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Cover International Relations of the Middle East

11. The Arab–Israeli Conflict  

Charles Smith

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.

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21. Israeli–Egyptian (in)security  

The Yom Kippur War

Gareth Stansfield

This chapter examines the Yom Kippur War of 1973 from a foreign policy perspective. It first provides a background on the Arab–Israeli Conflict that began in 1948 with the War of Independence, followed by the Suez Conflict in 1956 and the Six-Day War in 1967, and culminated in the Yom Kippur War. It then considers the Egyptian build-up to war in 1973 and why Egypt attacked Israel, as well as the peace process that eventually settled the conflict between the two countries via the Camp David Accords. It also analyses the relative normalization of the Egyptian–Israeli relations and the effective breaking of Egypt’s alliance with other Arab states opposed to the existence of Israel. It concludes with an assessment of the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War and the rapprochement between Egypt and Israel.

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Cover International Relations of the Middle East

12. The Arab–Israeli Conflict  

Charles Smith

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.

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13. The Rise and Fall of the Oslo Peace Process  

Avi Shlaim

This chapter examines the landmark series of negotiations between Arabs and Israelis in the early 1990s, culminating in the Oslo accords (1993), which marked the first and so far, the only sustained effort at peaceful resolution of the Arab–Israeli conflict. These events, which dominated the regional panorama and captured the international imagination, assist one's understanding not only of the nature and direction of Middle East politics, but also their positioning within the emerging international order as outlined by then US President George H. W. Bush. At first, it seemed that the accords, in reconciling the two major parties to the conflict — the Israelis and the Palestinians — were a demonstration of an emerging and more liberal international system. Yet the fragility of this system, in the Middle East as elsewhere, was soon exposed.

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Cover International Relations Since 1945

17. Middle East Conflicts in the 1980s  

This chapter focuses on conflicts in the Middle East during the 1980s. Despite the Camp David settlement, peace remained elusive in the Middle East. An Egyptian–Israeli settlement could neither resolve the conflict between Israel and the Arab states nor bring stability and peace to the region. Anwar Sadat and Menachim Begin had achieved a limited peace for Egypt. Egypt, for its part, had abandoned the myth of Arab unity between the competing states of the region and pursued national interests. However, other conflicts were taking place in the region, including those arising from the Lebanese Civil War, which added to the fundamental failure to deal with the Palestinian Question. The chapter first considers Israel’s invasion of Lebanon before discussing the Arab–Israeli conflict and the Palestinian Question, the Iran–Iraq war of 1980–8, and the accusation of the US, that Libya was a supporter of ‘international terrorism’.

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Cover US Foreign Policy

19. Religion  

Lee Marsden

This chapter examines the influence of religion on US foreign policy. It first considers how religion affected American policy during the Cold War, from the time of Harry S. Truman to George H. W. Bush, before discussing the bilateral relationship between Israel and the United States. It then looks at the rise of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a US-based interest group, and how its work has been complemented by conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists who ascribe to Christian Zionism. It also explores the ways in which religion has intersected with the global war on terror and US foreign policy, how the US resorted to faith-based diplomacy, the issue of religious freedom, and George W. Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in Africa. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the Office of Religion and Global Affairs (ORGA), created by Barack Obama.

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16. Europe and the Mediterranean Middle East  

Raffaella A. Del Sarto

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.

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23. The Middle East and North Africa  

Francesco Cavatorta

This chapter examines why democratic openings failed to consolidate in the Middle East and North Africa despite the profound influence of the global wave of democratization on both regions. Authoritarianism persists in the region comprising the Middle East and North Africa. Nevertheless, countries in the region experienced changes since the consolidation of authoritarian rule soon after decolonization. The chapter considers a number of explanations for the durability of authoritarian rule in the Middle East and North Africa in the face of both domestic and international pressures for democratic governance. In particular, it discusses the role of Islamist political actors and Israel. It also looks at the region’s political culture and society, business and economy, and agents of democratization and democratic failure. Finally, it describes institutional challenges for the region’s chances to become more democratic.

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12. US foreign policy in the Middle East1  

Toby Dodge

This chapter examines the main dynamics that have transformed U.S. foreign policy towards the Middle East over the last eighty-five years, from Woodrow Wilson to Barack Obama. It first considers the applicability of realist, Marxist, and constructivist theories of international relations before discussing the role that the Cold War, oil, and Israel have played in shaping U.S. foreign policy. It shows how, in each of these three areas, U.S. tactical approach to the Middle East has produced unintended consequences that have increased resentment towards America, destabilized the region, and undermined its long-term strategic goals. The chapter also explores the Bush Doctrine, launched after 9/11 and the resultant invasion of Iraq. It concludes by assessing Obama’s attempts to overcome the tensions and suspicion causes by previous U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

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4. The Middle East Since the Cold War: Movement without Progress  

Bahgat Korany

This chapter focuses on the Middle East during the post-Cold-War era. It introduces some the key themes that have come to dominate contemporary international relations of the Middle East: oil; new and old conflicts; the impacts of globalization; and religio-politics. In considering the major security patterns and trends in the Middle East, one finds a number of enduring issues, such as the Arab–Israeli conflict and border disputes. At the same time, one can see elements of change, both within these conflicts and with the emergence of recent threats, such as Iranian nuclearization, with profound consequences for regional alliance structures. As old and new security issues mingle in the geopolitical order, events of the past few years reflect a region dominated by conflict clusters. It is no surprise then that the Middle East remains a highly militarized region.

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13. ‘Stagflation’ and the Trials of Détente, 1973–6  

This chapter examines the onset of the so-called stagflation and the problems that beset détente during the period 1973–6. In the aftermath of Israel’s victories in the Six Day War, a situation of ‘no peace, no war’ prevailed in the Middle East. Attempts in 1970 and 1971 by the United Nations and the United States to make progress on a peace settlement proved futile. The chapter first considers the Middle East War of October 1973, which sparked a confrontation between the US and the Soviet Union, before discussing the impact of stagflation, especially on the Bretton Woods system. It then explores political problems in Europe and how European détente reached a high point in the Helsinki conference of 1975. It concludes with an analysis of détente and crises in less developed countries such as Chile, South Vietnam, Cambodia, and Angola.

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16. The United States in the Middle East  

Michael C. Hudson

This chapter assesses the evolution of US policy towards the Middle East. It begins with a historical sketch of US involvement in the area, discussing the traditional US interests. The chapter then considers US policy in the administrations of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald J. Trump. President Obama's attempt to reset relations with the region produced mixed results: he reached an agreement to limit Iran's nuclear program, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and oversaw the successful Bin Laden raid in 2011, but failed to offset continuing regional turmoil following the Arab uprisings and the rise of IS, or to make any progress on the Israel–Palestine question. While there are some observable continuities, President Trump has already upended US Middle East policy in several significant ways, as advisors attempt to restrain his apparent desire to undo his predecessor's legacy.

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24. The War in Iraq  

This chapter focuses on the Iraq war of 2003–11 and the troubles in the Middle East. George W. Bush’s advisers, led by Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, had been considering an attack on Iraq well before 9/11. At the same time, many experts within the government pointed to the lack of any evidence for Iraqi-sponsored terrorism directed against the United States. The threats to US national security were outlined to Bush in a briefing just prior to his inauguration; these threats came primarily from al-Qaeda’s terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). The chapter first considers the US decision to invade Iraq, before discussing the war, taking into account the US’s Operation Iraqi Freedom and the war’s costs to the US and to Iraq. It also examines the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and concludes with an assessment of the ‘Arab Spring’.