The "new" GCC: Strategic autonomy, organisational cacophony

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This article takes a closer look at what a more active foreign policy of its member states means for the GCC overall and is featured in Orient II/2023.

Over the past years, the countries of the GCC have become more and more relevant in various theaters but, as a result of these dynamics, the organisation got weaker, burdened by increasing internal problems. This article aims to investigate why and how Gulf countries have become more active on the global stage and the impact of this greater strategic autonomy on the GCC as an organisation. The main argument is that this greater strategic autonomy is a result of systemic changes in the Gulf Regional Security Complex, namely the end of the American external hegemony. This autonomy has led to an increasing geopolitical discrepancy between some members
of the organization and a greater assertiveness in their foreign policy approaches – as shown in the case of the Arab Spring, but which ended up weakening the GCC. The loose institutional arrangements on which the GCC was built also allowed for these differences to emerge more sharply, leading to what is as “organisational cacophony” and resulting in an overall weakening of the organisation, with the 2017 blockade being the culmination of these dynamics.

Dario Cristiani ia Resident Senior Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) in washington D.C., working on Italian foreign policy, Mediterranean Security, Terrorism, and Global Politics. He received his Ph.D. in Middle east & Mediterranean Studies from King’s College London in 2015 and has previously lived in Italy, the UK, Turkey, Belgium and Tunisia.

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