The Foreign Policy of the Arab Gulf Monarchies from 1971 to 1990
Date: 3 June 2013
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
PhD in Middle East Politics
This dissertation provides a comparative analysis of the foreign policies of the Arab Gulf monarchies during the period of 1971 to 1990, as examined through two case studies: (1) the Arab Gulf monarchies’ relations with Iran and Iraq and (2) the six states’ positions in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The dissertation argues that, in ...
This dissertation provides a comparative analysis of the foreign policies of the Arab Gulf monarchies during the period of 1971 to 1990, as examined through two case studies: (1) the Arab Gulf monarchies’ relations with Iran and Iraq and (2) the six states’ positions in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The dissertation argues that, in formulating their policies towards Iran and Iraq, the Arab Gulf monarchies aspired to realize four main objectives: external security and territorial integrity; domestic and regime stability; economic prosperity; and the attainment of a stable subregional balance of power without the emergence of Iran or Iraq as Gulf hegemon. Over the largest part of the period under review, the Arab Gulf monarchies managed to offset threats to these basic interests emanating from Iran and Iraq by alternately appeasing and balancing the source of the threat. The analysis reveals that the Arab Gulf monarchies’ individual bilateral relations with Iran and Iraq underwent considerable change over time and, particularly following the Iranian Revolution, displayed significant differences in comparison to one another. These developments are attributable to both disparities among Arab Gulf monarchies and change over time with respect to a variety of factors: geostrategic position, military strength, the existence of military aggression, territorial claims, subversive activities, or ideological challenges by either Iran or Iraq, the national and sectarian composition and ideological orientation of the population, and national economic orientation. The thesis reveals that the Arab Gulf monarchies’ policies in the Arab-Israeli conflict were mainly influenced by (1) identity/ideology, (2) religion, and (3) strategic considerations. In consequence, during the entire period under review, all Arab Gulf monarchies, although setting different priorities, shared an objective in the realization of following interests: the realization of Palestinian national rights, the return of occupied Arab lands, and the restoration of Muslim control over the holy places in Jerusalem; the guarantee of regime stability; the preservation of strategic relations with the United States; the containment of Soviet penetration into the Arab world; the maintenance of Arab unity dominated by moderate Arab forces; and the attainment of a holistic peace settlement supported by an Arab consensus. The analysis shows that the Arab Gulf monarchies succeeded in realizing most of these objectives. In addition, the thesis highlights a significant rapprochement in the Arab Gulf monarchies’ individual policies in the Arab-Israeli conflict, a development most visible in the 1980s. The dissertation identifies the Arab Gulf monarchies as a unit of state and regime entities with broadly similar interests and challenges and, despite a striking power disparity among themselves, inferiority in power status compared with and vulnerability to their neighbours. The similarity of both their objectives and constraints motivated and even required them to cooperate and coordinate in the foreign policy arena. As the analysis demonstrates, this cooperation and coordination increased during the timeframe under review, even when individual foreign policies diverged.
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