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  1. 1.1. Background to the Study

            Non-state actors no doubt exert known influence in the Middle East crisis. The changing world order encompasses changes in the nature of international conflict. While global terrorism attracts the attention of scholars who study the origins, nature and behaviour of NSAs, predominantly in the post-Cold War system, the study of international crises typically concentrates only on rivalry between nation states. The years since the onset of the Arab Uprisings in 2011 have witnessed what appears to be an extraordinary proliferation of non-state actors in the Middle East, matched by the consequent increase in their significance for political dynamics across the region. The category of non-state actors embraces a diversity of organisations and movements.

            It comprehends civil society and the flourishing non-governmental sector that has assumed great importance in the Arab world since the end of the Cold War. It includes an array of Islamist actors, including mainstream organisations, such as Al-Nahda in Tunisia, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Party of Justice and Development in Morocco as well as Salafi groups which have emerged across the region from Tunisia to Yemen. It also includes violent Islamist movements, such as Ansar Bayt Maqdis which has been active in the Sinai region of Egypt, al-Murabitoun, the group led by Algerian Islamist, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, which attacked an Algerian gas installation in January 2013, leading to the deaths of 38 hostages, an array of militias that emerged in Libya following the fall of Gaddafi, and in Syria, after the outbreak of the uprising in that country, as well as the Shai Zaydi ‘Houthi’ movement which took control of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa in late 2014 plunging that country into conflict.

            Undoubtedly, the greatest focus of international attention in the last year has been the movement variously known as ‘Islamic State,’ ISIS and ISIL. This brief survey by no means exhausts the category of non-state actors in the Middle East. However, it does illustrate the sheer diversity that the term embraces, which, in turn, raises the question of how precisely the concept of non-state actor is to be understood.


  1. 1.2. Statement of the Problem

Indeed, Non State Actors have played a crucial role in movements that brought about the demise of autocratic governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Israel and Yemen. In Tunisia, the uprising against the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was initiated by youth protesters. However, it gained traction when the anti-regime movement was bolstered by the support of the trade union federation, the UGTT (Tunisian General Labour Union), the Bar Association, legal as well as illegal political parties and, finally, the Islamists of Al-Nahda – the Islamic movement that had been banned by the old regime.

It is in line with the foregoing therefore, that the researcher is set to investigate the non-state actors and their impacts in the Middle East crisis. At this juncture, we shall be considering some of the following research questions. Who are Non state actors? What is the impact of non-state actors in the crisis of the Middle East? What is the impact of the Non-state actors in the Gulf war? What are the consequences of the involvement of Non-state actors in the Gulf war?

  1. 1.3. Aims and Objectives of the Study

The goal of this research is to investigate the Non-state actors and their impacts in the Middle East crisis especially critically looking at the Gulf War or the Persian Gulf War which took place in (August 2, 1990 – February 28, 1991). The situation in the region is extremely complex and numerous issues seem to be overlapping. Furthermore, the research work also wishes to critically examine the impacts of non-state actors in the Middle East crisis such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran and Iraq war as well as the Gulf war. In all, the researcher shall be looking at the most critical role envisaged by these non-state actors in the Middle East crisis mentioned especially in the case of the Gulf war.

  1. 1.4. Scope of the Study

            The scope of this study covers five (5) countries which are used to represent some of the countries in the Middle East. These include Tunisia, Kuwait, Palestine, Iraq, and Israel. The choice of these countries is motivated by the intensity of the actions of non-states actors in the crisis that have occurred in these states.

            The study however is divided into three segments. While one assesses the concept of non-state actors, another explores the impact of the non-state actors in the Middle East crisis and the other appraises the consequences of the non-state actors involvement in the middle east crisis, taking the Gulf war as a case study and also look at the activities of Hamas, Hezbollah in the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East crisis.

  1. 1.5. Significance of the Study

The impact of non-state actors is context-dependent. However, the roles they play, and the influence they exert, depend upon political, economic, and social context.

This study has provided useful understanding of the regions in the Middle East, the events that necessitated the crisis in the region and provide the impacts non-state actors had in some of the crisis that have occurred in the middle eastern region. To students of History and International Studies Department, the study will be relevant as it enhances the understanding of non-state actors, who they, as well as the impact they have on the crisis of the Middle East especially in the Gulf war.

1.6. Limitation of the Study

The following could be seen as some of the limitations of the study. Considered as another limitation to the research is inadequate fund as the cost of sourcing for materials are high. Despite these limitations, the researcher is bent on carrying out a holistic work.

1.7. Research Methodology

The methods considered in this research are analytical approach method. The researcher depended largely on secondary sources which include academic journals, newspapers, books etc. also the use of primary sources was also employed because the researcher carried out interviews in the course of the work.

  1. 1.8.Review of Related literature

The Middle East (also called the Mid East) is a transcontinental region centered on Western Asia and Egypt. The corresponding adjective is Middle-Eastern and the derived noun is Middle-Easterner. Formerly, the Eurocentric synonym Near East (as opposed to Far East) was commonly used. ArabsAzerisKurdsPersians, and Turks constitute the largest ethnic group in the region bypopulation,1 while ArmeniansAssyriansCircassiansCoptsDruze,GreeksJewsMaronitesSomalis, and other ethnic and ethno-religious groups form significant minorities. The history of the Middle East dates back to ancient times, with the (geo-political) importance of the region being recognized for millennia.[2][3][4] Several major religions have their origins in the Middle East, including JudaismChristianity, and Islam; the Baha'i faithMandaeism, Unitarian Druze, and numerous other belief systems were also established within the region. The Middle East generally has a hot, arid climate, with several major rivers providing irrigation to support agriculture in limited areas such as the Nile Delta in Egypt, the Tigris and Euphrates watersheds of Mesopotamia, and most of what is known as the Fertile Crescent. Most of the countries that border the Persian Gulf have vast reserves of crude oil, with the dictatorships of the Arabian Peninsula in particular benefiting from petroleum exports. The term "Middle East" may have originated in the 1850s in the British India Office.5 However, it became more widely known when American naval strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan used the term in 19026 to "designate the area between Arabia and India".[7][8] During this time the British and Russian Empires were vying for influence in Central Asia, a rivalry which would become known as The Great Game. Mahan realized not only the strategic importance of the region, but also of its center, the Persian Gulf.[9][10] He labeled the area surrounding the Persian Gulf as the Middle East, and said that after the Suez Canal, it was the most important passage for Britain to control in order to keep the Russians from advancing towards British India11 Mahan first used the term in his article "The Persian Gulf and International Relations", published in September 1902 in the National Review, a British journal. The Middle East, if I may adopt a term which I have not seen, will someday need its Malta, as well as its Gibraltar; it does not follow that either will be in the Persian Gulf. Naval force has the quality of mobility which carries with it the privilege of temporary absences; but it needs to find on every scene of operation established bases of refit, of supply, and in case of disaster, of security. The British Navy should have the facility to concentrate in force if occasion arise, about Aden, India, and the Persian Gulf.12 Mahan's article was reprinted in The Times and followed in October by a 20-article series entitled "The Middle Eastern Question," written by Sir Ignatius Valentine Chirol. During this series, Sir Ignatius expanded the definition of Middle East to include "those regions of Asia which extend to the borders of India or command the approaches to India."13 After the series ended in 1903, The Times removed quotation marks from subsequent uses of the term.14 Until World War II, it was customary to refer to areas centered around Turkey and the eastern shore of the Mediterranean as the "Near East", while the "Far East" centered on China,15 and the Middle East then meant the area from Mesopotamia to Burma, namely the area between the Near East and the Far East. In the late 1930s, the British established the Middle East Command, which was based in Cairo, for its military forces in the region. After that time, the term "Middle East" gained broader usage in Europe and the United States, with the Middle East Institute founded in Washington, D.C. in 1946, among other usage.16 Traditionally included within the Middle East are Iran (Persia), Asia MinorMesopotamia, the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula, and Egypt. In modern-day-country terms they are these: Bahrain, CyprusEgyptIran, Iraq, IsraelJordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, QatarSaudi Arabia, SyriaTurkey22, United Arab Emirates, Yemen. The emergence of violent non-state actors in the Middle East in recent years is correlated with the growing weakness of many states in the region. States with low levels of legitimacy are unable to maintain the loyalty of many within their populations. When such states resort to repression they typically provoke opposition. Similarly, when states exclude significant elements of their populations through neglect, lack of capacity or some other form of discrimination, they can create the conditions within which violent non-state actors emerge. Where the State fails to provide security or other basic services, violent non-state actors can move in to provide alternative governance, services and collective goods thus increasing their own legitimacy in the process. The weakness of central state institutions in Libya and Yemen together with the exclusionary and repressive practices of the State in Iraq and Syria have combined with other factors to prompt the emergence of an array of violent non-state actors that pose significant threat to domestic and regional security. However, the structural context from which violent non-state actors emerge make appropriate policy responses, on both the domestic and international levels more difficult to construct. Ad hoc military strategies can address the problem of violent non-state actors in the immediate term. They cannot, however, resolve the problems of weak state legitimacy and capacity or the absence of effective state institutions, which often constitute the backdrop against which such actors emerge. The situation is further complicated by a paradoxical aspect of the nature of non-state actors in the Middle East. As is the case, elsewhere, when non-state actors take up arms against regimes in some states, quite often they do so with the support of others. To this extent, the ‘non-state’ component of those actors may be quite diluted. This has already been visible for some time in the cases of Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Each of these non-state actors has enjoyed the support of Syria and, especially, Iran while retaining significant autonomy over their behaviour. Likewise, the conflicts in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen have drawn an array of regional actors into the fray in support of one involved group or another. The UAE and Qatar have backed conflicting sides in Libya. Saudi Arabia, several Gulf States, Turkey and Iran have all been associated with different armed groups in the Syrian conflict. Iran supports Shia militias fighting ISIS in Iraq and supports the Houthis in Yemen in the face of Saudi opposition. Thus the problem of violent non-state actors in the Middle East requires solutions that are located not merely at the local level but also at the broader geopolitical levels. Ad-hoc responses that target these groups without addressing the structural conditions that promote their emergence are unlikely to have any long-term prospects for success.23 Following the above, it becomes evident that many scholars have contributed on the impact of non-state actors in the Middle East crisis but not much have been contributed on the impact of non-state actors in the Gulf war and it is therefore this lump holes in knowledge that this research work wishes to fill.

  1. 1.9. Summary

            This chapter commenced by a brief survey of the Middle East and also highlighted some of the non-state actors and their roles in the Middle East crisis. The next chapter will examine the conceptual framework of the term ‘Non-state Actors’, the causes of the gulf war, as well as the historical roots of the gulf war.

End Notes

  1. 1.Ethnic Groups of Africa and the Middle East: An Encyclopedia. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  2. 2. Cairo, Michael F. The Gulf: The Bush Presidencies and the Middle East University Press of Kentucky, 2012 ISBN 978-0813136721 p xi.
  3. 3. Government Printing Office. History of the Office of the Secretary of Defense: The formative years, 1947-1950ISBN 978-0160876400 p 177
  4. 4. Kahana, Ephrim. Suwaed, Muhammad. Historical Dictionary of Middle Eastern Intelligence Scarecrow Press, 13 apr. 2009 ISBN 978- 0810863026 p xxxi.
  5. 5.Beaumont, Blake & Wagstaff 1988, p. 16.
  6. 6. Koppes, CR (1976). "Captain Mahan, General Gordon and the origin of the term "Middle East"".Middle East Studies 12: 95–98.doi:.
  7. 7. Lewis, Bernard (1965). The Middle East and the West. p. 9.
  8. 8. Fromkin, David (1989). A Peace to end all Peace. p. 224. ISBN0-8050-0857-8.
  9. 9.Melman, Billie, Companion to Travel Writing, Collections Online, 6 The Middle East/Arabia, Cambridge, retrieved January 8, 2006.
  10. 10. Palmer, Michael A. Guardians of the Persian Gulf: A History of America's Expanding Role in the Persian Gulf, 1833–1992. New York: The Free Press, 1992. ISBN 0-02-923843-9
  11. 11. Laciner, Dr. Sedat. "Is There a Place Called 'the Middle East'?", The Journal of Turkish Weekly, June 2, 2006. Retrieved January 10, 2007.
  12. 12. Adelson Roger, ‘Handbook of war, torture and terrorism’, 1995, Retrieved 1, January, 2013 pp. 22–23.
    1. 13.Adelson 1995, p. 24.
    2. 14.Adelson 1995, p. 26.
    3. 15. Davison, Roderic H. (1960). "Where is the Middle East?". Foreign Affairs 38 (4): 665–75.doi:.
    4. 16. Held, Colbert C. (2000). Middle East Patterns: Places, Peoples, and Politics. Westview Press. p. 7. ISBN0-8133-8221-1.
    5. 17. Shohat, Ella. "Redrawing American Cartographies of Asia". City University of New York. Retrieved 2007-01-12.
    6. 18. Hanafi, Hassan. "The Middle East, in whose world?". Nordic Society for Middle Eastern Studies. Retrieved 2007-01-12.
    7. 19."'Near East' is Mideast, Washington Explains". The New York Times. August 14, 1958. Retrieved2009-01-25.(subscription required)
    8. 20. Goldstein, Norm. The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. New York: Basic Books, 2004. ISBN 0-465-00488-1
    9. 21. Anderson, Ewan W., William Bayne Fisher (2000). The Middle East: Geography and Geopolitics. Routledge. pp. 12–13.
    10. 22.The World Factbook. Cia.gov. Retrieved on 2013-07-29.
    11. 23.Williams, Phil. “Violent Non-State Actors and National and International Security.” The International Relations and Security Network (ISN), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, 2008. Available at www.isn.ethz.ch/Digital-Library/Publications/Detail/?id=93880

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