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British national interest in the Gulf: rediscovering a role? 20, May 2014

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Gulf, UK.
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iaa

 

My article for the journal International Affairs has been published in the May 2014 issue. The abstract is below and the link to the article ($) is here.

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The British government is in the process of re-energizing its relations with the Gulf states. A new Gulf strategy involving a range of activities including more frequent elite bilateral visits and proposals sometimes touted as Britain’s military ‘return to east of Suez’ are two key elements of the overarching strategy. Such polices are designed to fall in line with British national interest as identified by the government-authored 2010 National Security Strategy (NSS), which emphasizes the importance of security, trade, and promoting and expanding British values and influence as perennial British raisons d’etat. In the short term, the Gulf initiatives reflect and compliment these core interests, partly based on Britain’s historical role in the region, but mostly thanks to modern day trade interdependencies and mutually beneficial security-based cooperation. However, there is yet to emerge a coherent understanding of Britain’s longer-term national interest in the region. Instead, government-led, party-political priorities, at the expense of thorough apolitical analysis of long-term interests, appear to be unduly influential on the origins of both the Gulf proposals and the NSS conclusions themselves. Without a clear strategic, neutral grounding, both the Gulf prioritization and the NSS itself are weakened and their longevity undermined.

 

 

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The Gulf referenced over time in books 17, December 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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Apologies for the clunky title, but I can’t think of a better one.

The ever wonderful google has made searchable 5.2 million books from 1800 to today. You can go and search for whatever you want.

I looked first – sorry my angry Iranian friends – for Persian Gulf and Arabian Gulf. Though you easily irascible fellows ought to be pleased by the results:

Here is a search for a selection of Gulf countries.

It’s interesting and curious to see that Kuwait – in this selection of books at least – has far and away the most ‘hits’. Its advancement early on in comparison to other neighbouring countries clearly garnering it significantly more attention. Dubai and Abu Dhabi, despite their recent headline grabbing antics, still hasn’t remotely caught up.

And here is terrorism. Seems something happened in the late 70s…

Kuwait’s Ambassador in Iran 9, December 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iran, Kuwait.
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The Kuwaiti Ambassador to Iran has invited President Ahmadinejad to Kuwait for the 50th anniversary of Kuwait’s Independence. This is yet another example highlighting, firstly, just how fractured the ‘unity’ of the GCC against Iran is and, secondly, the impracticability of America’s notion of using the GCC as a block to isolate Iran.

This is the same Ambassador who, earlier this year and severely contrary to directives from home, stated that the term ‘Arabian Gulf’ is not accurate and that the term ‘Persian Gulf’ is correct and should be used. An example, perhaps, of a diplomacy ‘going native/bush’ if ever there was one.

While practically every week there is a story about the proper name of this body of water, I noticed that recently America purposefully directed its Navy to use the term Arabian Gulf, contrary to their own legal standards, just to annoy the Iranians. Very mature. While the US Navy, in deference to their Arab GCC allies usually uses this terms, officially demanding its use it another matter.

 

 

Arab-Persian Gulf shenanigans 15, August 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Gulf.
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Shiraz’s mayor (in a desperate bid to ingratiate himself to Iranian hardliners) has called “for action” against Bahrain’s Gulf Air for…have a guess…not using ‘Persian’ in the name of the Gulf.

He insists that Iranian passengers have been complaining about the name. Who can imagine the mental scarring that such a travesty causes them? Poor lambs.

Airlines have been the source of constant issues. Qatar Airways got in trouble earlier last month for using the wrong name for a city in Iran. All Gulf airlines sporadically cause issues as they do not call the body of water the Persian Gulf but the Gulf or the Arabian Gulf. The temerity.

Iran: ‘Persian Gulf’ or we’ll impound your planes 23, February 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iran, The Gulf.
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(That’s not a coffee cup, by the way)

As if I haven’t covered this enough recently x x x x, Iran is having another hissy-fit over the Arabian Gulf/Persian Gulf naming controversy. This time around it stems from a Greek steward on a Kish Airlines internal flight who started arguing with a passenger about the ‘real’ name of the Gulf.

The story started on Al Arabiyya but has [why I’m surprised, I just don’t know] ended up splashed across the media with the Iranian Government now *sigh* threatening to make all incoming flights display the phrase Persian Gulf on their in-flight maps, lest their planes are grounded. If you want to read more on this issue, please use the links in the first sentence, I don’t have the will to rewrite the same stuff again…

This kind of reaction is similar to that after the Chinese-Israeli orange importing incident last year, not to mention the Chinese jeans fiasco. If I were in an uncharitable mood, I’d say Iranian politicians were professional overactors.

Kuwaiti Ambassador: ‘it’s the Persian Gulf’ 20, February 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iraq, Kuwait, Middle East, The Gulf.
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Kuwait’s Ambassador to Iran recently told the Iranian news agency Mehr that the body of water between Arabs and Persians is and always will be called the ‘Persian Gulf’. This is quite an admission from an Arab Ambassador. Typically, Arabs call the body of water the Arabian Gulf whereas Iranians fall back on centuries of customary law and modern-day international law and call it the Persian Gulf. Recently an Iraqi politician suggested that the water ought to be called the Gulf of Basra, just to complicate things further. Angry spats frequently develop over the naming of this body of water. Indeed, ironically the Islamic Solidarity Games were recently cancelled because of arguments over just this issue. It is unlikely that this Ambassador’s comments will make him many friends on his side of the Gulf.

Hat tip: the ever reliable MEMRI

Islamic solidarity games cancelled for lack of solidarity 18, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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Some time ago I wrote about the threat to the Islamic Solidarity Games being cancelled because of a disagreement between Arabs and Persians. The second Islamic Solidarity Games were due to be held in Iran in October 2009 but before issues of whether they were going to go ahead at all could be resolved, Swine Flu came to the rescue and forced planners to cancel the games. Iran was due to reprise (or prise?!) its role in April this year, but this time the Games have been canceled because of the dispute.

The key issue is over the medals and other promotional material being emblazoned with the phrase Persian Gulf. Despite the fact that Persian Gulf is the historical and contemporary legal name for the body of water, Arab states do not like it and prefer to call it the Arabian Gulf or just the Gulf.

Arabian Gulf…Persian Gulf…Gulf of Basra? 14, December 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Gulf.
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As you no doubt know there’s a remarkable amount of kerfuffle over whether the name for the body of water separating Iran from their Arab neighbors is called the Persian Gulf or the Arabian Gulf. Yet, as if this weren’t one too many choices already, the Iraqi Foreign Minister has decided to stick his oar into the subject and has “discovered” that it “in fact” used to be called the Gulf of Basra. This is really such a curious debate when international law and historical precedent are really rather unequivocal on the matter.

Qatar-Iran relations 31, October 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Iran, Qatar.
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…will be strengthened by the founding of a Qatari-Iranian shipping line between Bushehr and Doha.

 

GCC missile defence? 1, July 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Iran.
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It appears that America is seeking to link the GCC countries together in a joint missile defense system. Currently, the US has bilateral defence relations with all the states in the GCC, yet explicitly linking them in this way would be a new step. The article in The National continues to state that the US believes that there is something of a risk of “low-flying cruise missiles fired from close range.” Just what can they be thinking of?

The timing of such a statement is, of course, no surprise. Whilst such a notion may well appeal to the smaller, threatened GCC states, the technical difficulties of such a programme are surely substantial. However, just assembling the GCC states and perhaps coercing or persuading them to entertain and sign up to such a bargain would be a political coup for America and another clear sign of regional balancing against a potentially bellicose and dangerous Iran.