Middle Eastern security faces unprecedented turmoil and uncertainty

In the first section of the book, several authors explore how the civil war in Syria has shaped its neighborhood

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The Middle East security order is facing unprecedented challenges from within and without, according to a new publication from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

In a new Adelphi book entitled Middle Eastern Security, the US Pivot and the Rise of ISIS, nine IISS analysts and two outside contributors examine state weakening and civil strife in Iraq and Syria, competition among regional powers, the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) and the role of external actors in Middle Eastern security.

The various chapters portray a Middle East order in disarray, where countries routinely miscalculate as they compete for regional dominance; weak states face the development of sub- and supra-national identities and the proliferation of transnational and non-state actors; and external actors weigh the risks and benefits of greater involvement.

This Adelphi, released to mark the 10th Manama Dialogue held in December 2014, is the culmination of two workshops that brought together IISS analysts and outside experts, as well as Middle Eastern, Western and Asian officials, in the IISS office in Bahrain.

In the first section of the book, several authors explore how the civil war in Syria has shaped its neighborhood and drawn in major regional powers.

Emile Hokayem of IISS-Middle East argues that the contest between Iran, Saudi Arabia and Qatar over Syria has exacerbated Syrian and regional fault-lines, and that Iranian experience and strategic patience have secured the survival of the Assad regime for the foreseeable future.

Lehigh University's Henri Barkey highlights the shortcomings and predicaments facing Turkey in Syria.

Looking at Iraq's arduous trajectory since 2003, Toby Dodge and Becca Wasser of the IISS describe how the country's enduring political and security weaknesses were further exacerbated by the conflict in Syria.

Ben Fishman of IISS-US looks at how fragile Jordan has navigated turbulent politics and managed the spillover.

Charles Lister of the Brookings Institution examines the growth and organization of ISIS and Jabhat Al-Nusra, two jihadi groups who have established bases in the heart of the Levant.

The regional impact and global ramifications of the ostensible US retrenchment in the Middle East form the second theme of the book. The IISS's Emile Hokayem and Becca Wasser argue that Washington's new preferences in the Middle East have compelled the Gulf states to diversify their security partnerships.

Dana Allin of the IISS argues that the Obama administration seeks to balance its regional responsibilities against limited resources and a desire to avoid costly entanglements.

Through an examination of the global energy trends, Pierre Noël of IISS-Asia concludes that America's declining need for Middle Eastern oil will not lead to a reduction in its commitment to the region's security.

Alex Neill of IISS-Asia, Rahul Roy-Chaudhury of the IISS and Samuel Charap of IISS-US examine the roles that China, India and Russia are playing in the Gulf region as perceptions of a declining US commitment grow.

They conclude that none of these powers is willing or able to replace the US as the region's external security provider.

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