to draw their own conclusions. The text features a range of case studies and ‘micro-cases’ throughout, demonstrating the relevance of international relations theory in the contemporary Middle East, and helping the reader to apply learning to real world situations. The fourth edition features a new chapter on the Arab Spring, highlighting this significant development in contemporary Middle Eastern international relations, and an expanded discussion of rising powers in the region, such as Russia and China.

Chapter

Lise Rakner and Vicky Randall

This edition examines the changing nature of politics in the developing world in the twenty-first century, with emphasis on the complex and changing nexus between state and society. It analyses key developments and debates, and this is illustrated by current examples drawn from the global South, tackling a range of issues such as institutions and governance, the growing importance of alternative politics and social movements, security, and post-conflict state-crafting. The text also discusses the Arab Spring and South–South relations and offers new case studies of Syria and the Sudan as well as China, India, and Brazil. This introduction considers the question of the meaningfulness of the Third World as an organizing concept, whether politics is an independent or a dependent variable, and a number of major interconnected global trends that have resulted in a growing convergence in the developing world. It also provides an overview of the organization of this edition.

Chapter

This chapter examines the early stages of mass mobilization in Syria that sparked the Arab uprisings. Starting from December 2010 in Tunisia, Arabs from various walks of life took to the streets in protest against decades-long authoritarian rule, repression, and corruption in what came to be known as the Arab uprisings, or Arab Spring. These waves of protest reached Syria in March 2011. While Syria’s protests initially were largely peaceful, they soon gave way to violence, which culminated in an armed insurgency by the end of 2011 and, combined with regime brutality, a civil war. Before explaining how, when, and why the uprisings happened, the chapter provides a short history of growing popular discontent that resulted in the onset of the Syrian uprisings. It then analyses the roots of the uprising’s militarization and the ensuing popular mobilization and concludes with an assessment of the Syrian civil war.

Chapter

Christine Sylvester

This chapter examines a new stream of analysis that brings colonial, post-colonial, and the current era of postcolonial history into International Relations (IR). Post-colonialism seeks to fill the many gaps in Eurocentric constructions of the world so that people and ideas associated with former colonies can be visible, audible, and influential today. The chapter begins with three framing questions: Is IR likely to be as Western-centric in the future as it has been in the past? Is it possible for people in former colonial powers to understand the impact of colonization on today's post-colonial Third World? In the postcolonial era, does the West try to rescue others from their cultural ways of life? Two case studies are presented, one about Zimbabwe and the other about the Arab Spring. There is also an Opposing Opinions box that asks whether a clash of cultures is inevitable.

Chapter

This chapter investigates the changing dynamics of regionalism and alliance-making in the Middle East alongside international relations approaches that focus on the role of ideas, interests, and domestic and external agency in explaining efforts to build consensus and cooperation around core issues. The chapter first considers the experience of the Middle East in the context of international relations theory before discussing the theory and practice of regional cooperation. It then examines how regime insecurity, local rivalry, instability, and external influence inhibit attempts to create regional community. It also shows how events since the Arab Spring have seen opportunities and challenges for Arab regional institutions. Finally, it explores new trends in studies of regionalism that depart from Eurocentric models, thus allowing us to rethink the role of regions from new perspectives.

Chapter

This chapter examines the issue of identity in the Middle East from an Islamic perspective. It shows how Islam, in a variety of forms, has interacted with the domestic, regional, and international politics of the region. The chapter first provides an overview of the history and concepts of Islam and international relations in the Middle East before discussing the relationship between pan-Islam, colonialism, and the establishment of modern nation states in the Middle East, using Egypt and Saudi Arabia as case studies. It then explores the political economy of Islamic revival as well as the role of Islam in Cold War geopolitics and in foreign policymaking. It also considers how globalization has acted as a facilitator of transnational Islam and concludes by assessing how the Arab Spring has created new opportunities and challenges for the Islamic movement, along with their implications for Arab states’ foreign policies.

Chapter

This chapter explores the role of civil society, interest groups, and populism in politics. It first considers the concept of ‘civil society’ and how it came to be associated with the protests that brought down communist regimes in Eastern Europe, along with its role in the Arab Spring. It then looks at interest groups as a major component of civil society, the rise of corporatism, and the notion of ‘infrapolitics’ or politics from below. It also discusses the growing phenomenon of populism as a way of enhancing the status and position of previously neglected groups in democracies as well as a challenge to liberal democracies. A case study on populism online involving Beppe Grillo and the Five star Movement is presented. The chapter suggests that populist politicians make use of the media to forge a direct relationship with their supporters.

Chapter

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.

Chapter

Jeff Haynes

This chapter explores the relationship between religion and politics. It first defines the concept of religion before discussing its contemporary political and social salience in many developing countries. It then considers how religion interacts with politics and with the state in the developing world, as well as how religion is involved in democratization in the developing world by focusing on the Arab Spring and its aftermath. It also examines the differing impacts of the so-called Islamic State and Pope Francis on the relationship between religion and politics in the developing world. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the role of religion in international politics after 9/11.

Chapter

This chapter examines the liberalist approach to the theory and practice of international politics. It begins with an overview of liberalism and liberal internationalism’s main characteristics, including how they overlap with, yet significantly depart from, the realist perspective. It then considers the major liberalist schools of thought, namely: commercial or economic liberalism, human rights liberalism, international organization or institutions liberalism, and democratic liberalism. The chapter explores how contemporary liberal internationalism is losing significant power and appeal because the major Western states of the world system are experiencing serious international and domestic difficulties. It closes by indicating that the Western liberal internationalist order will likely lose a sizable portion of its long standing international dominance, resulting in a more widely spread global security management arrangement among a larger number of major states.

Chapter

Patrick Morgan

This chapter examines the liberalist approach to the theory and practice of international politics. It begins with an overview of liberalism’s main characteristics, including its description of international politics as evolving, becoming more imbued with interdependence, cooperation, peace, and security. It then considers the major liberalist schools of thought, namely: commercial or economic liberalism, human rights liberalism, international organization or institutions liberalism, and democratic liberalism. After explaining liberalism’s position on human rights and democracy, the chapter explores democratic peace theory. It concludes with a discussion of the Arab Spring as an example of recent developments that have put the liberalist perspective under great strain.