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3. The Cold War in the Middle East  

Peter Sluglett and Andrew Payne

This chapter examines the effects of the Cold War upon the states of the Middle East. Although the region was not so profoundly affected as other parts of the world in terms of loss of life or major revolutionary upheaval, it is clear that the lack of democracy and many decades of distorted political development in the Middle East are in great part a legacy of the region's involvement at the interstices of Soviet and American foreign policy. After a brief discussion of early manifestations of USSR–US rivalry in Greece, Turkey, and Iran at the beginning of the Cold War, the chapter uses Iraq as a case study of the changing nature of the relations between a Middle Eastern state and both superpowers from the 1940s until the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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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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11. Foreign Policymaking in the Middle East: Complex Realism  

Raymond Hinnebusch and Anoushiravan Ehteshami

This chapter studies foreign policymaking by regional states in the Middle East based on a ‘complex realist’ approach. This acknowledges the weight of realist arguments but highlights other factors such as the level of dependency on the United States, processes of democratization, and the role of leadership in informing states' foreign policy choices. To illustrate this approach, the chapter examines decision-making by four leading states — Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and Egypt — in relation to the key events and crises of the last decade: the 2003 Iraq War; the 2006 Hezbollah War; and the post-2014 War with the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS). The cases indicate that, as realists expect, states' foreign policies chiefly respond to threats and opportunities, as determined by their relative power positions.

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8. Islam and International Relations in the Middle East: From Umma to Nation State  

Peter Mandaville

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’.

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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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14. The International Politics of the Gulf  

Matteo Legrenzi

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.

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18. Europe in the Middle East  

Rosemary Hollis

This concluding chapter explores the evolution and development of European approaches to the Middle East. An expansion of European imperial rule across the Middle East followed the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War. By the end of the twentieth century, the United States was unrivalled power-broker across the region, but the Europeans had turned old imperialist relationships into commercial ones. Bound to MENA by economic interdependence and migration flows, the European Union (EU) formulated a series of initiatives designed to address new transnational security concerns through the deployment of ‘soft power’. By 2011 and the eruption of popular uprisings across the Arab world, the EU was itself in the throes of an economic crisis that forced a rethink in European policies toward the region and a reassertion of bilateralism.

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12. The International Politics of the Gulf  

Matteo Legrenzi

This chapter explores the shifting security dynamics in the Gulf, focusing on the policies of Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, as well as the shifting patterns of US involvement. It argues that the classical realist tool, the balance of power, only partly explains the positioning of states. It also points out the importance of the domestic framework and its interactions with transnational influences and external actors to understanding the environment within which local states operate. The chapter explores the need to manage both internal and external threats as regime security drives states in their foreign policies. It talks about the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq and the relative immunity of the Gulf monarchies from the effects of the Arab Spring, which have afforded greater regional influence and autonomy for the states.

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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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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.