International Relations

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Counter-revolutionaries united?
Robert Mason

This omnibus chapter outlines the orientation of Saudi and United Arab Emirates policy and regionalism within the Gulf Cooperation Council, where sources of contrast and rivalry persist between these and other protagonists. The chapter utilises a limited number of case studies to illustrate the dominant paradigms of diplomatic and economic intervention through traditional riyal politik and broader economic statecraft, as well as through proxy warfare and military intervention. Special attention is given to the cases of Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Libya, and Yemen.

in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates
State formation, political consolidation and reform
Robert Mason

This chapter sets the tone for further discussion on Saudi foreign policy by reflecting on Saudi statehood, survival and regional relations in historical context. It then moves on to assess contemporary transitions affecting sectarianism, secularism and liberalism. This is followed by coverage on dissent and repression and the ‘anti-corruption drive’ in the kingdom, encompassing the Ritz Carlton episode in 2017. The chapter then turns to the Saudi economy, role of sovereign wealth funds and climate change policies within that, and defence and national security issues, including counterterrorism issues. The conclusion analyses which domestic factors are likely to have a major bearing on Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy and international relations well into the twenty-first century.

in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates
State consolidation, security and ambition
Robert Mason

After an introductory note about United Arab Emirates (UAE) national history, this chapter outlines the major domestic themes affecting UAE foreign policy, including the government’s struggle with Islamism, especially violent Islamism in the form of Al Qaeda and ISIS. The evolution of relations with conservative groups is also surveyed, notably Al Islah and the wider Muslim Brotherhood. The chapter goes on to discuss national security issues, particularly recent revelations about the UAE’s cyber-surveillance strategy and human rights writ large. The chapter then transitions to questions concerning state-led capitalism and diversification, including energy policy and the role of sovereign wealth funds. A review of UAE hard and soft power sources follows, with reference to economic statecraft. The chapter shows how the UAE has developed under Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and charts significant power shifts in intra-Emirati politics, from the 2008–9 financial crisis up to a new visa regime implemented post-COVID-19. The conclusion sums up the conceptual issues most applicable in this case.

in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates
Conditionality and unity
Robert Mason

Focusing on the relations between the UK, France, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, this chapter begins with a brief summary of British and French colonial-era influences in the Arabian Peninsula. It then turns to the British withdrawal ‘East of Suez‘ and subsequent engagement during the Cold War. In the contemporary era, the chapter highlights convergences and divergences in UK and French foreign policies. These states have had a bearing on these Gulf states through the 1990–91 Gulf War, the Middle East peace process, their diplomacy with Iran, participation in US-led intervention in Afghanistan from 2001, divergent approaches to Iraq in 2003 and through strong French support for the NATO intervention in Libya in 2011. After the UK return to ‘East of Suez‘ in 2014 and a French defence cooperation agreement with the UAE in 2019, there is evidence to suggest a continuation of colonial-era policies. The footprint of Saudi and UAE economic interests in Europe (including in the UK premier league) and dependence on arms exports draws attention to the rich weave of long-term and diversifying economic relations. With counterterrorism and intelligence cooperation of paramount concern, other factors such as wider social–legal–political environments are shown to cause consternation in these monarchies, retaliation at times and reinforce a ‘Push East’ effect.

in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates
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Arms, energy and ideology
Robert Mason

This chapter sketches out Russia’s historically limited channels of influence in the Gulf, from the Russian Empire to the Soviet era. It discusses the emergence of the Russian Federation in the unipolar world, including variable relations with with the US and the Arab Gulf states. The chapter covers President Putin’s post-Soviet strategy, a strong response to the violent Islamist threat, Russian relations with Iran and the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine. In conclusion the chapter conceptualises the pivot points for Russia’s ongoing relations with Saudi Arabia and the UAE such as economic, security and energy considerations.

in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates
Foreign policy and strategic alliances in an uncertain world
Author:

In the context of political transitions taking place at the domestic, regional and international levels, this book maps a series of key Saudi and United Arab Emirates (UAE) bilateral relations incorporating the Middle East, the US, Europe, China, Russia, the Horn of Africa, India, Pakistan, Japan, Republic of Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia. It argues that established modes of analysis such as riyal politik and the Islamisation of Saudi foreign policy are somewhat redundant in a changing economic climate and amid evidence of uncertain returns, whilst political consolidation amounting to Sultanism tells only part of the story. The book underscores the role of youth, background, and western affinity in leadership, as well as liberalisation, hyper-nationalism, secularisation, ‘Push East’ pressure and broader economic statecraft as being the new touchstones of Saudi and UAE foreign policy. This volume also sheds light on aspects of offensive realism, dependency theory, alliance patterns, ‘challenger states’ and political legitimacy in a region dominated by competition, securitisation and proxy warfare.

Robert Mason

This chapter surveys the most relevant aspects of international relations theory and foreign policy analysis literature to provide a firm conceptual basis on which to peg conceptual insights from the subsequent chapters. Works on riyal politik, economic statecraft, rentier state theory, offensive realism, dependency theory, alliance patterns, and political legitimacy are all included. The chapter also dwells on middle-power and small-state literature as pertaining to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the Middle East as a regional system and conceptual developments concerning the study of the region since the Arab uprisings. A list of the key questions directing this study are also included.

in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates
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Partisan politics, carte blanche and policy variation
Robert Mason

The panoply of contemporary US–Arab Gulf relations is covered in this chapter. Across the Obama, Trump and Biden administrations, a comprehensive picture is built up about the extent to which US policy, including a carte blanche and transactional approach pursued by the Trump administration, and uncertain relations into the Biden administration, has conditioned Saudi and United Arab Emirates (UAE) foreign policy. The main structural issues in US policy towards the Middle East and the GCC states are laid out, including over energy relations, the Global War on Terror; tensions over the JCPOA (and renegotiation) with Iran, congressional disdain over 9/11 (i.e. Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act) and the war in Yemen. These have been joined by some human rights criticism, a question over US security guarantees during the 2019 attacks on Khurais and Abqaiq, over arms exports such as the F-35 to the UAE, over discrepancies between US and UAE Syria policy; and the ebb and flow of personal relations. The 2022 war in Ukraine is shown to be a potential inversion point to Saudi and UAE relations with the US, highlighting the importance to these GCC states and their continued relevance in the global economy.

in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates
Open Access (free)
Batman Saves the Congo: How Celebrities Disrupt the Politics of Development
Alexandra Cosima Budabin
and
Lisa Ann Richey

This forum brings together a diverse group of scholars from political geography, international relations, critical organisation studies, global development, international studies and political sociology to explore the debates and dynamics of celebrity engagement with development and humanitarianism. The contributions here come from a series of roundtables organised in 2021, including one at the 6th World Conference on Humanitarian Studies of the International Humanitarian Studies Association in Paris that discussed the findings and insights of the book Batman Saves the Congo: How Celebrities Disrupt the Politics of Development (University of Minnesota Press, 2021).

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Lisette R. Robles

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a complicated challenge embedded in displaced people’s lived experiences throughout the conflict displacement cycle. Despite the awareness of existing institutionalised help-seeking referral pathways, these do not necessarily translate to the full utilisation of such services. This paper examines the critical role of refugee leaders and service providers in potentially enabling and realising a GBV survivor’s help-seeking. By adapting a meso-level analysis, it attempts to explain how social networks built within conflict and displacement contribute to responding to GBV. Based on the review of collected interviews in 2019 from refugee leaders and service providers working with South Sudanese refugees in selected settlements in Uganda, the paper reflects on the importance of network, norms and trust in effectively responding to GBV in conditions of conflict-affected displacement.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs