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The Journal for politics, economics, and culture of the Middle East published by the German Orient-Institute

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01/10/16

Post-JCPoA international relations: The US, Russia and the Gulf

Both the U.S. and Russian Gulf policies must be viewed in the context of broader geostrategic goals. The main U.S. objective is to deescalate local crises and conflicts, combat terrorism, prevent nuclear proliferation and – in the Gulf Region – preserve the balance of power between Riyadh and Tehran. Russia’s Gulf policy is part of its strategy to increase its influence in the Middle east. Moscow seeks to strengthen its position visà-vis Washington throughout the entire region and thus to compensate at least in part for the loss of power it suffered as a result of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It exploits the conflict between Tehran and Riyadh in order to gain additional influence and exert pressure on local actors.

Reinhard Meier-Walser is Head of the Academy for Politics and Current Affairs of the Hanns Seidel Foundation in Munich, editor-in-chief of the bimonthly magazine Politische Studien (“Political Studies”), and Honorary Professor of International Relations at the University of Regensburg. His current research centers on strategies for de-escalating international conflict.

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01/10/16

Smaller GCC states’ foreign policy and regional role

Two main topics make the small Gulf states ambivalent about Iran’s future consolidation as the main regional power in the Gulf. Firstly, Iran’s growing political and military interventionist influence in key Middle eastern states, such as Iraq and Syria, added to its unconventional military know-how and willingness to modernise its regular army and conventional military equipment are of major concern. Secondly, Iran’s full economic reintegration is in contrast mainly seen as a good opportunity to significantly develop trading and commercial exchanges. In this field, most of smaller Gulf states will find themselves in an uncomfortable situation with the KSA, which is the smaller country poised to lose the most from Iran’s full economic reintegration.

Fatiha Dazi-Héni (Dr.) is a researcher on Arab Gulf Monarchies at the Institute for Strategic Research IRSeM in Paris and Associate Professor focusing on the Arab World at the Institute of Political Science in Lille. She has published many articles on the GCC states and sub-regional dynamics, particularly regarding Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait (mainly in French).

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01/10/16

Iran’s regional policy. Decision-making process, goals, areas of cooperation

With regards to Iran’s foreign policy, a striking mismatch is at hand between Iran’s self-perception and how it is seen by its neighbours. Apart from obvious divergent regional interests between Iran and other regional actors, reasons for this mismatch can be found in the lack of understanding of Iran’s foreign policy decision-making process as well as inaccurate views of the Islamic Republic’s security doctrine. Therefore, it is the aim of this essay to, first, shed light on the key actors and institutions shaping Iranian foreign policy. Secondly, the key goals and aims of the Islamic Republic in the Middle east will be outlined in order to, thirdly, recommend potential areas of cooperation between Iran and Europe.

Adnan Tabatabai is the co-founder and CeO of the Center for Applied Research in Partnership with the Orient (CARPO) based in Bonn. As an expert on Iranian affairs he is consulted by european Union institutions, German Federal Ministries and Members of Parliament, as well as by political foundations and think tanks. Tabatabai is assigned lecturer at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf.

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01/10/16

Lost in Iranoia: Saudi Arabia’s struggle for regional hegemony in times of crisis

Saudi Arabia and Iran have been seeking regional supremacy due to political and ideological reasons since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Since 2011, these bilateral tensions have intensified with destabilising effects in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy is influenced by ‘Iranoia’, which aims to counter the Iranian influence within the Arab region and to preserve the Saudi standing as a political and economic regional power as well as a religious role model. However, since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), Saudi Arabia has felt further betrayed by traditional allies such as the United States. The new Saudi leadership is concerned about the re-integration of Iran into the international community and thus has intensified its anti-Iran and anti-Shiite propaganda and policy in recent years. The article analyses the main foreign policy interests of Saudi Arabia, the anti-Iran strategy of the new leadership under King Salman, and the negative outcomes of this policy, such as sectarian divide and the detrimental consequences for regional stability.

Sebastian Sons is a Ph.D. candidate at the Humboldt University of Berlin and an Associate Fellow at the Near east and North Africa Research Program of the German Council of Foreign Relations in Berlin. Previously, he worked as Head of Research Unit at the German Orient-Institute. His fields of interests are Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy, societal change and economic developments.

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