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Systemic Change and Regional Orders: Asian Responses to a Gulf in Transition


The Persian Gulf regional security complex is shaped by intense competition between regional states and, since the aftermath of Operation Desert Storm, US military preponderance. US security cooperation with the Gulf Cooperation Council member states has sustained a status quo that has allowed extra-regional countries to advance their interests without making significant contributions to regional stability. An examination of the presence of five Asian countries (China, India, Japan, Singapore and South Korea) in the Gulf suggests that, as the US signals intentions to reduce its security commitments to the region, the perception of hegemonic retreat will influence the regional policies adopted by these Asian countries. A further and related consideration is the ‘great-power competition’ narrative that is driving politics at the systemic level. The US-China bilateral relationship will have a significant impact on extra-regional powers’ approach to the Gulf.
Keywords: Persian Gulf; regional security complex; great-power competition; Asianisation