The dedicated study of regionalism is a relatively recent phenomenon in the vast scholarship of international relations (IR) theory. Therefore, for our purposes this paper shall treat regionalism as a subfield of International relations, reconstructing major theoretical trends in a regional space. On the surface this may seem to be somewhat of an uncontroversial choice, as IR theory has since its inception had regions as a sub-component regardless of whether theorists recognized or focused on them. However the attribute of dense interconnectivity that characterizes regional actors necessitates a more specialized lens through which to engage with theory.
Dense interconnectivity entails that despite the fact that states within the Gulf sub-region impact, and are in turn impacted by actors and phenomenon within the broader Middle East , certain patterns of behavior, structures, or the effects of specific events and phenomenon occur in forms more unique to one space than others. For example, while the entirety of the region is effected by the role of hydrocarbons, the production of oil occurs primarily in one sub regional space, while the benefits may trickle down to others in the form of worker remittances, financial aid, political assistance or otherwise. The same is true for any number of phenomenon ranging everywhere from security due to proximity and structure, to environmental and social issues. In the Middle East, which is characterized by an overall ‘balance of weaknesses, the study of sub-regions also entails the study of the unique ppower balance dynamics among states, which are prone to maximizing power over geographically proximal neighbors, due to the inability of any member to project power balance wholesale over the entirety of the region equally. (Nobel, 2008, p. 123)
Therefore, for the purposes of this study the Gulf Cooperation Council shall be treated as an organization within the Gulf subcomplex, a zone comprised of the five smaller littoral Gulf states, two major Arab powers, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and one major non-Arab power, Iran. Yemen is treated as a sub-member of this space due to the lower level of security interconnections between it and its Northern and Eastern neighbors, which is largely limited to Saudi Arabia, and to a lesser extent Oman. While the security interdependencies with Yemen have recently gained prominence, and will likely increase in the near future, it is beyond the scope of this paper to engage with it in great detail. The Gulf subcomplex is characterized by significant security interdependencies between its member states, and correlates closely with many attributes of Buzan and Waever’s theory of ‘Regional Security Complexes’ (RSC) (Waever & Buzan, 2003). An RSC is defined as being composed of “a set of units whose major processes of securitisation, desecuritisation, or both are so interlinked that their security problems cannot reasonably be analyzed or resolved apart from one another’. (Waever & Buzan, 2003, p. 43) Applying this concept of security allows for a broader understanding of what constitutes a security risk, and does not limit them to emanating from specific types of actors, such as states. It also does not pre-establish the form of a security problem, for example, aggregate military strength, or economic clout. For example, as shall be demonstrated in a subsequent section, because dependency on hydrocarbon rents is a primary feature of most states in the region, rises or falls in oil prices effect each state within the region similarly, and thus has been a motivating factor in causing states engage in cooperative, or in some cases, coercive behavior.
Regions, however, are not based simply on geographical proximity and security. This is just the lens this paper intends to focus on them through for the purpose of limiting our analytical scope to a set of processes where clearer patterns can be deduced. Therefore it is helpful to also understand the conceptual space of the Gulf as being a geographical region that exists within overlapping cultural regions. These are however, by essence of being identity based, significantly less concrete, more interpretive and malleable. At the most general level these can be broadly defined as the ‘Arab Community’ (qawmiyah), based on the nationalist myth of an Arab nation disjointed by imperial domination, and the ‘Islamic Community’ (umma). (Ramazani, 1988, p. 3) These overlapping cultural regions, provide sets of transnational linkages between the peoples of these states, and often as a matter of legitimacy, require at the very least gestures of symbolic solidarity. In the case of organizations as the GCC which pursue a process of regionalism (iqlamiya) outside of the Arab League’s endeavors to develop an ‘Arab’ international front, this split between transnational cultural aspirations on one hand, and statist subregional specificity on the other, places additional pressures from both state and non-state actors to pursue a foreign policy beyond those defined in terms of self-interest. (Tripp, 1995, p. 284).Go to power bracelets for choose what you want.
In looking at the Gulf Cooperation Council more specifically, two processes of integration and cooperation should be distinguished. The first, regionalism, refers to the process wherein “states and (and other actors) share common goals and coordinate strategy and policy in any given region.” (Fawcett, 2009, p. 194) This is illustrated for, example, by the deliberate creation of cooperative organizations or programs between state actors such as the Gulf Organization for Industrial Consulting (GOIC), or the Federation of GCC Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FGCCI). Adapting a loose understanding of regionalism as such is necessary as it does not pre-ascribe qualities such as the subordination of sovereignty to supra-national authority. Ernst. B. Haas for example has defined integration as