Europe in the Middle East

Fawcett: International Relations of The Middle East 3e
Europe in the Middle East
- The four phases of Europe-Middle East relations
1) From World War I to the 1950s
2) The Cold War era
3) Post Cold War to 2010
4) The Arab Uprisings and their impact
Phase I: The Imperial Era and its Legacy
- European imperialism in Middle East largely a British and
French endeavour.
- UK interests: protect communication and trade routes, access to
oil after navy conversion.
- French interests in extending Francophone empire in North
Africa and proprietorial connection in Levant.
- Wartime schemes: McMahon-Hussein, Sykes-Picot, Balfour.
- Mandate system: Arabs of Levant and Mesopotamia become
citizens of client states of European victors of war  division of
region and Arab narrative of imperial plot to divide and rule.
McMahon-Hussein (19151916)
Phase II: Imperial Retreat and Cold War Rivalries
- Arab nationalism and independence become rallying cries.
- Palestine: British retreat  UN partition plan  first ArabIsraeli war and establishment of State of Israel in 1948.
- 1956 Suez Crisis is ultimate humiliation for French and British;
UK withdrawal from Gulf in 1971 is last step in imperial retreat.
- Oil boom in 70s and 80s  European competition for sales of
consumer goods and arms, funds flow to international banking
(i.e.Wallstreet and London ).
- UK makes weapons sales that the US can not (e.g. Al-Yamamah
deal). France 3rd biggest arms supplier to Arab Gulf states.
- Europe on sidelines of Arab-Israeli issues – US is key.
David Ben-Gurion proclaiming Israeli
independence on 14 May 1948
Rebels in Yemen inspired by then Egyptian President Gamal Abdul to force
British withdrawal from the region
Al Yamamah: The name of a series of a record arms sales by
the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia
Phase III: The EU & Regional Security
- European emphasis on “soft power”, international law, and institutionbuilding.
- In 1990s, EU and US policies are distinct but complimentary: Gulf War,
containment of Iraq, policy towards Iran, GCC.
- Europeans split ranks over American led Iraq War(2003)  subsequent
timidity about criticizing US elsewhere in Middle East.
- Bombings in Madrid, London and debates within Europe over Iraq,
immigration, religion, etc.
The Quartet on the Middle-East Peace Process in 2004
Phase III: The EU & Regional Security (continued)
- The “Mediterranean Neighbourhood”: ties of geography,
economics, immigration between Europe and the Middle East 
European policies reliant on “soft power” and socioeconomics.
- In 1990s, aspirations for area of economic cooperation and
development: from Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (1995) to
European Neighbourhood Policy (2004) and Union for the
Mediterranean (2007).
- Europe and the Peace Process: embrace of two-state solution,
but no concerted strategy – assumption that only the US can
make a deal happen.
President Mahmud Abbas welcomes European Union Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton
upon her arrival for a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah (06.01.2011)
Phase IV: Europe and the Arab Uprisings
- Tunisian revolt unexpected in Europe – Ben Ali’s regime
seemed exemplar of EU-advocated process of economic/political
- In contrast to overthrow of Mubarak, in Libya there was a role
for external intervention. However, this does not set a precedent
for action elsewhere in the region.
- Concern over Iranian nuclear issue longstanding prior to the
uprisings; possibility of war compounds sense of turmoil in the
Chief negotiator Catherine Ashton and Iran's foreign minister announce agreement on
Iran's nuclear program in Geneva. (24.11.2013)