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GRM Publications

GCC Relations with Post-War Iraq: A Strategic Perspective

Author: Edited by Omar Al-Ubaydli and Andrea Plebani

Publisher: GRCC

GRM Year: 2013

Book | Sep 01, 2014


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This volume contains the contributions to the Gulf Research Center workshop entitled: “Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Relations with Post-War Iraq: A Strategic Perspective,” held during the July 2013 Gulf Research Meeting in Cambridge, UK.

The papers examine the history and future of the often fractious relationship between Iraq and the GCC countries. The backdrop is the US dominance of security arrangements in the Arabian Gulf region for most of the post-war period. Prior to the new millennium, the region’s major security threat was perceived to be the mounting rivalry between a GCC-US camp on the one hand and an Iranian camp on the other. Some semblance of equilibrium had been achieved through the late 1990s, but the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 created new fault lines. In the invasion’s aftermath, regional peace was maintained by the overwhelming presence of US troops both in Iraq and in the GCC more generally. The 2011 withdrawal of US troops from Iraq plunged the region into a state of disequilibrium, and current developments suggest a trajectory of mounting instability.

The volume’s contributions explore the underlying reasons for the region’s instability from a variety of perspectives and with an emphasis on the GCC’s relationship with Iraq. Topics covered include: Iraq’s federal architecture, the highly controversial role of Iran, the effects of regional sectarianism, the possibility of Iraq becoming a member of the GCC, the impact of Chinese oil demand, the evolving nature of US regional military deployments, and the expanding use of social media by religious clerics.

The volume’s goal is to produce operational recommendations for senior government figures. To that end, each author provides two lists of recommendations for improving the region’s stability: one targeting GCC policymakers and the other targeting their Iraqi counterparts. There is a strong consensus concerning the need for a more inclusive and multilateral approach to regional security, and for any such approach to be spearheaded by the region’s principle stakeholders: Iraq, Iran and the GCC countries themselves. However, the precise nature of a potentially successful common security strategy remains an area of considerable controversy.