Major Regional States in the Middle Eastern Zones of Instability

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2016-60-9-28-36

D. Malysheva, Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation. (

Acknowledgements. The article has been supported by a grant of the Programme of fundamental scientific research of the state academies of sciences for 2013–2020 Number III.10P “Imbalances of the modern world order and Russia”. Project “Economic and social imbalances in the macro-regions of the modern world”.

Abstract. The article analyzes the policy of three major regional states – Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey in the Middle Eastern zones of instability which emerged by the end of 2010 under the influence of the so-called Arab Spring and due to complex political transformation processes in the region. The estimation is given to the regional imbalances that have arisen as a result of armed confrontations (in Libya, Syria and Yemen). The author investigates both Saudi Arabia’s “conflict policy” and its governmental efforts – made mainly on religious grounds – to build a multinational coalition ("Islamic alliance"). Risks and challenges resulting from the confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran are identified in relation to regional security. The specificity of the Turkish conflict strategy in the Middle Eastern zones of instability is revealed either. On the basis of the major regional states’ strategy analysis, a conclusion is drawn on the existence of serious obstacles to their cooperation in the direction of overcoming security imbalances in the Middle East. The region has entered the period of a prolonged turbulence which is characterized by such dangerous manifestations as civil wars, criminalization of Arab societies, increasing activities of radical Islamist groups, the growth of terrorism and cross-border delinquency. The geographical outline of the Middle East is rapidly changing, the region is in phase of a new geopolitical reconstruction which includes both the collapse of territorial integrity of some states (Iraq, Libya, Syria) and the emergence of new ethnic (Kurdish) enclaves or religious-territorial units (a self-proclaimed “Islamic State”). Saudi Arabian military and political presence in the conflict zones of the Middle East has resulted in a political chaos together with deep regression in the social and economic sphere of the countries involved, a split along the line of inter-religious and inter-ethnic relations. Ankara's policies in the Middle East zones of instability will maintain close liaison with internal political processes in Turkey itself. The creation of long-term strategic alliance between Turkey and Saudi Arabia seems to be very problematic as Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies do not trust Turkey, let alone Iran. Positive prospects of such a union are outweighed by historical contradictions that divide Turkey, Iran and the Saudi Arabia.

Keywords: the Middle East, major regional states, the zones of instability, conflicts, “Islamic alliance”, regional imbalance 


1. Kennedy R.F., Jr. Why the Arabs Don’t Want Us in Syria. Politico, 22.02.2016. Available at: (accessed 21.03.2016).

2. Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar ash-Sham al-Islamiyya United in Syria (In Russ.) Available at: (accessed 17.04.2016). 

3. Foreign Fighters. An Updated Assessment of the Flow of Foreign Fighters into Syria and Iraq. New York, The Soufan Group, December 2015. Available at: (accessed 26.03.2016).

4. Life and death in Syria. BBC, Russian Service, 15.03.2016. (In Russ.)] Available at: (accessed 16.03.2016).

5. Report on Syria Conflict Finds 11.5% of Population Killed or Injured. The Guardian, 11.02.2016. Available at: (accessed 29.03.2016).

6. Syria Civil War: Kurds Declare Federal Region in North. Aljazeera, 17.03.2016. Available at: (accessed 20.03.2016).

7. Conflicts and Wars in the XXI century (Middle East and North Africa). Moscow, Institute of Oriental Studies RAS, 2015, 504 p. (In Russ.)

8. “Terrible Year” in War-torn Yemen Leaves Majority of Country's People in Need of Aid – UN. UN News Centre, 22.03.2016. Available at: (accessed 25.03.2016).

9. Mohammad Javad Zarif: Saudi Arabia’s Reckless Extremism. New York Times, 10.01.2016. Available at: (accessed 19.03.2016).

10. Surkov N. “Druz'ya Sirii” spotknulis' v Khomse [“Friends of Syria” Stumbled in Homs]. Nezavisimaya gazeta. NG-dipkur'er, 05.03.2012.

11. Friedman G. The Middle Eastern Balance of Power Matures. Stratfor, 31.03.2015. Available at: (accessed 31.03.2015).

12. Özel S., Özkan B. Illusions Versus Reality: Turkey’s Approach to the Middle East and North Africa. Policy Brief, April 2015, no. 200, pp. 2-7. 

13. Military to Military. Seymour Hersh on US Intelligence Sharing in the Syrian War. London Review of Books, 07.01.2016. Vol. 38, no. 1. Available at: (accessed 02.01.2016).

14. Sotnichenko A. Erdogan vozvrashchaetsya k Zapadu [Erdogan Returns to the West] Available at: (accessed 05.05.2016).

Registered in System SCIENCE INDEX

For citation:
Malysheva D. Major Regional States in the Middle Eastern Zones of Instability. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2016, vol. 60, no. 9, pp. 28-36.

Comments (0)

No comments

Add comment






Dear authors! Please note that in the VAK List of peer-reviewed scientific journals, in which the main scientific results of dissertations for the degree of candidate and doctor of sciences should be published for the “MEMO Journal” the following specialties are recorded:
economic sciences:
5.2.5. World Economy.
5.2.1. Economic Theory
5.2.3. Regional and Branch Economics
political sciences:
5.5.4. International Relations
5.5.1. History and Theory of Politics
5.5.2. Political Institutions, Processes, Technologies


Current Issue
2024, vol. 68, No. 4
Topical Themes of the Issue:
  • Financial Contagion Propagation in Europe under the Impact of Global Shocks
  • Regional Powers on the African Continent: Trends and Prospects
  • Investment Activity of the PRC in the Kyrgyz Republic
  • “Land Grabbing” Concept: Global and National Aspects
Submit an Article
The Editorial Board invites authors to write analytical articles on the following topics:
  • changes in the processes of globalization in modern conditions
  • formation of the new world order
  • shifts in civilization at the stage of transition to a digital society

The editors are also interested in publishing synthesis articles / scientific reviews revealing the main trends in the development of certain regions of the world - Latin America, Africa, South Asia, etc.