Recent events in Egypt that led to the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak by a “people’s revolution” have given rise to the impression that Egypt is once again emerging as the focal point of politics in the Middle East. It is argued that this is likely to be the case both because of the “demonstration effect” of the Egyptian revolution on the rest of the Arab world and because of the revolution’s anticipated impact on Egypt’s relations both with Israel and with the United States. It is assumed, and in some quarters feared, that a civilian government responsive to popular opinion will dramatically alter Egypt’s relations with Israel (and by extension with the United States) thus undermining the current status quo between Israel and its Arab neighbors that favors the former.
Beyond the Democratic Wave in the Arab World: The Middle East’s Turko-Persian Future*
It is unlikely that the Egyptian revolution will have a major impact on the political and strategic landscape in the Middle East in the short and medium terms. Egypt, the Arab state with the greatest capacity to act regionally, will be tied down for a considerable period of time in getting its house in order and sorting out the relationship between the civilian and military components of the new political order. This means that the shift in the center of political gravity in the region from the Arab heartland comprising Egypt and the Fertile Crescent to what was once considered the non-Arab periphery – Turkey and Iran – which was becoming clearly discernible before the recent upheavals in the Arab world will continue. The shift in the strategic and political balance in the Middle East in favor of Turkey and Iran is the result of a combination of factors, some domestic, some regional and some global.
Despite the current upheavals in the Arab world and in part because of them, the Middle East seems to be inexorably heading toward a Turko-Persian future.
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