Regional Security in the Middle East: A Critical Perspective

Regional Security in the Middle East: A Critical Perspective

Regional Security in the Middle East: A Critical Perspective

Regional Security in the Middle East: A Critical Perspective

Synopsis

Pinar Bilgin provides a comprehensive study of the past, present and future of security in the Middle East. She also considers the question of identity formation, explores the consequences of a particular identity as well as a perspective on the future of the Middle East as a security community.

Excerpt

Throughout the twentieth century, the Middle East remained as an arena of incessant conflict attracting global attention. As the recent developments in Israel/Palestine and the US-led war on Iraq have showed, it is difficult to exaggerate the signifcance of Middle Eastern insecurities for world politics. By adopting a critical approach to re-think security in the Middle East, this study addresses an issue that continues to attract the attention of students of world politics. Focusing on the constitutive relationship between (inventing) regions, and (conceptions and practices of) security, the study argues that the current state of 'regional security' - often a euphemism for regional insecurities - has its roots in practices that have throughout history been shaped by its various representations - the geopolitical inventions of security. In doing this, it lays out the contours of a framework for thinking differently about regional security in the Middle East.

Prevailing approaches to regional security have had their origins in the security concerns and interests of Western states, mainly the United States. The implication of this Western bias in security thinking within the Middle Eastern context has been that much of the thinking done on regional security in the Middle East has been based on Western conceptions of 'security'. During the Cold War what was meant by 'security in the Middle East' was maintaining the security of Western (mostly US) interests in this part of the world and its military defence against other external actors (such as the Soviet Union that could jeopardise the regional and/or global status quo). Western security interests in the Middle East during the Cold War era could be summed up as the unhindered flow of oil at reasonable prices, the cessation of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the prevention of the emergence of any regional hegemon, and the maintenance of 'friendly' regimes that were sensitive to these concerns. This was (and still is) a top-down conception of security that was military-focused, directed outwards and privileged the maintenance of stability. Let us take a brief look at these characteristics.

The Cold War approach to regional security in the Middle East was top-down because threats to security were defined largely from the perspective

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