NATO and the Middle East: The Geopolitical Context Post-9/11

NATO and the Middle East: The Geopolitical Context Post-9/11

NATO and the Middle East: The Geopolitical Context Post-9/11

NATO and the Middle East: The Geopolitical Context Post-9/11


Despite having been active in the region since the mid-1990s, the role of NATO in the Middle East has attracted particular attention since the events of 11th September 2001. This book analyses the limits of NATO's role in the Middle East region and examines whether or not the Alliance is able to help in improving the fragile regional security environment through cooperative links with select Middle Eastern partners.

The author reviews the strategic importance of the region from a Western perspective and why it has become a source of instability in world politics, looks at US and international initiatives to counteract this instability, and charts the development of NATO in this context. He also examines NATO's role with regard to two pressing Middle Eastern crises, Iraq and Darfur, assessing whether or not this role has been consistent with, if not an expression of, US strategic interests.

A comprehensive examination of the impacts of 9-11 events on world security and the development of NATO's role in the Middle East, this book will be an important addition to the existing literature on security and strategic affairs, US foreign policy, Middle Eastern politics, European politics, and terrorism studies.


This book seeks to explore the nature and scope of the growing relationship between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the Middle East from 1994 onwards. This evolving relationship has been affected and characterised by complexity, with each aspect facing its own internal and external challenges. Moreover, the international arena, ever shifting and changing, has had its own impact on the pace and depth of this growing relationship.

With the end of Cold War, NATO embarked on an enormous and ongoing transformation process with a view to re-identifying its main tasks, revising its long-standing policies and developing tools to address its peripheries, especially those of strategic importance. As part of this transformation process, NATO recognised the high importance of the Middle East region, consequently developing policies aimed at handling its security concerns there. In doing so, NATO launched a dialogue initiative with select South Mediterranean countries at the 1994 Brussels Summit. The Mediterranean Dialogue (MD) initiative constitutes phase one in the transformation of NATO’s Middle Eastern policy and has been gradually developed thereafter.

After the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, NATO decided to widen the scope and extent of this dialogue in order to instil a sense of partnership with MD participants. Moreover, at the 2004 Istanbul Summit, NATO launched another initiative, in similar vein, aimed at forging security ties with Arab Gulf countries. This initiative is known as the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI). The two parallel tracks of MD and ICI constitute the main vehicle for reviewing and extending NATO’s role in the Middle East. These two initiatives, as explained in this book, aim at fostering new patterns of cooperation with select Middle Eastern countries. They are mainly focused on ‘soft’ security issues, such as mechanisms of consultation, exchange of expertise and military exercises. But NATO has also started to play a direct, if supporting, role in select Middle Eastern crises, such as Iraq and Darfur.

In order to evaluate and identify the parameters of the new NATO–Middle East relationship, this book reviews, outlines and analyses the internal and external challenges this relationship faces. Clearly, NATO and the Middle East are not approaching one another in a political and geostrategic vacuum; both fall under the shadow of US influence. Thus, it is difficult to separate this relationship from . . .

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