Martin Beck

Regional Politics in a Highly Fragmented Region: Israel’s Middle East Policies

GIGA Working Paper, No. 89, September 2008

The region of the Middle East is highly conflict-loaded. The absence of one distinct regional power may be considered both cause and consequence of this structural feature. At the same time, there are significant power gaps between states in the Middle East, with Israel among the most powerful actors and accordingly defined as a potential regional power. Due to the specific empirical setting of the Middle East region, an analytical design emphasizing relational and procedural dynamics is required. In attempting to develop such a design, this paper utilizes three well-established schools of thought of international relations: (neo)realism, institutionalism, and constructivism. These three schools of thought are further used for developing hypotheses on both Israeli regional policy and ist effects on the Middle East. After illustrating these hypotheses in relation to four periods in the contemporary history of Israel, theoretical lessons to be learned for the analysis of regional powers in other world areas are presented.

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Prof. Dr. Martin Beck holds a chair of Contemporary Middle East Studies at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU), and is an associate of the GIGA Institute of Middle East Studies. His research covers international politics and political economy, in particular regional relations in the Middle East, the Arab—Israeli conflict, regional oil politics, and comparative analysis of rentier states.

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