The Persian Gulf region is known for being a very important area in terms of geopolitics. It holds up to 57% of the world's crude oil reserves and produces 27% of the global oil.Useless to say how vital to the world energy supply this region is and how extreme the tensions generated by this situation are. However, despite its tremendous reserves, it seems like the Persian Gulf region is unable to engender economic growth and has been unstable for decades. How did such a situation occur? Why is there a discrepancy between the opportunities this region benefit from and its economic and political difficulties? First I will address the internal conflicts within this region which account for an important part for the instability of the Persian Gulf. Secondly, I will be interested in the role of the big powers getting involved in this region and worsening its instability. At last, I will try to show how oil itself plays an ambivalent role that is keeps these countries from developing.The different countries making up the Persian Gulf are constantly questioning each other's legitimacy, borders, and right to exploit natural resources. Many underlying conflicts take place in this region and even though wars are not that common – although much more than elsewhere in the world – oil plays a key role in this situation because some countries are completely deprived of oil whereas other countries are abundant with this resource, hence the numerous conflicts of interest.
[...] None of these approaches worked very well, and as a result, the United States has had to intervene directly three times in the last 16 years against regional threats Iran in 1987-88 and Iraq in 1991 and this past spring.” Washington had indeed no constant lines of conduct but merely tried to preserve its interests and those of its allies within a very changing region but doing so the US actually fueled the tensions inherent to this region. Each stage of the recent history of the Gulf is marked by the US domination and its incoherent involvement. [...]
[...] Besides, the American Gulf policy is still based on a close cooperation with Saudi Arabia despite the anger of its population toward America and the troubled role this country played in the September 11th events. These changing policies and this permanent involvement of the only remaining superpower fuels instability in the Gulf by supporting authoritarian regimes and revolting a population already wary of any foreign influence. III) The natural resources in the Persian Gulf tend to preserve the old structures instead of helping these nations to develop their economies Most of the Persian Gulf countries are touched by the “Dutch disease” Strangely enough, whereas the presence of oil reserves should allow the Gulf countries to develop their economies, it seems like they further preserve the old structures of power and prevent the Gulf nations from benefiting from a long term and healthy economic growth. [...]
[...] The Gulf regimes have to deal with social unrest due to multiple factors (rise of Islamism, growing unemployment for demographic reasons ) and with the necessity to reform their economies to face the challenge of decreasing oil reserves. However, the main priority remains to ensure their own stability and so doing little money is spent on enlarging the sources for revenue and then it is inevitable that any fall of the oil prices would still have a tremendously negative impact on the Gulf countries' economies. [...]
[...] In a more general stance, there are tensions between the wealthiest monarchies such as Saudi Arabia or Dubai and the poorest States such as Yemen (although this country is not directly part of the Persian Gulf). For instance, Saudi Arabia is very concerned with Yemen because it is the only country of the surroundings whose population is likely to overtake hers. Moreover, there are many Yemenis immigrants entering Saudi Arabia because of the wealth gap between these two countries and the Saudi authorities are worried that they may outnumber the locals. [...]
[...] II) Moreover, the countries of the Gulf are prey to the appetite of the world's biggest powers seeking to take over the natural resources thus increasing the instability Most nations are willing to push their own interests in this region As the Persian Gulf holds nearly two thirds of the global oil reserves and as oil is become the main energetic resource of most countries, it is not surprising that the different foreign powers seek to influence this region. The special role of the United States will be addressed later as it needs a special attention and analysis but many other powers are involved in the region. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee