How the Middle East impacts international relations, globally.

The palace at Rabat, Morocco, where there is one of the few remaining monarchies in the Middle East.

In this article Ahmad Abdel-Rahman looks at the impact on global international relations of geopolitical changes in the Middle East . 

Countries in the Middle East are  going through structural and crucial transformations that will have a real impact on the pattern and trends of its relations with other countries outside the region. There are fundamental developments and transformations that are changing these relations.

The first transformation is that these geopolitical transformations are neither formal nor marginal. Rather they are fundamental, and include most of the countries in the region. This is unlike what happened in the post-World War II era which led to areas of extensive influence, bilateral and multilateral alliances and polarisations, as well as the emergence of alliances through military, political, and economic organisations.

These political transformations could lead to the disintegration of alliances and the formation of new ones, based on emerging political, strategic, and economic trends.

Perhaps this also explains academic demands that call for the need to reconsider alliances and build more serious ones, according to what might be called "political realism".

These  concerns may matter more now since international relations in the post-corona crisis will be completely different from before. Hence, there will be a need for  new alliances. Before, there were no urgent priorities as long as the current crises were still present and were in a state of fluidity. However, this is no longer true, especially since the current economic and political relations within the economic groupings, for example, have begun to be affected by the grant and assistance policies provided to some countries that are entitled to them from major countries such as Japan, China, and the US.

The second transformation can be seen in the current changes in the Middle East. This transformation is related to the division of the region into stable states which are republics, such as Egypt and Algeria, and monarchies, such as Morocco and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). There are also unstable countries, and countries that have collapsed and entered the framework of failed states.

The most dangerous thing that emerges in these ongoing geopolitical transformations is their instability. The Middle East is still in a state of political and strategic fluidity and will not be stable, until all the settlements proposed in most of the region's countries, especially in the Libyan, Syrian, and Yemeni cases are completed and concluded. Therefore, geopolitical shifts will continue.

However, new transformations are emerging, such as the appearance of Al-Qaeda and ISIS, and the possibility that the Arab and Middle East regions will witness a new wave of conflicts and terrorist operations that are different then before. All this may lead to more instability, and even more violence, and the growth of new political, social and economic phenomena that have not been witnessed in the Middle East before.

With regard to the third transformation, the Middle East will be a key player directing the patterns of regional and international relations and their interactions. The overall power calculations and the capabilities of the region's countries - regardless of their disparities - are important in direction and action, especially as Middle Eastern relations with the international system are complex.

This will not change or be reconsidered simply because the US administration changes or there are international alliances. These have the greatest influence in drawing and defining policy in the Middle East. They could lead to  reversals in current interactions and at different levels.

In light of all this, the ongoing and expected geopolitical transformations in the short and medium term will have a real impact on the structure of regional and international interactions, and the system of international relations as a whole.

 Moreover, there is evidence that the US and the EU countries are still adopting a vision more connected to the main countries of the region, despite them going through a state of ongoing instability, turmoil, and a blurring of vision before and after the corona crisis.

All these facts are affirmed by the growing havoc and chaos every day in the Middle East, the forms and patterns of conflicts, the paths of power, and the aspirations of influence. But it is the hegemony of the major powers that determine the direction of international relations.

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Wednesday, 12 May 2021