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Interregnum: The Regional Order in the Middle East and North Africa after 2011


The MENA region has entered a period in which the existing order is increasingly challenged while an alternative one is still to be framed. This report contends that the Middle East regional order since 2011 has changed in several ways. This is evidenced by the decline in US power and Russia’s comeback, the rise of sectarianism, the growing influence of non-state actors, the return of Arab state permeability, intensified rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the emergence of regional players such as Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, the fluidity of alliances and shifting centres of gravity. However, these and other changes constitute a change within the order, rather than of order. The report also argues that the sovereign state system and territorial boundaries are more resilient than widely assumed and that explanations of regional politics based on notions of Sunni–Shia antagonism are overly simplistic and may even lead to dangerous policy prescriptions.

Published also in Arabic, French and Turkish.

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