Foreign policy analysis and armed non-state actors in world politics: lessons from the Middle East

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Colleges, School and Institutes


The study of armed non-state actors (ANSAs) has grown exponentially in the last two decades. This article explores the foreign policy of ANSAs as a new empirical domain for foreign policy analysis (FPA) by drawing on various examples from the Middle East to show the merit of this area for novel empirical and theoretical studies. The article identifies the domain of ANSAs’ foreign policy showing how FPA research has so far remained state-centric and almost completely ignores ANSAs. While the external engagement of ANSAs were examined within the scholarship on civil wars, FPA can be adapted to provide systematic scholarly understanding of this phenomenon. Finally, the article explores how studying ANSAs’ foreign policies can revitalize FPA and drive its agenda into new directions.


Original languageEnglish
Article numberorab030
JournalForeign Policy Analysis
Issue number4
Early online date10 Sep 2021
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021