The Middle Eastern and North African region is in flux, while attempts to identify a new dominant structural logic have been limited so far. For the time being, the new "order" appears to consist of the absence of any one clear-cut organising principle and in overlapping, dynamic, often contradictory geopolitical developments. Among many other features, the geopolitical equation in the Middle East is being altered by a number of larger structural shifts regarding the position and relative weight of specific actors. Notable instances include the relative loss of influence of the United States and Europe; the game-changing regional roles of Russia and China, respectively; the resurgence of the Iranian-Saudi rivalry; the emergence of a number of regional "swing states"; and the increasing role of non-state actors in shaping regional developments. The complexity of this outlook makes policy choices by regional and external actors ever more difficult.
Paper produced within the framework of the New-Med Research Network and presented at the seminar entitled "Global Mediterranean: A New Agenda for Multilateral Security Cooperation", organised in Turin on 4-5 June 2014 by the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), the Compagnia di San Paolo foundation of Turin, the OSCE Secretariat in Vienna and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Revised version published in The International Spectator, Vol. 50, No. 3 (September 2015), p. 1-15.
1. Fugacious hegemony
2. The BRIC equation
3. The Saudi-Iranian rift
4. The "swing states" factor
5. Non-state actors and the fragility-patronage circle
6. Positioning Europe