After the Arab spring, what next? What are the possibilities for and obstacles to closer regional cooperation? This book focuses on relations between the four largest countries in the region – Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Saudi-Arabia – with national contributions from all of them.
As the world becomes increasingly multi-centric and the US pays more attention to the Far East, new options emerge for independent foreign policies and regional solutions to regional problems. For the oil market and the world economy, as for the Middle East itself, it is imperative to replace confrontation by cooperation.
However, it is hard to convince governments to move beyond national political paradigms and seek regional win–win solutions. Divisive sectarian issues are often used to mobilize support and legitimize policies. Other obstacles to regional cooperation are the civil war in Syria, the Kurdish national problem, and the conflict over Iran’s nuclear program.
European history has shown how revolutions can be followed by restoration of the old order before taking root. The Arab Spring may suffer severe backlash, too, but its impact can not be erased and may prove decisive in the long run.