The Arab Spring has created a fertile ground for the competition of different models (Turkish, Iranian and Saudi) and for a new balance of power in the Middle East and North Africa. These three models, based on three distinct styles of politics, go hand in hand with competing particular politics of Islam. Their search for a new order in the region synthesises covert and overt claims for regional leadership, national interests and foreign policy priorities. This article argues that the new emerging regional order will be established on either a theo-political understanding, in other words on securitisation and alliances based on sectarian polarisation which will lead to more interference from non-regional actors, or on a gradual reform process of economic integration and diplomatic compromise. In the first case, biases and negative perceptions will be deepened in reference to history and to differences in religious interpretation, and will result in conflict, animosity and outside interference. In the second case, there will be a chance to establish a cooperative regional, nonsectarian perspective accompanied by a critical, but not radical, attitude towards the West.
- Perceptions Spring-Summer 2019
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