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The Middle East Politics

Effects of Superpower Intervention on Conflict and Cooperation in Middle East Politics

The intervention of a superpower in the Middle East often served as a means of deterrence, although it was not always possible. The superpower strived to establish solid diplomatic relationships with countries it saw valuable. Such cooperation could both help the superpower push its own agenda in the region and gain powerful allies to control or avoid possible conflicts. The effects of superpower intervention in the Middle East resulted in building cooperation between the countries and interchanging stabilizations and tensions in the area.

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The role of superpower intervention on conflict and cooperation in the Middle East can be both supportive and mediating. A superpower that supports a particular country and has serious military advantages over the other countries in the region can act as a defender of the state it cooperates with. This role is possible due to superpowers’ nuclear weapons, which, in case any major conflict with the country it supports starts, can result in a nuclear strike. Therefore, superpower interventions in the Middle East served as deterrence for major conflicts between states located there. For example, the United States provided weapons and other military and economic assistance to Israel during Palestinian-Israel conflict because it perceived Israel as a valuable asset (Cleveland & Bunton, 2008). America’s support aimed at ensuring the deterrence of the Arab states and prevention of war (Cleveland & Bunton, 2008). The United States saw in Israel a barrier that could prevent Soviet expansionism and opted for generous support for Israel (Cleveland & Bunton, 2008). It can be said that superpower interventions were directly related to the severity of tensions in the Middle East. Since superpowers did not favor a major conflict with their rivals, they strived to control the region, using diplomatic ties, as well as economic and military support. Thus, the effects of their intervention were palpable, and they strived, although not always successfully, to stabilize the area or gain powerful partnerships with other countries.

Arab-Israeli Conflict and Domestic Politics of Arab States

The Arab-Israeli conflict led to a variety of changes in domestic politics in multiple Arab states. In Egypt, it caused protests among civilians and economic opening. In Syria, different factional rivalries formed and reformed Syria’s civilian government. The Arab-Israeli conflict directly or indirectly led to political and economic crises in the Arab countries.

The Arab-Israeli conflict directly affected Egypt, triggering protests and implementation of subsequent economic policies in the 1960s and the 1970s. At the beginning of the 1970s, students and workers protested against Sadat’s inability to avenge the loss to Israel. After the 1973 October war, Egypt’s economy continued to deteriorate and protests did not stop as well (Anderson, 2016). Sadat’s economic opening called Infitah was not successful in restoring Egypt’s economy, which later resulted in high unemployment rates (12% or more) and stagnated agricultural investment (Anderson, 2016). Graduates from state universities could receive state jobs, which had a low pay and few benefits. However, the unemployment rate among university graduates was 28.8% (Anderson, 2016). There were not enough workplaces due to the reforms.

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The Arab-Israeli conflict also caused the establishment of the United Arab Republic. It was based on the Pan-Arab agenda but ceased to exist due to Syria’s coup in 1961. A provisional constitution was created in 1961, but the new government still consisted of urban notables (Yapp, 1996). Since 1962, two attempted army coups took place, and a new agreement was created to provide power to civilian politicians (Yapp, 1996). These civilian governments introduced both land reform and renationalization (Yapp, 1996). Nonetheless, the more radical authorities were overthrown again in 1963, which further weakened the Syrian political system.

As can be seen, the Arab-Israeli conflict led to unemployment and economic recession in Egypt. It also affected the United Arab Republic, a union between Egypt and Syria that quickly ended due to Syria’s coup. In Syria, domestic policies included renationalization and land reforms. The civilian government in the country changed frequently due to rivalries and army intervention.

The Iran-Iraq War and the Gulf War

Disputes about the border, geographic location of Iraq, and the Islamic Revolution were among the causes of the Iran-Iraq War. It led to millions of deaths and the destruction of the infrastructure. The Gulf War was given rise to by Iraq’s debt to other Arab states. Both wars resulted in countless losses of civilians and soldiers, rampage of diseases, and a terrible plight in Iran and Iraq.

The first cause of the Iran-Iraq war was Iraq’s geographic location. The country needed stable access to the Shatt al-‘Arab waterway. The second reason was the border between Iraq and Iran at the center of the permanent dispute. The third cause was the Islamic Revolution and Iran’s weakened position. Iran’s western oil fields could be ceased, and Iraq used the opportunity to start a war. The conflict’s nature was both political and economic. Still, Iraq was unable to conquer Iran, and the consequences were catastrophic. More than a million soldiers and civilians died; Iraq also used chemical weapons, killing 100,000 Kurds (Anderson, 2016). The country repressed activity supportive of Iran, which caused the Da’wa leadership to go into exile.

The nature of the Gulf War was also economic. Since Iraq had borrowed significant amounts of money from other Arab countries, it had to alleviate upcoming economic crisis due to debt and destruction of infrastructure. This debt and the unwillingness of Arab states to help Iraq increase revenues from oil caused the war, forcing Iraq to attack Kuwait (Bulloch & Morris, 2016). The United States launched Operation Desert Shield to stop Iraq from approaching Saudi Arabia (Anderson, 2016). Intensive bombing of Iraqi troops, sanctions, thousands of deaths from treatable diseases, deterioration of education, and Shi’a revolts were the outcomes of this war (Anderson, 2016). It also caused a wave of refugees among Shi’a, partially killed by Iraq. Thus, Iraq initiated both wars, and lost more in them than it hoped to gain.

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Geographical Factors

Geographical factors directly influence the history of the Middle East. It can be clearly seen on the example of Iraq. The Iran-Iraq war began due to Iraq’s unfavorable geographic location. After the Gulf War, the country began to break along geographic regions associated with different ethnic groups. The position of Iraq directly affected its objectives and motives, which caused several conflicts and affected the frequency of tensions that formed the history of the modern Middle East.

Iraq does not have access to a port due to its location, which resulted in a number of conflicts between it and Kuwait. The dispute about the Iran-Iraq border remained ongoing in the 20th century and was crucial for the oil industries of both countries (Anderson, 2016). At the same time, citizens of neighboring Iraq and Iran studied in and traveled to both countries, which formed strong cultural and religious ties between them (Anderson, 2016). In the aftermath of the Iran-Iraq and the Gulf wars, the country’s leader Saddam Hussein could maintain power, but the country started to “break apart along Shi’s, Sunni, and Kurdish lines” related to the geographic positions of their settlements (Anderson, 2016, p. 405). The shared border of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait was among the factors that determined the outcome of the Gulf War and Iraq’s poor social state for the next decades. Close proximity of many states in the region leads both to cultural exchange, religious influence, and constant threat of renewed conflicts.

In conclusion, some of the efforts to reclaim lands in the Middle East region frequently cause wars among neighboring countries. The relationships between geographically close Iraq and Iran were of cultural, social, and religious significance. Still, the shared border also was a cause of conflict. Iraq’s location determined the development of its oil industry, disputes with Iran, and political objectives related to the lack of access to a deep-water port.

Comparative Politics

Comparative Politics focuses on the comparison of contexts (cultural, historic, economic, etc.) of different countries and their examination. Its studying can help understand current conflicts and changes in the political environment. Comparative Politics indicates how different cultures shape political ties and why some regimes work in some governments and fail in others. The importance of this science is in its ability to study policies and governmental relationships within a historical, economic, and cultural context.

Comparative Politics examines domestic or foreign politics, regimes, policies, histories of states and governments by comparing them to each other. It is not separate from but rather a part of Political Science. Comparative Government is a part of Comparative Politics that focuses specifically on the analysis of governments and their forms, history, politics, diplomatic ties, etc. The logic behind studying Comparative Politics is that many countries can be understood better if their political identities, histories, and cultures are compared to each other and regarded in context (Sorenson, 2014). Comparative Politics strives to ask “why?” questions, develop unbiased hypotheses, and construct both informed and original arguments (Dickovick & Eastwood, 2016b). It can help understand the cause of a phenomenon by comparing its major agents, e.g., authoritarian leaders and their path to power (Dickovick & Eastwood, 2016a). The value of Comparative Politics is that it emphasizes how various relationships and cooperation or conflicts among Western and Eastern states result in historic events. This understanding can help forecast possible future threats or alliances.

Finally, the close comparison of cultures and histories of states reveals why wars repeat. This analysis shows how some countries support good diplomatic relationships for years while others break such relationships immediately. It recognizes how religious or other pursuits can complement states’ policies or divide them. Comparative Politics is interested in dynamics between countries both in the past and in the present and their interconnection.

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