The Anatomy of a Crisis
May 13, 2019
James M. Dorsey
Andreas Krieg’s edited volume, Divided Gulf: The Anatomy of a Crisis (Palgrave, 2019), brings together a group of prominent Gulf scholars to discuss the Gulf crisis that pits a Saudi-United Arab Emirates-led alliance against Qatar. The alliance’s economic and diplomatic boycott of Qatar since 2017 has implications that go far beyond the regional dispute. The book highlights the fact that strategies of the opposed parties are to a significant extent shaped by the evolution of information and cyber warfare. It also highlights the rise of nationalism in Gulf states that fundamentally changes the role of tribes and the nature of the Gulf state in the 21st century. The book argues that at the core of the Gulf struggle are fundamentally different visions of Saudi Arabia and the UAE on the one hand and Qatar on the other on how to ensure regime survival in an era of social and economic change in which autocratic governments increasingly have to efficiently deliver public goods and services. It projects the Gulf crisis as one more intractable Middle Eastern problem in which countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia see ensuring their survival in terms of security. In doing so, the book makes a significant contribution to the literature on a region that is key to global developments and increasingly plays a role in shaping a new world order.
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James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute.