- Raymond Hinnebusch
- and Anoushiravan Ehteshami
This chapter examines the process of foreign policymaking by regional states based on a ‘complex realist’ approach, which acknowledges the weight of realist (or power based) arguments but takes into account other factors such as the role of leadership in informing states’ foreign policy choices. The chapter first provides an overview of complex realism and the framework of analysis by considering the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) environment. It then illustrates the complex realist approach with an an assessment of 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 Lebanon War, and the post-2014 war with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The chapter concludes with a discussion of the relative weight of the various policymaking determinants in the 2000s.