Political Change in the Middle East – The Reordering of the World

No-one yet knows what the course and the outcome of the processes of change in the Arab world will be. That being said, it is becoming clear whose star is rising and whose is not. Above all, it seems likely that Turkey’s political influence is set to increase. Volker Perthes analyses current developments

Although no-one can at present say how the processes of change in the Arab states or Iran will develop or what their outcome will be, it is already apparent how these events will influence the geopolitical distribution of weight in the region.

Egypt, for example, whose domestic stagnation was increasingly reflected in a loss of foreign policy influence, could at least partially win back its natural role in the Arab world: not necessarily that of an active or even hegemonic leader, but that of a trendsetter.

Under Abdel Nasser in the 1950s and 1960s, Egypt was a model for Arab military-backed autocracies. In the 1970s, it began a top-down-driven policy of economic liberalism and then became the first Arab state to forge peace with Israel. As the most densely populated state in the region, Egypt is also a weather vane for political and social debates in the Arab world.

A new, democratically legitimised leadership is likely to be welcomed with even more widely opened arms in Washington and the capitals of Europe than its predecessor was. However, it will also be more self-confident, not only in itself, but also in its dealings with Europe, the USA, and Israel. Although no relevant political force in Egypt will want to cancel the peace treaty with Israel, the country will no longer allow itself to be cast in the role of Israel’s auxiliary police officer on the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

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