POLS 429: Middle Eastern Politics

Professor Şahane Sultan Bedenlier


The aim of this course is to provide a detailed and challenging introduction to the international relations of the Middle East by outlining how distortion of Islam combined with Western imperialist interests in the region has led to the contemporary climate in the Islamic world.

The study of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s political theory of independence, progress & peace - which he described as “a direction of peace aiming at the security of our country and which is not against any nation will always be our principle”- is of vital importance a) to set an example for the political, social and economic development of the region b) to reconstruct religious thought by utilizing Professor Ozturk’s school of thought, which unveils laicism as a principle of Quran’s Islam c) to build foreign policies based on independence, human rights, international law & peace.

To enable students to understand how the politics and security of the Middle East relate to global international relations as a whole, and vice-versa.

To develop further student’s critical and analytical skills through their engagement with a diverse and challenging theoretical and empirical literature.

To enable students to develop an understanding of the complexity of the above issues.

To provide the analytical and intellectual basis for academic research on the region or for careers that require a thorough understanding of the international relations of the Middle East.

Intended learning outcomes

A solid foundation of knowledge of the international relations of the region, which will be tested by examination. To have a clear understanding of how Ataturk’s school of thought is more relevant today than ever in contemporary politics of the Middle East, which will be tested by a term essay.

Outline content:

An outline of the events that have shaped the region since the 7th century, starting with the arrival of Islam. Professor Ozturk’s explicit definitions of the two existing Islams; “Quran’s Islam” vs “Fabricated Islam” is the base of our study on the role of Islam in the region with its relevance to laicism.

A critical examination of the impact of the Crusades on the relations between the Islamic and the Western worlds. Analyzing the Turkish Ottoman Empire’s role in how “Christendom”; a Medieval term for the Western/Latin Christians, turned into “Europe”; a political unity.

A critical examination of the fall of the Ottoman Empire followed by the rise of European imperialism and colonialism in the region during WWI is analyzed as a way of helping students to understand the nature and causes of the contemporary conflicts and political violence in the Middle East.

Country case studies- Ottoman Empire, Turkiye, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Palestine and Israel- provide an understanding of the divergences between the countries in the region, with a focus on the significance of Ataturk’s construction of the only laic, independent and democratic country in the region in the post WW1 period.

A critical examination of the great powers; USSR & USA in the region during the WW2 period.


A critical evaluation of Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” thesis is undertaken in respect to the current affairs. Edward Said’s “Orientalism” provides a remarkable perspective on the East-West relations.

“The Greater Middle East Project” announced by the Bush administration in early 2004 is discussed.

The Muslim stereotyping in American popular culture is assessed with a focus on the Muslim image in Hollywood in order to determine how entertainment can act as propaganda by hardwiring certain images into our psyche.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Students are expected to develop their knowledge of the subject through first and foremost by attending the lectures and reading the required materials. Students will be assisted through a 5-minute rapid review at the beginning of each lecture. Two exams and a term essay are designed to test students’ knowledge and their ability to think analytically in a variety of environments

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