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The Uneasy Balance. Potential and Challenges of the West's Relations with the Gulf States


In the wake of the Arab uprisings, the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - have visibly increased their diplomatic, economic and military involvement in the Arab world. GCC states have, with certain variations, played an important role in the political transformations underway in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria while extending significant financial and diplomatic support to the Arab monarchies of Morocco and Jordan and decisively coming out against any political change in Bahrain. In parallel to the GCC's increased role in the region, the United States and the European Union have suffered a relative loss of influence as a result of the toppling of longstanding Arab allies and the economic crisis. In light of these developments, the deepening relationship between the West and the GCC has emerged as a major dynamic over the past two years. While significant potential for cooperation exists and, in some areas, immediate interests do overlap, this relationship is also fraught with significant challenges given the West's necessity to balance its economic and strategic interests in the region with a broader commitment to support the spread of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Revised and updated versions of the papers presented at the fifth edition of the Transatlantic Security Symposium, held in Rome on 16 November 2012.

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