GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Iran, the GCC and the Implications of the Nuclear Deal: Rivalry versus Engagement
Paper Proposal Text :
“The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” or the Iran Nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1, is consequential for regional security, especially Iran- GCC security relations with Iran- Saudi conflict at its center. Regional Conflicts and proxy wars and how they are managed will determine the security landscape of the region. The Nuclear agreement has raised a number of concerns related to regional security. First; Iran could use the sanction relief (estimated at about $100 billion) to support proxies in the region. Second, the agreement could be perceived as a sign that the United States is shifting away from support of its traditional allies in the Gulf and toward Iran.
In response to these concerns, GCC countries, especially Saudi Arabia, have been pursuing an assertive foreign policy with the objective of achieving “regime security”. Because of the concern that the agreement with Iran can amount to a U.S. realignment away from Gulf partners and allies, GCC countries also sought to diversify international partners with a pivot to China as well as Russia so as not to rely only on the US. Moreover, Regime security remains the key driver of alliance politics in the Middle East. Arab regime responded to the agreement by shifting alliances and alignment to better ensure regime security. Saudi Arabia tried to lead a Sunni alliance against Iranian inroads in Arab politics.
Regime security remained an elusive objective even when Arab states work together because they have different security threats in mind (Iran for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and the Muslim Brotherhood for UAE and Egypt). The Middle East after the agreement will feature international recognition and incorporation of Iran into regional power constellations, which will intensify rivalry to assert dominance. Rivalry and competition will increase in the short run paving the way for dialogue and engagement on regional affairs. Arab States will be compelled to engage in a dialogue with Iran in the light of the number of vulnerabilities facing the Arab countries compared to Iran, including state weakness and growing instability, and political division with the GCC. The purpose of the heightened aggression by Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies in the short run can be seen as an attempt to overcome these weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
The growing mistrust and uncertainty can only be addressed through engagement and dialogue. The series of regional shocks, the Arab Spring, the Syrian civil war, the rise of the Islamic State and the Iran Nuclear agreement can push in the direction of regional dialogue to manage those regional shocks. The nuclear agreement also gives US leverage in influencing the conflicts in the Middle East. A conference for regional security and cooperation modeled after the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe could help ease the tensions.
The paper will employ several analytical concepts such as balancing and engagement. It will also look into the domestic sources of foreign policy and regional balance of power all within a theoretical framework that combines both ideational and material factors.