The Secondary Institutions of the Middle Eastern Regional Interstate Society

  • Simon W. Murden
Part of the Palgrave Studies in International Relations Series book series (PSIR)


The formation of the international system in the Middle East tells the distinctive story of a regional system emerging in a post-colonial context: of newly created states acting to guard their recently gained independence and sovereignty but also torn by emerging and competing identities, including transitional ideas of community which cut across the very legitimacy of the state and state system. One of the most noticeable features of the emerging system in the Middle East was the number and apparent significance of its ‘secondary institutions’. The Arab League, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC), the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Arab Cooperation Council (ACC) and the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) all appeared, at one time or other, to reflect the will of states and peoples to foster common values and institutions with a view to increasing the levels of solidarity and practical cooperation among them. Yet, the ‘thickening’ of international society in the Middle East would ultimately embody a great deal of insubstantial frothing. The state elites involved in promoting these transnational values and institutions would prove unable and/or unwilling to progress them, and the aspirations of many Middle Easterners would remain unfulfilled. Indeed, as this chapter will argue, by the end of the twentieth century many of the secondary institutions of the Middle East fronted ‘dead-letter’ regimes which implied a drift towards a ‘dead-letter international society’.


Saudi Arabia Middle East Arab World Gulf Cooperation Council Territorial State 
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© Simon W. Murden 2009

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  • Simon W. Murden

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