Competitive Multipolarity in the Middle East
The Middle Eastern and North African region is in flux and attempts to identify a new dominant structural logic have been limited so far. For the time being, the new “order” appears to consist in 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 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.
Keywords: Middle East, North Africa, multipolarity, European Union, United States, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran