ORIENT II 2018: Current developments in the Gulf region

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Editorial

Dear ORIENT readers,

The current crisis in the Gulf region, and especially the rift between its member states, has deeply divided the GCC. Saudi Arabia’s and the UAE’s threats against Qatar, attempting to coerce it into implementing demands to drop support for the Muslim Brotherhood and restrict Al-Jazeera, culminated in imposing a blockade against this tiny but rich and politically active state. Kuwaiti mediation efforts have not been successful, and Oman is trying to avoid any involvement in this current crisis.

At the same time, the competition between Iran and Saudi Arabia as to who will play the leading political role in the region is far from settled. So far, it is primarily a war of words, yet confrontation has arisen in the form of proxy warfare – the war in Yemen is ongoing and no peace is in sight. The fate of Gulf security and relations with Iran will define the future of regional peace and stability.

In this issue of ORIENT we take a deep dive into this region’s current affairs and problems. Firstly, Dr James M. Dorsey and Dr David B. Roberts provide their analyses on the recent rift between Qatar and other GCC members. Following this, Prof Christopher M. Davidson and Prof Søren Schmidt will closely look at developments within Saudi Arabia – ranging from the ‘Saudi purge’ to the more fundamental changes that the kingdom faces today. The mediating efforts of Kuwait and Oman are then at the centre of the contribution from Dr Fatiha Dazi-Héni, before Dr Ana Belén Soage and Prof Anoushiravan Ehteshami shift the focus towards the regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran and its implications. The issue is rounded off with Prof Morten Valbjørn delving into the issue of sectarianism and its role in the conflict in Yemen.

I hope that the current issue provides you with valuable insights into and different perspectives on the current developments in the Gulf region.

Dr. Gunter Mulack
Director of the German Orient-Institute

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