GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

 
AUTHOR NAME
 
Family Name:
Hoetjes
 
First Name:
Gertjan
 
ABSTRACT OF PAPER
 
Title of Paper:
Developing a common GCC policy towards Iran: the case of Oman
 
Paper Proposal Text :
Title: "Developing a common GCC policy towards Iran: the case of Oman"

Abstract: Oman has manifested itself as an ‘outlier’ in the GCC when it comes to relations with Iran. Despite tensions between Iran and other GCC states like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Oman has recently enhanced its political, economic and military relations with Iran and even facilitated secret US talks with Iran that led to the Geneva interim Agreement between the P5+1 and Iran. In this paper, I want to go beyond the typical idiosyncrasies of Sultan Qaboos to explain Oman’s foreign policy towards Iran. Therefore, I will use academic literature and interviews with political experts on Oman to examine the domestic, regional and international environment in which the Omani regime operates to identify the main drivers behind the foreign policy of Oman towards Iran. Subsequently, I will use my findings to analyse to what extents Oman’s foreign policy can be reconciled with those of the other GCC states to facilitate a common policy towards Iran.

In order to identify the main drivers, I will utilise Professor Gerd Nonneman’s approach of Foreign Policy Analysis as introduced in the book Analysing Middle East Foreign Policies and the Relationship with the Middle East. In the introducing chapter, Nonnemann distinguishes three levels in which foreign policy determinants should be examined: the domestic level, the regional level and the international level. In my paper, I will examine how on the domestic level regime stability, economic concerns, the decision-making system and the decision-makers perception and role conception all affect the foreign policy of Oman towards Iran. On the regional level, I will scrutinize the strategic environment in which Oman operates and how its cooperation with Iran has an impact upon the transnational ideological issues of pan-Arabism and Islam. On the international level, I will analyse how Oman’s relationship with Iran provides opportunities and poses challenges in its relations with international powers like the US, EU, India, China and Russia.

I will start my analysis from the Arab Spring in 2011 onwards, as the Arab Spring had various implications for the Omani regime. The protests during the Arab Spring in Oman has exposed the vulnerability of the government of Sultan Qaboos. The strategic environment has been affected by the popular revolt in Bahrain, the subsequent intervention of the GCC Peninsula Shield force and the end of the thirty year rule of Abdullah Saleh in neighbouring Yemen. At the international level, US and European support for their allies in Egypt and Tunisia turned out to be less steady than expected, raising question marks about the efficacy of the alliances of the Omani regime with the US and Europe.

Following my analysis of Oman’s foreign policy towards Iran, I will probe to what extent Oman shares common interests with the other GCC states concerning their relationship with Iran using academic literature on the foreign policy of the other GCC states towards Iran. Next, I will conclude if these common interests are a sufficient basis for a common foreign policy towards Iran in the context of the GCC. Furthermore, I will address if Oman could potentially facilitate rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia and what the implications of the succession of Sultan Qaboos could be for Oman’s future relationship with Iran.

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