The Middle East is often considered to demonstrate a case of weak regionalism. This article suggests that the continued prevalence of Arab identity as the hegemonic component of regional consciousness contributes to this. The dominance of a discourse of ‘Arabness’ reduces the region’s flexibility to adapt and develop regional institutions in several ways and particularly vis-a-vis the non-Arab communities and states that are found within the spatial boundaries of the Middle East. To explore the role played by Arab identity politics in regionalism with regard to the status of non-Arab states, this article presents a study of the competing hegemonic regional discourses employed by Turkey, Iran and Egypt during a two-year period following the 2011 uprising in Egypt. This analysis suggests that even during a time of crisis, non-Arab states face obstacles to their assertion of regional projects and that Arabness is a central factor in the narratives resisting alternative interpretations of the interests and definition of the Middle East as a region. The article concludes that Arabness forms the hegemonic discourse that shapes the international relations of the Middle East.
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