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The Oil Hegemonic System and Game Theory: Regional versus Trans-regional Powers in the Middle East

Saikou Kawsu Gassama, Mansoureh Ebrahimi and Kamaruzaman Bin Yusoff


Despite having the largest reserves and forecasts for undiscovered hydrocarbon energy resources in the world, which highlights global energy dependence on the Middle East, a distinct lack of cooperation between regional governments is accompanied by incoherent energy policies and governmental processes that enable trans-regional powers (mainly, Western powers) to dominate resource exploitation and “win the game.” A lack of cooperation between Middle Eastern oil producing countries as well as attendant competition and rivalry allows significant leverage for Western powers to pit one Middle Eastern country against another; thus, permitting Western energy hegemony in the region. Using game theory and a qualitative analytical approach, the authors posit that trans-regional powers, to their advantage, have hegemonic control over regional Middle Eastern powers that maintain the pace of energy production to supply growing demands for predominantly western consumption. The Middle East countries will continue to lose the “game,” especially Iran and Saudi Arabia, if they do not reconcile differences and exploit options for regional cooperation. Such a modification in relations would allow coherent policies and governmental structures to institutionalize and reverse the current trend for extrinsic hegemony.

Keywords: Oil hegemonic system, game theory, regional powers, trans-regional powers, Middle East

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pp. 358–376