Threat Perceptions of the Gulf Cooperation Council

Topic: International Organizations
Words: 5546 Pages: 20


Threat perceptions in international relations can be described as a major determinant in both policy development and regional cooperation initiatives. Multiple case studies are available across the world to show how the perception of threats determines how countries relate to each other. For example, a case of Central Europe presented by Varga (2021) establishes a foreign policy of the countries and their international ambitions depend on their perception of the security environment and the capabilities of the states. A similar observation can be made elsewhere, especially in regions where more than one country faces common threats or where relations are strained. In this essay, the focus will be on the Arabian Gulf region. According to (Kamrava, 2019), the international relations surrounding the gulf region, referring to the middle east, have been characterized by a long period of conflict, turmoil, tension, and instability. For these reasons, the United States has often become a dominant power in the region as it seeks to protect its interests in the Gulf region.

This essay will explore the role of threat perceptions by member states in the effectiveness of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). To achieve this objective, a brief overview of the GCC is provided, which highlights its emergence and the factors for its development. Additionally, some of the major threats faced by the region, both historical and current will be assessed individually paying attention to the individual and collective perceptions and responses by the member states. The basic assumption made in this essay is that each country will have a different perception of the threats, which is more influential than the collective perception. Additionally, it will be argued that the major threats facing the GCC emanate from the state of Israel, Iran, and other conflicts within the region as manifested by the blockade of Qatar. Lastly, cybersecurity threats will also be assessed considering the new age of digitization where national security could be undermined through cyber.

Background to the GCC

The GCC can be described as a political and economic alliance comprising six Middle Eastern countries – Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. These founding members formed the GCC in 1981 as a result of common threats faced under the regional political conditions, as well as having a similar historical background (Galeeva, 2018). Many of those countries in the GCC were formerly under British rule, which influenced the international relations of each member. As a result, the Gulf monarchies used to keep their independence from each other. Before the GCC, Saudi Arabia was a fully independent state whose focus was more on domestic policies, even though Britain kept hold of the greater regional issues. As a result, the countries in the region found a necessity to take advantage of the proposed cooperation. Qatar is increasingly falling out with the GCC due to a maverick policy of supporting Islamists (Gause, 2015). Therefore, it can be seen that the GCC members still follow their internal policies as opposed to those of the GCC.

However, it can also be argued that Britain played a key role in facilitating cooperation. According to Galeeva (2018), the political events of the 1960s changed the gulf, including the accession of Kuwait to full independence in 1961. Although there was an attempt to create the Ninth Union between Qatar, Bahrain and the Seven Emarat (including Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah) to become one country. It failed after Bahrain and Qatar withdrew because of conflicting interest and opinions on the division of minstrel portfolio and leading roles. Abu Dhabi later managed to gather the remaining Emarat and created the United Arab Emarat’s (UAE). Hence, the UAE believed that unity is key in facing major threats in the region. However, Qatar and Bahrain historical disputes made it clear that these countries were keen to remain as independent countries. The unification of the gulf region took five years when the foreign ministers of the founding members met in Muscat in 1976 and agreed to coordinate regional security and defense policy creation.

As mentioned earlier, the Middle East is a region characterized by conflict and tension. Therefore, one of the major objectives of the GCC members upon the formation of the cooperation was peacebuilding. The term ‘peacebuilding’ entails the attempts to remove the causes of war and provide alternatives to war in situations of conflicts that could lead to war (Hoetjes, 2021). However, many of the GCC efforts in peacebuilding have failed, including the case of Yemen. This observation hints at the incongruencies within the union as member states are driven more by their internal concerns. Besides, the GCC members themselves have had several conflicts, for example, Qatar-Bahrain dispute over Hawar islands and other territorial disputes involving Saudi Arabia (Alfadhli, 2018). Even though cooperative security practices have been developed, each member state has to consider the implications of its role in the GCC’s initiatives on its own state of security. These observations also support the basic assumption of this paper that individual perceptions are different from collective ones. Additionally, individual perceptions are often prioritized by the member states.

Threat Perceptions and the Effectiveness of the GCC

The threat perception by the GCC member states is a subject that is not well-explored by researchers. However, common security threats have been experienced and each country has responded differently. According to (Czulda, 2018), each GCC member state is different in both geostrategic and political-military terms. As such, each state has its own set of priorities and threats from which it needs to defend itself. A good example is a threat that Kuwait has historically faced from Iraq. For such countries as Oman, the priority has been on the safety of the water routes through the Strait of Hormuz and the waters surrounding the Gulf of Oman. In Saudi Arabia, the major threat has been the influx of terrorists and insurgents from Yemen until 2003, when Iraq became a major problem, which posed the threat of a large-scale war. However, these threats to Saudi Arabia are declining and the country no longer faces the possibility of conventional war with Iraq. Some unsolved problems with Yemen may have persisted, but they are less of a major threat now for Saudi Arabia.

Currently, the GCC region faces a massive threat from the Iranian hegemony as described by Han and Hakimian (2019). It is important to mention that the Iranian expansionist policy has threatened all the GCC. Even if this has been the case, the perceived threats of Iran differ across the GCC member states as manifested by the fact that each member has different relations with the country. For example, not every GCC member considers Iran a common menace. Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman have maintained relatively good relations while the UAE, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia face tensions with Iran. This is another set of evidence that even though the GCC faces common threats, the member states often lean on their individual threat perceptions while dealing with both the GCC members and other countries across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Before examining the effectiveness of the GCC, it is important to explore the major perceived threats facing the region, both current and historical. The selected cases are based on the current trends and studies on the international relations and geopolitical events taking place in the Middle East. As such, the State of Israel has been opposed by all Arab countries, which has seen conflicts and hostility. It can be assumed that all GCC members have, at least at certain times in their history, considered Israel as a threat. Similarly, the Iranians post-Islamic revolution and their expansionist policy pose a threat to all countries in the Gulf region. Recent events involving the Gulf crisis, introduce the idea that Qatar present an interesting proposition to examine threat perceptions within the GCC itself, while the technological advances mean that cybersecurity is a major issue of national security.

Israeli Threat

The case of Israel is unique in that it has evolved from conflict to cooperation. However, the fact that all the GCC members are formerly members of the Arab League that fought against the establishment of the state of Israel means that Israel has historically been considered a threat to the GCC and other Arab countries. According to Ferziger and Bahgat (2020), the creation of Israel in 1948 was bitterly opposed by the neighboring Arab states, which set off a series of Wars. Since then, mutual suspicions have been ensured across the Middle East as all the Arab countries supporting Palestine in their conflict with Israel. However, different countries had different levels of participation in the wars (Furlan, 2019). For example, only limited participation was observed from Saudi Arabia, but the country provided significant support in terms of soldiers, weapons, aircraft, and financing. There are hardly any incidences to indicate direct conflict between the states, but the support to Palestine makes all Arab countries enemies of Israel. Similarly, Israel was perceived as a major threat to the region, especially with the support it got from the Western countries, more specifically the United States.

However, the levels of hostilities towards Israel have differed across the entire Arab world, with such countries as Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Iran being among the countries most involved in the wars. Across the GCC, Saudi Arabia’s limited involvement may have reflected how the entire region reacted in that not all countries directly attacked Israel, and the efforts were majorly in the form of offering support. To many, Israel did not offer a direct threat, a perception that may have played a critical role in the agreements that followed and the current efforts towards normalization. For example, Bahrain, the UAE, and Sudan made a declaration to establish diplomatic ties with Israel, a process that was brokered by the United States (Mohammed and Ahmad, 2020). However, the efforts to extend the normlization to other countries were hindered by many geopolitical events, including Israel’s annexation of conflicted lands and the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by the United States. Considering the significance of this city in the Islam religion, more tension and animosity between the parties could be observed as one of the main outcomes.

Many Gulf states had started to stabilize, which made the Israel-Palestine conflict be perceived by such countries as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait as destabilizing. As a result, there was a shift from the commonly-held perceptions towards a more focus on individual perceptions. An important aspect to note is that the threat perception shifted from Israel to another regional power, Iran, due to its expansionist policies. This shift was marked by the openness of the UAE and Baharin to establishing diplomatic ties with Israel, a country that also faced similar levels of threat from Iran (Mohammed and Ahmad, 2020). In this case, such countries as Saudi Arabia began to hold talks in the 1970s, until a new phase began in the 1990s focusing on joint issues. These include arms control, refugees, environmental protection, and economic cooperation (Furlan, 2019). Today, much of the literature on the relations between Israel and the GCC focus on normalization and the emergence of tacit cooperation (Hitman and Zwilling, 2021). Normalization would not be possible with threats perceptions being negative.

The interest in the subject of normalization is perhaps the best illustration of changing threat perceptions across the GCC. Therefore, it can be argued that the common threat perception towards Israel has declined, which is also observed within the individual countries. With hostilities levels being different, some of the GCC members have had long relations with Israel, which is the evidence of the differences in threat perception.

Iranian Threat

The case of Israel presents a historical collective perspective of the threat perceptions in the area and how they shift depending on the individual country’s relationship with others. Similarly, the case of Iran presents a current issue and how it is being handled by the member countries collectively and individually. The most interesting aspect in this scenario is that all the countries involved are Islamic, which means that they have a lot in common. However, there are slight differences in how they all relate to each other, especially regarding the classical clash between Sunnis (GCC countries) and Shia (Iran). According to Bianco (2020), the progressive retrenchment of the United States from the Middle East has led to a security dilemma. The dilemma resulted from the fact that some countries felt abandoned, especially the more hawkish countries that include Bahrain, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia. The less hawkish countries, including Oman, Kuwait, and Qatar felt entrapped, but it can be observed that the differences in threat perception lie with state ideologies, as well as the shared narratives of socio-political demography, identity, and leadership cognition (Bianco, 2020).

The aforementioned dilemma is manifested in the relationships between the GCC countries and Iran. As mentioned earlier, not every GCC country considers Iran a common menace since each of the countries has a nuanced foreign policy founded on political philosophy and security alliances. As a result, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE all face tensions and hostility when dealing with Iran (Czulda, 2018). However, Qatar is one of the GCC member states to establish relatively good relations with Iran. The tensions with Iran have resulted in the GCC states fast-tracking their efforts to modernize their military, especially the anti-ballistic and anti-aircraft missile defense systems (Czulda, 2018). The modernization is a direct reaction to the military doctrine of Iran, a country keen on using missiles targeting the Gulf region. Even such countries as Qatar are modernizing their military despite the relatively good relations with Iran. At this point, it can be argued that the modernization efforts are country-specific despite the ultimate objective of the GCC being cooperative in regional security.

As mentioned earlier, the differences in threat perceptions towards Iran depend on the shared ideologies and socio-political systems. With many countries being Islamic, some have stronger desires to push for religious and spiritual values even across the borders. This has been the basic doctrine in Iran, often based on the need to enhance global justice and to fight the imperial colonial powers (Raouf, 2019). Iran’s growing influence in the region is perceived as a threat, especially to Saudi Arabia, since Iran’s foreign policy seeks to penetrate the internal affairs of the member countries, such as the case of Bahrain. Sectarian-based conflicts are still experienced in some Gulf countries and the belief that such conflict of sectarianism is evolved by Iranian interference with internal politics of the gulf states. Hence, it can be assumed that levels of Iranian influence across the GCC are massively different. Therefore, it can be expected that the GCC region faces a common threat in Iran but at different levels. Therefore, the threat perceptions are different and these are the ones that determine how individual GCC members relate with Iran.

The Iranian threat in the Middle East also encompasses cyber threats. For instance, Saudi Aramco has been targeted by drone and cruise missile attacks targeting oil processing facilities in eastern Saudi Arabia. However, most of the attacks on the facility have been in the form of cyberattacks on the computer systems. Aramco claims that it has been mostly successful in preventing the attacks in their early stages (Alkhereiji, 2020). The cybersecurity threats across the GCC have been around for several years and several countries have had different threat perceptions depending on the extent of attacks. In 2012, Aramco and RasGas were hacked with similar attacks to WannaCry taking place in 2017. Major events in the region, including Dubai Expo 2020 and Qatar World Cup 2022 only served to increase attacks in the region (Gulf International Forum, 2018). Iranian hackers are linked with these cyber-attacks, which have targeted thousands of people and more than 200 companies both in the Middle East and across the world (Sharma, 2019). State-sponsored cyber espionage also threatens the government institutions across the region with both the governments and businesses being warned about the impeding threats.

The role of Iran in the Yemen conflict also illustrates why the GCC perceive it as a threat. However, it is also important to acknowledge the individual members’ approaches and attitudes towards Yemen highlight differences in interests. Yemen has been mired by political violence since 2015, which has frustrated the country’s geopolitical ambitions. Iran-allied Houthi rebels took over Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, in 2014 and halted ambitions by Ali Abdullah Saleh to join the GCC (Bodetti, 2019). Yemen’s relations with the GCC are often at a crossroad, especially since different countries pursue different foreign policies. For example, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE have supported Yemen in the fight against the Houthis for several years, which has brough Yemen and these GCC members closer together. On the contrary, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait pursue their own foreign policies, which has caused the GCC to grow more divided. Yemen has a strategic importance to the GCC, but this has not stopped such countries as the UAE to pursue own interests at the expense of Yemen’s stability. Since Iran backs Houthi rebels, Yemen illustrates how Iran threatens regional stability.

While some GCC countries have been accused of pursuing own interests at the expense of Yemen, it can be argued that their role and presence in the conflict counters Iran. Most of the Arab countries that have supported the Yemen government in the war have downsized their support or completely withdrawn from the conflict. For example, Sudan reduced its personnel from 30,000 to 657 (Gulf International Forum, 2020). This leaves the UAE as one of the major players in the conflict, alongside Iran, where both follow similar strategies. Iran realized that the Yemen government lacked control over an amount of territory capable of allowing it to seize the country. Therefore, Iran decided to bypass the official level and opted to use Iran-controlled proxies operating inside Yemen. The proxies have received help in every possible way as manifested in the capture of Sana’a and the northern provinces, which helped Iran gain a foothold in the Shiite community (Al-Sulami, 2022). On its part, the UAE has used proxies that also bypass the Yemen authorities. UAE-backed command and control structure operate majorly in the southern, eastern, and western regions of Yemen.

The Houthi group in Yemen has grown more powerful and has deepened ties with Iran. The partnership is often felt beyond the Yemen borders where some members of the GCC consider its capture of Sana’a as a disruption of normalcy. The Houthi group has started to develop its own foreign policy and forming direct ties with Iranian partners to pose a growing risk to Saudi Arabia and potentially Israel. The case of Saudi Arabia can be understood by considering how vulnerable its southern border can become due to the conflicts in Yemen. The growing Houthi presence and power necessitated a direct military assault attempted to roll back the Houthis and return the internationally-recognized government led by President Mansour Hadi (Juneau, 2021). This intervention has been considered an unmitigated disaster since Saudi Arabia was unable to defeat the Houthis. Iran’s support for the Houthis has grown to include advanced lethal weapons. Therefore, some GCC have had direct interests in the conflict due to fears of their security, and the Iranian presence only causes the perceived threats to grow.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the min rivals to Iran in the Yemen conflict. Iran has been engaging these countries in dialogue, which means that direct attacks by Iran are not an immediate threat. However, the Iranian-backed groups in Yemen continue to attack Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The Houthi rebels have continued to attack oil facilities and airports in Saudi Arabia, which can be deemed to be a retaliation to the country’s military action against the Houthis in Yemen. As mentioned earlier, the withdrawal of countries and their support from Yemen left the UAE as the remaining major player in the conflict, which has made it the new target by the Houthi rebels. However, the attacks on the UAE have reduced as a result of the UAE reducing its direct military involvement in 2019 (Falk, 2022). However, the terrorist attacks on both Saudi Arabia and the UAE remain rampant, which raises the question of where Iran stands on this conflict and the attacks. Therefore, the Iranian support to the Houthis in Yemen makes Iran a major threat to some of the GCC members.

The Gulf Crisis

The Qatar blockade presents further evidence that the GCC’s effectiveness has been affected by the threat perceptions in the different countries. Qatar has had relatively good relations with Iran, which in itself, is evidence that the country’s threat perception towards Iran had shaped its foreign policy towards Iran. However, the fact that Qatar has a good relationship with Iran has almost caused a split in the GCC. Such an observation was made on the 5th of June 2017, when Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut off their diplomatic ties with Qatar, one of the reasons is Qatar relations with Iran (Iyayi, Salihu, & Adigun, 2020, p. 14). Even other Arab countries that are not members of the GCC followed suit, including Egypt. The blockading countries demanded that Qatar had to cut its diplomatic ties to Iran and cease its military coordination with Turkey. Another area of conflict was the presence of the Al-Jazeera media network, which is not well-received in these countries (Wintour, 2017). While the blockade may have seemed to be the ideal approach to the crisis, it was faced by tough opposition from Qatar and the argument that the country supported integrity and openness as manifested by the presence of US media houses. Al-Jazeera also condemned the move and termed it as a suppression of the right to information and an attempt to end the freedom of expression.

The Qatar blockade can also be conceptualized as a continuation of the Iranian threat. The threat perception of the blockading countries towards Iran had spilled over to Qatar. For example, the peninsular country, Qatar, was seen, by the ‘Quarter’ countries, as a sponsor of terrorism, collaborator with Iran, traitor to the GCC, and a threat to the stability and security of the Gulf region (Harb, 2018). The crisis threatened the existence of the GCC, especially considering that the blockading countries remained keen on standing by their demands. There were even suggestions during the crisis that the member states should disband the GCC (Harb, 2018). The propaganda campaigns against Qatar made the situation worse since the country felt the ‘Quarter’ countries violated its airspace on numerous occasions. Qatar began to perceive threats from the blockading countries and decided to develop its military and alliances building with other regional powers such as Turkey in response. Qatar ratified its military cooperation treaty with Turkey and sought to support other friendly countries across the world. Such actions from Qatar indicate that the country was not willing to align itself with the GCC.

Qatar has been a major player in the regional politics, especially as a result of its ties with the United States and the war in Afghanistan. The accusations that Qatar was associating itself with terrorists is manifested in its role in conflict and in mediating between the Taliban and the United States. With the Americans keen on ending war in Afghanistan, the Taliban set up a diplomatic mission in Doha, the Qatari capital, which was opened with the American consent (The Taliban Whisperers, 2021). Even the United States was previously blasting Qatar as a high-level funder of terrorism, which gave credibility to the accusations made by Saudi Arabia. Besides the Taliban, Qatar has hosted other groups, including Hamas, Iranian officials, and the Muslim Brotherhood (Lederman & Sanchez, 2021). Therefore, it can be argued that Qatar was the only GCC member to acknowledge the Taliban government in Afghanistan and that its actions often contradict the interests of the entire GCC. Considering the Iranian threat in the region, allowing Iranians to operate within Qatar can be conceptualized an immediate and real threat.

While Qatar may not be a direct threat to the GCC, its growing alliances with groups and countries deemed a threat to the GCC should be an issue of concern for the members. The Gulf is beginning to fragment due to such countries as Qatar going against the interests of the GCC (Rane, 2017). As a result, the GCC can be seen as a collection of countries whose objectives are hindered by internal threat perceptions. The rationalization of this argument is that if the GCC’s perceived threats had more influence, then the bilateral relationship between Qatar and both Iran and Turkey could have been different. Additionally, the crisis should not have had such a serious implication on the existence of the GCC as a regional organization.

The Effectiveness of the GCC

The focus of this essay was to explore how the threat perceptions affect the effectiveness of the GCC. The approach used was to explore the major incidences that can be perceived as threats and explore the differences in threat perception. Ultimately, the effectiveness of the GCC can be examined in terms of how it has dispensed its duties across all the four major threat issues. Some of the incidences depict inefficiencies while others illustrate why regional security cooperation is necessary. Continued relations with Iran make Qatar an issue of concern for the GCC (Raouf, 2019). Therefore, the fact that the GCC countries arose to this threat means that the cooperation is critical.

Another aspect that illustrates the effectiveness of the GCC is the observation that the nature of conflict in the region is changing with fewer countries now directly involved in conventional warfare. It can be argued that the formation of the GCC has shielded the region from aggression, especially since the GCC remains united against the Iranian threat (Aluwaisheg, 2021). For instance, if the member countries were not united, the Iranian aggression would have been more successful than it is now. However, this is only an assumption that Iran would be successful if the countries had been weaker. This assumption is justifiable since Iran has become isolated through cooperation in the Middle East, which has included Israel (Kashani-Sabet, 2020). Iran-Israel conflict remains tense, especially since Iran remains opposed to its creation. During the 1948 war, the GCC members were only involved in a limited capacity. If Iran had the support of the GCC and other Arab countries, conventional wars between Israel and the Arab states would still be conducted.

On the contrary, the failures of the GCC to unite all members have been manifested through several areas and threat incidences. Qatar’s continued relations with Iran are an indication that the GCC has failed to develop a unified view of the common problems. The Qatar blockade is as an indication that the GCC countries have developed diverging interests, threat perceptions, foreign policy options, which have jeopardized the GCC’s raison d’etre (Kabalan, 2018). The areas of cooperation do not seem to have been agreed upon, especially since the members have continuously sought other partners outside the gulf region. For example, the normalization of the relations with Israel took place in phases and at a different pace across the countries (Mohammed and Ahmad, 2020). Such a move shows that the members do not believe in the ability of the GCC to meet all their security needs. Additionally, the member countries have developed their own militaries independently of the GCC members based on the fact that they had different threat perceptions. Effective security cooperation should have a unified view of these issues, after which the policy development and other initiatives are undertaken jointly.

The case of Yemen conflict can also be used to assess the effectiveness of the GCC in uniting its members and pursuing a common path in its efforts against external threats. The fact that only a few members have had a direct involvement is testimony to the fact that each member pursues own foreign policies, which tends to cause divisions across the GCC. For example, Saudi Arabia and the UAE remain opposed to the Houthi rebels and their Iranian support. On the contrary, Qatar has often hosted Houthi leaders and allowed them to feature in Qatar’s news media, including Al-Jazeera, which often painted the UAE and Saudi in bad light. The Saudi-UAE coalition is a term that has been coined by Qatar and used to describe events in Yemen. One example is when Al-Jazeera used this term to report the killing of a family of four in Sana’a through an airstrike (Gulf International Forum, 2020). Even though these events take place during the Gulf crisis, it can be argued that the GCC members have been unable to develop unity of purpose when addressing perceived threats.

Qatar’s role in Yemen can also be considered controversial and contradictory to the interests of the GCC. For example, some observers argued that Qatar is increasingly becoming supportive of the Houthi rebels and opposed to the legitimate government of Yemen. As a result, Qatar continues to distance itself from the coalition, which further highlights the failures of the GCC to pursue a unified goal. Qatar also seeks to prepare a new political front that opposes the Arab coalition in Yemen by reconciling with the Houthis (Martin, 2021). Such a position means that Qatar is prepared to oppose both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, whose involvement in the conflict is majorly aimed as taming the Houthi insurgence. Such a policy means that Qatar goes beyond the coalition to pursue its own foreign policy interests. However, it is also important to consider that such GCC members as the UAE are mostly pursuing their selfish interests at the expense of the stability of Yemen. Qatar remains opposed to such moves, and this could be the reason why Qatar often seeks neutrality and own policies as opposed to those of the GCC.

While some countries in the GCC have remained either neutral or played a mediation role, some, especially the UAE and Saudi Arabia have opted for direct military action. For example, the eruption of the GCC crisis saw Kuwait position itself as a mediator, similar to what Qatar attempted to do in the Yemen crisis. However, the mediation role does not always conform to expectations, especially when Qatar hosts exiled Houthi leaders (Almeida, 2017). Qatar’s actions in Yemen and Syria include backing Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups, similar to what it has done in such countries as Libya and Lebanon where it supported Muslim Brotherhood and Hezbollah respectively. Therefore, it is hardly believable that Qatar is a neutral mediator in the Yemen crisis despite its efforts to depict itself as such. The regional support to the Houthis, a group fought by two GCC members, makes Qatar part of the enemy threats as opposed to an ally in the GCC. Qatar is an illustration of how the GCC has failed to achieve common goals due to the pursuit of own interests at the expense of those of the GCC.

Overall, it can be argued that members of the GCC continue to hold onto their individual perceptions of external threats, which means pursuing own foreign policies. The GCC can be conceptualized as a coalition whose members are not willing to give up their own policies in favor of those of the GCC. For the most part, Qatar is seen as the one country that jeopardizes the harmony of the GCC due to its relations with groups or countries considered to be threats to the GCC members.


Threat perception has played a critical role in the effectiveness of the GCC. Across the various security incidences, this essay has presented proof that each country has a different perspective on how a threat is perceived, despite the presence of a collective threat perception. Additionally, the GCC members have often leaned towards the individual threat perceptions more than they did the GCC collective perception. The background of the GCC has illustrated that the main purpose of its formation was for security cooperation arising from the commonly perceived threats. In this case, the GCC was meant to replace the Arab League, which had recorded successive failures in the Israel-Arab wars. As such, Israel has been the best starting point in examining the evolution of the threat perception in the GCC. Another observation is that Israel ceased to be a major threat, especially since the GCC members were involved in the Israel Arab wars in limited capacities. Iran emerged as the new major threat to regional security.

Even though Iran emerged as a common threat, the relations with it differed across the GCC members, with some as Qatar maintaining relatively good relations. The effectiveness of the GCC is manifested through the changing nature of conflicts from violence to more diplomatic measures. An example of this shift is the Qatar blockade, which did not lead to armed conflict. Israel is also not involved in as many armed conflicts with the Arab world, especially since the GCC members are establishing tacit relations with Israel. Failures have been illustrated by the fact that Qatar had almost caused a disintegration of the GCC. Overall, the success in some areas is limited by the fact that the threat perception across the member states is different.

Reference List

Alfadhli, B. (2018) Boundaries and territorial disputes in the GCC states. 

Alkhereiji, M. (2020) Iranian cyberthreats hovers over GCC region

Almeida, M. (2017) What Qatar’s role in Yemen tells about the Gulf crisis

Al-Sulami, M. (2022) Yemen’s role in Iran’s strategic plan

Aluwaisheg, A. (2021) GCC, US united against Iranian threats

Bianco, C. (2020) ‘The GCC monarchies: perceptions of the Iranian threat amid shifting geopolitics’, The International Spectator – Italian Journal of International Affairs, 55(2), pp. 92-107.

Bodetti, A. (2019) Yemen will probably never join the defunct GCC.

Czulda, R. (2018) ‘Defence dilemmas of the GCC States – threats and military build-up’, International Studies. Interdisciplinary Political and Cultural Journal, 21(1), pp. 47-68.

El-Masri, M. et al. (2021) ‘Positive sentiments as coping mechanisms and path to resilience: the case of Qatar blockade’, Information, Communication and Society, 24(13), pp. 1835-1853.

Ferziger, J. and Bahgat, G. (2020) Israel’s growing ties with the Gulf Arab States. Washington: The Atlantic Council.

Falk, T. (2022) The limits of Iran’s influence on Yemen’s Houthi rebels

Furlan, M. (2019) ‘Israeli-Saudi relations in a changed and changing Middle East: growing cooperation’, Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, 13(2), pp. 173-187.

Galeeva, D. (2018) The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): a comprehensive view

Gause, G. (2015) Understanding the Gulf States.

Gulf International Forum (2018) The new battlefront: cyber security across the GCC

Gulf International Forum (2020) No crisis is an island: how the GCC crisis shapes the war in Yemen

Han, J. and Hakimian, H. (2019) ‘The regional security complex in the Persian Gulf: the contours of Iran’s GCC policy’, Asian Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, 13(4), pp. 493-509.

Harb, I. (2018) ‘Measures of stalemate in the GCC crisis’, in Al-Ansari, M. et al. (Eds.). The GCC crisis at one year: Stalemate becomes reality. Washington, DC.: Arab Center Washington DC., pp. 13-21.

Hitman, G. and Zwilling, M. (2021) ‘Normalization with Israel: an analysis of social networks discourse within Gulf states’, Ethnopolitics, pp. 1-27.

Hoetjes, G. (2021) ‘The Gulf Cooperation and the failure of peacebuilding in Yemen’, The International Spectator: Italian Journal of International Affairs, 56(4), pp. 151-166.

Iyayi, I., Salihu, B. and Adigun, O. (2020) ‘Iran-Qatar relations and the Gulf regional crisis’, Crawford Journal of Business & Social Sciences, 10(1), pp. 14-24.

Juneau, T. (2021) How Iran helped Houthis expand their reach

Kabalan, M. (2018) Is the GCC dead?.

Kashani-Sabet, F. (2020) Iran’s isolation continues: a stranger among (feuding) friends

Kamrava, M. (2019) ‘Accessing the multipolarity and instability in the Middle East’, Orbis, 62(4), pp. 598-616.

Lederman, J. and Sanchez, R. (2021) From pariah to partner: how Qatar’s role in Afghanistan helped to restore U.S. relations.

Martin, J. (2021) Qatar reinforces its position on the Houthi side of the Yemen war

Mohammed, M. and Ahmad, A. (2020) ‘Israel-Palestine conflict: implications of the political dynamics in the GCC’, International Journal of Research and Innovation in Social Science, 4(12), pp. 485-493.

Rane (2017) The Gulf Cooperation Council will never be the same

Raouf, H. (2019) ‘Iranian quest for regional hegemony: motivations, strategies and constrains’, Review of Economics and Political Science, 4(3), pp. 242-256.

Seeger, R. and Thafer, D. (2018) The new battlefront: cyber security across the GCC

Sharma, A. (2019) Iran continues to be a major cyber threat to the Middle East

Shires, J. (2018) ‘Enacting expertise: ritual and risk in cybersecurity’, Politics and Governance, 6(2), pp. 31-40.

The Taliban Whisperers (2021) Qatar’s unique role in Afghanistan. 

Varga, T. (2021) ‘Security perception and security policy in Central Europe, 1989–2019’, Defense and Security Analysis, 37(1), pp. 1-8.

Wintour, P. (2017) Qatar given 10 days to meet 13 sweeping demands by Saudi Arabia

Like all the other papers on our website, this essay has been voluntarily submitted by a student to help you become a better professional. If you would like to use this text in your assignment, we insistently ask you to include a proper reference to this page.

If you are the author of this text and prefer to remove it from our Politzilla database, please submit your request here.

International Trade Organizations: Impact on Brands’ Development
Rules of Application to the European Union