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Publications

Below are some recent publications from MESC faculty:

Breaking the mold of small state classification? The broadening influence of United Arab Emirates foreign policy through effective military and bandwagoning strategies

by Robert Mason 

This article asserts that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been able to break the mold of small state classification and broaden its regional and international influence through effective military coordination with the United States of America and bandwagoning with Saudi Arabia in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It has been effective for two main reasons: the existential fear that the UAE has of Iran’s regional policies and the political and violent Islamism that have driven its search for regime and national security. The convergence of that threat perception following the election of President Trump in the United States and the rise of Mohammed bin Salman to the position of Crown Prince in Saudi Arabia has consolidated its influence further. Whether or not UAE foreign policy will remain effective depends on a host of factors, including: its economic resources, relations with the United States and Saudi Arabia, the success of its diplomatic campaign to isolate Qatar, and the outcome from the military campaign in Yemen.

'The Syria Conflict and the Euro-Med Refugee Crisis: An Opportunity to Enhance the Common Foreign and Security Policy?' (2018) 23 European Foreign Affairs Review, Issue 1, pp. 81–95 

by Robert Mason 

The Syrian conflict, including the intervention of external actors and foreign fighters, has caused the greatest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War and a new wave of refugees seeking asylum in the European Union (EU), along with other economic migrants. Many of them have been aided by illegal people traffickers and have landed in Greece from Turkey, on Italian islands such as Lampedusa, been picked up by assets under operation Triton conducted by Frontex, the EU’s border agency, or drowned at sea. Since the Arab Uprisings started in 2011, there has been an acknowledged threat in the EU from political instability and insecurity in the Mediterranean region. However, a lack of specific, integrated and substantial EU Mediterranean responses has meant that the EU has struggled to address the insecurity and humanitarian situations. There has also been limited inter-regional cooperation to address the long-term drivers of migration. This article highlights the EU response to the Syrian refugee crisis in particular, within the context of an evolving Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and how some revisions to it could address a series of negative dynamics such as people trafficking, conflict and a lack of development.

Reassessing Order and Disorder in the Middle East: Regional Imbalance or Disintegration?

by Robert Mason

The Middle East is undergoing a period of profound change, partly brought about by the United States’ interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also by the Arab Spring. This is affecting regional relations between states and between the region and the US. For example, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE have supported rebel groups in Syria against the government, which was supported by Iran. Political Islam is a threat to both monarchies in the Gulf and secular states. Non-state actors, such as Islamic State (IS) and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) are assuming an increasingly important role in shaping the region. Further, states such as Qatar and Turkey have undertaken their own quests to shift the existing regional balance of power in their favor through soft power deployment or new or broader international alliances. Lastly, the close strategic US-Saudi relationship, primarily based on oil and arms, is being eroded by a new economic reality and divergent foreign policy interests.