GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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New Omnibalancing Theory and Tasks for Preventive Diplomacy: Case of Saudi Arabian Foreign Policy during the Syrian Humanitarian Crisis
Paper Proposal Text :
This paper aims to contrive a complex theoretical framework to reveal security dynamics in the Middle East (hereafter ME). It uses Saudi Arabian foreign policy toward Syria after 2011 as case study. This paper tries to combine two theories: one is new omnibalancing theory, which I started to advocate in 2010, to describe the patterns of foreign policies taken by ME states. The other is approach of preventive diplomacy (hereafter PD), being used on this paper to evaluate policy implications of security behaviors of ME states.
I would describe the dynamism of security politics in the ME by applying new omnibalancing theory. Original omnibalancing theory advocated by S.R. David in 1991 explained realistic security behavior of weak state, which is defined as none- nation-state. Legitimacy deficit is endemic problem of weak state including the ME. Therefore, the most formidable threat was defined as appearing from within their territory by him. However, it is quite hard to assert the worst threat always comes from within. Of course external enemies pose the most dangerous threat for weak states under certain crisis such as invasion or border conflicts.
Therefore, new omnibalancing theory modifies this weak point of the former version. It redefines that the most fearful security situation for leaders in the ME states is being attacked by linkage of internal threat and external threat. Typical example is proxy war. Proxy war is spontaneous armed attack from inside and outside, and the most dreadful type of threat for leaders in the ME states. Therefore, ME states tend to take brutal repression precautiously against small signs of proxy attack. Combined threat from inside and outside is not necessarily reality. Rather, illusion or forecast by leaders to be attacked by proxy war motivate them to make harsh counter measures. The linkage of internal threat and external threat does not take sorely the form of armed attack, but “non violent resistance movement backed by foreign elements” is also regarded as a serious threat by leaders in ME states. This tendency can be confirmed at process of brutal suppression taken in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, etc. during “Arab Awakening (or Arab Spring)” movements in 2011.
In August 2011, the Saudi King ̒Abdullāh, made an official statement calling upon all Syrian brothers to stop the “killing machine,” to restore rationality, and to immediately enforce reforms (hereafter, the “ ̒Abdullāh statement”). The ̒Abdullāh statement was a surprise, unexpected and clear expression of disapproval for actions of Assad regime. The statement is interpreted to be motivated to neutralize domestic threat in Saudi Arabia according to omnibalancing theory. Before the ̒Abdullāh statement, Islamic scholars, orators and an tribal poet had appealed for Muslim leaders to provide humanitarian support for the Syrian repressed. Therefore, the goal of the Saudi government for their Syrian policy can be conjectured to win public opinion by elucidating that the perceived lack of support for the Syrian humanitarian crisis was a result of a failure by the international community, despite efforts made by Saudi Arabia.
Saudi new Syrian foreign policy can be speculated to be motivated by the shock at the collapse of Mubarak regime, which damaged Saudi security at two folds in March 2011; the first was the disadvantage on regional power balance against Syrian Iranian alliance. Egypt had been the most trustful regional ally for Saudi Arabia. The second was the rising “fear of abandonment” by the U.S. at occurrence of democratic movements. Obama administration abandoned the support to the Mubarak regime in recognition of mass movement on the streets, which was probably a shock for Saudi leaders since Mr. Obama did not listen to the advice by the Saudi king not to “humiliate” president Mubarak. Saudi leaders must have felt necessity to take their own initiatives to react democratic movements and hazardous new security environments in ME. Therefore, Saudi government dispatched security forces with U.A.E. to Bahrain, but conveyed an advanced notice to U.S. at a timing not to provide them sufficient time to make counter measures to stop Saudi forces.
Turkey is a leading candidate for Saudi Arabia to form new alliance to maintain regional stability. Turkey is the possessor of the largest conventional army in the Middle East, and locates in geopolitical position to check Iran and Syria. After one week from ̒Abdullāh statement, Turkish president Abdullah Gül visited Riyad to see King ̒Abdullāh and confirmed their stance toward Syria in conformity. Turkish foreign minister Ahmed Davutoğlu mentioned to the policy of establishing security zone on the Syrian Turkish border in November 2011. Saudi Arabia joined Turkish proposal to establish security zone in June 2012, insisting it is the responsibility of U.N. to provide safety for the repressed in Syria.
U.N. and the Arab League envoy Kofi Annan started in mediating stake holders for Syrian crisis in February 2012 and led U.N. to issue “Action Group for Syria, Final Communiqué” on June 30, 2012. The communiqué stated territorial integrity of Syria. It formalized ownership for democratic transition to determine future in Syria, which did not clearly condition the resignation of president Assad. Therefore, it can be pointed that Annan initiative attached priority to create harmony among P5 through the participation of Russia and China in issuing the communiqué. The communiqué put another priority to avoid spill over of armed conflicts from Syrian crisis to neighboring states, namely Turkey, by de facto denying the proposal to establish security zone on Turkish Syrian border with the phrase of “Syrian territorial integrity”. No state dared to proceed to burden the costs and risk to establish security zone without multilateral consensus.
Saudi had mixed goal on their Syrian policy which can be explained by new omnibalancing theory as their attempt to win domestic stability, plus, to counter Syrian Iranian alliance by their own initiative. Saudi Arabia seems to have chosen Turkey as a new candidate for alliance for establishing regional stability. Saudi supports to Syrian anti-regimegroups can be regarded as a proxy war, or “offensive omnibalancing action” against Syrian and Iranian alliance.