As the Mediterranean Quarterly continues to celebrate its twenty-five years of existence, the editors would like to express their deep gratitude to the journal’s loyal readership. It has been a tumultuous journey over the past two-and-a-half decades. In many ways, the so-called New World Order that was discussed twenty-five years ago as the Soviet Union and the United States prepared for the post – Cold War era has come full circle. Is the recent Russian annexation of Crimea in response to the overthrow of the pro- Russian leader in Kiev, Viktor Yanukovych, the beginning of the end of the post – Cold War international order? Time will tell. And how do the other pressing issues on the front burner with direct relevance to the Mediterranean world in 2014 relate to the shifting patterns of history? These include the ongoing civil war in Syria, political uncertainty in Egypt and Turkey, sectarian violence in Iraq, and the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 powers,1 not to mention the slow recovery from the 2008 financial crisis that has deeply affected the economic stability of the European Union, especially in Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. These are only a few of the major challenges that this critical region faces. The editors of the Mediterranean Quarterly hope the journal’s readership continues to gain perspective with regard to the multitude of issues and opportunities that lay ahead for the greater Mediterranean world and beyond.
This issue begins with an important essay by Craig Harrington, a researcher based in Washington, DC, specializing in Anglo- American diplomatic history, entitled “The Colonial Office and the Retreat from Aden: Great Britain in South Arabia, 1957 – 1967.” Harrington, with the benefit of primary sources including the British archives, examines the evolution of thinking [End Page 1] among Great Britain’s foreign policy–making elite toward the Arabian Peninsula, with a focus on Aden. It is a timely reminder of a period during the Cold War when British imperialism was being supplanted by greater US involvement in the region. As Harrington convincingly shows, the history of the United Kingdom’s involvement in Aden during this critical period demonstrated “larger geopolitical trends” that remain relevant even to this day.
The next essay, by Gawdat Bahgat and Robert Sharp, both based at the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University in Washington, DC, in some ways picks up where Harrington leaves off. “Prospects for a New US Strategic Orientation in the Middle East” highlights the decades-long foreign policy trend followed by the United States in forging close relations with a number of key allies in the Arab world, specifically Egypt and Saudi Arabia. As the so-called Arab Spring that began in 2011 has evolved, and in some cases has already petered out, the authors argue that the United States should follow a two-track diplomatic approach: first, by providing its key Arab allies with enough space to address the specific needs of their populations in order to stabilize their regimes, and, second, by elevating relations with the non-Arab Middle East countries such as Israel and Turkey as well as possibly Iran through its nuclear negotiations.
Along similar lines, Alon Ben-Meir, senior fellow at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, writes in “The Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations: The US Framework for Peace Must Be Enforced” that the United States must take a stronger leadership role on this particular issue if the two sides are ever going to break out of the current stalemate in the Middle East peace process and bring it to a successful conclusion. While this may sound like previous policy prescriptions over the past several decades, Ben-Meir could be standing on firm ground in noting that the current political environment may make a strong push by Secretary of State John Kerry ultimately more successful than previous attempts. It remains to be seen, however, whether all of the interested parties can set aside what appears to be intractable differences and break the string of false dawns that have beset the on-again/ off-again peace negotiations...