Since the GCC's inception in 1981, the six member states - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) - have put their signatures to a myriad of multilateral agreements pertaining to almost every aspect of national life. In reality, however, the six have pursued diverse national policies, and their own particular interests continue to prevail over their collective ambitions. This paper deals mainly with regional security and grapples with the dynamics of the GCC in view of regional developments such as the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the Iran-Iraq War and the Gulf War. It is this article's intention to identify variants in regionalist thinking that could contribute to a better understanding of the GCC experience, as well as to seek variants of the particular Gulf reality that could enrich the general regionalist discourse. It however argues that concentrating exclusively on military threats in the Gulf would ignore many political, social and economic factors that also have a crucial bearing on security. Security, then, especially when it comes to the Arab Gulf states, is to be broadly defined to include not only firm military issues such as arms purchasing, but also " soft" ones such as tensions arising from growing socio-economic difficulties and the necessity to liberate the political system. The common argument that the current framework of regional security is likely to allay some of the GCC states' fears, is not, however, to say that these states' security will depend solely on the ability of the US to meet the challenge of deep-rooted regional conflicts. It seems that non-military factors - social, economic and political - could not only considerably affect the military threat, but could themselves create and evolve into both internal and external security threats.
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|Published - Jun 2004