Gulf Cooperation Council

  • Xi Jinping’s Promise of an Open BRI Bodes Well For Chinese-Gulf Relations

    Promises made by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the biennial Belt and Road Forum about opening the Belt and Road Initiative to multilateral and third-party investment could bode well for Gulf-China relations and the Middle East more broadly by creating new opportunities for energy and economic cooperation.

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  • Oman Hedges Its Bets on Tehran and the Trump Administration

    As the Trump administration steps up pressure on Iran, much attention has focused on unprecedented moves such as the April 15 designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization.

    However, a more concrete and perhaps effective challenge to the IRGC may come from an unlikely source: Iran’s usually neutral if not friendly neighbor, Oman. 

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  • Bashar al-Assad and the Greater Arab World

    The outcome of the fourth Arab Economic and Social Development (AESD) summit held in Lebanon last month spoke volumes about the Middle East’s deep divisions. Iran’s role in the Levant and the question of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s legitimacy are unquestionably polarizing issues in the region. Both have potential to slow down the process by which Syria’s government, citizens, and fellow Arab states could reach agreement on a lasting settlement to the country’s eight-year civil war that could potentially pave the path for peace and stability returning to Syria.

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  • How Iran and the Gulf Arab States Can Start a Dialogue Again

    It’s hard to overstate the regional impact of the rivalry between Iran and several Gulf Arab states—most notably Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—bordering in recent years on enmity.

    While these countries haven’t come close to direct warfare, tensions have impacted many regional conflicts in the Middle East including in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq, and festering instability in countries like Lebanon, Bahrain, and even among the Palestinians.

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  • Bridging the Gulf in the GCC

    Relations between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have been fractured for much of the past year. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Egypt cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in June 2017 citing reports that Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani had made remarks of the United States while offering support for Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Iran, and claiming Doha’s policies fueled regional terrorism and extremism.

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  • What Not to Expect from the Saudi Crown Prince

    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to the United States has energized the commentariat in Washington. Rarely have I seen more Middle East experts opining excitedly on the personality of and prospects for an Arab leader, on the significant change he has already brought to Saudi Arabia, and on the need to support his efforts to transform his kingdom economically and socially.  And, indeed, this young dynamic leader has taken long-overdue steps—allowing women to drive, reining in the religious police, formulating a vision for economic reform. Perhaps most refreshingly, he has acknowledged that it is OK, and even important, for Saudi citizens to have fun in public—opening movie houses and amusement parks as a start.  (A glass of wine with dinner is not in the cards, however.) 

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  • Will the Trump Administration Address the GCC-North Korea Nexus?

    Several recent articles on North Korea’s relationship with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have drawn this Northeast Asian country into an ongoing crisis within the bloc. From Washington’s perspective, GCC-North Korea relations threaten to undermine US efforts to isolate Pyongyang and squeeze it economically in response to its belligerent behavior marked by the recent testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

    Pyongyang’s interest in the Arabian Peninsula states dates back to the Cold War. Despite Washington’s efforts to isolate North Korea, the Hermit Kingdom’s ties with GCC member states have only deepened over...

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  • A Widening Gulf

    Qatar crisis creates a headache for the United States

    Nearly two months in, the diplomatic crisis between the Arab Gulf states is growing ever more complicated. The July 16 Washington Post report that cites unnamed US intelligence officials as claiming that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) precipitated the diplomatic row with Qatar by hacking Qatari state-run news outlets and attributing false statements to the tiny emirate’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, is, if true, troubling for several reasons.

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  • A Question for Washington: Who in the GCC Finances Terrorism?

    Journalists in Middle Eastern media outlets have been engaged in harsh mudslinging ever since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, and Bahrain (aka the quartet) severed diplomatic and economic relations with Qatar in June over Doha’s alleged support for the Islamic State (ISIS), al Qaeda, and Iranian-backed militias in numerous Arab states. Although some maintain that the move was long overdue, others argue that for Saudi Arabia to lead the charge was akin to the pot calling the kettle black and that Riyadh, more than any Arab capital, has promoted violent extremism across the Muslim world.

    Based on the words and actions of the American diplomatic establishment and the Pentagon since the Qatar crisis erupted, it is clear that Washington plans to continue working closely with all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states in the struggle against terrorism. Nonetheless, the US government’s mixed messages on the Qatar crisis have illustrated the multifaceted and...

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  • Al Jazeera in the Eye of a Storm

    Al Jazeera, the first state-owned pan-Arab news network, means many different things to Middle Eastern governments and citizens. The Doha-headquartered network has provided Arabs with a style of reporting that was unheard of in the region before its launch twenty-two years ago. In 2011, Al Jazeera’s coverage of Arab Spring uprisings shaped history by promoting revolutionary change and human rights-focused narratives.

    In some Arabs’ eyes, Al Jazeera is a ‘watchdog for democracy’ that gives a ‘voice to the voiceless’, covering stories that are popular among large segments of Middle Eastern societies and unpopular with most Arab governments. Other Arabs...

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