Gerasimos Gerasimos
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Inter-state cooperation and labour migration to the Gulf
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This chapter focuses on how labour migration to the Gulf contributed to processes of inter-state cooperation across the Middle East. Egyptian migration diplomacy targeted its unskilled and low-skilled labour and focused on ensuring bilateral coordination with Arab host-states that, in turn, led to inter-state cooperation. Egypt coordinated its emigration policy as per host-states’ needs and political sensitivities: it realised Arab oil-producing states’ labour demands, and institutionalised unrestricted short-term, or temporary, emigration across the region; the ruling regime also understood these states’ reticence to politicised migrants, and it discursively linked this form of migration to its repudiation of Nasser and his regional foreign policy, within the context of ‘de-Nasserisation’. Similarly, Arab host-states coordinated their policies to Egypt’s needs and political sensitivities: seeing an opportunity for massive numbers of unskilled and low-skilled migrant workers from Egypt, they prioritised their recruitment over other nationalities; second, they acknowledged the Egyptian regime’s desire to ‘save face’ in terms of Egypt’s deteriorating economic condition, and framed their recruitment of Egyptians as compensation for the Egyptian state’s shouldering the burden of Arab–Israeli conflict. By the end of the 1970s, short-term migration of Egyptians had resulted in inter-state cooperation in other policy fields.

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