The geopolitical context of NATO's role in the Middle East

Orfy, Mohammed Moustafa (2009) The geopolitical context of NATO's role in the Middle East. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


The role of NATO in the Middle East region, though dating to the mid1990s, has attracted attention only after the events of 11 September 2001. Even then, no comprehensive analysis has been undertaken. Questions remain unanswered concerning the limits of NATO's role in the region and whether or not NATO is able to help in improving regional security through cooperative links with select Middle Eastern partners.

This dissertation seeks to ascertain whether or not NATO has indeed expanded its role in the region; whether this enhanced role is adequate to post-9/11 challenges; and whether this role - specifically or in general - has been used as a tool of US foreign policy in the region.

As such, this dissertation reviews the strategic importance of the Middle East from a Western perspective; explains why the region has become a source of instability in world politics; reviews American and international initiatives aimed at addressing this instability; and charts the evolution of NATO in this context. NATO's evolving Middle East role is examined in two phases: that preceding 9/11 and following 1995, and that following 9/11, up to 2006. The dissertation also examines NATO's role with regard to two pressing Middle Eastern crises, Iraq and Darfur, assessing whether or not this role has been consistent with, if not an expression of, US strategic interests.

Overall, the dissertation establishes that NATO has developed significantly its Middle East role in response to 9/11 and under American influence and pressure. Nonetheless, it is shown that while NATO helps achieve the objectives of US foreign policy, especially in the post-9/11 era, it remains a tool that serves the collective interests of all its member states. In other words, NATO can be used as a vehicle for US foreign policy to the extent that the US can secure the agreement or acquiescence of its Atlantic allies.

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