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  • Cited by 12
  • Print publication year: 1998
  • Online publication date: October 2009

5 - Caravans in opposite directions: society, state and the development of a community in the Gulf Cooperation Council


The states that comprise the Gulf Cooperation Council - Oman, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia - are not a security community. Nor do we anticipate their becoming a security community in the near future. Indeed, for most of its history the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) demands a realist reading and little else. The proximate causes of the formation of the GCC are to be found not in deep social structural factors pushing toward integration but in immediate regime security needs; specifically, the GCC was born in the circumstances of Iranian Revolution and the ongoing and escalating Iraq-Iran War, suggesting little more than a classic security alliance. The fifteen years since its birth also favor a strict and secular realism. As the Iran-Iraq War progressed the GCC states experimented with some modest, but for all practical purposes inconsequential, military cooperation. The end of the Iran-Iraq War abruptly halted such experimentation. The 1990–91 Gulf War produced a shortterm upswing in group cohesion but the post-war period was characterized by increasing rivalries, a halt to any meaningful militarycoordination and a return of border disputes among the GCC states. The GCC's trajectory seems consistent with alliance formation - formed in response to specific security threats, enduring as those threats endure, and fraying as those threats recede. In general, statism and realism mark the history of the GCC states.