GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

 
AUTHOR NAME
 
Family Name:
Gimenez Cerioli
 
First Name:
Luíza
 
ABSTRACT OF PAPER
 
Title of Paper:
Image Change After the Arab Spring: Saudi Arabia transition from warranted ally to proactive regional leader.
 
Paper Proposal Text :
Studies of Middle East’s Foreign Policy must be cautious about downplaying the importance of ideational and symbolic variables in decision-making processes. The region’s hawkish and militarized history induces the use of realist IR theoretic frameworks. However, its richness and complexity should compel any researcher to go deeper and find new explanations for international behaviors that goes beyond the traditional hard politics agenda. In the global system, countries project images of themselves that are in accordance not only with their material capacities, but also with their values and ideational norms. The way that those images – or roles – are projected and perceived can determinate the main interests of a country and many of its relations (Le Pestre, 1997:5). According to J. K. Holsti (1970:238) and to Ann Towns (2002:160), all nations draft international roles in order to reclaim an identity for themselves towards the others, making the State intelligible as a social being.
Studies of Middle East’s Foreign Policy must be cautious about downplaying the importance of ideational and symbolic variables in decision-making processes. The region’s hawkish and militarized history induces the use of realist IR theoretic frameworks. However, its richness and complexity should compel any researcher to go deeper and find new explanations for international behaviors that go beyond the traditional hard politics agenda. In the global system, countries project images of themselves that are in accordance not only with their material capacities but also with their values and ideational norms. The way that those images – or roles – are projected and perceived can determinate the main interests of a country and many of its relations (Le Pestre, 1997:5). According to J. K. Holsti (1970:238) and to Ann Towns (2002:160), all nations draft international roles in order to reclaim an identity for themselves towards the others, making the State intelligible as a social being.

Saudi Arabia, the object of this paper, projected throughout its modern history roles to particular audiences in order to locate itself in the international system. To the Arab community, Riyadh shows itself as a benevolent leader, keen to financial assist its neighbors in need and to be a spiritual guide to muslins (Al-Rasheed, 2010). To the West, mostly to the United States, the Saudis bare an image of a trustful ally, a stable country that is willing to guarantee the normal flow of the oil market (Niblock, 2006). Those roles have been consciously projected by the Saudi leadership in many international arenas: the UN, the OPEP, allying with the US in regional wars and strengthening GCC and others Arab organizations. However, the recent events in the Middle East, especially after the Arab Spring and the rising of ISIS, provoked not only new social-political challenges but also changings in the West’s perception of the region. Furthermore, US reticence in acting to protect its traditional allies, added with the groundbreaking nuclear deal with Iran, instigated Saudi leaders to rethink about their automatic alliance with Washington and to assume a more proactive stand due to Iranian regional menace. The new Saudi military engagement in political conflicts and proxy wars in its neighborhood indicates changes in its role. Therefore, the main goal of this paper is to answer the question: is the international image that Saudi Arabia projects changing? Which factors are changing and which are ongoing? Role Theory (Holsti, 1970; Aggastam, 2006; Le Pestre, 1997) gives the appropriate methodological and theoretical tools to this paper since it considers that roles are changeable and that its projection and its perception are mutually constitutive. Thus, this paper aims to give a theoretical approach to a foreign policy object that is both from IR and Sociology, since Role Theory is originated in the latter. In conclusion, this analysis aims to find better means to understand Saudi’s international image and how it will affect any further behavior.

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HOLSTI, K. J. National Role Conceptions in the Study of Foreign Policy. International Studies Quarterly, v. 14, n. 3, 1970, p. 233-309.
LE PESTRE, Philippe G. Role Quests in the Post-Cold War Era. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1997.
NIBLOCK, Tim. Saudi Arabia: Power, Legitimacy and Survival (The Contemporary Middle East). Nova Iorque: Routledge, 2006.
 
 
 

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