Reciprocity, Triangularity, and Cooperation

in the Middle East, 1979-97

(This article appears in the Journal of Conflict Resolution 45 (5), October 2001: 594-620).

JOSHUA S. GOLDSTEIN American University

JON C. PEVEHOUSE University of Wisconsin

DEBORAH J. GERNER University of Kansas

SHIBLEY TELHAMI University of Maryland

Joshua S. Goldstein ( is Professor of International Relations, American University, Washington, DC 20016-8071. Jon C. Pevehouse ( is Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706. Deborah J. Gerner ( is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045. Shibley Telhami ( is Anwar Sadat Professor of Peace and Development, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20740.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. SBR-9617157. For helpful suggestions we thank Philip Schrodt, Gary King, William Zartman, Dean Pruitt, Daniel Druckman, Terrence Hopmann, Michael Simon, Neal Beck, and John Freeman. Earlier versions were presented at the American Political Science Association, September 1998, Boston, and the Peace Science Society, Rutgers University, October 1998.

Reciprocity, Triangularity, and Cooperation in the Middle East, 1979-97


Does bilateral reciprocity or great-power influence (or both) promote the emergence of international cooperation in regional conflicts? Time-series analysis of 12 international dyads in the Middle East in 1979-90 and 1991-95 -- using machine-coded events data and Vector Autoregression (VAR) -- found bilateral reciprocity widespread in both time periods, characterizing nearly all dyads of sustained conflict and a majority of other dyads with various power and proximity characteristics. Significant triangular responses to U.S. actions occurred in only a few cases, although key ones - Iraq and Israel-Palestine. Neither bilateral reciprocity nor triangular response predicted changes in long-term conflict and cooperation. Rather, one or both of these response patterns were necessary, but not sufficient, conditions for regional states to increase long-term cooperation.