GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Title of Paper:
The geopolitics of EU-GCC relations in the post-Anglosaxon Gulf
Paper Proposal Text :
Although the vote that sanctioned the British willing to leave the European Union (EU) after more than of 40 years of a rather troubled (little) love and (not so little) hate relationship was won by the Leaving camp by a rather narrow margin, this vote will have a number of very significant global geopolitical implications.

While, at the European level, this decision means the end of the classic role played by the Brits on the continent - that role of "overseas balancer" played in Europe from the emergence of Napoleon to the rise of the Hitler, from the German Reunification to the St. Malo declaration - this can also be seen as a part of a longer political process.

If looking at it from a wider global perspective, this vote signal yet another stage of that global British geopolitical disengagement that has characterised Britain's position in the world since the end of WWII and the collapse of the empire.

A significant period of this gradual withdrawal was signalled by the end of the British presence in the area of the Persian/Arab Gulf at the beginning of the ‘70s. However, its role was soon taken by the Anglosaxon heir of the British global presence, the US, which would represent the reluctant security hegemon in an area which was considered vital to contain communism first, at the time of the dual-pillar strategy, and later as an area of interest because of more regional political dynamics, such as Iraqi expansionism and the rise of radical Salafi Jihadism.

However, a number of systemic developments are moving the US progressively away from the Mediterranean region and its appendixes, and the Gulf area is no exception. Washington is re-orienting its foreign policy towards the Pacific. This geopolitical process was already in action during the Obama’s presidency, but the election of Donald Trump somehow gave a further boost to this process, and the first moves of the new President seems to confirm it.

The progressive American disengagement from the region has already provoked a number of reactions, with Gulf countries increasingly confronted by new security dilemmas and the perception that they must look after themselves regarding their security. This psychological and political process has already displayed its effects in Yemen and Syria, and will likely emerge elsewhere in the near future as well.

The end of the Anglosaxon hegemony in the Gulf means that the area will be progressively characterised by a geopolitical vacuum which someone will try to fill. This paper aims at addressing the geopolitics – meaning the spatial consequences of these political processes – analysing what it implies for the rather dysfunctional Euro-Gulf relations over the past 40 years.

As such, this paper aims at answering the following questions:

What does the end of the Anglosaxon hegemony mean for the Gulf?
What are the implications of the emergence of this geopolitical vacuum?
Does it represent an opportunity or a problem for the EU?
Is the EU fit to increase its influence in, and represent another security provider for, the countries of the region?
Brexit will deprive the EU of its historically most influential member in the area. Is it a weakness or a potential advantage? Can the EU, without the reluctant Britain, be a more consistent foreign policy actor and move away from the selective bilateralism which has characterized its relations with the Gulf countries historically?
Is this geopolitical vacuum an opportunity for the Gulf states to take control of regional security in their hands for the first time since the creation of the GCC?
What does this mean for the EU-GCC ties?
How will the geopolitical future of this relationship look?