Return to Geopolitics: The Evolution of EU Policies towards the Middle East and North Africa and Its Implications for the Islamic Republic of Iran

Document Type : Original Article


1 Assistant Professor of International Relations, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran

2 Ph.D Student of International Relations, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran


Today, an important part of the threats facing the EU comes from its southern neighborhood namely the MENA region. Along with this trend, the EU's approach to the MENA region has been constantly evolving since the end of the Cold War. In this framework, aiming to analyze regions’ policies towards each other during different periods generally, and EU's approach towards MENA in particular, by using an eclectic theoretical model in order to illustrate the relevance, and even growing prominence of geopolitics in 21rst century’s global and regional politics, this article asks “how and why has the EU's policy towards the MENA changed since the 1990s?” To answer this question, by using the proposed theoretical model, the current EU interests and challenges in the MENA are discussed; then, drawing on a historical analysis, it is showed how have intra-regional dynamisms of the EU, interregional dynamisms between the EU and the MENA, and trans-regional developments prevalent on their relations evolved during three recent decades; and the reflection of the EU's "return to geopolitics" in its policies towards MENA are documentarily examined. In other words, the article exemplifies how the EU has changed its policy towards the MENA, from Geo-culture-based to Geo-economics-based, and at last, to Geopolitics-based. Finally, while summarizing the possible research achievements, its implications for the foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, especially in its relations with the EU, are pointed out. Given that we, on the one hand, have developed a causal model for analyzing regions’ policy towards each other, and on the other hand, have analyzed the EU’s policy documents, drawn on both explanatory and descriptive methods simultaneously.


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