Geopolitics of the MENA Region in a Post-Western World
Eduard Soler (CIDOB-IBEI)
Which are the implications for the Middle East and North Africa of the relative decline of the West, Russia’s return, the rise of China and Africa’s potential? The purpose of this course is to help students understand the processes through which this region has been subject to exceptional influence and intervention by foreign powers. But it also aims at assessing which are the strategies of several countries in the region to take advantage of global geopolitical shifts. While the region was, in the early 2000s, one of the theatres where Washington projected its unilateral moment, it has now become one of the areas where the US perceived decline is more acute. In the post-2011 context Russia has manoeuvred to fill this vacuum. Is it sustainable? In a more subtle but gradual manner, China is also becoming a relevant actor. Mega-infrastructure projects but also some embryonic investment in the security domain (military base in Djibouti) suggest that this is a long-term investment. More broadly, relations between the MENA and Asia are growing and are multifaceted, including Iran’s economic links with major Asian economies or the presence of South-Asian diasporas in the Gulf. Are we witnessing an ‘Asianization’ process? Finally, Africa’s demographic and economic growth in the next decades will be a global game-changer but the effects will be felt more strongly in the MENA because of geographic proximity. While many may look to Africa as a source of threats, countries in the MENA tend to perceive it as geopolitical opportunity. By analysing at these trends and assessing the role and strategies of different MENA countries, this course will provide students with an innovate approach on the region’s embeddedness in global trends and will invite them to “de-westernise” their reading of the MENA’s position in global affairs.