This article considers prospects for developing relations between Israel and the Persian Gulf monarchies: Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. A central feature of U.S. Middle East policy–and one doomed to fail–is an effort to urge Gulf countries to take steps toward peace or confidence-building measures with Israel. Israel has a strong interest to seek normal relations with these countries, as each state moving toward peace further tips the regional balance, making it harder for other countries and movements to attack Israel, obtain funds for arms and terrorism, or subvert the peace process. Israel can also make important (though more modest than many expect) commercial gains by trade with these wealthy countries, while there are certain products they could obtain that would benefit their economies. Yet all of these Gulf countries have very strong reasons that make them unlikely to move toward peace, normalization of relations, or confidence-building measures.
Formally speaking, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a coherent alliance; but is it in fact so? The six GCC states (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman) have much in common: socioeconomic and political structures, political culture, and obsessions of security and threats. Although they differ in their perceptions of […]