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HomeGeopolitical CompassWest & Centeral AsiaResurgence of Geopolitical Rivalry in the MENA after the ‘Arab Spring’

Resurgence of Geopolitical Rivalry in the MENA after the ‘Arab Spring’

Authors: Mohammad Reza Dehshiri and Hossein Shahmoradi

Affiliation: School of International Relations (an affiliate of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Iran)

Organization/Publisher: Taylor & Francis Online 

Date/Place: June 15, 2020/ UK

Type of Literature: Article

Number of Pages: 23


Keywords: Strategic clash, Islamism, Arab spring, Great power intervention.



The geopolitical map in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has shifted considerably after the Arab Spring, as great power interventions and contradictory ideologies have given birth to ongoing clashes and escalated regional rivalries. A mix of domestic and international factors decides how main players approach one another. The role of religion was a prime factor in the Arab Spring, which revived strategic competition while traditional powers such as Egypt declined. Islam’s central importance in MENA’s future has been brought to focus by Islamist parties and movements, thus the three axes of Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are in a competition to further religious influence. The three axes have presented themselves and supported their allies with arms and wealth with varying degrees of success. Each of the three axes have sensed pressures and opportunities: domestic factors were substantial in the case of Saudi Arabia which feared a spillover effect from the Arab Spring, Turkey’s national security is at issue with armed Kurds on its borders, and the US pressures Iran after the former’s withdrawal from the Nuclear Deal. These pressures push each axis to act accordingly in the region, and each success and failure affects one another. Regardless of the strategic competition’s result, there is a dire need for regional cooperation since Saudi failures have proven that security dependence on great powers is not a guarantee. The continuous struggle between the three axes invites more extra-regional intervention as regional actors bind themselves to security promises; this limits autonomous operation of security and lowers the chances of peace, stability and sustainable development. 


By: Omar Fili, CIGA Research Assistant



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