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Cover International Relations of the Middle East

Introduction: The Middle East and International Relations  

Louise Fawcett

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.

Chapter

Cover International Relations of the Middle East

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

Giacomo Luciani

This chapter looks at the role of oil in the political economy and the international relations of the Middle East. Oil is commonly considered a political commodity. Because of its pivotal importance as a primary source of energy, governments are concerned with its continued availability and seek to minimize import dependence. Historically, interest in oil — especially in the United Kingdom and the United States — strongly influenced attitudes towards the Middle East and the formation of the state system in the region, following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Oil also affects the power balance within the region. The polarization in the region between oil-rich and oil-poor states is thus an essential tool of analysis. The parallel distinction between rentier and non-rentier states helps to explain how oil affects the domestic political development of the oil-rich states and influences their regional relations.