Geopolitics Of The Middle East – Power Rivalries, Conflicts, Regionalism And Integration

General Information
25 – 27.03.2019
Number of Hours: 
Preliminary requirements: 

Basic knowledge of the theories of integration, regionalism and international institutions, of the concept of conflict and power and of the history of the Middle East.

Course Description: 

Monday – 25.03.2019

15.00 – 16.30 (room 208)  

16.30 – 18.00 (room 208)  


Tuesday – 26.03.2019

17.00 – 18.30 (room 205) 


Wednesday – 27.03.2019

8.15 – 9.45 (room 13)    

9.45 – 11.15 (room 13)   


Thursday – 28.03.2019

11.30 – 13.00 (room 205)  

13.00 – 14.30 (room 205)

14.30 – 15.15 (room 205)


The Middle East is well-known as one of the most conflict-prone and troubled from world regions. Its history is a history of many conflicts, wars, disputes, unsuccessful cooperation and integration projects and socio-economic problems. In this course, the students will learn not only about the development of this region but also about basic characteristics of the Middle East order and about the causes of various security, economic and social issues which represent the most urgent problems of current regional politics.

By using various concepts and theories from the field of International Relations (such as concept of balance of power, power hierarchy, distribution of power etc.), the course will provide the students with a system-level explanation of the unstable and conflict-prone nature of the Middle East order and rivalrous relations. The course thus focuses also on policies of regional powers, on interference of external powers in the region and the nature of the strategic map of the Middle East which is slowly changing with traditional powers retreating from the regional management, power vacuum expanding and emerging powers, such as China, playing increasingly important role in regional trade and economic relations. 

Day 1 

25thMarch 2019

The Geopolitics and Development of the Middle East Region 

Lecture: The Formation of the Middle East Region

Documentary:Conflict in Israel and Palestine: Crash Course World History (12 minutes) + The Israel-Palestine Conflict: A Brief, Simple History (10 minutes) + Israeli Settlements, Explained (8 minute)

Lecture: Main Security and Socio-Economic Issues of the Middle East Politics

Documentary: The Great Divide: Sunni vs. Shi'a (25 minutes)

Discussion: What Are the Implications of External Powers’s Interference in Regional Politics?

Day 2

26thMarch 2019

Regional Powers and Their Relations 

Lecture:Power Capabilities of Regional Powers (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran etc.)

Discussion:How Can We Measure Power of States?

Lecture: Regional PowersRivalries in the 20th and 21st Centuries


Documentary:The Middle East's Cold War Explained(10 minutes)


Documentary:Syria Civil War – Who Fights and Why (6 minutes) + Syria: Seven Years of War Explained (6 minutes)


Documentary:Yemen's Complicated War Explained(4 minutes)


Day 3

27thMay 2019

Regional Organizations and Regimes 

Lecture:Obstacles to Regional Cooperation and Integration in the Troubled Region

Discussion:What Are the Main Problems of Regionalism in the Middle East?

Students’presentations and following discussion

Aims of the course: 

Aims of this course are twofold: (1) to introduce students dynamics of the development of the Middle East politics and various crucial political, security and economic processes and events which formed this highly strategic region so the students understand its history and the current nature of its regional order, and (2) to teach the students – using theories and concepts from the field of International Relations – to think about the complexity of the Middle East regional politics that is shaped and transformed by a variety of factors.

Teaching methods: 

The workshop is composed of a series of lectures that are complemented by compulsory readings that should serve as a basis for discussion between the teacher and students and among students themselves, by documentary films and by studentʼs presentations. 

Evaluation & Completion: 

(1)  Attendance at the lectures: Every student should participate in the lectures. One excused absence is allowable (when the student has serious reasons), unexcused absence means -10 points. It is not allowed to have two or three absences. It is possible to work off the unexcused absence by handing in a short paper on a topic proposed by the lecturer. (From 0to 30 pointsin total = 10 points each day). 

(2)  Discussion after lectures: All students should take part in a discussion which will take place every day after lectures. The discussion with the lecturer and classmates will be based on compulsory readings and past lectures. (From 0to 30 pointsin total = 10 points each day) 

(3)  Students’ presentation:Each student or a small group of students (number of students in each group will be set at the beginning of our first meeting according to the total number of students in the given class) has to prepare a 20-minute presentation (in PowerPoint or Prezi) of their own research project about a topic related to the Middle East region. In their presentations, studentsshould describe the main aim of their presentation, why they decided to choose the specific topic, in what international/regional context the specific event happened, who were all actors involved, why the event happened, how was it solved etc. (From 0to 40 points)

Topics for the presentations must be consulted with the lecturer during the first day of the workshop. Students should think of their own topic which can relate to the following themes (topics of studentsʼ presentations must be more specific!):

(1)  Regional Conflicts and Wars

(2)  Civil Wars and Revolutions

(3)  Political, Ideological or Religious Disputes 

(4)  Political and/or Military Activities of Non-State Movements

(5)  Migration and Refugee Crises

(6)  Problems of Domestic Politics

(7)  Economic and/or Sociel Issues of Regional or Domectic Politics

(8)  Activities of External Powers in the Region

(9)  Role of Regional or International Organizations in Regional Politics


Minimum of 60 points to receive the credit:

60–70 = 3,0–3,5 (D)

70–80 = 4,0 (C)

80–90 = 4,5 (B)

90–100 or more = 5 (A)

Basic Literature: 

Day 1 

BUZAN, Barry – WÆVER, Ole (2003): Regions and Powers: The Structure of International Security. Cambridge University Press (Cambridge) – chapter No. 7 (pp. 187–218)

FÜRTIG, Henner (2007): Conflict and Cooperation in the Persian Gulf: The Interregional Order and US Policy. Middle East Journal61 (4), pp. 627–640. 

HINNEBUSCH, Raymond (2009): Order and Change in the Middle East: A Neo-Gramscian Twist on the International Society Approach. In: Buzan, B. – Gonzalez-Pelaez, A. (eds.): International Society and the Middle East: English School Theory at the Regional Level. Palgrave Macmillan (New York), pp.201–225.

SAHLIYEH, Emile (2000): The Limits of State Power in the Middle East. Arab Studies Quarterly22 (4), pp. 1–29.

SAYIGH, Yezid (1999): Globalization Manqué: Regional Fragmentation and Authoritarian-Liberalism in the Middle East. In: Fawcett, L. – Sayigh, Y. (eds.): The Third World beyond the Cold War: Continuity and Change. Oxford University Press (Oxford), pp. 200–233. 

VALBJØRN, Morten – BANK, André (2012): The New Arab Cold War: rediscovering the Arab dimension of Middle East regional politics. Review of International Studies38 (1), pp. 3–24.


Day 2

BARNETT, Michael (1995): Sovereignty, Nationalism, and Regional Order in the Arab States System. International Organization49 (3), s. 479–510.

BECK, Martin (2010): Israel: Regional Politics in a Highly Fragmented Region. In: Flemes, D. (ed.): Regional Leadership in the Global System. Ideas, Interests and Strategies of Regional Powers. Ashgate (Farnham, Burlington), pp. 127–148.

DORAN, Michael (2004): Egypt: Pan-Arabism in Historical Context, In: Brown, L. C. (ed.): Diplomacy in the Middle East: The International Relations of Regional and Outside Powers. I. B. Tauris (New York),pp. 97–120.

GREEN, Jerrold D. – WEHREY, Frederic – WOLF, Charles Jr. (2009): Understanding Iran. RAND Corporation (; 7. 5. 2011).

HOLSTI, Kalevi Jaakko (1964): The Concept of Power in the Study of International Relations. Background7 (4), pp. 179–194.

ØSTERUD, Øyvind (1992): Regional Great Powers. In: Neumann, I. B. (ed.): Regional Great Powers in International Politics. St. Martin´s Press (New York), pp. 1–15.

PONÍŽILOVÁ, Martina (2016): Delimitation of Regional Powers in the Middle East in the 20th and 21st Century. Journal of International Relations, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 157–185.

PONÍŽILOVÁ, Martina (2016): The Impact of Reginaol Powersʼ Competition on Middle East Regional Order, 1945-2010. Central European Journal of  International and Security Studies, Vol. 10, No. 3, pp. 42–68. 

WEHREY, Frederic et al. (2009): Saudi-Iranian Relations Since the Fall of Saddam. Rivalry, Cooperation, and Implications for U.S. Policy. RAND Corporation ( 7. 2011). 


Day 3

BARNETT, Michael – SOLINGEN, Etel (2007): Designed to fail or failure of design? The origins and legacy of the Arab League. In: Acharya, A. – Johnston, A. I. (eds.): Crafting Cooperation: Regional International Institutions in Comparative Perspective.Cambridge University Press (Cambridge), pp. 170–220.

MURDEN, Simon W. (2009): The Secondary Institutions of the Middle Eastern Regional Interstate Society. In: Buzan, B. – Gonzalez-Pelaez, A. (eds.): International Society and the Middle East: English School Theory at the Regional Level. Palgrave Macmillan (New York), pp. 117–139.

Additional Literature: 

BAKHASH, Shaul (2004): Iran´s Foreign Policy under the Islamic Republic, 1979–2000, In: Brown, L. C. (ed.): Diplomacy in the Middle East: The International Relations of Regional and Outside Powers. I. B. Tauris (New York), pp. 247–258.

DAWISHA, Adeed I. (1976): Egypt in the Arab World: The Elemets of Foreign Policy.MacMillan Press (New York). 

EILTS, Hermann Frederick (2004): Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Policy. In: Brown, L. C. (ed.): Diplomacy in the Middle East: The International Relations of Regional and Outside Powers. I. B. Tauris (New York), pp. 219–244.

FAWCETT, Louise (2011a): Regional Order in the Middle East. In: Acharya, A. – Katsumata, H. (eds.): Beyond Iraq: The Future of World Order. World Scientific Publishing (Singapore, Hackensack, London), pp. 35–64.

FÜRTIG, Henner (2009): Iran and Saudi Arabia: Eternal “Gamecocks”? Viewpoints, Special Edition: The Iranian Revolution at 30, s. 161–163 (, 10. 5. 2011).

GONZALEZ, Nathan (2007): Engaging Iran: the Rise of a Middle East Powerhouse and America´s Strategic Choice. Praeger Security International (London, Westport).

HELLER, Mark A. (2011): Israel: Extra-regional foundations of a regional power manqué. In: Godehardt, N. – Nabers, D. (eds.): Regional Powers and Regional Orders. Routledge (London, New York), pp. 229–240.

HUNTER, Shireen T.(2010): Iran’s Foreign Policy in the Post-Soviet Era: Resisting the New International Order. Praeger (Santa Barbara).

CHUBIN, Shahram (2009): Iran´s Power in Context. Survival51 (1), pp. 165–190. 

CHUBIN, Shahram – TRIPP, Charles (2004): Iran-Saudi Arabia Relations and Regional Order. Iran and Saudi Arabia in the balance of power in the Gulf. International Institute for Strategic StudiesADELPHI Paper No. 304. Routledge (Abingdon).

JOFFE, George (1999): The Future of the Middle East and Egypt. In: Marr, P. (ed.): Egypt at the Crossroads: Domestic Stability and Regional Role. National Defense University Press (Washington), pp. 171–191.

LUSTICK, Ian S. (1997): The Absence of Middle Eastern Great Powers: Political “Backwardness” in Historical Perspective. International Organization51 (4), pp. 653–683.

MARR, Phebe ed. (1999): Egypt at the Crossroads: Domestic Stability and Regional Role. National Defense University Press (Washington).

MOEINADDINI, Javad –REZAPOUR, Mahin (2008): Iran´s Regional Power and Prominence in the Context of International system. The Iranian Journal of International Affairs20 (3), pp. 97–135.

ÖKTEM, Kerem – KADIOǦLU, Ayşe – KARLI, Mehmet (2012): Another Empire? A Decade of Turkey´s Foreign Policy under the Justice and Development Party. Istanbul Bilgi University Press (Istanbul).

RAMADY,Mohamed A. (2010): The Saudi Arabian Economy: Policies, Achievements, and Challenges. Second Edition. Springer (New York, Dordrecht, Heidelberg, London).

RAMAZANI, Ruhi K. (1988): The Gulf Cooperation Council: record and analysis.University of Virginia Press (Charlottesville).

SELA, Avraham (1998): The Decline of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Middle East Politics and the Quest for Regional Order. State University of New York Press (Albany).

WALKER, Joshua W. (2011): Introduction: The Sources of Turkish Grand Strategy - ‘Strategic Depth’ and ‘Zero-Problems’ in Context. In:LSE (London School of Economics) IDEAS:Turkey's Global Strategy, s. 6–12( 15. 9. 2014).

WEHREY, Frederic et al. (2009): Dangerous But Not Omnipotent. Exploring the Reach and Limitations of Iranian Power in the Middle East.RAND Corporation (; 10. 7. 2011).