Regionalism in the Middle East and North Africa

Authored by: Louise Fawcett

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:

10.4324/9780429342486-21

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Abstract

This chapter aims to provide an overview, but also the tools for understanding the concept and practice of regionalism in the Middle East. It tracks the progress of Middle East regionalism from its roots in the early twentieth century through to the contemporary, post-Arab Spring era. While regionalism has become an important feature of international politics since 1945, the Middle East’s record of regional organization presents a mixed picture, leading to claims that it is a region “without regionalism.” In explaining the motivations and record of Middle East regionalism, this chapter resists the easy generalization that Middle East regionalism has been a failure. As such, it avoids dependence on accounts that measure the successes and failures of regionalism against a European Union or Western yardstick. It argues that regionalism in different world regions needs to be evaluated on its own terms and taking into account local as well as global conditions. After offering a review of regional initiatives, the chapter analyses possible explanations for regionalism in MENA in which considerations of state power and interest are juxtaposed alongside arguments that emphasize domestic considerations and identity politics.

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