Crisis of the Nation-States in the Middle East


The article explores the evolution process of the system of nation-states in the Middle East over a hundred-year period from the time of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire until the present day. It offers an analysis of the attempts undertaken by the Arabs to build up their own national statehood in replacement of the former vilayets, particularly in the Levant, both in the form of a Pan-Arab state and in the form of separate countries. The arbitrarily designated borderlines and the enslavement of the regional states through a system of mandates have laid the foundation for the conflict environment to prevail.

Following the origination of the “Jewish national home” in Palestine, another conflict node emerged, and

the nation-building efforts by the Palestinians and the Jews have been directed along the track of exclusivism. The unresolved status of the Kurdish problem has also predetermined the formation of the breeding ground for the future inter-ethnic confrontation. The state-building process has given rise to a dilemma – the national and territorial particularization vs integrationism. Various Caliphate projects, including those implemented by the extremist, terrorist groups, are examined through the prism of the integrationist trend. The classification of Al-Qaida suggested by several Western authors and certain part of the military establishment (D. Kilcullen, D. Petreus) and categorized as a transnational or global Islamist rebel movement is challenged.

Over a protracted period, the nation-states have been subjected to numerous threats and dangers, which are grouped here into ten types. Among them, inter alia, are interstate and civil wars; riots, revolutions and military coups etc. The article provides substantiation for the assertion that one of the inalienable characteristic features of the system of institutions in the Middle Eastern countries is the duality or, more precisely, multiplicity of the defense and law enforcement agencies. Currently, due to the impact of the centrifugal forces, the Middle East region is undergoing a difficult period of multi-stage fragmentation that entails unpredictable consequences, especially with respect to the regional and global security environment.


nation-states; civil wars; revolutions; crisis; disintegration; dualism.


Authors: Vitaly Naumkin

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