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14. The United States in the Middle East  

Andrew Payne and Michael C. Hudson

This chapter contributes to the in-depth study of the evolution of US policy towards the Middle East. It reviews the origins and development of US policy over the past century, stressing the crucial and interdependent relationship between different domestic constituencies in the US and the conduct of US foreign policy. It also gives an implicit critique of realist approaches and analyses the neo-conservative revolution under George W. Bush. The chapter offers assessments of the records of the most recent administrations, such as President Barack Obama’s attempt to reset relations with the region included an agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program. It talks about how President Donald Trump upended US Middle East policy in several significant ways, while his successor President Joe Biden, sought to undo parts of his predecessor’s legacy.

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1. International Relations Theory and the Middle East  

Fred H. Lawson

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.

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10. Foreign Policymaking in the Middle East: Complex Realism  

Raymond Hinnebusch and Anoushiravan Ehteshami

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.

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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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13. The Arab Spring: The ‘People’ in International Relations  

Larbi Sadiki

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.

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15. Russia, China, and the Middle East  

Roland Dannreuther

This chapter analyses the important relationships that are currently evolving between Russia, China, and the Middle East, reflecting the new global balance of power. It highlights the role that domestic factors play in defining their interests in the Middle East, including the need to incorporate the interests of significant Muslim populations in both Russia and China. It also examines the longer historical record of Russia, China, and the Middle East’s engagement, the imperial legacies, and the role that the Soviet Union and Communist China played in supporting radical revolutionary forces during the twentieth century. The chapter looks at how both China and Russia have enjoyed a significant return to the Middle East since the 2000s, which was driven by a mix of economic and geopolitical factors. It identifies the challenges the relationship of Russia, China, and the Middle East presents for the United States and the West.

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3. The Cold War in the Middle East  

Louise Fawcett and Peter Sluglett

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.

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

Bahgat Bahgat

This chapter covers the post-Cold-War period, the late twentieth, and early twenty-first century with a focus on the major challenges the Middle East has faced in moving into the twenty-first century era. It introduces the key themes that have come to dominate the contemporary international relations of the Middle East, which includes oil, new and old conflicts, the variable impacts of globalization, and religio-politics. It also employs the term ‘intermestic’ to highlight the multiple linkages between domestic and international politics which are vindicated and reinforced by the events of the Arab Spring. The chapter reviews the 2020-Abraham Accords, the impact of Covid-19, and impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It discusses the arguments about the primacy of domestic governance issues that is confirmed by current problems in Lebanon and Tunisia.

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5. Oil and Political Economy in the International Relations of the Middle East  

Giacomo Luciani

This chapter tackles the omnipresent question of oil and its relation to the Middle East’s political economy and international relations. It demonstrates the compelling links between oil and the consolidation and evolution of the modern state system. It also points out how outside powers have invariably used oil in their dealings with the Middle East yet this has figured less prominently in the foreign policies of Arab states, whose concerns remain of a more parochial kind. The chapter analyzes a rentier model that shows how oil has conditioned economic and political outcomes in oil-rich and oil-poor states, slowing down the prospects for reform. It emphasizes how oil has given states huge power and resistance to political change.

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6. The Politics of Identity in Middle East International Relations  

Raymond Hinnebusch

This chapter focuses on Arabism and other regional ethnicities as sources of political identity. It emphasizes the importance of regional identities within the Middle East, which have been accentuated because of the poor fit between identity and states and regimes and this remains pertinent today. The chapter also argues that the persistence of conflict in the Middle East must be understood through the incongruence of identity and material structures. The chapter highlights pan-Arabism and the irredentist and separatist movements that have characterized the history and political development of the Middle East. It shows how the interaction of identity with state formation and development has contributed to numerous wars and to the evolution of regional developments following the Arab Spring.

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8. Regionalism and Shifting Alliances in the Middle East  

Louise Fawcett

This chapter offers an overview of the changing dynamics of regionalism and alliance-making in the Middle East, covering processes that are closely related to states’ foreign and domestic policy choices. It examines practices of regionalism alongside international relations approaches that consider the varied explanations of the roles of ideas, interests, and domestic and external agency. It also demonstrates the loose fit between traditional, international relations concerns and regional realities, citing the EU as an example that cannot be considered a useful model for a region like the Middle East. The chapter combines domestic, regional, and international factors to review the Middle East’s slow record in terms of successful institution-building and alliance volatility. It considers the theory and practice of regional cooperation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and how the Middle East experience relates to comparative studies of regionalism.

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17. Russia, China, and the Middle East  

Roland Dannreuther

This chapter addresses the important relationships that are currently evolving between Russia, China, and the Middle East. Russia and China have emerged as increasingly powerful actors in the Middle East and their presence and influence in the region has grown significantly. While both states have had longstanding historical links with the region, the twenty-first-century panorama is a quite distinctive one, with new economic and geopolitical factors driving a return to Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In addition, significant Muslim populations in both countries add another dynamic to contemporary Russian and Chinese relations with MENA. The chapter then identifies the challenges this presents for the United States and the West, and how the states and peoples of the Middle East are responding to the resurgence of Russian and Chinese power in the region.

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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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2. The Emergence of the Middle East into the Modern State System  

Eugene L. Rogan

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.

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24. The future of US foreign policy  

Anatol Lieven

This chapter considers future prospects for US foreign policy on the basis of long-established patterns and other factors such as the interests and ideology of elites, the structures of political life, the country’s real or perceived national interests, and the increasingly troubled domestic scene. It first examines the ideological roots of US foreign policy before discussing some of the major contemporary challenges for US foreign policy, including relations with China, US military power, and the US political order. It then describes the basic contours of US foreign policy over the next generation with respect to the Middle East, the Far East, Russia, Europe and the transatlantic relationship, climate change, and international trade. It also presents catastrophic scenarios for American foreign policy and argues that there will no fundamental change in US global strategy whichever of the two dominant political parties is in power.

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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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22. Stability and Instability in the Less Developed World  

This chapter focuses on stability and instability in less developed countries in the post-Cold War period. One of the signs, alongside the end of the Cold War, that old enmities were breaking down and that a more liberal-democratic world order might be emerging, was the end of apartheid in South Africa. This development followed a long period in which White supremacy had been in decline in southern Africa, leaving the home of apartheid exposed to strong external pressures. After discussing the end of apartheid in Southern Africa, the chapter considers developments in Central Africa, in particular Rwanda and Zaire, as well as the Middle East and East Asia. It concludes with an assessment of the rise of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1967–89, the emergence of the ‘tiger’ economies in the 1990s, and the post-1997 economic crisis.

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22. The future of US foreign policy  

Anatol Lieven

This chapter examines possible futures for American foreign policy in terms of the interests and ideology of the U.S. elites (and to a lesser extent the population at large), the structures of U.S. political life, and the real or perceived national interests of the United States. It first provides an overview of the ideological roots of U.S. foreign policy before discussing key contemporary challenges for U.S. foreign policy. In particular, it considers American relations with China, how to mobilize U.S. military power for foreign policy goals, and the issue of foreign aid. The chapter proceeds by analysing the most important features of America’s future foreign policies, focusing on the Middle East, the Far East, Russia and the former Soviet Union, and Europe and the transatlantic relationship. It concludes by describing some catastrophic scenarios that could accelerate the decline of US power.

Book

Cover International Relations of the Middle East
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.

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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.