An exceptional context for a debate on international relations?

Toward a synthetic approach to the study of the MENA’s international politics

Authored by: Pietro Marzo , Francesco Cavatorta

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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MENA is a penetrated regional system where realist rules dominate. Even after formal independence, the global powers retained vital interests in the region, notably hydrocarbons, and as such, MENA remained a penetrated system. This is congruent with realism, which ascribes most agency in world politics to great powers. The first generation of independence leaders such as Nasser reacted against the legacy of imperialism, mobilizing Arab nationalism while exploiting Cold War rivalries to roll back remaining British and French influence; but the superpowers introduced their own rivalries into the region and the 1967 war ended the brief period of regional autonomy. The end of bi-polarity and the emergent US hegemony and Pax Americana seemed to open the door to incorporation of the region into a liberal world order, with all states bandwagoning with the US. However, liberal institutionalism acquired little applicability and realist rules remained dominant.

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