16 Pages

Introduction: Globalization and Geopolitics in the Middle East

To speak about globalization in the greater Middle East (GME) immediately opens up the debate about the context and the very nature of social and political organization in the Muslim world. Globalization is not the only prime mover here, and the much-neglected geopolitical context needs to be understood if emerging trends and major changes taking place in the region are to be properly understood.1 This study aims to place globalization in a geopolitical frame of analysis, arguing that the realities of the latter help shape the globalizing forces now bombarding this region. By geopolitics, it understands that ‘nations or states are engaged in a perpetual struggle for life, the key to which is control over “spaces” into which the earth is divided. Development of these “spaces” is subject to “laws” which can be derived from the study of geography and history and successfully applied to foreign policy’.2 Once such critical space with well developed and complex laws is the region known as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and the wider geographical area to its east, which today forms the ‘greater’ Middle East. On the Middle East space and its laws, Carl Brown produced a pioneering study, which has informed the debate about the international politics of the Middle East to this day.3 In it he showed that the apparently confused state of international politics of the Middle East could be reduced to a discernible pattern – hence the ‘old rules, dangerous game’ of his subtitle. For me,

though, the current situation could be better captured by the term ‘old games, new rules’. Some of the old games, or even old rules, are of course still to be found in the international politics of the region, but for a fuller picture political economy, as part of the new rules, cannot be ignored.