During the fi rst decade of the new millennium, many events affected the course of Middle East politics. The failure of the Camp David II summit between the Palestinians and Israelis, and the eruption of the second Intifadah in 2000, the events of 9/11, the results of the so-called War On Terrorism and the following wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the removal of Saddam Hussein from power, America’s troubles in both countries, the crisis of capitalism in 2008 and the rise of new global economic actors such China, India, Brazil and South Africa, as well as the ‘Arab Spring’, have infl uenced policymaking in this region. 1

These changes and fl uctuations have caused fl uidity in the dynamics of Middle East politics, which has posed a challenge to all international players, including notably the US. The US has faced serious challenges in attempting to maintain its infl uence in the Middle East. 2 These challenges created an opportunity for competing international players to take up their previous roles in the region. EU and Russian discourses contain an added emphasis on the necessity of seizing this opportunity. José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, has said: ‘The world is at a turning point. So is Europe. Our action now will determine the vitality of the European model of society for future generations’. 3 Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, in turn, has focused on the need for Russia to seize this opportunity as ‘today the world is changing rapidly. . . . This opens a new “window of opportunity” for developing international relations.’ 4

In the view of the EU and Russia, the US is declining, especially in an important region like the Middle East. Thus, both want to enhance and underpin their global actorness in the Middle East.