The Rise of Islamists in the Middle East and Chinese Interests in the Region
The uprising in the Middle East is representing the beginning of a new era in the history of the region. The region has not been stable during most of the 20th century. The strategic position of the region has influenced its security. The Middle East has been part of most of the international conflicts whether directly or indirectly. During the Cold War, the Middle East has not suffered only from a division between Israel and the Arab Countries, but also between the Arab Countries themselves. The region has witnessed several times an intervention by major powers in the international system to protect their interests whether before or after the end of the Cold War. However, US supremacy after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union was relatively short, as the World began a new era soon after the 9/11 attacks. The war on terrorism, the two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the financial crisis were some of the factors that ended US supremacy after the end of the Cold War and started the US decline. At the same time, the international system has started to shift from uni-polarity to multi-polarity with the rise of new regional powers most prominent among them is China. The rise of China will affect the international system and have its impact on the Middle East. Besides the changes of the international system, the Middle East has witnessed uprisings late 2010 and beginning of 2011 that led to the removal of the three regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. Although the new regimes have not been fully established, the rise of Islamists is one of the main consequences of such changes. Whether such changes in the Middle East can affect the interests of China in the region positively or negatively is the subject of this research. China’s interests in the region can be identified in three main categories: political and strategic interests; economic interests; and the effect of the developments in the region on Chinese territorial integrity in Xinjiang. To what extent the new environment will give the chance to China to extend its influence in the region beyond the traditional limits imposed on its interests?, and whether the new regimes in the region under the Islamists rule will seek a stronger relationship with China, to balance the influence of the US in the region, is the focus of this research. The research concludes that the rise of Islamists will not positively influence the political/strategic and economic interests of China in the Middle East at least in the short run and it will not negatively influence the sovereignty of China over Xinjiang.