Spring 2024 Middle East Policy Is Free for All Readers

  • Middle East Policy

    Middle East Policy has been one of the world’s most cited publications on the region since its inception in 1982, and our Breaking Analysis series makes high-quality, diverse analysis available to a broader audience.

Full-text analyses and book reviews covering the role of China in the Middle East and the impact of the Sino-American rivalry are available to everyone, even without subscription, into May. 

Middle East Policy is excited to announce the publication of all articles in its Spring 2024 issue, the 159th in the journal’s history. Featuring analyses from experts around the world, the publication covers a range of topics on the implications of Sino-American competition in the region.  

From the history of the Gulf’s place in Chinese foreign policy to the strategies adopted by regional capitals in balancing their relationships with Washington and Beijing to the shift in the American strategy for regional engagement, the guest-edited issue provides comprehensive analysis of the key issues. 

The free-to-read window will close May 15, 2024.  

Check out the Spring 2024 issue of Middle East Policy using this link: 


Middle East Policy is consistently rated among the top publications covering Middle Eastern & Islamic studies. Since 1982, the quarterly journal has provided policymakers and the public with credible, comprehensive analyses of political, economic, and cultural issues pertaining to US-Middle East relations. We combat disinformation by publishing high-quality research by top scholars and public officials. 

Here’s a look at the articles in the issue: 

The Persian Gulf’s Transition from American Unipolarity, by Andrea Ghiselli and Anoushiravan Ehteshami 

  • This article, the issue’s introduction, examines the rise of the Persian Gulf’s status as a key arena in the growing US-China rivalry and how the transition manifests. 
  • The Gulf can be seen as a “barometer of the evolving global power balances” with key characteristics that make it important as a topic of study, most notably the vast stores of energy resources, the wealth created by those stores, and its central geographic position. 
  • China faces the challenge of integration with Gulf states without conflict with the US, while Washington must reorient back to the region after looking further east and try to contain Beijing’s influence. 

The Evolution of the Gulf: Histories and Theories of a Complex Subregional System, by Ruth Hanau Santini and Paolo Wulzer 

  • This article explores the application of international-relations theory to the Gulf and key developments in two periods of the region’s history: first, the 1970s to the end of the 1980s, then from the early 1990s to the Arab Spring in the 2010s. 
  • The role of the Gulf has shifted from the Cold War era to the modern day, and international-relations theories can offer “useful toolkits to account for transformation, both from outside-in as well as inside-out perspectives.” 

The Role of the Gulf in the Longue Durée of China’s Foreign Policy, by Enrico Fardella and Gangzheng She 

  • The evolution of China’s policy toward the Gulf is studied in this article, tracing its decisions and approach to engagement with the region from the mid-20th century to the present day. 
  • Maoism has long played a role in the formulation of policy, with Mao’s anti-hegemonic stance and theory of intermediate zones influencing China’s lack of an assertive policy in the region. 
  • However, the authors argue, the Sino-American rivalry may drive China to take a more proactive role. 

The Past, Present, and Future of Gulf Sovereign Wealth Fund Investments in China, by Mai Alfarhan and Mohammed Alsudairi 

  • This article explains how economic trends from Chinese stock exchanges reveal an upward trajectory in the scale and diversity of investments by Gulf sovereign wealth funds, particularly those of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE.  
  • This rising engagement with the Chinese market is expected to continue as the funds diversify into growing sectors, with the potential for the creation of “a mini petro-yuan system.” 

UAE’s Balancing Strategy Between the United States and China, by Mohamed Bin Huwaidin 

  • In this article, the UAE’s position between Washington and Beijing is analyzed as Abu Dhabi seeks to take advantage of the superpowers’ rivalry to best secure its interests. 
  • The Gulf state has a long history of security cooperation with the United States, but China offers greater opportunity for economic investment and technological growth.  
  • Also underpinning the UAE’s calculus is the concern over the threat from Iran, which lies at the heart of the partnership with the US. Abu Dhabi is also looking to greater integrate with China to prevent it from fully aligning with Iran. 

Iraq’s Struggle to Contend with the Sino–US Rivalry, by Amjed Rasheed 

  • This article analyzes Iraq’s place between the US and China; the country’s relatively weak state places it in an unstable position and forces Baghdad to remain a largely neutral, responsive partner for both states in the face of Sino-American competition. 
  • Despite a rocky history with the US, Iraq continues to welcome its role as a critical security partner and is not able to risk losing such protection. 
  • China has become a vital economic partner for the state in its willingness to bypass Western sanctions to maintain trade and investment, and at times, provide weapons. 

Iran’s Strategies in Response to Changes in US-China Relations, by Sara Bazoobandi 

  • This article shows how increasing Sino-American rivalry has prompted Iran to seek closer ties with China, reflecting a continued commitment to the creation of an “Axis of Resistance” that Tehran has sought. 
  • Unlike the US, China has a long history of positive relations with Iran, including economic ties by bypassing sanctions and engaging on issues like the nuclear question. 
  • China’s increasing role is also encouraging Iran to adjust its approach in the Gulf, notably by signing a normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia facilitated by Beijing. 

Between the Superpowers: Gulf States and Israel Navigate the New Mideast Dynamics, Gedaliah Afterman and Dominika Urhová 

  • This article examines how China’s engagement with Gulf powers has increased its economic, political, and military influence while also expanding the power of regional actors through a renewed capacity for diversification and opportunities for investment. 
  • A majority of Middle Eastern states have signed onto China’s Belt and Road Initiative and welcomed technology and investment partnerships; among them are US partners like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel.  
  • The increased willingness to welcome Chinese engagement is based in rising concern that the US is withdrawing from the region while Beijing is growing. 

Shifting Sands: US Gulf Policy Recalibrates as China’s Regional Ambitions Grow, by Rachel Moreland 

  • This article contends that the increasingly common narrative that the US is withdrawing from the Gulf is false; Washington is instead recalibrating its policy with respect to China’s growing presence in the region.  
  • China has taken a significant role in the Gulf, moving from an economic partner to an increasingly politically engaged foreign actor. After brokering a deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Beijing proved it was able to play a role the US had been struggling to. 
  • The US has struggled in recent years to navigate relations with controversial partners like Saudi Arabia and the UAE; however, it has maintained a strong security presence in the Gulf and is targeting specific Chinese investments, including technology development.
  • Middle East Policy

    Middle East Policy has been one of the world’s most cited publications on the region since its inception in 1982, and our Breaking Analysis series makes high-quality, diverse analysis available to a broader audience.

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