Monday, February 6, 2012

GCC and the Arab Spring Essay

Relevant Links: The US-GCC Fatal Attraction - Pepe Escobar
                             Class and Conflict in the Gulf: The Political Economy of the GCC - an interview with Adam Hanieh

Journalist Pepe Escobar, writing in the Asia Times, describes the Gulf Cooperation Council as "the core of the empire in the Arab world. Yes, it's essentially about oil; the GCC will be responsible for over 25% of global oil production within the next few decades. Their tiny ruling classes - from monarchies to business associates - function as a crucial annex to the mighty projection of US power all across the Middle East and beyond." 

In the cases of Syria, Libya and Iran one very loud drumbeat is coming from the Gulf Cooperation Council, the political coalition of the six Arab states littoral to the Persian Gulf, that is Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE, and Oman.  Discounting Saudi Arabia, these states were the last possesions of the British Empire, some being granted independence as late as the 1970s.  
           They are ruled by autocratic and corrupt families and are flush with oil-wealth, a large part of which is spent on military weaponry.  Not surprisingly, these governments are heavy backers of the U.S. military presence in the region, allowing the Navy's Fifth Fleet to dock at Bahrain, and the Pentagon's Central Command regional headquarters to be based at Qatar, as well as military bases in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Oman.  This footprint, which has slowly been growing since World War II, saw a heavy build up following the 2003 invasion of Iraq.  Considering the Iraqi government decision in 2010 to not grant the United States a Status of Forces Agreement for its military bases constructed during the war, the build-up in the GCC states is the lasting logistical remnant of the war.  

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