GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Foreign Policy Assertion of Qatar, Oman and UAE since the Arab Spring
Paper Proposal Text :
Foreign Policy Assertion of Qatar, Oman and UAE since the Arab Spring
Lakshmi Priya
Small states gained attention from scholars in recent times due to their foreign policy maneuvering skills in the globalised world. They do not cease to surprise the academia that dwells on the fact that international politics depends upon bilateral moves of bigger states. Smaller states have emerged as important players in current international politics. It has been understood that small states depend on multilateral cooperation, invisibility, neutrality, structural and systemic reality, soft power, pressure group, joint action, being active in international forums, strategic maneuvering and identity assertion in shaping their foreign policy. Elman, Doeser and Keohane gave two more determinants to identify the course of foreign policy of smaller states: Internal Stability and External Ambiguity which would form the basis of this paper. They have also been termed as internal polarity and external polarity by Alons. Majority of the existing study on foreign policy of smaller states concerns with European countries. This paper would deal with role of smaller GCC states in MENA region in changing times.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Iraq were the heavy weights in the MENA region since mid-twentieth century. Recent events in the region have changed this whole dynamics and smaller states like UAE, Qatar and Oman have emerged as actors by pursuing their foreign policy. They have aligned their policies towards the ongoing crisis in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. This paper will try to trace the course of foreign policy of UAE, Qatar and Oman since the Arab Spring and see if foreign policy of these countries were influenced by internal stability and external ambiguity. It will also attempt to find out the factors that led these countries to pursue an active foreign policy and the implications it would have on the whole region. Also, the role of Arab Spring in inciting these countries to have a pro-active foreign policy would be analyzed. The questions that this paper would try to answer are: a) What is the role of internal stability in inciting small states to take foreign policy initiatives? b) What is the role of external ambiguity in encouraging small states to take foreign policy initiatives? and c) What would be the implications of foreign policy initiatives of small states in the MENA region?
The paper argues that the outbreak of Arab Spring leading to a chaotic regional situation and the relative internal stability enjoyed by Qatar, Oman and the UAE enabled them to pursue an activist foreign policy in resolving regional tensions. It indicates a changing geopolitical situation where these smaller states can play a larger role in mediating regional disputes in the absence of major international players.