Conflict in the Middle East

Authored by: Francesco Belcastro

The Routledge Handbook to the Middle East and North African State and States System

Print publication date:  November  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9780367358877
eBook ISBN: 9780429342486
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter explores the topic of conflict in the Middle East. Most observers link the politics of the region with issues such as war, terrorism and political instability. War has been a regular occurrence in the region, as have been instances of terrorism and clashes along political, ethnic and religious lines. What makes the Middle East a “region of conflict”? This chapter explores four main factors: state formation, external involvement, ethnic and sectarian divisions and distribution of power. All of these aspects have been indicated in the literature as causes of conflict and instability in the region, together with other factors such as the role of transnational ideologies and the nature of the regimes of the region. The chapter then looks at the most durable and significant conflict in the region, the Arab–Israeli one. It provides a brief historical account of the origins of the conflict, before looking at the recent developments that took place from the Oslo process onwards. Finally, the chapter reflects on the long-term impact of some of the main factors of instability discussed, concluding that because of their “structural” rather than temporary nature these factors are likely to shape regional politics for the foreseeable future.

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