States of the Middle East in Search of Foreign Policy Identity

477
DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2019-63-9-93-103

I. Zvyagelskaya (izvyagelskaya@yandex.ru),
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation;
N. Kozhanov (n_a_kozhanov@mail.ru),
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation;
European University at St. Petersburg, 6/1, Gagarinskaya Str., St. Petersburg, 191187, Russian Federation;
I. Svistunova (isvistunova@imemo.ru),
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation;
N. Surkov (nsurkov@imemo.ru),
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow 117997, Russian Federation 



Abstract

In the Middle East, the formation of nation-states has not been completed, and a search for foreign policy identity is still underway. The article examines the roots and evolution of foreign policy identity in three major Middle East states – Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia. The authors analyze interaction between the national identities and foreign policy in different cultural contexts and under different political regimes. Turkey, which recalls its Ottoman past, is rapidly returning to the Middle East, challenging other players. Polls demonstrate that a growing share of the Turkish society is confident that Turkey can play an important role in the modern world, serve as a “model” for other states and act independently in the international arena. Tehran is actively pursuing a policy of regional expansion, relying on Shia communities and on its military might, which can eventually lead to a regional hegemony. This policy is based on several identities – revolutionary, pragmatist and pan-Iranian, which do not contradict and even complement each other. Saudi Arabia in the 21st century is positioning itself not only as a leader of the global Muslim, especially Sunni, community, but is also increasingly behaving as a hegemon of the Arab world countering the Iranian expansion. Despite all modernization efforts, the foreign policy identity of the Kingdom is strongly influenced by the tribal mentality of its ruling elite. The research demonstrates that in the Middle East states, foreign policy is strongly influenced by informal institutions – be it a western-type republic, a theocracy or an absolute monarchy. Hence customs, traditions, historical memory have a substantial impact on how the elites and general public envision the role of these countries and that of their rivals.


Keywords

foreign policy, self-positioning, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, foreign policy identity 


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For citation:
Zvyagel'skaya I., Kozhanov N., Svistunova I., Surkov N. States of the Middle East in Search of Foreign Policy Identity. Mirovaya ekonomika i mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya, 2019, vol. 63, No 9, pp. 93-103. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2019-63-9-93-103



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