The Gulf Research Center
US-GCC Relations and the Requirements of a New Strategic ApproachGRC Panel as part of the Annual Conference of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA)November 22-25, 2008Washington DC
The election of a new President in the United States in November 2008 could profoundly impact the nature and direction of the US-GCC relationship. Given the stated national interest that the US has assigned to the security and stability of the Gulf region, the choices and decisions that are made in Washington are profoundly linked to the overall development of security relations among the Gulf littoral states. Under the US Bush administration, the ties between the GCC and the US have been affected in a number of ways, most of which have not been necessarily positive. On the one hand, there are the beginnings of a certain strategic divergence between the national security perceptions of the GCC states and the US with key countries like Saudi Arabia increasingly willing and able to promote policy directives that also stand in contrast to US objectives. This can in part be attributed to the growing maturity of the GCC states themselves who currently feel that due to high levels of regime security supported by tremendous economic development, they can afford to distance themselves from their larger protector to a certain degree. On the other hand, however, there is a clear recognition that the central role played by the US in the Gulf region will not shift dramatically overnight and that a US role in Gulf affairs will remain a present reality.
Given those parameters, it is proposed to organize a panel on the future outlook of US-GCC relations both as the US begins to take stock of its regional policy over the past 8 years and as the GCC begins to better define how to manage and develop its external relationship on both a regional and international level. The panel will look in depth at the different aspects of political, security, defense, economic and energy issues that play a central role on the US-GCC relationship and will identify the key areas in which an assessment of the current relationship might be necessary in order to re-build part of the strategic foundation on which bi-lateral ties have co-existed up to this point. The point that the next US presidential election will bring about a chance from the present administration makes such a panel an opportune moment to undertake this analysis.
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