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The Middle East has witnessed a recent spate of alterations in rulers and regimes. These new leaders are coming to power in countries having a history of international conflict with other states in the region. Will the change in government exacerbate interstate crises, producing disputes and wars? Or will the nascent leadership steer their countries to peace, choosing instead to focus on an internal consolidation of power? To answer this question, this article examines the theories of foreign policy behavior of new leaders. It discusses the results of a quantitative analysis of an earlier time frame: the initial years of the Cold War. The article then conducts a series of case study analyses of contemporary times to determine if the theory and prior statistical tests remain valid. The results show that new administrations are more likely to target rivals with a threat, display, or limited use of force. Such incoming leaders, however, seem reluctant to drag their countries into a full-scale war. These findings hold for a variety of countries in a number of different contexts. Such results are relevant for Middle East scholars, conflict mediators, as well as American foreign policymakers who seem to have adopted a taste for regime change in the region.
The Middle East Institute has published The Middle East Journal quarterly since 1947. The Journal provides original and objective research and analysis, as well as source material, on the area from Morocco to Pakistan and including Central Asia. The Journal provides the background necessary for an understanding and appreciation of the region's political and economic development, cultural heritage, ethnic and religious diversity.