Derasat Conference: Conflict and Competition In the Arabian Gulf
The Arabian Gulf is a hotly contested region due to its strategic location and its abundant natural resource wealth. Regional and global powers alike perpetually cross swords as they seek to safeguard their interests and, dependent on their ambitions, expand their influence.
The Arabian Gulf is a hotly contested region due to its strategic location and its abundant natural resource wealth. Regional and global powers alike perpetually cross swords as they seek to safeguard their interests and, dependent on their ambitions, expand their influence. In the wake of the events of 9/11, the existing security balance was replaced by tension and instability. Global recession along with the tumultuous Arab Spring has only served to raise the pressure and harshness of discord. Current times present significant opportunities and threats to key players, as evidenced by the scale of foreign intervention in neighboring countries such as Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Yet as the key players well know, the tools of public diplomacy have changed with the advancement of cyber, information and military technologies. As a result of its geo-history, Bahrain has recently showcased a multitude of these elements, becoming the target for overt and covert external meddling. Beyond the traditional stockpiling of military hardware, effective strategic planning must now take into account a complex ecosystem of non-state actors that include religious extremists, international civil society organizations and global media powerhouses. Iran, for example, has proved particularly adept at wielding multiple weapons in the Arabian Gulf and beyond, boasting an impressive network of non-state actors, on the verge of reinforcement from nuclear military capability. Iran’s multipronged quest for regional hegemony has stretched the adaptability of US strategic responses. The ensuing challenges compel the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to fashion new policies that conserve a balance between implementing reform and maintaining security. The region’s persisting state of flux creates a need for expert discussion of these very issues.