Transnational identity claims, roles and strategic foreign policy narratives in the Middle East

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Edward Wastnidge The Open University, UK

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The question of identity, not only framed within the context of the nation state, but also in terms of wider transnational identities, be they religious, ethnic or political, remains a key feature in the politics of the Middle East. Drawing on contributions from Foreign Policy Analysis and the concept of strategic narrative, this paper explores how identities beyond state borders are utilised as justification for a state’s foreign policy decisions. The states under investigation are Turkey and Iran. The paper shows how appeals to transnational identities have been used by each state in terms of their longer-term cultural diplomacy and ‘soft power’ initiatives, and then at the more immediate or ‘hard’ sense as seen in their recent, ongoing military engagements. It demonstrates how multiple and overlapping identities articulated at the transnational level serve as a vector in which to pursue strategic foreign policy narratives in each country’s perceived sphere of influence.

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Edward Wastnidge The Open University, UK

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