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Pax Americana vs. Inclusive Security in the Middle East


The Persian Gulf has long been considered as lacking the readiness for an inclusive security architecture. The political tensions both between Iran and the Arab states as well as between key Arab states in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), combined with weak political institutions and a preference by GCC states to live under a US security umbrella, are believed to have undermined efforts by outside actors to encourage the creation of a new security architecture. However, this analysis misses a more profound structural challenge that the region suffers from: as long as the United States maintains a posture of dominating the region militarily, many regional states will be disincentivised to demand an inclusive security arrangement or develop readiness for it. For many of America’s security partners, even a dysfunctional Pax Americana is preferable to the compromises that the creation of a security architecture inevitably would entail. This paper argues that only if the United States begins a military withdrawal from the Middle East and credibly signals its disinterest in sustaining hegemony can the preconditions for the creation of a successful security architecture emerge.

Paper produced in the framework of the FEPS-IAI project “Fostering a New Security Architecture in the Middle East”, November 2020. Copyright © 2020 Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) and Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI).

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