Gulf Security Guarantees

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III. Dependence of the Gulf states on external security guarantees

The previous part of the essay mostly focused on internal political dimensions of instability and conflict in the Arab part of the Gulf. Other factors of instability in the Gulf belong to the systemic level of the Gulf subregion. One of these factors is the existing regional security architecture, which fosters dependence on the U.S. to provide means of defence and deterrence.

Part of the issue is that U.S. security guarantees result in lack of consensus and cooperation among the Gulf states themselves, which ultimately fuels conflict. It could be argued that American security commitments and lack of cooperation are mutually reinforcing and form a vicious circle. According to this logic, the weaker the consensus among states, the higher tensions, which in turn increases the demand for more external security. But the more intense the presence of external actors, the higher is the toll on the consensus. Simply put, the more the region relies on U.S. security guarantees, the less safe and stable it becomes.

An instructive example of why Gulf states require security guarantees is the case of Kuwait, as in the aftermath of the Iraqi invasion Kuwait was forced to balance between Iran on the one hand, and Saudi Arabia on the other, and in order to resist, the Kuwaiti authorities called for the intensification of its partnership with the Americans. Most small Arab states of the Gulf find themselves in the same situation in the face of Saudi dominance in the GCC and territorial claims coming from Iran, which means that for them security guarantees are just as vital.

This, however, has two negative consequences. Firsly, the intensification of U.S. security guara...

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