Alliances and the balance of power in the Middle East

Authored by: Curtis R. Ryan

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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Alliances are key components of international relations, including regional relations within the Middle East. This chapter examines the state of the art regarding alliances within international relations theory, examining multiple concepts and schools of thought. While IR theory has too often descended into competitions between various paradigms, this chapter argues for a theoretical eclecticism and highlights key conceptual and theoretical contributions to our understanding of alliance politics from a broad range of perspectives. Regime security approaches in particular provide a useful means for integrating insights from other perspectives, bridging gaps even between realist, constructivist and political economy paradigms. Having examined the literature on alliances theories and the Middle East, the chapter then turns from the theoretical to the empirical, examining changes and continuities in regional alliance politics from the early days of the Arab Cold War (in the 1950s and 1960s) through the post-2011 regional shake-ups associated with the Arab Uprisings and their aftermath. While many traditional insights regarding alliances and alliance politics remain salient and important today, regional politics has seen dramatic changes in regional alliances and in the regional balance of power in the post-Arab Spring era.

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