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Re- bordering vulnerability and securitisation in UK public protection
Charlotte Heath-Kelly

This chapter explores the complex overlap between public protection, psychiatry and national security in UK public protection. In the 2011 Prevent Strategy, counter-radicalisation was presented as a ‘safeguarding’ response designed to identify vulnerable individuals who posed a potential threat to the public. Vulnerability was presented as equally distributed across society. Unlike traditional safeguarding, referrals do not rely upon a disability, drug dependency or violent living conditions to frame someone as vulnerable to abuse; instead, extreme ideologies supposedly render everyone potentially vulnerable to terrorist transformation. Since 2015 there has been an enormous increase in Prevent referrals to over 7,000 per year. This increase has provoked policy interventions that seek to reframe vulnerability to radicalisation, to facilitate greater efficiency in public protection. The chapter explores the operations of the ‘vulnerability support hubs’, which bring psychologists into counterterrorism policing headquarters to purport to identify the most ‘high-risk’ potential terrorists for medical detention or surveillance. Like the ‘hubs’, the reform of public protection arrangements (MAPPA) also frames the state as vulnerable to the actions of disordered individuals. Efficiency drives have produced a ‘waxing and waning’ of ‘vulnerability’ in UK public protection, with psychiatry taking on significant responsibility for securing the ‘vulnerable’ state.

in Vulnerability
Merging social policy with the national security state
Charlotte Heath-Kelly

This introductory chapter lays out the concept of vulnerability used in the book, exploring how social policy and national security have been reorganised through the notion that vulnerable people might one day become expensive or dangerous. In this world, care is no longer strictly care, and repression is no longer solely repressive. ‘Vulnerability governance’ remakes social security and national security in each other’s image – justifying welfare interventions on the predication that future danger will be averted, while justifying security interventions through a ‘duty of care’ to the pre-criminal individual. But we cannot rely on a simple distinction between the eras of welfarism and neoliberalism to understand ‘governance through vulnerability’. While advanced liberal societies have moved away from welfare discourses and addressing needs for the sake of addressing needs, the welfare state always contained elements of a national security agenda. The first welfare states were constructed, in part, to protect the institutions of state from the general strike. So, social security and national security have developed alongside each other – and may even be co-dependent. The novelty of ‘vulnerability governance’ is that, in the contemporary era, this overlapping matrix of care and securitising logics now centres upon individuals as the target for interventions. Rather than the population-wide target of the original welfare states, or the focus of advanced liberal governance on problem groups and communities, ‘vulnerability’ is flexible enough to be applied to individuals – at one end of the spectrum – or even democratic systems at the other.

in Vulnerability
Preventing farright extremism by curbing Roma ‘criminality and social pathologies’ in the Czech Republic
Sadi Shanaah

This chapter explores a unique configuration of vulnerability and minority themes in the context of counter-extremism policy in the Czech Republic. Unlike in the West, where vulnerability refers to individual susceptibility to violent radicalisation, the Czech official counter-extremism documents frame the liberal democratic political system as vulnerable. Yet, while Muslim minorities in the West are deemed to produce individuals vulnerable to radicalisation, the threat to liberal democracy in the Czech Republic is framed (within Czech counter-extremism documents) as coming from the majority population. This extremism, it is feared, could capitalise on the ‘social pathologies’ of the Roma minority and mobilise the public against them, and the liberal democratic state. The chapter also briefly explores the situation in Slovakia, Hungary and Poland to highlight the reasons for the uniqueness of the Czech case. The analysis in this chapter draws on the Czech official documents dealing with the fight against extremism and interviews conducted with current and former state officials and experts in the region.

in Vulnerability
Iranian and Saudi rivalry in the Syrian conflict
Christopher Phillips

This chapter focuses on Syria as a space where one of the region’s longest-running and most brutal civil conflicts has been subject to the penetration of external powers, including Iran and Saudi Arabia. In this chapter, the author asses the utility of different theoretical perspectives from international relations in explaining Iran’s comparative success vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia in Syria. The analysis shows that while structural factors clearly were important, the significance of domestic and ideational factors alongside them suggests that purely systemic answers are insufficient alone to explain the conflict’s outcome. The chapter concludes that a neoclassical realist interpretation offers the best explanation for Saudi Arabia’s inability to adapt to the changing external context and make the most of its advantages, due in part to the influence of domestic factors.

in Saudi Arabia and Iran
Open Access (free)
Religious legitimacy and the foreign policies of Saudi Arabia and Iran
Lucia Ardovini

Chapter 3 explores how competition in the religious domain impacts on the foreign policies of Iran and Saudi Arabia. In this chapter, the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran is unpacked from the perspective of claims to religious legitimacy, showing how both countries have historically relied on their own understandings of Islam to legitimise state authority, frame nationalist projects, and as a foreign policy tool. The chapter highlights how the struggle for religious competition between the two states goes beyond the Sunni–Shia schism, and translates into both geopolitical and domestic disorder. By using a comparative analysis the chapter traces the ways in which the dependence on Islam as a state tool has influenced both domestic and foreign policies in each country and, in turn, the wider Saudi–Iranian competition for regional authority.

in Saudi Arabia and Iran
Open Access (free)
Edward Wastnidge
and
Simon Mabon

This final chapter offers some reflections and conclusions as to how the rivalry between the two regional powers of Iran and Saudi Arabia is realised differently through time and space. Though competition and rivalry appear to predominate in the calculus of both states, shown starkly by how this has manifested in the cases explored in this volume, the authors seek to offer a less pessimistic outlook for the future of relations between the states. As key powers in a contested region, Iran and Saudi Arabia need to move towards greater accommodation and understanding of one another’s interests to secure the future peace and prosperity of the Middle East.

in Saudi Arabia and Iran
Yemen as a theatre for the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia
Maria-Louise Clausen

Chapter 8 looks at the case of Yemen as a theatre for the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia. This chapter explains how the notion of ‘sunk cost effect’ helps to explain Saudi Arabia’s inability to extricate itself from the conflict in Yemen, due to the material and reputational resources that it has expended there. In doing so, it highlights the ways in which the linkage of the Houthis to Iran by Riyadh helped frame the conflict as part of the broader rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The subsequent result of this framing has, ultimately, increased the reputational and material cost related to any possible Saudi withdrawal, whereas for Iran the involvement has had comparatively low cost materially.

in Saudi Arabia and Iran
Open Access (free)
Simon Mabon
and
Edward Wastnidge

Efforts to understand the rivalry between Riyadh and Tehran have produced a body of literature that can be separated into three camps. The first suggests that the rivalry is best understood through a balance of power in the Gulf. The second suggests that religion plays a prominent role in shaping the nature of the rivalry and that so-called proxy conflicts have been drawn along sectarian lines. The third suggests that a more nuanced approach is needed, drawing upon concerns about regime power and legitimacy – externally and internally – with instrumentalised use of religious difference. This chapter introduces the broader parameters of the debate around the Iran–Saudi rivalry, incorporating key works in the field to date. It also provides a historical contextualisation of this key geopolitical relationship. This introductory chapter concludes by outlining the individual chapter contributions to the volume.

in Saudi Arabia and Iran
Rekindling of Shia loyalty and Sunni fears in Bahrain
Rashed al-Rasheed

This chapter draws on the unique insight provided by fieldwork undertaken in Bahrain. In doing so, it offers a deep investigation into how relations between Sunnis and Shia in Bahrain are influenced by the Saudi Arabia–Iran rivalry. This chapter shows how sectarian tensions have been exacerbated by competing regional agendas and a quest for hegemony. Through interviews with a range of opposition and pro-government figures, as well as academics and analysts from across the different communities, this contribution shines much needed light on how the wider regional dynamic impacts on inter-communal relations in Bahrain.

in Saudi Arabia and Iran
Stephen Royle
and
Simon Mabon

This chapter makes use of data from fieldwork carried out in Iraq to explore how competition between Iran and Saudi Arabia is experienced on the ground in that country. The chapter starts by contextualising the importance of Iraq to regional security, along with the efforts of Iran to capitalise on the favourable conditions created for it by the fall of Saddam Hussein, and subsequent Saudi fears of Iran’s growing role there. The chapter homes in on the largely Sunni province of Anbar, and highlights the role of the Iran-aligned factions of the Popular Mobilisation Units in economic and political life there, as well as Saudi efforts to enhance its relations with sympathetic actors in the country.

in Saudi Arabia and Iran