The Arab uprisings have so far brought little change to the pattern of relations among countries of the MENA region. There has been no dramatic realignment of countries. Rather, the turmoil has largely confirmed old patterns, although making cleavages deeper and some relations even closer. A break in this remarkable picture of continuity in the region’s equilibria may eventually be caused by the conflict in Syria. While the responses of the regional actors so far conform to the established pattern of alliances and enmities, that conflict entails the possibility of a territorial rearrangement affecting Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. This paper analyses the factors that explain why relations among countries in the MENA region have remained quite consistent through a period of domestic political turmoil.
Marina Ottaway, Senior Scholar, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington.