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The International Relations of the Persian Gulf

edited by Mehran Kamrava

Publication Year: 2011

For much of the contemporary history of the Middle East, the Persian Gulf has stood at the center of the region’s strategic significance. At the same time, the Gulf has been wracked by political instability and tension. As far back as the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Britain zeroed in on the Persian Gulf as a critical passageway to its crown jewel, India, and entered into protectorate agreements with local ruling families, thus bestowing on them international legitimacy and, eventually, the resources and support necessary to ascend to kingships. Today, the region is undergoing profound changes that range from rapid economic and infrastructural development to tumultuous social and cultural transformations. Far from eroding the area’s political significance, these changes have only accentuated rivalries and tensions and have brought to the forefront new challenges to international security and stability. Together, the essays in this volume present a comprehensive, detailed, and accessible account of the international politics of the region. Focusing on the key factors that give the Persian Gulf its strategic significance, contributors look at the influence of vast deposits of oil and natural gas on international politics, the impact of the competing centers of power of Iran and Saudi Arabia, the nature of relationships among countries within the Persian Gulf, and the evolving interaction between Islam and politics. Throughout the collection, issues of internal and international security are shown to be central. Drawing on the comprehensive knowledge and experience of experts in the region, The International Politics of the Persian Gulf shines a bright light on this area, offering insights and thoughtful analyses on the critical importance of this troubled region to global politics..

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v


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pp. vii-viii

Figures and Tables

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pp. ix

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pp. xi-xii

This book is the result of two highly productive meetings held in Doha, Qatar, under the auspices of the Center for International and Regional Studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar. The meetings were held in June 2008 and January 2009 and gave the chapter contributors the opportunity to share and exchange ideas with one another, refine and revise their own arguments, and examine the project in its entirety. In addition to the...


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pp. xiii-xv


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pp. xvii-xviii

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1. The Changing International Relations of the Persian Gulf

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pp. 1-20

Observers of the Persian Gulf agree that the strategically critical region is undergoing profound changes. These changes affecting the region run the gamut from rapid economic and infrastructural development to profound social and cultural changes resulting from diffusion, globalization, and the widespread introduction of American-style education.1 This book concentrates on a series of changes underway in the Persian Gulf that have not heretofore been studied,...

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2. Sovereignty and Boundaries in the Gulf States: Settling the Peripheries

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pp. 21-49

The concept of territorial boundaries for the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (also referred to in this paper as the Gulf states) is a relatively new phenomenon. Until recently, a principal difficulty in conceiving of territorial boundaries, let alone defining them, was the alien nature of boundaries themselves, the lack of any need for them, and the absence of putative states in most of the Peninsula. It was not until well into the twentieth century—and in some cases...

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3. Security Dilemmas in the Contemporary Persian Gulf

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pp. 50-71

Central to the study of international relations is the concept of the security dilemma. Th is concept can be formulated in two complementary ways. On one hand, it implies that in an anarchic environment, states enjoy no obvious, unproblematic path to safety. Instead, the steps that any country takes to maximize its own security prompt others to respond by implementing measures that leave it no better off , and sometimes in a considerably worse position, than it...

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4. Foreign Policy in the GCC States

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pp. 72-93

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have a unique importance in terms of foreign policy in that despite their small size, their role as strategic energy exporters has allowed them to assume and cultivate power on the international level. Th e monarchial states of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar are by no means militarily powerful, or indeed hegemons within the region, yet their reach is considerably beyond...

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5. GCC Perceptions of Collective Security in the Post-Saddam Era

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pp. 94-119

The beginning of the twenty-first century has confronted the GCC with a changing regional climate that has presented new strategic challenges to the GCC’s security and stability. In the 1990s, the primary challenges facing the Persian Gulf states included the aggression of Saddam Husayn’s Ba‘thist regime and the implication of UN sanctions, a lesser threat of Iranian aggression (which manifested in the 1992 seizure of Abu Musa from joint control with the UAE),...

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6. American Policy Toward the Persian Gulf: Strategies, Effectiveness, and Consequences

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pp. 120-143

Any discussion of American policy toward the Persian Gulf must begin with the recognition that the Persian Gulf is a subregion of a wider region, most appropriately called West Asia, which stretches from Pakistan in the east to Egypt in the west. Th e political and strategic dynamics of the Gulf subregion cannot be insulated from those of this larger region and the two contiguous subregions—comprising Afghanistan and Pakistan (AFPAK) to the east and...

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7. Regional Consequences of Internal Turmoil in Iraq

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pp. 144-168

Iraq is moving away from the abyss of all-out civil war on which it teetered in 2006, but it is still far from being a stable country.1 Th e Iraqi government and coalition forces have made considerable progress in defeating Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and reducing the power of warlords in several areas. Yet the progress so far is fragile, and much remains to be done. Terrorism within Iraq remains a tremendous problem, with suicide bombing and other attacks occurring on a regular...

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8. Saudi Arabia’s Regional Security Strategy

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pp. 169-183

Saudi Arabia’s regional security strategy has remained remarkably consistent in the decades since the Middle East emerged from colonial control as an autonomous regional system. The overriding goal of Saudi regional policy has been to maintain the security of the regime, in the face of both conventional regional military threats and transnational ideological challenges to the regime’s domestic political stability and legitimacy. Th e pursuit of that goal regionally has...

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9. Iranian Foreign and Security Policies in the Persian Gulf

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pp. 184-206

Some three decades into the life of the Islamic Republic, the Iranian regime has yet to devise and implement a coherent national security policy or even a set of guidelines on which its regional and international security policies are based. In relation to the Persian Gulf region and the country’s immediate neighbors, this failure has resulted in the articulation of regional foreign and security policies that at times have seemed fluid, changeable, and even inconsistent. The discrepancy...

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10. China, India, and the Persian Gulf: Converging Interests?

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pp. 207-233

China and India, two modern states derived from great ancient civilizations with different postcolonial development models, different social and political setups, and most important, different economies, together account for more than a third of the world’s population. Both countries not only have consolidated their power in Asia, but are also making their presences felt on the global stage.1 China and India have a legacy of trade ties with the Persian Gulf countries

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11. Political Reform and Foreign Policy in Persian Gulf Monarchies

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pp. 234-256

In recent years, and before the wave of unrest that occurred in 2011, public as well as to some extent scholarly opinion has increasingly viewed the Gulf Arab monarchies—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE—as political reformers.1 This is a striking departure from earlier scholarship, which tended to see these political systems as fundamentally backward and outdated. One of the factors motivating this change of opinion is that all the Gulf monarchies...


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pp. 259-306


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pp. 307-338


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pp. 339-374

E-ISBN-13: 9780815651529
E-ISBN-10: 081565152X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815632801
Print-ISBN-10: 0815632800

Page Count: 352
Illustrations: 4 figures
Publication Year: 2011

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • National security -- Persian Gulf Region.
  • Persian Gulf Region -- Strategic aspcects.
  • Persian Gulf Region -- Foreign economic relations -- 21st century.
  • Persian Gulf Region -- Foreign relations -- 21st century.
  • Persian Gulf Region -- Politics and government -- 21st century.
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