The Middle East’s New Battle Lines

The Middle East’s New Battle Lines

ECFR, 2018




  • Comprehensive
  • Well Structured
  • Background


Iran has taken advantage of developments like the Syrian civil war to form new alliances and expand its influence in the Middle East. Iran’s growing political power has shifted the region’s battle lines, pitting the Islamic theocracy against Western-allied Gulf states and Israel. Compared with the belligerent US response, European policy has remained less resolute. In this policy brief, experts of the European Council on Foreign Relations explain why Europe is uniquely positioned to help prevent a wider regional war. getAbstract recommends their insights to anyone following the international diplomatic – and, at times, less diplomatic – dance with Iran.


The growing conflict between two rival coalitions is putting the stability of the Middle East at risk. In recent years, Iran has leveraged developments like the Syrian civil war to expand its regional influence. With the help of proxies operating in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen, Iran has intensified its conflict with Western-allied Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel. Iran’s aims are both offensive and defensive. By boosting its missile capability and cultivating nonstate actors close to and inside their countries’ respective borders, ...

About the Authors

Julien Barnes-Dacey, Ellie Geranmayeh and Hugh Lovatt are policy fellows at the European Council on Foreign Relations. 

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