1st Edition

China, Russia, and the USA in the Middle East The Contest for Supremacy

Edited By Benjamin Houghton, Kasia A. Houghton Copyright 2024

    The shift in international relations towards multipolarity has had profound implications across the world, but particularly in highly penetrated regions such as the Middle East. This book explores the rivalry between the USA, Russia, and China in the region, investigating its effects and assessing the influence of regional actors and issues.

    Each chapter offers a comprehensive analysis of three core questions: How does global power competition manifest itself? How does it impact regional political, economic, and security dynamics? How do regional actors and issues influence the trajectory and dynamics of global power competition?

    Expert international contributors take a country case study approach to consider these questions and investigate the most pressing contemporary events, issues, and trends in Middle Eastern politics. Tackling transregional and global issues and themes, they analyse the convergence, divergence, and competition between global powers in managing threats and interests such as terrorism, energy and cyber security, nuclear non-proliferation, conflict resolution, and warfare.

    This volume will appeal to scholars and students of international relations, great power competition, China, Russia, the USA, and the Middle East.

    Part 1 - Building Blocks

    Introduction: Great Power Competition and the Middle East
    Kasia A Houghton and Benjamin Houghton

    1. The Middle East and External Powers: From World War II to Pax Americana
    William Figueroa

    Part 2 - Arenas of Competition and Cooperation

    2. The USA, China, and Russia in Libya: Neither Cooperation nor Competition
    Dan Wang

    3. The Competition over Norms: The Case of the Syrian Conflict
    Kasia A Houghton

    4. Türkiye: A Drifting NATO Member?
    Ali Bakir

    5. The Great Powers and the Palestine-Israel Issue
    Francesco Belcastro

    6. Iran amid the Great Powers
    Nicole Grajewski and Jacopo Scita

    7.Saudi Arabia and the UAE: Bandwagoning, Balancing, and Hedging
    Roland Dannreuther

    8. Iraq amid Great Power Competition: A Case of Minimal Local Agency?
    Amjed Rasheed and Sardar Aziz

    9. The Forgotten War: Multipolar Support for the Saudi-led Coalition in Yemen
    Tom Walsh

    Part 3 - Developments, Perspectives, and Reflections

    10. Middle Eastern Responses to Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
    Johannes Sauerland

    11. The Illiberal Authoritarian Dimension: The Case of China-GCC Relations
    Benjamin Houghton

    12. The Word on the Street: Gauging Public Perceptions of Washington, Moscow, and Beijing
    Catherine Cleveland

    13. Multipolarity and the Middle East: Questions Going Forward
    Anoushiravan Ehteshami


    Benjamin Houghton is an H.H. Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah Doctoral Fellow at the School of Government and International Affairs, Durham University. Benjamin’s research focuses on the interaction between great powers and Persian Gulf states, particularly China. He is the co-editor (with Anoushiravan Ehteshami and Jia Liu) of the forthcoming volume China Moves West: The Evolving Strategies of the Belt and Road Initiative. Further to this, Benjamin has previously been published in Asian Affairs, Al-Monitor, and Orient.

    Kasia A Houghton is an ESRC-funded doctoral researcher of Russian intervention in the Syrian conflict at the University of St Andrews, where she is a fellow of the Centre for Syrian Studies, MECACS, and the Centre for Global Law and Governance. She also works as a researcher on the Global Fragmentations project with the Peace and Conflict Resolution Evidence Platform (PeaceRep).

    The Middle East is no stranger to great power competition, but at a time of increased global instability, the region once again occupies a prominent role within the machinations of global politics. This timely volume offers invaluable insights into the dynamics of this competition and how it shapes both regional and global politics. It is essential reading for those seeking to understand the contours and trajectories of the Middle East’s role in global politics in the coming decades.

    - Professor Simon Mabon, Lancaster University

    A very timely volume about great power competition in the Middle East packed with profound insights and sharp analysis. A must-read for scholars and policy practitioners.

    - Professor Hongda Fan, Shanghai International Studies University

    This stimulating collection addresses what has become the main feature of Middle East politics, the competition of the great powers over the region, and how regional states manoeuvre among these powers to maximise their autonomy and security. The volume systematically addresses the issues and actors, affording the reader an in-depth understanding of MENA’s current political dynamics and its role in the global great power struggle.

    - Professor Raymond Hinnebusch, University of St Andrews