Michael Nuding “New Middle Eastern Regionalism: Arab-Israeli Normalisation and Shifting Paradigms of a Region”

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New Middle Eastern Regionalism: Arab-Israeli Normalisation and Shifting Paradigms of a Region

Michael Nuding

The norms that have historically shaped regionalism in the Middle East are currently undergoing a profound transformation. The ongoing Arab-Israeli normalization initiatives exemplify a notable shift in the conceptualization of the region itself and the parameters governing regional cooperation. The recent escalation triggered by the Hamas terror attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, serves as a critical examination of these normalization endeavours. Additionally, the reactions from regional actors to Israel’s military actions in Gaza underscore the fundamental role of norms in shaping regional politics and influencing the outlook for cooperation.

This research project aims to meticulously trace the evolution of norms in Middle Eastern regionalist discourses and thoroughly investigate their repercussions on multilateral cooperation among regional states. The central inquiries revolve around the nature of changes in regionalist norms, the underlying reasons propelling these changes, and the tangible impacts of these shifts on the landscape of regional cooperation. To achieve these objectives, the study adopts a multifaceted approach that involves in-depth analyses of regionalist discourses and the execution of case studies focused on regionalist initiatives.

Drawing inspiration from social constructivist perspectives within the realm of International Relations, the theoretical premise guiding this research project asserts that norms wield significant influence in shaping political realities. Going beyond mainstream International Relations approaches, the theoretical framework of this study opens the black box of the state and does not only recognize the regional context but also incorporates international and intra-state levels of analysis. Moreover, the research project situates itself at the crossroads of International Relations, Regionalism Studies, and Middle East Studies, with the explicit goal of fostering interdisciplinary collaboration. It thereby follows calls to “bridge the gap” between International Relations and Middle East Studies. This project strives to be of theoretical relevance to International Relations scholars with no particular interest in the Middle East, but also be of empirical and analytical relevance area experts. This will be achieved by bringing together theoretical insights with specialised Middle East expertise.