US foreign policy challenges: Arabian Gulf
ABU DHABI // Whoever is sworn in as US president on January 20 will find the nations of the Arabian Gulf in transition, working to manage the region’s emerging global profile.
There is no question of US engagement. The US buys about 20 per cent of its oil from Arabian Gulf countries, and the nations of the GCC have become the single largest market for US arms. For decades, the US has provided the region with a security blanket to ensure the free flow of trade.
But countries such as the UAE and Qatar have joined Saudi Arabia in assuming greater leadership roles in recent years, and the new US administration will need to navigate the newly assertive foreign policy positions of its allies.
With Syria, Iraq and Egypt mired in internal affairs, Saudi Arabia is the region’s uncontested leader. The UAE is increasingly the business centre of the Middle East, and Qatar has become a diplomatic power. Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman will remain more focused on demands for domestic reform and developments.
Syria and Iran will test US ties to the Arabian Gulf. If military strikes take place against Tehran, no other region will be more at risk than the Gulf. As for Damascus, the nations of the GCC are united in their calls for Bashar Al Assad to step down from power.
Updated: November 4, 2012 04:00 AM