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The Arab Uprisings and the Geopolitics of the Middle East


The contest between Saudi Arabia and Iran played out in Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, postwar Iraq and, to a lesser extent, Yemen and Bahrain, has shaped the geopolitics of the region since the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq. The Arab uprisings intensified this geopolitical contest and spread it to Syria. The sectarianisation of the region's geopolitical battles, and the instrumental use of some of the uprisings for geopolitical ends, has hardened sectarian sentiments across the region, complicated post-authoritarian democratic transitions, and, at least in Syria's case, transformed its popular uprising into a veritable civil war.

Keywords: Arab uprisings, geopolitics, Middle East, sectarianism