Middle powers and soft-power rivalry: Egyptian–Israeli competition in Africa

Asaf Siniver*, Gerasimos Tsourapas

*Corresponding author for this work

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Scholars of international relations have long recognized the importance of soft power in great powers’ hegemonic designs. In contrast, we know little of middle powers’ employment of noncoercive strategies of attraction and, in particular, how soft power operates in the context of middlepower antagonism. We suggest that, first, soft power enhances coalitionbuilding strategies for middle powers. Contrary to expectations that states join forces against a shared threat, the use of soft power via development aid produces an “Us” versus “Them” distinction in target states that unites them in the absence of a common enemy. Second, middle states’ softpower strategies are likely to support coalition maintenance so long as it does not challenge target states’ national interests. Utilizing extensive archival and interview-based data, we examine how soft power featured in Egyptian–Israeli competition across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) from 1957 to 1974. We demonstrate how soft power operates beyond the context of great power agenda setting, therefore providing novel evidence for the importance of soft power in the interplay between interstate antagonism and noncoercion in world politics.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberorac041
Number of pages22
JournalForeign Policy Analysis
Issue number2
Early online date20 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Gerasimos Tsourapas research is supported by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) (Grant reference No. EP/X019667/1) and the Council for British Research in the Levant (2022 Pilot Study Grant).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s) (2023). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Studies Association.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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