Han Jianwei & Hassan Hakimian: “The Regional Security Complex in the Persian Gulf: The Contours of Iran’s GCC Policy”, Asian Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies
Publish time: 2019-12-25 Browsing times: 10

Jianwei Han & Hassan Hakimian: The Regional Security Complex in the Persian Gulf: The Contours of Irans GCC Policy, Asian Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies

 

Source:Asian Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, Vol. 13, Issue 4, 2019

Abstract: Common perceptions of recent tensions between Iran and the GCC states are couched in terms of a longstanding and historically rooted Shia-Sunni conflict between two major regional powers: Iran and Saudi Arabia. This paper argues that this perspective is simplistic since it ignores the major political drivers of the conflict at regional and international levels. From the perspective of the Regional Security Complex (RSC), the Persian Gulf region has been a typical security sub-complex since the 1970s. After the Iran-Iraq war, Iran adopted a detente policy towards the GCC states taking advantage of a domestic consensus to improve relations with her neighbouring states. The drive gained momentum after the arrival in office of President Hassan Rouhani in 2013. However, his GCC policy has faced multiple challenges. The GCC countries have increasingly been suspicious and critical of Irans growing strength and regional influence. The intensification of the proxy games with Saudi Arabia have increased the insecurity of GCC states. Internationally too, the USAs tough stance under President Trump and the return of the economic sanctions regime against Iran has raised regional temperatures, making it even harder for Iran and the GCC to improve their relations. We argue that to understand the proxy wars between Iran and Saudi Arabia in particular, a more nuanced approach is needed that goes beyond religious strife and rivalry.