December 19, 2017

Both Ends of the Spectrum: GCC-Maghreb Relations

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, left, and Morocco's King Mohammed VI attend a ceremony at the Royal Palace in Casablanca, Morocco, March 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar)
by Florence Gaub

The Gulf Arab states and the states of the Maghreb are part of one strategic space defined, broadly, by shared linguistic, cultural, religious, social, and historical characteristics. Both are subregions of the Arab world, and therefore members of the League of Arab States. Perhaps crucially, they perceive themselves to be part of one political cosmos.

Within this cosmos, however, the four states of the Maghreb and the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council are on the opposite ends of the spectrum in a number of ways. This begins with geography but includes economic and especially political factors. Taken together, they lead to a defined, but different, strategic posture. The superficial similarities therefore do not translate into deepening of ties despite the considerable potential.

The AGSIW Gulf Rising Series

This paper, informed by a workshop hosted by the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, was developed as part of AGSIW’s Gulf Rising series analyzing the energized role of the Gulf Arab states in the international system. The series looks beyond GCC relations with the United States to examine ties with other key countries and regions. Additionally, it investigates motivations behind Gulf Arab states’ foreign policy choices and evaluates the implications for U.S. foreign policy toward the GCC states and the region.