Intra-GCC state relations: Re-assessing the balance of power

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This article is featured in the ORIENT III 2022

Relations between the Gulf Cooperation Council states over the next few years are expected to prove highly fluid and be driven by multiple factors, including (in approximate order of importance): shared economic opportunities; economic assistance; economic competition; alignments against perceived external hard power threats; and alignments against perceived transnational political threats. Investigating this apparent re-prioritisation of issues, this article demonstrates how longstanding diplomatic blocs and the former intra-GCC balance of power are effectively being replaced by ad hoc foreign policies predicated on remarkably strong bilateral economic relationships (and in some cases significant economic competition).

Christopher M. Davidson is an associate fellow of the Henry Jackson Society, a former reader in Middle East politics at Durham University, a former visiting associate professor at Kyoto University in Japan and a former assistant professor at Zayed University in the UAE. His books include From Sheikhs to Sultanism: Statecraft and Authority in Saudi Arabia and The UAE and Shadow Wars: The Secret Struggle for the Middle East.

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