GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

 
AUTHOR NAME
 
Family Name:
Mansour
 
First Name:
Imad
 
ABSTRACT OF PAPER
 
Title of Paper:
Do Gulf Cooperation Council Leaders see in China a Viable Security Partner?
 
Paper Proposal Text :
Do Gulf Cooperation Council Leaders see in China a Viable Security Partner?

Imad Mansour
Qatar University
(imad.mansour@qu.edu.qa)


Brief Abstract

Three dynamics are playing out in the Gulf today. First, is the local states’ search for their physical security, as well as for predictable and sustained markets to their energy (oil and gas) exports on which domestic expenditures and state-building processes heavily rely. Second, China is interested in expanding the scope of its relations with Gulf states seeing as how they provide an important source of energy. Third, The United States, which has historically been the main major power with influence in the Gulf since at least the past four decades, continues to be a pillar of the region’s security arrangements. How are these three dynamics playing out; and how will they play out? There is no one answer to these intricately connected and important questions, mainly because strategic choices do not rely on existing military and economic capacities, but also on how actors strategize and where they see favorable options. So where do actors see favorable options?

This paper seeks to explore how Gulf Cooperation Council decision makers perceive of their options vis-à-vis China in the security domain (not economics or trade). In particular, I am interested in asking the important question of how these decision makers perceive of China’s (arguably) imminent rise; its long-term interests in the Gulf; and the potential role that China could play in the development of a regional security framework for the Arab states in the Gulf? Do GCC decision-makers see in China a viable partner in the military and traditional security of their states and of the region?


Detailed Abstract

This paper explores how leaders and political elites of the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) perceive of their options vis-à-vis China. I am interested in asking the important question of how these decision makers perceive of China’s (arguably) imminent rise; its long-term interests in the Gulf; and the potential role that China could play in the development of a regional security framework for the Arab states in the Gulf? Do Gulf decision-makers see in China a viable partner in the military and traditional security of their states and of the region? Multiple answers arise to the main question noted here on whether GCC leaders see in China a viable security partner; and it would be more appropriate to answer by investigating nuances in their position which is guided by very similar logics, yet is not homogenous. Exploration of GCC leaders’ position in six dimensions allows me to show how intricately connected they are, and how when transposed allow us a panoramic insight into the strategic thinking of these leaders.

In the first dimension is a depiction of the general state of affairs in GCC-China relations where their succinct historicization allows us to appreciate their relevance to today’s politics. In the following two dimensions, I build on the idea that geographic proximity is important in GCC strategizing especially when considering how threats travel best across short distances; I thus analyze two security zones that have predated China’s often discussed post-Cold War rise to try and understand how China fits or not. In the second dimension, therefore, I analyze the GCC “intimate” neighborhood which contains Iran, Iraq, Yemen, and others which the GCC is very concerned with, such as Al-Qaeda and more recently the Islamic State. Consequently, the third dimension explores the broader Middle East in which Israel is a concern, so are developments that have been important for a while for GCC states and are not the product of the Arab Spring and these include Israel and Syria (and others). The fourth dimension sketches out the future of China-GCC relations to see what facets of this relationship are more feasible and attractive to invest in – from a Gulf perspective. The fifth dimension is a weighing of the relevance of the United States, the GCC’s historic military partner and ally, to China and Gulf security. In the six and final dimension I address the cultural and linguistic ties between Gulf states and China; these ties are currently underdeveloped from the GCC side, and they need attention because they carry potential for a better understanding of Chinese global strategy and regional tactics.

The data in this paper come from two main sources. First is internet search of official websites, such as foreign ministries, the GCC, embassies, and officials’ speeches post public visits or signing ceremonies; I mutinously read their content and try to clarify positions. I also accessed available books and articles on the perceptions of GCC leaders of China, yet such sources are rare; these were outweighed by the availability of information on the perceptions of Chinese decision makers towards the GCC. Moreover, “solid” information or statistics on the security, military, or political relationship between GCC states and China exists, but not abundant; more widely available is data detailing how oil and trade are being exchanged and how buying energy is China’s primary concern and selling it the GCC’s concern. I treat the non-availability of data or the over-abundance of some and rarity of others as a finding: one inference to draw is that the relationship is not developed and/or GCC leaders are in an “options investigative” mode.

The second source of information was in the form of interviews with decision-makers, scholars “in the know”, military experts, and strategic analysts. I am still developing my meetings’ contacts with decision makers.
 
 
 

WITH THE GENEROUS SUPPORT OF