AGSIW’s Gulf Rising series analyzes the energized role of the Gulf Arab states in the international system, looking 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.
By Florence Gaub
December 19, 2017
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 five 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.
By Steven A. Cook and Hussein Ibish
February 28, 2017
Since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in November 2002, Turkey’s relations with the Gulf Arab countries have fluctuated between varying degrees of cooperation and mutual suspicion. From the Turkish perspective, these dramatic shifts have been driven primarily by changing political needs of the AKP’s leadership against the backdrop of a political worldview that sees Turkey as a natural leader in the Muslim world. This has led to moments of unprecedented cooperation between Turkey and some of the Gulf states, as well as instances of mistrust and competition. This pattern is likely to continue as the Turks cope with multidimensional security threats and domestic political challenges that threaten to further destabilize the country.
By Abdel Monem Said Aly and Hussein Ibish
December 12, 2016
Egypt and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries have a complex, but indispensable, diplomatic, military, and political partnership in the contemporary world. Egypt represents the epicenter of the Arab population – as by far the most human resource-rich Arab country – and is a traditional cultural powerhouse in the Arab world at both the intellectual and popular levels. It is also, arguably, the sole contemporary Arab country that is an ancient and relatively homogeneous nation-state with borders that have been recognized for many centuries. The Gulf countries contain much of the mineral and financial wealth of the Arab world, and have their own important cultural and religious influences, some of them traditional as with Saudi Arabia’s religious role because of its geography, and some of it more newfound, bound up with the wealth and growth of the Gulf states.
By Mark N. Katz
July 28, 2016
Prior to the Russian military intervention in Syria that began in September 2015, some Gulf Cooperation Council governments had become hopeful that they could induce Russia to accept the GCC objective of the departure of President Bashar al-Assad from Syria and that Moscow would distance itself from Tehran in exchange for stronger economic ties with the GCC. With the Russian intervention in Syria, however, it has become clear that this approach has not succeeded in altering Russian foreign policy. The question that now arises is: Can the GCC states that are most anxious for a change in Russian policy toward Syria and Iran do anything to encourage such a shift?