July 24, 2020

THE ARAB GULF STATES AND THE IRANIAN NUCLEAR CHALLENGE: IN THE LINE OF FIRE

As a way to contain Iran’s ambitions, the Gulf states’ policy combines elements of appeasement with a fundamental reliance on the United States as a defending and deterring force. Iran’s determination to continue with its nuclear program, more than ever, is already forcing them to struggle with a different type of threat perception, which so far has made it difficult for them openly to present a united front and thereby function as a counterforce to Iran’s might. The relative weakness … [Read more...]

SAUDI ARABIA AND THE NEW STRATEGIC LANDSCAPE

  INTRODUCTION  Two decades after the end of the Cold War, a new strategic landscape has ap­peared in the Middle East. No longer dominated by a U.S.-Soviet rivalry, this new landscape is dominated by U.S.-Iranian confrontation. In this struggle, the United States’ most important Arab ally, Saudi Arabia, plays a key role. As the Obama administration policies allow Iran to run out the clock on getting a nuclear weapon, it would appear from its recent policy moves that it … [Read more...]

TURKEY AND THE GULF STATES IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

  FROM FOES TO FRIENDSHIP  In October 1927 Turkish President Mustafa Kemal Ataturk delivered a historic speech in which he explained why Turks had to abandon the Ottoman Empire and embrace his new state. Ataturk pointed out the high cost and futility of seeking an empire extending beyond Turkish-populated lands: “Do you know,” he asked, “how many sons of Anatolia have perished in the scorching sands of Yemen?”  In future, Ataturk promised, Turks would no … [Read more...]

ABU DHABI’S NUCLEAR POWER PLANT FOLLY

  THE NUCLEAR POWER PLANT   On December 28, 2009, Abu Dhabi awarded a contract [1] to build, operate, and transfer a 5,600 MW nuclear power plant composed of four reactors of 1,400 megawatt (MW) each to a consortium of South Korean firms.[2] The firms are led by Korea Electric Power Corporation and include Hyundai Engineering and Construction as well as Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction Company. The project is to be completed in three phases between 2017 and 2020. Its … [Read more...]

ALL I WANT IS EQUALITY WITH GIRLS: GENDER AND SOCIAL CHANGE IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY GULF

  INTRODUCTION In January 2004, Lubna Olayan stepped up to the lectern to deliver a speech to the Jeddah Economic Summit. She was a natural choice to be the first woman to address the forum in the Saudi port city because she headed one of Saudi Arabia’s best-known conglomerates, the Olayan Financing Group. Lubna was a daughter of Sulayman Olayan, who had risen from humble circumstances to become one of Saudi Arabia’s most successful businessmen. Yet the organizers of the … [Read more...]

To Perpetuate Their Dictatorships, Arab Rulers Resort to the Islamic Creed

  KORANIC INSPIRATION FOR THE MODERATE, ISLAMIST, AND JIHADIST The Koran often provides Muslims with contradictory inspirations on subjects of political or social relevance. On Muslim relations with Christians and Jews, for example, a moderate Muslim would focus on peaceful and tolerant verses such as 29:46: “Do not argue with the People of the Book [Christians and Jews] unless in a fair way.” Similar injunctions are found in, among others, 2:62, 2:136, 2:256, and the second … [Read more...]

Motives and Interests in Israel-Gulf Relations

barry-rubin

In early August 2009, Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faysal visited Washington. He praised the Obama administration and then hammered nails into the coffin of its Middle East policy. There was nothing subtle about the Saudi response. For the first time, a non-radical Arab regime--that is, one nominally allied with the United States--has openly ridiculed the U.S. government’s new policy. Naturally, the prince was full of praise for the Obama administration, in general. In specific, … [Read more...]

Iran and the Arab World: A View from Riyadh

THE IMAGE OF A SHI’A THREAT  Expectations about a broad regional realignment vis-à-vis Iran are very much rooted in Neo-Realist assumptions about the self-help nature of international politics and the irrelevance of domestic politics. In the case of Saudi Arabia, such a perspective could therefore assume a natural tendency to align with Israel. Set apart from other actors in the region by specific (complementary) military and economic strengths and weaknesses, both countries … [Read more...]

The Small Gulf States: The Best Case Examples in the Arab World?

Prof. Barry Rubin: The purpose of this discussion is to take a close look at countries that seem to be exceptions to many of the problems and failures facing Arab states. Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman--which are also all different--may have broken away from the patterns characterizing others in the region. Have some of these countries advanced democracy more, and if so why? Are they places where an economics-in-command attitude is prevailing over ideology? Are they … [Read more...]

German-Kuwaiti Relations: From Their Beginnings to the Reunification of Germany

[1]  In 1752, the al-Sabah family from central Arabia established a trading post in the Persian Gulf. Shortly after Sabah bin Jabir was elected as the first emir in 1756, Europeans discovered “the Little Fort.” The German explorer Carsten Niebuhr mapped it as "Koueit" in 1772, referring to it as "A township a three-day trip away" from Zubair.[2] Another German explorer, Ulrich Jasper Seetzen, mentioned a British trading post there, while geographer Karl Ritter marked Kuwait's … [Read more...]