Foreign policy making in the Middle East
It is frequently claimed that foreign policy making in Middle East states is either the idiosyncratic product of personalistic dictators or the irrational outcome of domestic instability. In fact, it can only be adequately understood by analysis of the multiple factors common to all states, namely: (1) foreign policy determinants (interests, challenges) to which decision-makers respond when they shape policies; and (2) foreign policy structures and processes which factor the 'inputs' made by various actors into a policy addressing these determinants.
In any states system state elites seek to defend the autonomy and security of the regime and state in the three separate arenas or levels in which they must operate, although which level dominates attention in a given time and country may vary considerably.
The regional level: geopolitics In a states system like the Middle East, where regional militarisation has greatly increased external threats, these often take ﬁrst place on states' foreign policy agendas. While, generally speaking, external threat tends to precipitate a search for countervailing power or protective alliances (or, these lacking, attempts to appease the threatening state), it is a state's geopolitical position that speciﬁcally deﬁnes the threats and opportunities it faces. It constitutes a state's neighbourhood where border conﬂicts and irredentism are concentrated and buffer zones or spheres of inﬂuence sought. Position determines natural rivals: thus, Egypt and Iraq, stronger river valley civilisations, are historical