In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section The Contemporary Middle East

  • Introduction
  • General Overview
  • Beyond the Arab Spring
  • Syrian Civil War/Syria-Arab Spring
  • The Gulf Region
  • Iran and the Gulf
  • Saudi Arabia and the Gulf
  • Arab-Israeli Conflict
  • Peace Efforts
  • Israel and the Palestinians
  • US Foreign Policy toward the Middle East/North Africa
  • US-Iraq
  • US-Israel
  • US–Saudi Arabia

International Relations The Contemporary Middle East
Sanford R. Silverburg, David Ettinger
  • LAST REVIEWED: 10 January 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 October 2019
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0199


As historic issues continue to fester, historical controversies resurface with renewed intensity, and new threats to global security arise, the contemporary Middle East remains a hotbed of activity and the epicenter of international attention. Even as the “Arab Spring” has transformed the complexion of the region, reoccurring issues such as the Arab-Israeli conflict and Sunni-Shia divide still languish. Civil wars in Syria and Yemen convulse the area, Iraq struggles to reconstitute itself, and Iran moves ominously into the nuclear age. Islamic fundamentalism, terrorism, internecine conflict, and civil war have made the area a veritable crucible that has jeopardized regional stability and resurrected superpower rivalries.

General Overview

It is virtually impossible to keep abreast of the prolific literature in this constantly changing, tumultuous part of the world. The researcher—and librarian—is literally inundated with a plethora of information, making it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. Distinguishing reputable, authoritative sources from the abundance of tendentious material is itself a challenge. With an emphasis on more recent works, this article represents a selection of some of the best resources as opposed to a comprehensive collection, addressing an overall approach as in Cleveland and Bunton 2016 so much, but also some of the most seminal topics plaguing the region ranging from the repercussions of the Arab Spring to the proliferation of terrorist groups and regional instability, to the impact on individual countries and US relations with them.

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