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date: 18 October 2021

p. 1557. The Politics of Identity in Middle East International Relationslocked

p. 1557. The Politics of Identity in Middle East International Relationslocked

  • Raymond Hinnebusch


This chapter examines identity politics in the Middle East, focusing on Arabism and other regional ethnicities as sources of political identity in the region. It argues that the persistence of conflict in the Middle East stems from the incongruence of identity and material structures. It shows how the interaction of identity with state formation and development has contributed to numerous wars, and most recently to the evolution of regional developments following the Arab Spring. The chapter first considers the problem of nation-building where identity and territory are incongruent before explaining how irredentism generates interstate conflict. It then explores the impact of identity on perceptions of interest in foreign policymaking, along with the rise, decline, and evolution of pan-Arabism. It also describes the instrumentalization of identity in the post-Arab uprising regional power struggle, asserting that identity has motivated, but material power structures have frustrated, efforts to create a regional security community.

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